What are social media marketing attribution models and why should you care about them? The answer is simple: you need to know the precise social media channel that triggered a sale and, thus, the revenue for your advertising expense. The name of the process for establishing this connection is attribution. And there are several social media marketing attribution models used by marketers, each adapted to a specific case.
Why Are There Several Social Media Marketing Attribution Models?
The sale process is never simple and straightforward these days. People become aware of a brand or product on Facebook. They learn more about the company on LinkedIn. They see detailed and attractive product photos on Instagram. Then they receive a discounted offer via a Facebook mobile ad or Messenger ad.
Which one of these social media channels determined the client to make the purchase? It is complicated, isn’t it? And this is the buying process for a B2C purchase, where there is only one decision to make – the client’s. In the B2B environment things are even more complex. Here, there are up to five decision makers involved in the process of selecting a supplier.
How Can You Know What Determined a Lead to Become a Client?
The whole point of social media marketing attribution models is to give you the tools you need to make this determination. Each model grants importance to one channel or another from a chronological or intentional point of view.
In this article, we will show you how these models work and what their strong and weak points are.
1. The First Touch Attribution Model
In this model, the social media channel that receives the revenue attribution is the first one where the client found about your business or offer. For example, if a prospect saw a Facebook ad for a free webinar, and then subscribed to your newsletter after the webinar and subsequently made a purchase from an email offer, Facebook gets the credit for the purchase.
Strong point: this social media marketing attribution model is very simple and does not require complex analyses.
Weak point: there is a large error margin in this model, because it does not take into account lead nurturing efforts.
2. The Last Touch Attribution Model
This model is the reverse of the previous one. The revenue attribution is given to the last channel used by the prospect before making the purchase (the email newsletter in our case).
Strong point: it is the best model if you are interested in measuring conversion rate. The connection is made directly between the last social media marketing activity and the purchase.
Weak point: this model is also prone to errors as the first one, because it ignores the lead generation efforts made to get the prospect to convert.
3. The Even-Weighted Attribution Model
This is one of the more complex social media marketing attribution models. It assigns equal roles to each channel in attributing the sale.
Strong point: using this model takes into account the long and complex customer journey from awareness to purchase.
Weak point: you cannot act in the sense of optimising your social media efforts. In reality, not all channels carry the same weight in building the purchase decision, but you won’t be able to identify the differences.
4. The U-Shaped Attribution Model
This model assumes that the first and the last point of contact of the prospect with your marketing messages are critical in determining a purchase. In the theoretical case presented above, Facebook and the email newsletter would be the channels that receive the revenue attribution.
Strong point: this model emphasizes the importance of brand awareness and conversion as top and bottom of funnel elements of the customer journey.
Weak points: what happens in between the first and last touch are ignored and they may well be the true decision making moments for the client.
5. The Time Decay Attribution Model
In this model, the chronological order of touch points is taken into account, with the last touch being the most valuable, and the first touch the least valuable.
Strong point: this model works best for long customer journeys (for instance in B2B marketing, where the buying cycle is significantly longer than in B2C sales).
Weak point: chronology is not necessarily accurate in attributing a sale to a specific channel. A powerful first impression (brand awareness) may be the relevant touch point for the respective sale.