Lead Gen Blog

What is a marketing attribution model and how to measure offline events

By Dario Villi | No Comments | 2nd July 2020

The marketing landscape today is more distributed than ever and the customer journey is made of many steps that cross between both the online and offline world. Companies and customers interact over dozens of different channels, such as email, phone, social media, and in-store interactions, just to name a few.

Companies are expected to be available at all times and in all sites: 64% of customers access multiple devices to begin and complete transactions, and a staggering 40% of them won’t do business with a company at all if they can’t use their preferred channels.  

The challenge is that the customer journey is often complex, nonlinear, and scattered across several touchpoints. How can companies keep track of these fragmented journeys and offer their customers a joint experience? 

Some companies are trying to leverage a marketing attribution model to track each step of the consumer journey. A survey among over 4,100 marketing leaders worldwide from Salesforce showed that 41% of organizations measure ROI with a marketing attribution model, although many still prefer more traditional methods.


Source: Salesforce

But what is an attribution model and how can companies use it to improve their performance as well as their user experience?

What is an attribution model?

An attribution model is a systematic approach to effectively measure all the touchpoints on the consumer journey, whether they happen online, offline, or off-site. The goal of a multi-touch attribution model is to integrate each signal to better assess which channel drives most results and ultimately optimize a business’s marketing performances.  

Traditional models to track conversions often attribute the entire value of a conversion (e.g. sales, live demo) to a single event, but as said earlier, many other steps are fundamental to the conversion. 

What makes the adoption of a multi-touch attribution model valuable for companies is the ability to weigh each of the several touchpoints for how much they contribute in the marketing funnel to drive conversions. In other words, an attribution model enables marketers to make strategic decisions based on more accurate data.

What is the marketing attribution model?

A marketing attribution model is a framework specifically for analyzing which touchpoint in a customer’s attribution process deserves the credit for the KPI event. 

Essentially, this model allows the marketer to distinguish value between their marketing efforts, allowing them to further evolve their marketing strategies.

Types of multi-touch attribution models

There are different types of marketing attribution models: some companies assign a value to all touchpoints, some to just selected events, and some to just one.

The rule-based single-touch attribution model

  • First-touch

The rule for the first-touch attribution is simple: The first touch in a customer’s journey is the one that receives 100% of the attribution credit for the KPI event. This model is most often used by marketers for measuring their efforts by reaching new customers.

  • Last-touch

Last-touch attribution is exactly like first-touch, but the credit is given to the last touch in a customer’s attribution journey for the KPI event. This model is typically used to establish a baseline for comparing other multi-touch/marketing attribution models.

The rule-based multi-touch attribution model

  • Even-weighting

In an even-weighted model, each point in a customer’s attribution is given even credit for the KPI event. This is also known as the linear model. If marketing efforts have a long consideration cycle, then this is typically the model that marketers go for, since it’s very important to reinforce the message multiple times throughout the attribution process.

  • Position-based

Also known as the bathtub model or u-shaped model, the position-based model gives higher credit to the first and last touch in a customer’s attribution journey. Although any touch-points along the way are still tracked and credited, this model is often used specifically to give extra favor towards the first and last touch.

  • Time Decay

In a time-decay model, the credit percentage slowly builds up over time, leading up to the very last touchpoint. Marketers generally use this model for efforts that have short consideration cycles. 

Algorithm-based attribution model

  • Fractional attribution

Using machine learning, Fractional attribution gives partial credit for success metrics to significant marketing touchpoints/dimensions to inform marketing spending allocations in the future. 

  • Incremental attribution

With the incremental attribution model, the lift that advertising spending provides to the conversion rate is measured in increments. This is best used by marketers to determine if campaigns, creative projects, and placements are performing well and if they’re worth investing in at all. 

How to choose attribution models

Across the board, marketers are held accountable for producing results. To that end, any number of these marketing attribution models listed above can prove to be useful, depending on the desired result. 

Ultimately, the best way to determine which multi-touch attribution model is best for you will come down to your goals, expectations, and how you want your marketing efforts to evolve.

