Understanding Attribution

Attribution in the digital marketing world is about how you tie results to your digital marketing efforts.

Today’s customer buying journey is complicated “like a sightseeing tour with stops, exploration, and discussion along the way—all moments when you need to convince people to pick your brand and stick with it instead of switching to a competitor.”*

Instead of search, click, browse, buy… the journey of a someone interested in a product might go something like this:

  1. Searches on Google for ‘top-rated project management software’

  2. Clicks on a paid search ad

  3. Browses the website, reading the homepage, features, and pricing pages

  4. Opens another browser tab, does another Google search to compare the platform against competitors

  5. Ends up on YouTube, watching a video review about the platform

  6. Gets distracted by a friend on Instagram, abandons the initial search

  7. Several days later is retargeted by the project management software company on Facebook and signs up for a free trial

And while the great thing about digital marketing, is that you can set up conversion tracking and directly measure the results of campaigns… this long and complicated buying process makes the results of a campaign difficult to measure and attribute success accurately.

Advertisers many years ago were not able to do this so simply and directly, and this is part of the appeal of digital marketing. Marketing directors and execs are more than happy to move budget from traditional media like TV and radio, to online channels where the promise of measurable results await.

Sounds awesome, what is the problem then?

Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as you think. There are inherent flaws in the how we measure, and what we are able to measure. And it may be helpful to know that every organization, large and small are dealing with attribution challenges in their marketing.

Here are a few key issues with measurability and attribution:

1. Digital ad platforms don’t communicate with each other

If you are running campaigns on Google, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn at the same time, you will get campaign reporting from each of these platforms. But none of these platforms will communicate with each other so you end up with your data in dreaded ‘silos’.

This means if LinkedIn tells you that you got 50 conversions, and Facebook tells you that you got 50 conversions - you may only have gotten 50 real conversions and not 100. Or you may have gotten 75, 53, or 92...

Without knowing exactly who converted, and what marketing they were exposed to at every step, you can’t truly understand the effectiveness of each channel.

2. Trackability issues

The simple fact is that you won’t be able to track all of the results of your campaigns. There are several reasons for this:

  • Private browsing:

    • Private Browsing protects private information and blocks websites from tracking behavior. It also prevents the ability to remarket to someone.

  • Cookie deletion:

    • Cookies are a small piece of data sent from a website and stored on the user's computer by the user's web browser while the user is browsing. Cookies often get deleted by users and in some cases don’t get accepted by the browser in the first place.

  • Organic search data encryption:

    • Google protects its users by encrypting all of their organic search data and not sharing it with anyone. While this makes it more difficult to track and optimize organic search efforts, you can still get most of this data if you are running paid search campaigns.

  • Device and browser switching:

    • People tend to have more than one device that they access the web on (laptop, desktop computer, mobile phone, e-reader etc.)

    • That creates difficulty in measuring the impact of a user seeing an ad on one device and converting on another.

  • Conversions that happen outside of the measurement window:

    • Some conversions can happen several months later. This will be especially true for purchases that have a long consideration period.


  • Accept that at least for now, you won’t be able to measure everything and that is OK! Focus on running the best campaigns possible, and use what you can measure from the platform data to optimize.

  • Deeply understand your target audience, so that you can target them accurately.

  • Use AdWords quality score and Facebook relevance score to perfect your target audience/message match.

  • Look at your overall results from your sales tracking tool - how are sales performing this year compared to last year?

  • If you can afford it, deploy measurement platforms like Attribution App, or Convertro that give you the ability to track and de-duplicate your marketing efforts across channels (note that event these platforms won’t be able to track everything).



5 Reasons Why Your Marketing Director Should Not Manage Your AdWords Campaigns

We often come across AdWords accounts that are managed ‘in-house’ by a Marketing Director with very little experience or time on their hands to dedicate to their account. Managing AdWords campaigns is something that should be handled by a specialist, and in companies without huge marketing teams that means finding an agency to partner with.

