Everything You Need to Know About Attribution and Affiliate Marketing

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This is a live blog post from AMDays in San Francisco.

Topic: Everything You Need to Know About Attribution and Affiliate Marketing.

Presenter: Todd Crawford (pictured above), Impact Radius

What is Attribution?

It’s understanding your data throughout the click path of your consumer buying cycle to understand what touch points and steps they took to complete a sale or final desired action and then assigning a value to each of these different actions.

It’s another way of getting insights into your data by analyzing the path your consumer took to buy.

Three Touch Points to Consider:

  1. Introducer (the first touch point).
  2. Assist (the middle touch point).
  3. Closer (the last click to purchase).

Common Attribution Models:

  • First Click, Last Click.
  • Fractional (Linear, Position, Time Decay).

It’s essential to not just look at your data, but understand what it means. Attribution is analysis.

Note: A lot of people actually don’t need attribution. If you only have a few channels and a few people managing it, it’s likely not necessary.  However, if you have many channels and many people managing it, attribution will help you understand the value of team and channel efforts and big picture results much more clearly.

What Can Attribution Tell Us?

It answers the what, where, when and why of each of your ads and channels.

What Do We Want From Attribution?

  • Better results (lift, savings, higher ROAS, etc.).
  • No surprises (money badly spent or results we didn’t want).
  • Eliminates chance.

Why Haven’t We Mastered This Yet?

  • Intra-affiliate.
  • Source of data.
  • Missing pieces.
  • Company politics.

Modeling Versus Analysis

Modeling gives us perspective. We have to look at the data critically and think about it to make sure the information we are looking at is actually accurate.

Ask the question, “What are the most common paths to conversion?”

Using multichannel, as an example, it might look like this:

Google SEM -> Direct -> Email -> Bing SEM -> Google SEM -> Email -> Direct -> Newsletter -> Ebates -> Facebook Ad -> Google SEO -> Google SEM -> Affiliate

How Do We Leverage Attribution?

  • By having clear goals and KPIs that are most important to you and ensuring that’s set up correctly for accurate tracking
  • Leverage your data
  • Analysis

One of the value measurements to add to affiliate, specifically, is in the benefit of zero cost to zero conversion versus the extremely high cost to zero conversion in other channels that require ad buys, such as the cost of zero conversion through Google paid search campaigns. Affiliate has no cost if the action doesn’t take place. That’s a huge benefit to affiliate and should be weighed when adding value to that channel.

In Summary

  • Attribution is inevitable if you have enough data and enough moving pieces to consider.
  • Data is your frien-emy — the insights can provide both good and bad news.
  • You need to put in the effort to get the results!

More information about Affiliate Management Days held in San Francisco can be found here. Or follow the hashtag #AMDays on Twitter.

Image: AM Days

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Sarah Bundy Sarah Bundy is the founder and CEO of All Inclusive Marketing, Canada's leading full-service Affiliate Management Company, which offers personalized Affiliate Management training and consulting services for Internet Retailers. Sarah speaks at industry events, contributes to industry leading periodicals and blogs, and teaches at the Online Marketing Institute. Sarah has also been interviewed on radio shows such as QAQN and Webmaster Radio.