CXL Institute Attribution Course Review

Attribution for Marketing Course by CXL Institute

This article is written as part of the CXL Institute scholarship and covers my Ninth week of studying the Digital Analytics Minidegree from CXL Institute. In the previous post I have covered few lessons of Google Tag Manager (GTM) course, this week I will be covering the Attribution Model.

Talking about the trainer ‘Russell McAthy’, CEO and Co-Founder at Ringside Data. He has covered complete knowledge on Attribution model, he clearly explains how to use AM in an organization for marketing technology.

Google Analytics, by default works on the Last-Non Direct-Click attribution model. This means if your user found out about your product through a Facebook ad and landed on your website but did not convert during that session. In the next 28 days, he constantly interacts with your website may be through organic search or directly. Finally, he converts by directly going to your product page and making a purchase. Google Analytics, in this scenario, would as per its attribution model give the credit of the conversion to your Facebook ad, which was the last non-direct click of that user. But, now it must be evident that this would be not fair as if the purchase value of the customer is USD 100, then the entire USD 100 will be ‘attributed’ to your Facebook ad and you would end up inflating your Facebook budget in the next marketing cycle.

The Attribution Models that can be considered:

  1. Last Non-Interaction Attribution Model

Last Non-Interaction Attribution Model

The Last Non-Direct Click Model gives 100% of the value is still assigned to a single interaction. But, with last non-direct click, it eliminates any “direct” interactions that occur right before the conversion. If your customer had 4 touchpoints prior to that last non-direct click, it’s completely ignored.

Direct Traffic is when anyone goes directly to your site by manually entering your url or clicking a bookmarked link, which means this visitor already knows about your company.

How did they learn about your company? What prompted them to go to your website directly? By eliminating direct traffic in a last-click model, you can better assign value to the marketing channel that led to the conversion.

  1. Last Interaction Attribution Model

Last Interaction Attribution Model

As the name suggests, in this attribution model the emphasis is given totally to the last touch point of the conversion cycle. Whereas, all the previous channels being completely neglected. This type of model can be effective for organizations outsourcing their online advertisement to an ad agency so that dollar to dollar cost and revenue can be measured.

  1. Linear Attribution Model

Linear Attribution Model

In this model, all channels are given equal weights in the conversion funnel. For a USD 100 conversion if a user has gone through 4 channels before making a purchase decision then all the 4 channels will be attributed USD 25 each. Though, a bit more logical than the previous two attribution models, the problem here is that it doesn’t capture the actual journey time of the user if the duration between the first interaction and last interaction is stretching across months if not days.

  1. Time Decay Attribution

Time Decay Attribution Model

If graphically represented, this attribution model has an upward trajectory of the weights given to the channels before a conversion. Thus, the first interaction will have the least weight and the last one will have the highest weight. However, the challenge here is if the user spent most of the time on your website during his first interaction and the one’s followed was just reassurance for making the right-purchase, by definition the first channel will be least attributed to the conversion, which in this example is not the case.

  1. Position-Based Attribution

Position Based Attribution Model

This according to me seems the most logical of all the attribution models listed above. Here the maximum weights are given to the first and last conversion, whereas middle ones are given equal but lesser weights. For example, in the conversion of USD 100, the user first interacted with the website through a Google Display Ad, then through a Google Search Ad, then an organic search, and finally a direct visit before making the purchase. The distribution for this type model would be as below:

  1. Google Ads: USD 40
  2. Google Search Ad: USD 10
  3. Organic Search: USD 10
  4. Direct Visit: USD 40

All the above attribution models listed above are not completely perfect or completely flawed, it depends upon your organizational objectives and the marketing framework you typically work within your strategy. Some elements are though common to any attribution you ultimately choose for your campaigns. These are the macro events and micro-events. The macro events are one’s where you can attach a direct monetary value to it, like clicking on the checkout button in your cart or submitting the lead form (if you have estimated the value of a lead) and micro-events are page views or video views or the number of blogs read before making a conversion by a user.

Three Elemental Stages of Your Attribution Strategy:

1. What data is needed?

2. What tactics are to be used for each channel? (SEO, Affiliate, Display, etc.)

  • Tactics: CRO

Conversion rate optimization (CRO) offers one of the fastest, most effective methodologies for turning your existing web traffic into paying customers. Also known as CRO, conversion rate optimization can involve numerous tools and strategies, but they’re all geared toward the same thing: Converting visitors into leads and leads into customers.

  • Tactics: PPC

PPC stands for pay-per-click, a model of internet marketing in which advertisers pay a fee each time one of their ads is clicked. Search engines reward advertisers who can create relevant, intelligently targeted pay-per-click campaigns by charging them less for ad clicks.

  • Tactics: SEO

An SEO strategy is your overarching, long-term plan to achieve business goals; SEO tactics are the tangible steps you take to execute your strategy. Let’s take a deeper dive into the differences between curating your SEO strategy and developing tactics to harness your desired business objectives and goals.

  • Tactics: Display

Display advertising is a method of attracting the audience of a website, social media platform or other digital mediums to take a specific action. These are often made up of text-based, image or video advertisements that encourage the user to click-through to a landing page and take action (e.g. make a purchase).

  • Tactics: Affiliates

Affiliate marketing is the process by which an affiliate earns a commission for marketing another person’s or company’s products. The affiliate simply searches for a product they enjoy, then promotes that product and earns a piece of the profit from each sale they make.

  • Tactics: Email

Email marketing is the act of sending a commercial message, typically to a group of people, using email. In its broadest sense, every email sent to a potential or current customer could be considered email marketing. It involves using email to send advertisements, request business, or solicit sales or donations.

  • Tactics: TV

TV advertising is a leading advertising format, used to convey a paid message on television which typically promotes a product, brand or service. TV advertising remains one of the most effective and popular marketing mediums.

  • Tactics: Direct Mail

Direct mail marketing is any physical correspondence you send to customers in the hopes of getting them to patronize your business. All that your direct mailers need to have is something identifying you or your business, a call to action (CTA), and a way for your customers to contact you

3. What strategy is to be made?

For the  first stage, there can be many data sources, however, the data should be such that it ultimately gives a crisp answer to your marketing ROI or ROAS.

In the second stage, usually, affiliate happens to be the trickiest one as it usually takes all the credit of a conversion which other channels might have built in the conversion funnel. The most difficult one to track is SEO, as the concept is still not matured enough to derive a logical explanation on what exactly made a user search your brand or product which made him conversion.

Stitching together the first and second phases your company can make a much logical and data-driven strategy even during the toughest of the marketing budgets.



I am Isak, founder and author of blog. A best place to have article through guest posts. I love reading (learning), sharing my skills and knowledge with all over the world using modern digital platforms.

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