Attribution: The key for unlocking eCommerce growth

Attribution is a buzz word that’s been around for some time – but we believe 2018 will be the year that marketers take it seriously. As customer behaviours become more complex and interactions occur across multiple devices and channels, the need to understand your customers has never been so important.

It’s a topic that we’re discussing with brands and etailers every day – and one that’s often misunderstood or seen as too complicated to explore. This article takes a high-level look at the key to a successful attribution marketing approach.


The first step in adopting an attribution model is to understand that your customers can and will interact with your brand in many ways. We call these touchpoints – and the theory goes that the more POSITIVE touchpoints a customer has with a brand/product, the more likely they are to purchase/convert. The logic is 100% true, but we can’t forget that sometimes purchases will occur from a single touchpoint – whether that be a first visit to your website or first-time trip to your store on the high street.

It’s vital to understand your customer touchpoints, as they will be the building blocks to growing an attribution approach to your marketing. An example of the questions to ask, and one that challenges marketing folk everywhere, is – would I have got that sale/conversion if I didn’t have X campaign or Y marketing channel running? Having an attribution approach backed with good data (more about this later) is a huge step towards answering this question.

Start plotting your different user journeys and touchpoints. Many tools can help you do this, and you should order them by commonality as you will want to focus on the top ones initially.

Growth vs Efficiency

Growth and efficiency are two ends of a balancing scale. And although every marketer wants to drive both, you need to appreciate that they can conflict with each other once performance reaches a certain point. The diagram below shows the common attribution types from First Click to Last Click, and where they sit on the Growth vs Efficiency scale.

Having a single approach at either end of these attribution models will hinder your results in terms of growth potential or efficiency achieved.

What works best is usually a hybrid model of many of these attribution models (relevant to campaigns and channel mix) that will, overall, sit somewhere in the middle of growth vs efficiency.

Last Click has its place

We need to turn our attention to understanding how your customer touchpoints and your sales funnel overlap. For a typical brand / eTailer the first click / touchpoint is at the stage of driving ATTENTION to a user – making them aware of your brand for the first time. As that user interacts through other touchpoints you are driving INTEREST in your product/service. This crucial second stage could span anything from 1 to 10+ touchpoints across different channels (online and offline). And those that understand this and invest in the right areas will deliver more of these into a DECISION where they are ready to make a purchase / take action. The final step is then to ensure nothing stands in the way of ACTION/PURCHASE.

If efficiency is the goal, then you want to invest more of your marketing budget into the channels around the Decision and Action stages. But this will limit your growth as you will not be fuelling top of the funnel activity and driving attention of your brand to new audiences. Those looking for growth should focus budgets at both ends of the funnel – especially the activity driving brand awareness and building interest in your product / service. This will then naturally increase the pool of customers in the Decision and Action stages.

Full Funnel Marketing

Investing your marketing efforts in the right areas will deliver a full funnel marketing approach. So often, marketers will only invest in the channels that they can measure last click ROI, putting much of their budget in Brand Search and Remarketing. And these are the brands that struggle to sustain growth and end up needing to broaden investment further up the funnel. The diagram below shows at a high level how the right marketing activity at each stage can drive the user through the funnel..

Attribution & ROI – Need for Good Data

None of this is possible without good data. When you have confidence in your data you can start to test your attribution models and measure the ROI for each touchpoint. This can then help you allocate your future marketing budget in the right areas to meet your growth goals. Accepting that last click measurement is just one method will unlock the opportunity for scalable and profitable growth.

This checklist is a great place to start ensuring you’re getting useful data .


If you’re consistently delivering positive touchpoints at the interest stage, customers will become more loyal to your brand and drive longer tail brand searches / direct traffic that is a lot cheaper to convert. This will bring down your lower funnel marketing CPA, freeing up budget to invest in your higher funnel activity. What we want to measure is the net CPA/ROI of all the activity and ensure that it (as a whole) delivers profitable growth.

This article may have made it all sound very simple but it all comes down to data. And having the expertise to define, measure and refine the models. This does take time but is worth it! Other factors such as resellers and channel conflict will also impact the outcome, but should not stop you adopting a full funnel attribution approach to your digital marketing.

To find out more about how attribution can work for you, or to apply for a free analytics health check then drop us an email at

Access the Free Google Analytics Checklist here or contact our insights team for more in depth checking.

Attribution Unlocking Feature

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