Want Real Answers? Get Marketing Attribution Right.

Want Real Answers?

Get Marketing Attribution Right.

Here’s one thing we know for sure: Advertising works.

“Doing business without advertising is like winking at a girl in the dark. You know what you are doing but nobody else does.”
— Steuart Henderson Britt

Compared to marketing or brand-building, advertising performance is a lot easier to measure. In advertising, our goal is to feed marketing and brand growth by creating more awareness and ultimately getting your product into people’s hands. This should lead to the best form of marketing anyway: referral and influence from your customers.

But the common question marketers ask is, which channel is the best for my business and how do I know I’m actually getting a return? That’s where working with the right marketing attribution models makes all the difference.


Marketing Efficiency Ratio

Attribution models are always changing. And ad platforms are becoming more expensive. So, how do you directly compare year-on-year performance if the reporting you receive is changing constantly? Our go-to is the Marketing Efficiency Ratio or MER.

Total revenue divided by total spend.
(Ad spend + email marketing costs + influencer costs + agency fees)

In essence, this is a profit-focused metric and works in a similar way to how you measure the cost of each area in your financials. For example, you might be targeting 50% gross profit, 30% overheads and 20% profit.

Everyone will have a different MER target depending on their situation. A great way to start is to map what it has been historically and start from there.

It will change depending on the stage of business or your current objectives. E.g. you would likely have a different MER target for a high-growth phase vs a profit-focused phase.


Location-based attribution

Test a new product or campaign in a specific geographic location and measure if results improve in that area within the specified time. It’s possibly the most simple way to track attribution—and one that’s been used for many years in traditional marketing.

This is especially effective if you’re selling both online and in physical retail stores. If the campaign works, you should see sales or leads improve in both. If you’re thinking about running some out-of-home or radio ads, this will also work.


UTM codes

An old one, but still works really well and is widely used by marketers. First of all, make sure you get your structure right. We suggest mapping this out in a document before actually implementing the URLs. For example, Meta and Facebook will all be recorded and tracked separately. The syntax needs to be exactly the same for this to give you the data you want.


Discount codes

Unique discount codes are a great way to attribute sales to a specific source. Still the easiest way to measure direct ROI on influencers.


Testing creative

It might seem strange to mention this when talking about attribution, but the best-performing creative will tell you a lot about what your customers respond to. For example, if you run creative for a newborn or pregnancy-based product to a wide audience, you can expect the people who respond will be in that category themselves or buying for someone in that category.



That means Google Analytics annotations and written monthly reports. Keeping really good documentation and notes of what you changed and when helps tell the story of what is and isn’t working. Combining this with your MER data should give you a good high-level picture.

This also helps you capture things like the release of a new product range or a website feature. Maybe they are having a bigger impact than the advertising?


So which one is the best?

Well, the answer is actually all of them together. The best chance you have at measuring attribution is to look at multiple data points and draw conclusions from patterns.

I also recommend going over these reports with your financials and if you have an in-house or virtual CFO, share with them as well. You should see data patterns emerge.

This is marketing attribution at a pretty intermediate level. Once you have this nailed, you can begin to dive deeper and look at things like customer lifetime value per channel, online and offline journeys and segmenting customers by groups. At this point, you may also look at a Customer Data Platform or working with a data analyst.

Flynn is Arkhi’s CEO and has years of digital marketing experience with a focus on building highly effective and efficient eCommerce experiences and campaigns. We leverage real and sustainable growth every day for our clients by keeping it simple yet highly strategic.


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