Marketing Attribution 101: Insights to Fine Tune Your Strategy

March 25, 2021
Marketing Attribution 101: Insights to Fine Tune Your Strategy

“Show me the money!” When your organization’s executives or sales managers approach you asking for the skinny on the latest marketing campaign, this is what they’re really saying. They’ve allocated company time, energy, and resources into a focused marketing push. Now, they want to know how these efforts are generating revenue. Are you sinking or soaring? 

If you’ve been tracking all of the elements of your campaign using a CRM tool like HubSpot, you’ll be able to simply run an attribution report to showcase your progress. But if your company has yet to implement tools for attribution reporting or you’re in a more traditional industry, then providing leadership with valuable data behind your marketing efforts could be challenging.  


There’s never a bad time to think about including attribution reporting in your marketing strategy. It not only informs the decisions we make as marketers but, in some cases, justifies our jobs. Let’s dive into the details. 


Marketing Attribution: What & Why


Attribution refers to the way we track or “attribute” return on investment (ROI) on all marketing channels. With so many ways for consumers to engage with brands in this complex marketplace, it can be difficult for marketers to know which outlets are generating the most leads and closing deals without the right tools in place.  


We often find ourselves wondering: Which digital ad generated more clicks that led to more conversions? Which channel produced more qualified leads? Did we see more success from a strategically placed QR code in a particular publication? If my company cuts my ad spend, what will the repercussions be? These are all questions that can be answered through attribution reporting.  


Gone are the days of throwing marketing ideas into the retail jungle to see what creates traction (with a few exceptions, of course). We have too much data at our disposal for our marketing strategy to hinge on that hit-or-miss approach. Attribution measurements allow you to work smarter, banking on a strategy that is backed by real statistics.  


When you have hard numbers and statistical trends of your consumers, you’re able to allocate your budget appropriately among the proven channels and optimize your revenue.  


Under-Utilized Attribution


Every marketing team should be using some type of attribution tool. Based on what we know so far, seems like a no brainer, right? It’s estimated that only 52% of marketers are using attribution reporting (HubSpot, 2020). Just over half!  


Why are so many letting valuable data pass them by? There are undoubtedly many variables, but some may include: lack of marketing resources, siloed departments, disorganized strategy, or just overthinking.  


In principle, attribution is straightforward; but the execution of attribution reporting and interpreting the data to deduce context can become complex.  


Single-Touch vs Multi-Touch Attribution Models


The complexity arises when you start deciphering which attribution model is the right fit for your goals and marketing strategy. There are single-touch and multi-touch approaches, and there is a myriad of models within each category. 


For now, we’ll cover the basics. Models help marketers understand which channels influence customers’ buying decisions more than others. The most common single-touch attribution models focus on the customer’s first introduction to your product or the last channel that led to a purchase. While these models are a helpful starting point on your deep dive into attribution, 100% of the conversion’s value is placed on one marketing channel when your buyer’s journey was most likely more diversified.  


A customer’s path to purchasing a product or service is not linear most of the time. That’s where multi-touch attribution models come in. Multi-touch models assign value to every step of the buyer’s journey, giving your team a bird’s eye view of the decision-making process. When you can see the full picture, the value of your top-of-funnel marketing efforts—the channels your prospect connects with during the awareness phase of the buyer’s journey—are showcased.  


It’s important to remember as well that attribution reporting isn’t just for digital marketing mediums. Some industries thrive using traditional marketing channels. Even though the face of your marketing is in a printed publication or on a billboard, let the backend be trackable and actionable. Implementing attribution tools into traditional marketing streams will allow you to digitally track your customers’ engagement, bringing your marketing strategy into the modern age. 


Single-touch attribution is a good starting place for small companies whose marketing channels are concentrated. Whereas a larger company whose reach is spread across advertising mediums and includes digital and traditional marketing touchpoints may want to invest in a multi-touch attribution approach right away.  


4 Keys to Get Started:


1. Take the first step—it’s free!


Google Analytics provides enough tracking data for you to start producing single-touch attribution reports, and you’re probably already using it (but maybe not as effectively as you could be). If you’re monitoring the conversion rate and customer interactions of multiple digital marketing channels (Facebook, Google, Twitter, Instagram, etc.), you have the foundation to start diving deeper into attribution. From this data, you can see consumers’ entry points, where they bounce, and where they convert.  


If you’re already a HubSpot enterprise subscriber, you have even more attribution tools at your disposal, which will allow you to jump into multi-touch reporting. We break down key tools you need to be familiar with in The Marketer’s Toolbox 



2. Align cross-functional teams around central goals. 


In order for attribution reporting to effectively speak to your marketing strategy, you have to know your goals and KPIs. And because marketing departments rely so heavily on partnerships with sales and finance in order to execute and thrive, it’s important for all of these cross-functional teams to be in agreement.  


Often, if marketing, sales, and finance aren’t working together, fewer funds are remaining for upstream marking efforts in search for quick conversions found through downstream channels focused on short-term campaigns. Upstream marketing is the long-game approach, learning what your customers’ challenges are, how to address them with your products and services, and the price point you should enter the market.  


When marketing, sales, and finance are siloed, this planning and exploration phase is generally bypassed in search for the quick revenue at the expense of larger vision. However, when these teams are in alignment, attribution reporting is more valuable, allowing all divisions of your company to see the value in your top-of-funnel marketing efforts.  



3. Remember to stay agile. 


Attribution can be a valuable piece of your overall strategy, but it is a piece that will need to be constantly adapted. You’ll need to continually evaluate if you’re using the model that benefits you the most and aligns with your current goals. Marketing channels are ever-growing; therefore, attribution is constantly changing as well.  


Keep in mind, attribution reporting won’t solve all of your problems. It can show you the influence each channel has on the buyer’s decision-making process, but don’t forget to evaluate the effectiveness of your content, graphics, and ad placement to make sure they’re resonating with prospects that match your ideal customer profiles. 



4. Learn and adjust as you go. 


You can run attribution reports month after month, quarter after quarter, but if you fail to adjust your strategy based on your findings, you’re not taking advantage of this valuable teaching tool. Allow attribution reports to speak to future marketing campaigns. Should you invest more money in a certain platform? Less money? Should you focus more attention on your blogs? Or social media? Attribution will guide you to effectively reallocate resources for maximum net-positive impact on your company’s bottom line.  





Attribution reporting gives you a fresh perspective on your overall marketing strategy and proves your team’s value to leadership. It opens communication lines between marketing, sales, finance, and tech teams, bringing a synergy that’s imperative to see gains year after year. With data to support your ideas, it will be easier to secure funds for future marketing efforts and help justify expanding the marketing team when needed. If you remain open to the data gleaned from the attribution reports and flexible in your marketing approach, attribution can be a game changer for your organization.


Now that you've read up on the foundational elements of marketing attribution, be sure to read our blog on understanding attribution models to further advance your marketing strategy!

Author Bio

As a Copywriter for Stratagon, Brittany has a knack for simplifying complex concepts, making them more accessible and compelling for the marketplace. Born with the travel bug, she is always researching a new destination, listening to an adventure podcast, or planning her family’s next trip!