In digital marketing, understanding your initiatives’ effectiveness is essential for success. Email marketing remains one of the most effective tools for businesses to connect with customers. Still, its impact is often underestimated because of a lack of proper attribution. Email marketing attribution fills this gap, allowing businesses to unravel the true impact of their email marketing efforts and make data-driven decisions. So, what is email marketing attribution?
This post will explain email marketing attribution and highlight its significance, models, and best practices.
What is Email Marketing Attribution?
Email marketing attribution is data-collection effortsin determining and giving credit to specific touchpoints in an email marketing campaign that contributes to a desired result or conversion, like a sale, sign-up, or website visit. It tries to figure out which emails or email interactions have the most significant impact on the customer’s decision-making process.
Email marketing attribution has models (which we will discuss later) which provide insights into how, where, and when a consumer connects with brand messages, allowing marketing teams to change and customize marketing campaigns to meet each consumer’s unique needs, improving the return on investment (ROI) of marketing.
Why is Email Marketing Attribution Important?
Email marketing attribution is crucial for several reasons, including;
1. Precise measurements of campaign effectiveness
2. Identify high-impact touchpoints
3. Optimizing email marketing strategies
4. Improving Return on Investment (ROI)
5. Justifying the marketing budget
6. Data-driven decision making
7. Enhanced personalization and segmentation
8. Help cross-channel marketing efforts
What Are the Email Attribution Models?
Marketers usually use email attribution models to allocate credit or attribution to various touchpoints within an email campaign based on their contribution to a desired conversion or outcome. Different attribution models offer unique insights into how credit is assigned to different touchpoints. Here are some popular email attribution models are as follows:
1. First-Touch Attribution
In this attribution model, all credit for the conversion is assigned to the first touchpoint with the customer. Although it usually focuses on the initial engagement that brought the customer into the marketing funnel, it might overlook the impact of subsequent touchpoints.
For example, James, a subscriber, receives the first email in the campaign showcasing the laptop graphic processor. Intrigued by the graphic processor, James clicks on the email’s call-to-action button without converting. Over the next few days, James receives more emails in the campaign, each highlighting various aspects of the laptop, such as performance, battery life, and size. However, James doesn’t open or interact with these emails.
After considering his options, James decides to buy the laptop. He directly visits your website and completes the purchase. So, with the first-touch attribution model, all conversion credit goes to the first email James received, which showcased the laptop’s graphic processor as the sole reason for his purchase.
2. Last-Touch Attribution
In this attribution model, all credit for the conversion is assigned to the last touchpoint with the customer. Though is a handy attribution model for tracking the immediate effectiveness of your marketing content, it potentially overlooks earlier touchpoints’ impact.
For example, Sam, a subscriber, receives an email from you introducing a new fall collection and offering a 25% discount on her first purchase. Intrigued, he clicks on the email and browses the website, leaving without converting. After a few days, Sam receives more emails from you with updates on new arrivals, but he doesn’t open or interact with these subsequent emails.
After considering his options, Sam decides to buy. He visits your website directly, adds items from the fall collection to her cart, and completes the purchase. With the last-click attribution model, the last email Sam received is credited as the sole reason for his purchase.
3. Multi-Touch Attribution
Multiple touchpoints are assigned credit for contributing to conversion in multi-touch attribution. It assigns credit to different touchpoints along the customer journey, giving a more comprehensive view of the customer’s interactions with the emails.
For example, Eva, a subscriber, receives the first email in the marketing campaign featuring a floral fall dress collection. Intrigued by the designs, she clicks the email’s call-to-action button but leaves without converting. After a few days, Eva receives additional emails highlighting designs, such as striped shoulder and maxi dresses. She opens and reads but leaves without converting.
After a few weeks, Eva receives an email offering a time-limited 25% discount on fall dresses. Still, again, she opens and reads, leaving without making a purchase. A few days later, Eva received the final email in the campaign, reminding her of the 25% discount expiration date. The email prompts her to add the dresses to her cart and completes the purchase.
In this case, the model credits the contributions of multiple touchpoints in Eva’s customer journey.
4. Linear Attribution
In this model, credit is equally distributed among all channels in the customer journey before buying. Although this attribution model might not help you determine which touchpoints are effective at generating leads or converting customers, it can help you identify which channels your customers interact with most consistently.
For example, Sara visits your site directly and registers for your email list. Later that day, she receives an email in the campaign showcasing a 20%-off coupon; she clicks on it but doesn’t convert. She then clicks on your Facebook ad campaign, but still, she leaves without converting.
Lastly, she clicks on your abandoned cart email and completes her purchase. In this case, direct traffic, the coupon email, the Facebook ad campaign, and the abandoned cart are all assigned equal credit for the conversion.
5. Time-Decay Attribution
Time-Decay attribution usually assigns more credit to touchpoints closer to the conversion event and less to earlier touchpoints. If you prioritize the conversion event most and want to monitor which channels consistently impact conversion, the time decay model might be your ticket.
For example, Emma clicks on your Google ad campaign and registers for your email list but leaves without converting. A few days later, she visited your site directly without converting. A few weeks later still, she clicked on one of your Facebook ad campaigns without purchasing. The next day, Emma clicks on one of your email marketing campaigns and proceeds to purchase.
