Attribution models act as frameworks through which you can determine which touchpoints had the biggest impact on a customer’s journey. While first-touch and last-touch attribution models are some of the most common approaches, they don’t take into account every interaction a customer has with your brand. To accomplish that, you’ll need to leverage a linear attribution model.
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What Is Linear Attribution?
Linear attribution assigns equal credit to each touchpoint a customer encounters along their journey to a purchase. From the first ad they see to the last email they open before buying, every interaction is acknowledged for its part in the journey.
Suppose that a customer interacts with your brand five times before making a purchase. Each interaction receives equal credit for the conversion, which is expressed as a percentage, so all five touchpoints would receive 20% of the credit.
Linear Attribution vs. First-Touch Attribution
First-touch attribution gives full credit to the initial interaction a customer has with your brand. Whether they interact with you along five touchpoints or 50, the first touchpoint receives 100% of the credit. Conversely, linear attribution distributes the credit equally along every touchpoint, no matter how many or few there may be.
Linear Attribution vs. Last-Touch Attribution
As the opposite of first-touch attribution, last-touch attribution assigns all credit to the final interaction a customer had with your brand before making a purchase. Like its first-touch counterpart, though, it ignores all but one interaction, meaning it provides a limited view of the customer journey. A linear model offers a more holistic view but does not account for the varying importance of the initial or final interaction.
The Benefits of Linear Attribution for Your Marketing
A linear attribution model allows you to do the following:
Acknowledge Every Step
In today’s multifaceted digital world, your customers likely interact with your brand in several ways before deciding to make a purchase. Linear attribution ensures that each of those interactions gets its fair share of credit, seeing as they all played a part in pushing the customer closer to buying your product.
Understand the Whole Journey
By attributing equal importance to each touchpoint, you acknowledge the interconnected nature of digital marketing. More importantly, you gain insights into the entire journey, which can prove immensely valuable in refining your marketing strategy.
Simplify Complex Data
A linear approach offers a simplistic solution for tracking complex marketing strategies. You don’t have to rely on a complex algorithm to assign varying credit to each channel. Instead, you can distribute it evenly across all touchpoints, which, in turn, makes it easier to draw conclusions about the impact of each campaign and pivot accordingly.
The Downsides to a Linear Approach
There is a lot to like about linear attribution models. They are excellent for understanding how each channel plays a role in a customer’s decision-making process, and they provide comprehensive views of a brand’s marketing efforts, insights that can be used to identify potential weak points in your strategy, replace underperforming channels with stronger ones, and create a leaner, more efficient funnel.
With all of that said, however, certain touchpoints can play a more critical role than others in driving conversions. The first and last interactions are particularly important to the customer journey, and a linear attribution model might not always capture that nuance.
Additionally, if your business model involves quicker conversion paths or a short, high-speed funnel, linear attribution likely won’t offer the most accurate insights. Instead, you may want to adopt a simpler framework that draws attention to the most impactful touchpoint in the customer journey.
Is Linear Attribution the Best Model for Your Business?
Ultimately, there are no one-size-fits-all attribution models, so as you consider whether to adopt linear attribution, you should keep the following aspects in mind:
- Customer Journey Complexity: If you have a multi-faceted customer journey, linear attribution may be a good fit
- Marketing Strategy Diversity: When multiple channels are at play, it’s important to account for the role that each of them plays in the purchasing process
- Data Analytics Needs: Linear attribution can simplify complex conversion data into digestible information
Keep in mind that even if linear attribution seems like a good fit for your business now, it may not remain suitable as your needs change. The key is to stay nimble and be willing to adapt as your business evolves.
Take a Balanced Approach
Marketing analytics is all about balance. You need to look at the big picture while also considering the more granular elements that influence consumer decisions. By taking a nuanced approach, you can cultivate a frictionless journey that maximizes conversions and revenue.