Occam’s Razor and the 8 Models of Attribution

8 models of marketing attribution

Business owners and entrepreneurs make dozens of decisions every day. But when it comes to marketing, things can get a bit murky. Entrepreneurs want value for their marketing dollars but they end up overthinking and overanalyzing the results to the point where they lose the answer they want – Does my marketing campaign work?

Humans pride themselves on being critical thinkers, able to solve problems in order to do everything from devise shelter and secure resources to figuring out space travel.

Why, then, are so many of us prone to overthinking a problem? It can happen to the best of us (even me!) and it can quickly turn a simple challenge into a full-blown existential crisis.

This is where the principle of Occam’s Razor comes into play. It’s a principle attributed to the 14th-century English logician and Franciscan friar William of Ockham (ca. 1285-1349) that says “entities should not be multiplied beyond necessity.” Today, many people know it by the modern day version of “If you hear hooves think horses, not zebras.”

So what does this have to do with marketing?

Say you’re running a company and you decide it’s time to start using different marketing opportunities to grow your business. These days that means everything from updating your website, creating new content for blogs, connecting via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms as well as keeping up with the basics of customer service and overall value.

As you launch each new campaign, you’re undoubtedly looking at your sales figures – but how do you measure the performance of each campaign?

Do you track Facebook likes, retweets on Twitter, increased web traffic, blog comments or new client sign ups? What about Ad Word statistics or advertisements on other blogs and websites? What if someone is exposed to multiple marketing approaches? Do you measure them all the same or do they each need their own approach?

How do you know a marketing campaign is working? How do you measure its overall efficacy? And how do you know which campaign is worth investing more time, money and man hours versus which ones are worth cutting?

Measuring the efficacy of a campaign is tricky because there isn’t one set metric or even one set way of measuring it.

Business owners innately understand this and so they do what they always do – they look at every piece of information possible, analyzing every metric, statistic, and result they can get their hands on. Thanks to the robust features of Google Ad Words and other online marketing platforms, this approach often results in information overload, overthinking the entire process and – ultimately – stagnation.

Today’s marketing concepts and campaigns have come a long way over the past few decades – even just the past few years. Historically, business owners and entrepreneurs have known their marketing is working because sales and profits go up.

But now things aren’t that straight-forward. A marketing campaign is now designed to engage, connect and place you and your company in the public’s eyeline. That’s why they can be more challenging to evaluate.

This problem brings us to the 8 Models of Marketing Attribution. These 8 models provide structure and guidance on how best to truly measure a marketing campaign or any other kind of promotion.

The eight different Models of Marketing Attribution are:

  • Last Interaction/Last Click Attribution Model
  • Last Non-Direct Click Attribution Model
  • Last AdWords Click Attribution Model
  • First Interaction/First Click Attribution Model
  • Linear Attribution Model
  • Time Decay Attribution Model
  • Position Based Attribution Model
  • Customized/Personalized Attribution Model

Each model can be used in connection with the marketing strategy to deliver insight into its actual efficacy – not just a stab in the dark as to whether or not you’re on the right track. The objective of these models is to judge the effect of channels, not necessarily about sales.

The Time Decay Attribution Model

While every campaign needs a fresh perspective and approach to measuring its efficacy, if you’re looking for a good place to start, check out the Time Decay model.

This model is the most simplistic in that its foundation is based on old-school business common sense: The touch point (campaign a customer responded to) closest to conversion gets most of the credit, and the touch point prior to that will get less credit.

You can adjust the algorithm in this model based on the number of campaigns and the amount of time they ran making it one of the best all-around models if you’re not sure where to begin in using attribution.

You want marketing campaigns that engage and connect with customers – that’s the goal. If those connections don’t transform into sales or profitable partnerships, that’s another issue. This is at the core of evaluating, managing and developing effective marketing campaigns.

It’s easy to get sidetracked trying to track changes in the bottom line but it’s important to remember all the steps that come before that bottom line. After all, when you decide to buy a car, you don’t just go from your couch to a dealership and pick a car.

First you do some research, you ask around, you check out different models and companies – in short, you break down the process of buying a car into smaller, more manageable steps. The same is true when you want to increase sales.

Using marketing attribution models in order to evaluate campaigns can help you find the right kind of campaigns to achieve your goals and invest your resources – financial and otherwise – more wisely. The Time Decay model provides a versatile, easy to understand starting point and the learning curve will give you the confidence and deeper understanding you need in order to use other models as time goes on.

About the Author

Ryan Gerardi
Creative, resourceful, and resilient B2B sales and marketing technologist who works with people and businesses on a variety of levels to help elevate their game, their brand, and their businesses.
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