The word “Attribution” sounds much more complicated than it really is. The reality is that an attribution model can become very complex across your digital channels as you have more touch points, or points of activation for your campaign. But what is attribution when it comes down to it? Really, it’s figuring out what channels do the best for you when you spend money on promoting something. IE activating a campaign online.
You would want to know if a spend has a return. A spend could be actual dollars put towards an advertisement, or man hours it takes to write a facebook post and publish it, or schedule it. The great situation with digital marketing is that there is something called Analytics. You can track anything online. Facebook has insights, Google has analytics, we’ve known this for some time. Those of us who built websites in the early days remember counters and similar. Crazy awesome php scripts that logged traffic, and even some major platforms that pulled information directly from your server’s logs and database(s). Websites and number crunching have always come hand in hand, so it makes sense that we’d come up with ways to track everything you put money into online so that you can justify the cost.
I’ve drawn out a VERY simple Attribution model, or flow diagram below to show how you could very simply track your results from each access point and at the end of your campaign very easily determine which points of activation did the best for you. There are always ofcourse many factors, Social media has it’s own strategy, google search has it’s own strategy, etc.. but this at a very basic level will tell you where your return came from.
In the flow below we are looking at a simple campaign for a website. The campaign is to promote newsletter (e-mail) sign ups and is being activated across 4 channels. A Facebook Ad, a Facebook Post Strategy (most likely from a business page), a Google Search advertisement and a Sponsored blog post (maybe an opportunity to pay a well known blogger to talk about your website and promote a link on it to your sign up page).
Using Google UTM’s (essentially a unique tracking identifier for a link) you can have a separate link for each advertisement that is tracked within google analytics.
You can then set up a goal in google analytics that basically “sets” the page telling the user “thank you for signing up” as the destination page of your goal. (Meaning everytime someone hits this page, google logs it as a goal completion). Within google analytics you an then determine which of your campaigns (Or specific UTM links) acquired the most hits on your destination page (or goal). Essentially because your “thank you” page is only returned to users after they sign up for your newsletter this is confirming a new sign up. The numbers would generally mirror your e-mail database, unless something went wonky and you built it incorrectly, or somehow people were landing on your thank you page first and if that was the case you have an entirely different problem to correct.
So, in summary. It is very simple to track individual activation points and then determine which drove the most return (whichever your KPIs are) using only free functionality within Google Analytics.
Digital Attribution can get far more complex than this flow. The possibilities of tracking traffic with the amounts of data available these days are almost endless.
A good read for far more complex attribution models: http://www.optimizesmart.com/attribution-modeling-google-analytics-ultimate-guide/