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Beginners Guide to Google Analytics


Attribution Modelling
Written by Himanshu Sharma, Founder of OptimizeSmart.com

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About the author


Himanshu Sharma is a digital marketing consultant and founder
of OptimizeSmart.com.

He specializes in attribution modelling, fixing website tracking


issues and helping businesses to better understand their analytics
data. He has over 12 years’ experience in web analytics and
digital marketing.

He was nominated for the Digital Analytics Association’s Award for Excellence. The Digital
Analytics Association is a world-renowned, not-for-profit association which helps
organizations overcome the challenges of data acquisition and application.

Himanshu is also the author of three best-selling books on analytics and conversion
optimization:

 Maths and Stats for Web Analytics and Conversion Optimization


 Master the Essentials of Email Marketing Analytics
 Attribution Modelling in Google Analytics and Beyond
 Attribution Modelling in Google Ads and Facebook

In addition to these books, he has published more than half a dozen ebooks on Google
Analytics and Google Tag Manager, which are available on optimizesmart.com.

Himanshu run one of the world most popular blogs on Google Analytics. He also provides
web analytics training and has currently got more than 800 students.
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Introduction
Attribution modelling is one of my favourite topics in web analytics because it
is so complicated and challenging. It is something which requires deep
understanding of your client’s business model and how different marketing
channels work together to create sales and conversions.

So before using an attribution model, please make sure that you have acquired
very deep understanding of your client’s business, his industry and the target
market.

Because if you don’t then you will end up applying/creating a wrong attribution
model and lose lot of money. Attribution modelling goes beyond Google
Analytics and is a very broad topic.

This ebook talks only about understanding and using attribution modelling in
the context of Google analytics.

What is Attribution Modelling?

Attribution modelling is the process of understanding the buying behavior of


your customers and to determine the most effective marketing channels for
investment.

Why you should use Attribution modelling?

You should use attribution modelling to understand the buying behavior of your
website visitors:

 Why people buy from my website?


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 What happens before they buy?


 What prompted them to make a purchase or complete a predefined goal?

The biggest insight that you can get from attribution model is that you can
determine the most effective marketing channels for investment.

Many marketers / analyst still evaluate the performance of a marketing


campaign according to the number of conversions it completed. This is sub-
optimal way of evaluating the performance of a marketing channel.

If a marketing channel is not directly completing a conversion, may be it is


assisting in conversion or may be it is initiating the conversion process. So
before you discard or label a marketing channel as ineffective or over invest in
any particular channel determine following things:

1. The number of conversions initiated by the marketing channel.


2. The number of conversions assisted by the marketing channel.

Both ‘Display’ and ‘email’ are poor cousins of Search Marketing campaigns.
This is because they generally don’t get the credit of completing a
conversion. But they do/can help in initiating or assisting a conversion.

So before you label these channels as ineffective or under invest in them, look
at the number of assisted conversions in your ‘Assisted Conversions’ report
from these channels.

In case of multi-channel marketing, no one marketing channel is solely


responsible for conversions.

Multi-Channel marketing is like a football game. The success of the game


depends upon the whole team.
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You can’t single out a single person and give him the entire credit for winning
the game just because he happens to be the person who directly stroked
maximum number of goals. The people, who passed the ball, defend the ball,
the goal keeper; all play an important role in winning the game.

Before I dive deep, there are few topics which I would like to explain upfront to
facilitate the understanding of advanced topics later in this ebook.

Acquisition channels
Also known as ‘marketing channels’, ‘digital channels’ or ‘channels’ are the
sources of traffic to your website. For example: Paid search, Organic Search,
Direct, Social Media, Email, Affiliate, Referral etc are all examples of
acquisition channels. In multi-channel funnel reports, the acquisition channels
are commonly referred to as marketing channels or channels.

Google Analytics provide many reports on Acquisition through which you can
understand traffic/users' acquisition (i.e. how you are acquiring users /traffic
for your website):
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However in order to understand the various Acquisition reports and the users'
acquisition in general, you need to understand what channels really are and how
they are defined in Google Analytics.

Without adequate knowledge of channels, you can't accurately interpret the


various Acquisition reports in GA and consequently your acquisition strategy.

In order to understand channels, you first need to understand: traffic sources,


medium and campaigns.

What is 'source' in Google Analytics?

