Marketing attribution models: The what, the why and the how

What are attribution models? 

While you might like to think that the customer’s purchasing journey is straightforward, chances are that it’s not. In the digital age, there are many different ways for people to find and interact with your brand, services and products. The way that they engage and move further down the sales funnel becomes even more complex. With smart and strategic planning, the user journey can be manipulated with specific touchpoints designed to lead the customer toward a desired outcome such as a conversion. This strategic plan is called an attribution model.

The right attribution model can make a world of difference to a business's bottom line, and it’s for this reason that understanding attribution is key for marketers who want to improve their campaigns. Keep reading this blog from the team at WildJar to find out more.

How do attribution models work? 

Attribution modelling refers to a strategy whereby marketers analyse and assign credit to a marketing effort that takes place at the specific steps of the customer journey before reaching their final destination - conversion. It covers the entire process, from hunting online for a product, to clicking off on the final purchase. But most importantly, it includes every action along the way, analysing each touchpoint’s contribution to the conversion.

Attribution modelling helps to determine which touch points are working well and which ones aren’t. With this in mind, you can then tweak and adjust things to ensure that you are getting the best possible results across the board. 

Tip: Multi-touch modelling lets you distribute credit across a number of different touch points to see how marketing interactions impact the entire sales funnel.

Why do attribution models matter in digital marketing?

If your marketing efforts include a range of touch points, be it PPC keywords, landing pages, SEO and display ads, then how can you determine with confidence which avenue is responsible for a sale? There’s every chance that a customer may interact with some areas of your campaign more than others. Thanks to attribution modelling, you can clearly see the customer journey from the starting point to the end purchase. This means you can refine your approach based on the effectiveness of each medium, leading to better results and more sales. For example, maybe a particular landing page is generating a lot of leads and your social media ads are failing to create much interest. With the numbers in front of you, you could divert more resources into landing page content to capitalise on the success, and reduce the spending on ineffective ads. 

What are the benefits of marketing attribution?

There many benefits to attribution modelling including:

- Optimising your marketing spend

- Increasing your ROI

- Improving your personalisation

- Improving your product development

- Optimising creative assets

What is the difference between single and multi-touch models?

There are many different attribution models used by businesses all over the world, however they can almost always be categorised as either a single-touch or multi-touch model. There is not one model that is inherently correct, but you must choose your model based on your company’s marketing objectives and the way in which your campaigns utilise different channels.


As you can likely gather from the name, a single-touch model gives credit to one touchpoint for a customers’ conversion. A single-touch model includes:

First interaction attribution: 

Last interaction attribution:



Due to the fragmented nature of the modern customer journey, most successful companies will utilise a multi-touch model. In recent times, businesses have had to work harder to get their customers over the line due to the sheer volume of smart marketing tactics deployed by businesses within the market. Therefore, businesses are forced to implement more touch points to guide the customer through the funnel. To analyse the success of each touch point, businesses often utilise a multi-touch attribution model. Some of the most popular multi-touch models include:

Linear attribution:

Time decay:

Position based (U-shaped):



What are some mistakes and challenges to watch out for when attribution modelling?

To ensure that your attribution modelling is accurate, you must make sure that you do it correctly and are measuring all of the right elements. Things that you should look out for include:

- Correlation based Bias

- Cheap Inventory Bias

- In-Market Bias

- Digital Signal Bias

- Brand & Behavior

- Missing Message Signal

- Not measuring offline touchpoints (foot traffic, point of sales surveys, call tracking)

Which attribution model should I use for my business?

There is no blanket rule for every business. The right attribution model for your business will depend entirely on your customer journey and how complex it is. If your company has limited channels to target their customer, then it may be wise to choose a single-touchpoint model. 

But on the other hand, if your business uses many different tactics such as an SMS gateway, social media, Google Ads, email automation etc, then you are likely to need a more thorough, multi-touch attribution model. 

Attribution example

Let’s have a look at a user journey and see how attribution modelling may come into play. 

Elijah’s journey began when he saw an ad for your company’s product. He clicked on the ad then interacted with your brand on social media. Something caught his eye, so he thought about it for a few days before organically searching for your company on Google. He then watched a video on your website, signed up to your mailing list, then received an email containing a discount code. This is when he decided to make his purchase.

With attribution modelling, a marketer is able to analyse the effectiveness of each one of the touchpoints that drove Elijah to convert. 

If you wanted to apply a single-touch model, you would give credit to either the first or the last touchpoint, depending on which model you wanted to apply. In this case however, if you looked solely at the first or last interaction, you would miss out on getting a complete picture of the consumer buying process. 

However, if you applied a multi-touch attribution model, you would also be able to give credit to the other touchpoints that were pivotal in this particular journey to conversion.

Nail attribution with call tracking software

Want to nail your digital marketing campaigns? Call tracking is one way that businesses are getting the most rewards for their efforts. With live dashboards, unique caller indication, call recording, multi-channel attribution, keyword and visitor analytics, conversion reporting, call whisper and more, you’ll be able to get a clear vision of what’s working and what’s not. 

Get in touch with the friendly team at WildJar to find out more about what we have to offer. We pride ourselves on offering a standout level of service and support to customers across Australia. Got a question? We’re always on hand to take your call. Book a demo today.

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