Balancing Act: Linear Attribution Model Demystified

Linear Attribution Model: Understanding the Balanced Approach to Marketing Analysis

It is often said that the key to business success is striking a delicate balance between marketing and enhancing a value offering. In the context of business marketing analysis, the balancing act often centers on selecting the right attribution models. The linear attribution model is especially popular yet often misunderstood.

Linear Attribution Explained

Linear attribution typically centers on multi-touch attribution in that it considers several touchpoints that customers progress through across the customer journey. The linear attribution model comprehensively accounts for every interaction customers have with the company’s marketing material before the point of purchase.

The linear approach attributes equal credit to all touchpoints. The credit for conversion is divided by the touchpoints accessed throughout the path to conversion, ultimately calculating specific amounts of credit per touchpoint. Therefore, if a customer has five interactions with brand material before conversion, each of those touchpoints is credited 20%.

As an example, consider a customer who sees a company ad on Facebook. The social media ad places a metaphorical seed in the prospect’s mind that eventually sprouts. However, if the customer waits until he or she receives the company newsletter, sees a relevant banner ad, a TV commercial then finds a company blog post before converting, each of those touchpoints is equally credited 20%.

The linear attribution model is favored by startup companies as they diversify advertising efforts. Moreover, startups lack a point of historical comparison, meaning their founders and marketers are willing to give equal credit to all touchpoints until additional data is available for analysis.

Businesses with lengthy buying cycles that include several touchpoints also use the linear attribution model. Lengthy buying cycles with multiple touches require comprehensive analysis in which all touches are recognized.

The Potential Downsides to the Linear Approach

The linear attribution model is slightly fallible. Some business owners, managers, and advertisers argue the linear approach is overly simplistic. The linear attribution model equally credits all touchpoints when the truth is some touchpoints are more valuable than others.

However, when a business starts, its owners and managers need to be made aware of the touchpoints that are most important for sparking serious interest and driving conversions.

The pressing question is whether your business is interested in the nuances of marketing touchpoints. If your brass views all touchpoints equally, the linear approach provides valuable insight. However, you might eventually learn that specific touchpoints are worthy of more credit than others in that they influence prospect conversion to a greater degree.

As an example, a prospect who spends 5-10 minutes reading through an insightful blog post laden with keywords and key phrases after searching will likely be more influenced by that touchpoint than a social media post or a newsletter emailed once every month or financial quarter.

Use the Linear Approach as a Starting Point

Most businesses lean on the linear attribution model when first launching then pivot toward another or even several other models as the business takes shape. The linear approach provides a general overview of marketing impact without requiring an in-depth breakdown of Google Analytics or other marketing data.

Choose the linear approach and you’ll track all of your company’s marketing channels spanning the following and more:

  • SEO campaigns
  • Ads placed on the web
  • Paid social media ads
  • Newsletters

As long as customers interact with those channels, each will be credited with helping the ensuing conversion. This multi-touch approach offers a macro-level perspective that tells the story of customer awareness, interest, and conversion.

Once you have a general idea of which touchpoints are driving interest and conversion, you can continue with the linear approach or segue to another attribution model. However, some business owners and advertisers elect to continue using the linear attribution model while simultaneously employing several other attribution models in unison.

The Clarity Every Business Deserves

How customers interact with your business is important for understanding those individuals and also your advertising efforts. Though some customers strictly interact with businesses on one or two marketing channels, many wait to convert until accessing numerous touchpoints.

From social media to organic search engine results driven by SEO, email, blogs, and even text messages, there are numerous avenues toward conversion. Recognize that each of these avenues holds value, employ the linear attribution model at your business and you’ll obtain a better understanding of the touchpoints that drive conversions.

The insights gleaned through the use of the linear attribution model help you and your marketing team allocate your limited marketing budget with prudence.

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