Figuring out which of your marketing efforts are truly driving sales is a recurring conundrum you’ll face with every digital campaign, but there are several frameworks — known as attribution models — available that can help you gauge the impact of each touchpoint in a customer’s journey.
Whereas some of these models (namely last- and first-touch attribution models) give all of the credit for a conversion to a single touchpoint, there is another that distributes equal portions of that recognition to each interaction that takes place: linear attribution.
Below, join us as we dive deeper into the process of linear attribution modeling so you can better understand how it can fit into your marketing strategy.
What Is Linear Attribution Modeling?
A linear attribution model assigns equal importance to every touchpoint along the customer’s journey. Whether it’s an initial ad click, a mid-journey social media interaction, or the final email they receive before making a purchase, each step the consumer takes gets an equal share of the credit.
Typically, that credit is expressed as a percentage. For instance, in a scenario where a particular customer’s journey involves five touchpoints, each of those would receive 20% of the credit for that customer’s conversion under a linear attribution approach.
Why It Matters
Linear attribution is a valuable tool for understanding the customer journey given that, unlike other models, it provides the following unique benefits:
Fair Credit to All Touchpoints
Linear attribution models acknowledge the complexity of today’s customer journeys and thus appreciate the role of each interaction, thus ensuring no touchpoint is undervalued.
Simplified Analysis for Multi-Channel Strategies
If you’re using multiple channels, linear attribution provides a clear means of measuring their collective impact. While linear attribution is a bit more challenging to implement, the insights you’ll glean from it are easy to digest and apply to future campaigns.
Balanced Marketing Insights
By giving equal weight to all interactions, you are shown a balanced view of your marketing performance, which can be particularly valuable if you’re looking to maintain diverse marketing strategies.
The Pros and Cons of Linear Attribution
No attribution model is perfect, and with that in mind, it’s important to be aware of the strengths and shortcomings of linear attribution before you integrate it into your marketing strategy.
The biggest perk of linear attribution is equality. Each marketing channel gets equal recognition, which is great for understanding the overall effectiveness and interconnected nature of your marketing mix.
Linear attribution also provides a more complete picture of the customer journey, acknowledging the fact that various factors contribute to a consumer’s final decision.
That said, if you want to make the most out of linear attribution, it’s vital that you regularly review your data and combine it with other metrics while being willing to adapt your strategy based on what that data tells you.
While balance is good, it can sometimes oversimplify things. Some touchpoints, like the first and last, might inherently have more impact than others, which is why many brands opt to use a first-touch or last-touch attribution model in conjunction with a linear approach.
Additionally, if your sales cycle is short or if one channel is clearly dominant, linear attribution might not provide the most accurate insights. As such, it’s important to consider the unique needs of your business and the complexity of your sales funnel before choosing any attribution model.
Real-World Use Cases
Here are a couple of examples of how linear attribution plays out in real-life marketing scenarios:
If you’re running an online store, a linear attribution model can help you understand how content marketing, social media ads, email campaigns, and PPC content all work together to drive a sale. You can get a glimpse into how one touchpoint flows into the next and optimize the journey via a holistic approach.
For B2B companies with longer sales cycles, linear attribution can be particularly useful in understanding how different touchpoints contribute to conversions over time, from initial awareness to the final decision. In addition, linear models tend to be better fitted for B2B sales models, as they are often longer than the average consumer’s purchasing journey.
Embracing a Comprehensive View of Your Marketing Efforts
Linear attribution modeling offers a balanced approach to understanding your marketing efforts. By valuing each step in your customer’s journey, you gain a comprehensive view of what’s working and what’s not. Remember, though, that the goal is not just to attribute sales accurately but also to build a marketing strategy that resonates with your audience at every stage.
With that in mind, use other techniques and analytics tactics to complement the insights gathered from linear attribution so you can build a complete picture of the customer journey.