In this case, the most conversion credit would be assigned to your email marketing campaign and the least to your Google ad campaign.
6. Position-Based Attribution
This marketing position-based attribution model usually assigns 40 percent of the credit to the first and last channels, with the remaining 20 percent distributed evenly among the middle channels, to level the participating field and assign proportional credit to every channel that impacted the customer’s buying journey.
For example, John clicks on your Google ad for a downloadable resource where he signs up for your email list. A few days later, he receives an email on a campaign with a discount code. He clicks the email and puts the item in his cart before leaving without converting. A few weeks later, he clicks on your abandoned cart email but leaves without converting.
Finally, he clicks on your retargeting Google ad campaign and buys the same item. In this case, Google ad campaigns would get 80 percent of the credit (because that was the first and last interaction), and your email campaigns would get the remaining 20 percent.
7. Custom Attribution
With the custom attribution model, you assign more credit to touchpoints you believe are crucial and less credit to touchpoints you believe are insignificant. Keep in mind that this can be self-defeating because you would be making assumptions about which channels are the most effective for conversion, that being the very objective of having a marketing attribution model in the first place.
For example, Susan, a subscriber, receives the first email showcasing the latest waterproof shoes. She opens the email but leaves without converting. After a few days, Susan received more emails in the campaign, each with different shoe models with personalized discounts based on her browsing history on your website. She opens these emails, clicks on the product link to view them, and then leaves without converting.
After considering the shoe options, Susan visits your website directly from an organic search. She explores the shoe collection again and adds a pair of waterproof shoes to her cart but still doesn’t complete the purchase. Susan receives another email offering a limited-time free shipping offer for first-time purchases. This email prompts her to revisit the website, and she completes the purchase this time.
In this case, you assign more credit to touchpoints you believe are crucial and less credit to touchpoints you believe are insignificant.
What Are the Tools forEmail Attribution?
1. Email Service Provider (ESP)
If you set up your ESP to track conversions, most high-quality ESPs can do a lot to help new email marketers figure out which email campaigns bring in the most revenue. Though this won’t track your other marketing channels, it is a good start. It will also help you determine how effectively your emails convert subscribers.
2. Google Analytics
This is where most marketers start when they want to build their attribution model. Google Analytics, a free tool, can track virtually everything on your website, including bounce rate, average number of pages visited, time on page, and the most common conversion paths.
3. Data Collection Software and Hub
You will need data collection software with a simple viewing hub to collect data for your preferred attribution model and make meaningful conclusions. There are a lot of different tools for tracking and collecting attribution data. You only need to choose one that works for your business and attribution model and is within your budget.
Email Marketing Attribution Best Practices
1. Clearly Define Goals and KPIs
Start by defining clear and specific marketing goals and key performance indicators (KPIs). Knowing what you want to achieve and what metrics matter the most will help you align your marketing attribution models with your objectives.
2. Use Multiple Marketing Attribution Models
Consider using multiple models instead of relying solely on one marketing attribution model. Each model provides a unique perspective on customer interactions, providing a more comprehensive view of the customer journey.
3. Data Integration and Accuracy
Ensure all relevant data sources are integrated, including email marketing portfolio platforms, website analytics, CRM systems, and advertising platforms. Data accuracy is vital for reliable attribution insights.
4. Align Marketing and Sales Channels
Connect sales and marketing channels for more valuable attribution insights. This tactic aligns marketing and sales outreach into a single customer journey. It helps your team identify disconnects in KPIs, personas, and customer data.
5. Use Automation Whenever Possible
Use marketing analytics platforms or dedicated attribution tools that can automate the attribution process, handle complex data analysis, and provide actionable insights.
6. Talk to Stakeholders About Marketing Attribution
Ensure that all stakeholders, including decision-makers and marketing teams, understand the concept of marketing attribution and its impacts on strategic decision-making.
7. Regularly Review and Update
Attribution isn’t a one-time task. We recommend continuously reviewing and updating your attribution models to account for market trends, new marketing channels, and customer behavior changes.
Frequently Asked Questions on Email Marketing Attribution
1. What is Attribution in Email Marketing?
Email marketing attribution is data-collection effortsin determining and giving credit to specific touchpoints in an email marketing campaign that contribute to a desired result or conversion, like a sale, sign-up, or website visit.
2. What is an Example of Attribution in Marketing?
For example, Sara visits your site directly and registers for your email list. Later that day, she receives an email in the campaign showcasing a 20%-off coupon; she clicks on it but doesn’t convert. She then clicks on your Facebook ad campaign, but still, she leaves without converting. Lastly, she clicks on your abandoned cart email and completes her purchase. In this linear attribution, direct traffic, the coupon email, the Facebook ad campaign, and the abandoned cart are all assigned equal credit for the conversion.
3. How Important is Marketing Attribution?
Marketing attribution is essential because it usually helps marketers understand the implications of their marketing efforts. It allows them to determine which marketing channels drive the most ROI for a business.
4. How Do You Solve Marketing Attribution Problems?
By always aiming to integrate as much data as possible from different sources since data integration is required, you can match up your data with metrics like cost, revenue, gross profit, etc.