How to map offline marketing attribution methods 

Attribution tracking can be difficult if you consider that more than 90% of retail sales take place offline. How are you meant to map offline marketing attribution methods?

LeadsBridge’s Offline Conversions Sync tool bridges the gap between your online and offline sales and put your attribution tracking back on track with ease. Here’s how it works in just 5 easy steps:

  1. Users watch or click on your Facebook Ads
  2. The same users then go on to purchase your product in an offline setting
  3. LeadsBridge automatically bridges your CRM/POS/Inventory with Facebook
  4. Facebook matches your purchase data with advertising data
  5. Facebook will then report all influenced offline sales to your dashboards

All of this is automated, so there’s no need for any more manual importations or extra headaches. Thanks to LeadsBridge’s Offline Conversions Sync, users can track offline conversions generated through Facebook and Google, by automatically syncing their marketing technology stack with the advertising platform. 

How to measure marketing attribution

As mentioned just above, many marketing attribution models are as simple as giving most if not all the credit for the KPI event to specific touchpoints.

For first/last-touch attribution, it’s measured by simply giving all credit to either the first or last touchpoint, and for linear attribution, the credit is divided evenly between all touchpoints.

How to measure the time-decay attribution model

Something like the time-decay model is a little more complex. The time-decay model allocates more value/credit to the touchpoints closest to the conversion. Here’s what that distribution may look like:

  • Clicks on your website for the first time (10%)
  • Signs up for your email newsletter (20%)
  • Attends a webinar that was promoted through the newsletter (30%)
  • Converts after the webinar (40%)

Of course, your percentages may vary, but this is just a rough sketch on what the time decay marketing attribution model can look like.

How to measure the position-based attribution model

As stated just above, this model is also known as the bathtub or u-shaped model because the first and last touchpoints are given more credit for the KPI event. But, it is very important that both the first and last touchpoint are given the same credit. Something like this:


-First-touch (35%)

-Middle touchpoint (10%)

-Middle touchpoint (10%)

-Middle touchpoint (10%)

-Last-touch (35)%

As you can see, this model distributes the credit evenly between the first and last touch, and evenly again between any points in between, thus providing us with the U/bathtub shape that the alternate names hint at.

Custom attribution models

Custom attribution models are considered an advanced marketing tactic. With any sort of custom marketing attribution model, the marketer in charge is solely responsible for crediting the given touchpoints based on their goals and which analytics are most important to them.

A custom attribution model is the most difficult strategy, but it can yield some impressive results for your attribution tracking needs. Nonetheless, any marketer attempting this strategy will need to be confident in their abilities.

The future of marketing attribution tracking

Because website tracking is dying, many people (marketers included) are wondering about the future of marketing attribution tracking.

Since businesses worldwide can no longer be able to track customer’s behaviors on their websites, their ad, and retargeting campaigns will be greatly affected. This will limit marketers’ ability to rely on things like Analytics, conversion tracking, and much more. 

That being said, businesses will still be able to leverage web cookies to their advantage by turning them into first-party data. Information can be collected by websites about their visitors, leads, and customers by storing all of it as first-party data and then pushing it directly to different publishing platforms.

LeadsBridge covered this topic in full in another article about How to move past cookies with server to server tracking, so be sure to check that out if you’re interested in learning more.

Conclusion and Main Takeaways

Regardless of the marketing attribution model, a multi-touch approach helps marketing managers to assess at granular levels the impact of their efforts by assigning a value to each one or more touchpoints.

By applying the appropriate marketing attribution model, marketers can learn where they need to focus their efforts, and evolve accordingly. 

As consumers explore new channels and companies evolve their marketing efforts, attribution and attribution tracking will become increasingly more important for revenue generation. While each of the marketing attribution models listed today is helpful, the ultimate and most useful strategy will be a tailor-made approach to the needs of your business. 

Download Now the free Marketing Director's Guide to Automation

Dario Villi

I am passionate about marketing and writing. I also like to make videos. I create content for a living!

Automation Tools for Facebook Advertisers

Better tracking, better conversions, better audiences, better results.