• Blog
  • Mar 12, 2021
  • By Cam Sivesind
What Is Linear Attribution And How Does It Help Businesses?

Out of all the metrics, digital marketers pay the most attention to their return on investment (ROI). Better yet, a key measurement is return on ad spend (ROAS). What they don’t tell you is how the numbers reflected on specific platforms aren’t always accurate. At times, these numbers are inflated and don’t display the real return. That is why marketers need marketing attribution to help them make accurate and informed optimization decisions.

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How so? Take Rob as an example. Rob scrolls through his newsfeed and comes across your Facebook ad. He clicks on it, is interested in your product, and even adds it to his cart. However, instead of checking out, Rob forgets to complete his purchase. Days later, he sees a Google ad for the same product. He clicks on it again, but this time, he buys the product.

This situation happens more often than you might think. People don’t typically convert from just a single advertisement anymore. Without an attribution model in place, Facebook would recognize Rob’s conversion via your website’s pixel code, if it happened within 30 days. Google also takes 100% of the credit for conversions in the same way. This double-counting creates inflation, making your data inaccurate.

This is why it’s crucial to incorporate attribution modeling when calculating your actual marketing ROI, or ROAS. Marketing attribution models give you helpful insights on which platforms drive more conversions. The data you get enables you to be more strategic and optimize your marketing campaigns.

One of the most popular models you can use is the linear attribution model. The linear attribution model tracks every touchpoint that a prospect takes during the buying journey. Many businesses choose this model because it considers the entire customer journey, gives credit to multiple engagements and provides a comprehensive view of the overall marketing strategy. Using a multi-touch attribution guide can prove helpful in understanding this approach.

What Is the Linear Attribution Model?

The linear attribution approach is a multi-touch model and perhaps the easiest to understand. It attributes credit to all traffic sources involved in the entire buying journey.

Let’s go back to Rob as an example. Since Rob went through Facebook and Google ads before making the purchase, the linear model demands that the conversion be split evenly between Facebook and Google. If Rob’s purchase was $200, the Facebook ad gets credited with $100 while the Google ad gets credited with the other $100.

Because the linear attribution model credits every customer’s touchpoints, using this model gives you a more holistic look at your marketing strategy. Instead of analyzing a single event, you get to see the complete picture of how your different platforms complement one another in driving the conversion.

Digital marketing boils down to teamwork. Google ads alone won’t always drive conversions. Combined with Facebook ads, SEO, and other inbound marketing strategies, you have a more robust campaign that encourages customers through the sales funnel.

How Businesses Use the Linear Attribution Model

The linear attribution model works best for new companies with a limited budget who still want a general overview of how their marketing strategies are performing. You can use this model to determine which channels are the most effective and therefore worth receiving more resources. You can also weed out campaigns that might be burning cash yet are performing poorly.

You can also use this model to get a more accurate reading of your overall ROI. With the linear attribution model, there’s no need to take a deep dive into the nitty-gritty of Google Analytics and CRM. You can quickly determine which channels are driving more conversions and which ones are not.

This model tracks every marketing channel your company employs, such as paid social media ads, SEO, webinars, and a whole lot more. You get to distribute attribution evenly among these channels depending on which ones your customer has interacted with.

Pros of Linear Attribution

Incorporates a Multi-touch Approach

This model takes all marketing channels into account. This gives you a macro-perspective on which channels made the most impact in terms of brand awareness, which ones actually got consumers to click on your website, and which ones finally sealed the deal. The information you gain is enough to help you optimize your campaigns and replicate previous success.

Easy to Understand

Linear attribution works best with newer companies trying out different digital marketing strategies. You don’t necessarily have to weigh each touchpoint since the model automatically credits every customer’s touchpoint evenly. It’s the simplest way to understand the entire customer journey and is much more accurate than single-point attribution models.

Beginner Friendly

You don’t have to be savvy at data analytics to use this model. As long as you know your way around UTM or tracking customer touchpoints, it’s relatively easy to determine how your channels perform.

Cons of Linear Attribution

Too Simplistic

The simplicity of the linear attribution model can also act as a double-edged sword. It offers little to no nuance in determining which channel had the most influence in the conversion. Because it credits every touchpoint evenly, you won’t be able to double down on the top-performing campaigns.

Treats Every Touchpoint the Same

This particular weakness goes along with the simplicity of the model. While it’s necessary to recognize every touchpoint in the conversion path, it does not automatically mean that every channel is of equal importance.

For instance, Rob liked your Facebook page but hadn’t interacted further with your brand other than that. It wasn’t until he read a few blog articles of yours that he decided to make a purchase. Under this model, social media and blogs are credited evenly. However, social media really didn’t contribute to Rob’s buying decision to the same level as your blog content. This perspective can lead to skewed data over time.

Not Suitable for Companies With Too Many Marketing Channels

This model is not ideal for companies that have a long and sophisticated sales cycle. Having many marketing channels can also prove to be a disadvantage under the linear attribution model. While it’s easy to weed out underperforming channels, you won’t be able to determine your most influential and top-performing channels either.

Final Thoughts

Digital marketing relies on ROI to determine which campaigns need to be optimized or paused. However, the data you get from Google Analytics, Facebook Ads, and other marketing dashboards may not be entirely accurate. Most marketers use attribution models to ensure accuracy and remove the risk of double-counting.

One of the easiest and most effective models to use for new companies is the linear attribution model. While it has some drawbacks, it’s generally the simplest way to get a bird’s-eye view of your overall marketing strategy.