Here are 5 reasons why your Marketing Director should not manage your AdWords campaigns:

1.  Lack of resources - This is a big one. Managing any digital marketing campaign, especially AdWords will require at least several hours a week of oversight, and that increases depending on the amount of budget under management. It’s easy to underestimate the demand that managing a campaign requires. Sure you might start off highly motivated and interested, but that will wane quickly as you realize how much work is required. All of a sudden you realize you haven’t looked at your campaigns in 6 months and Google has suspended your account.

2.  Wrong skillset - Most Marketing Directors have a generalized marketing skill set (as they should). It is more important that they are managing from a macro level than at a micro level. It can take years to become an expert at AdWords and most AdWords experts are not looking for Marketing Director roles (i.e transitioning from PPC Strategist to Marketing Director).

3.  The need to stay up to date with industry changes - Google is constantly changing the rules for marketing through their platform. Without knowing exactly how to pivot and react to changes, you will find yourself losing money and falling behind competitors.

4.  Specialized software - Agencies usually pay for software to do research and competitive analysis before launching campaigns. They also usually pay for software to manage, optimize and report on campaigns. This can get expensive, but agencies find it worthwhile because they are usually managing several accounts.

5.  Easy to waste money - Google makes it very easy for anyone to set up an account and be spending on ads in a matter of hours. The downside is that without the right know-how you will waste all of your budget on the wrong things. Something as simple as using the wrong keyword match type, campaign setting, or bid in AdWords can cost you big time.

Potential customers are going to Google and searching all of the time. Whether your business is there to capture the traffic depends on you being set up for success with an experienced team managing your campaigns.

"Businessman doing business."

"Businessman doing business."

Why We Love Landing Pages

All too often, marketers make the mistake of sending campaign traffic to a website’s homepage, and not a dedicated landing page.

First impressions are everything, and a well designed landing page is the best way to generate new leads directly from paid marketing campaigns. Below, we’ll explain a few key reasons why you should use landing pages in your paid marketing campaigns.

What is a landing page?

A landing page is a single dedicated page containing ONE call-to-action for the visitor. The call-to-action (CTA) is what we want the visitor to complete.

The CTA can vary based on your campaign goals. Popular examples include signing up for a newsletter, submitting a form to receive more information, or scheduling an appointment for a service.

We love landing pages because they box users in, and produce measurable and testable results. Results that you can show your boss and take home to your Mom.

Here are a few reasons why we like them so much:

1. Focused lead generation

Because a landing page only focuses on one goal, the visitor is more likely to complete the call-to-action. While conversion rates on a website are generally lower than 2%, landing pages can often have conversion rates of 10% or higher.

Whether it be signing up for a free proposal or scheduling a demo, the moment they complete this call-to-action you have secured a new lead.

Most businesses are going to have a longer sales cycle than a single interaction. You wouldn’t expect to sell a user on a several thousand dollar software subscription on the first visit right? It’s better to capture their name, email address and phone number so that you can follow up with them directly.

2. You control the messaging and the CTA (call to action)

While your website is meant to appeal to all types of visitors — current customer or not, a landing page is designed to have specific messaging and a specific conversion goal aligned with where the user is in the buying process.

This is your first opportunity to capture their attention and help them understand the benefit they get for subscribing to your product or service.

Giving something in exchange for a lead is a great way to maximize your conversion rate. A PDF download, e-book, or access to a free webinar all are effective ways to do this.

3. You can improve your results with A/B testing

One of the best things about landing pages is that you can easily A/B test them to see which one drives more conversions. This can make a significant impact on the performance of your campaign.

We recommend testing from ‘big to small’. Work on the biggest differentiators like two different CTAs (call to action) first to determine a winner. Then focus on smaller things like button color and text positioning.

Ongoing A/B testing over time will lead to the best campaign results. We use Unbounce to A/B test and set conversion goals for our landing pages.

In summary:

Once you have found an effective landing page + campaign formula, it’s time to scale up your campaign budgets. There are a lot of technical implementation steps involved so reach out to us before you get started to avoid pitfalls and save time.