Source (or traffic source) is the origin of your website traffic. It also includes
traffic sources tracked via utm_source parameter.
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For example,

In case of google / organic, ‘google’ is the traffic source

In case of bing / cpc, ‘bing’ is the traffic source

In case of tripadvisor / referral, ‘tripadvisor’ is the traffic source.

Note: In Google Analytics, 'source' names are case sensitive. So 'google',


'Google' and 'GOOGLE', are all treated as different traffic sources in Google
Analytics.

What is 'medium' in Google Analytics?

Medium (or traffic medium) is the category of the traffic source as defined by
Google. It also includes traffic medium tracked via utm_medium parameter.

For example,

In case of google / organic, ‘organic’ is the medium.

In case of bing / cpc, ‘cpc’ is the medium

In case of tripadvisor / referral, ‘referral’ is the medium.

Note: In Google Analytics, medium names are case sensitive. So 'email', 'Email'
and 'EMAIL' are all treated as different medium in Google Analytics.

What is 'campaign' in Google Analytics?

Campaign is the name of your Google Adwords campaign and/or custom


campaign.
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A custom campaign is that marketing campaign which has been tagged with
campaign tracking parameter ‘utm_campaign’.

What is Channel (or Marketing Channel) in


Google Analytics?

In Google Analytics, a channel or a marketing channel is a group of several


traffic sources with same medium.

For example 'organic search' is a marketing channel. It can be made up


of following traffic sources with same medium called 'organic':

#1 google (as in google / organic)


#2 yahoo (as in yahoo / organic)
#3 bing (as in bing / organic)
#4 aol (as in aol / organic) etc

You can view channels in Google Analytics by going to:

#1 Acquisition > Overview report


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#2 Acquisition > All traffic > Channels report

#3 Conversions > Multi Channel Funnels > Overview report


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#4 Conversions > Multi Channel Funnels > Assisted Conversions report

#5 Conversions > Multi Channel Funnels > Top Conversion Paths report
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There are two types of channels in Google Analytics:

#1 Default marketing channels (or default channels)

#2 Custom marketing channels (or custom channels)

Default marketing channels

Default marketing channels are pre-defined (or system defined) marketing


channels in Google Analytics.

Following are default marketing channels:

1. Organic Search
2. Paid Search
3. Display
4. Direct
5. Referral
6. Social
7. Email
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8. (Other)

Understanding Conversions in Google


Analytics MCF Reports

The definition of conversion is different in Multi-channel funnel reports. It can


be a Goal conversion or an e-commerce transaction. The total conversions in
multi-channel funnel reports is the sum of total number of Goal conversions and
total number of e-commerce transactions.
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Note: For the remainder of this article, whenever I talk about conversions, I am
referring to conversions in the context of multi-channel funnels. If I am
referring to Goal conversions, I will explicitly mention it. So remember that and
don’t get confused later on.

Purge your Analytics data

Be careful what you track as Goal conversions in Google Analytics. I have seen
analytics accounts where marketers track ‘visit to the home page’ as a
conversion or ‘visit to the product category page’ as conversion.

Track only those goals which are beneficial to your customers and company.
Irrelevant goals can drastically skew your conversion rate and the data in the
multi-channel funnel reports. Conclusions drawn from erroneous data will result
in taking wrong marketing decisions and your client won’t like that.

Multi-Channel Funnel Reports

Through multi-channel funnel reports you can determine:

1. How marketing channels work together to create conversions.


2. How much time elapsed between visitors’ initial interest and his purchase
3. What role did prior website referrals, searches and ads played in a
conversion.
4. How to attribute conversions to a marketing channel.

There are 5 types of multi-channel funnel reports available in Google Analytics:


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#1 Overview report- This report contains a ‘muti-channel funnel conversion


visualizer’ through which you can visualize how different marketing channels
are working together to create conversions:

The overlapped areas show the channels which worked together to create
conversions.

#2 Assisted Conversions Report – This report shows the number of


conversions each marketing channel initiated, assisted and completed. It also
shows the value of assisted and last interaction conversions.

#3 Top Conversion Path Report – This report shows all of the unique
conversion paths that lead to conversions. It also shows the number of
conversions from each path and value of those conversions.

#4 Time Lag Report – This report shows how long it took (in days) for
users/visitors to convert. Through this report you can get an insight into the
length of your online sales cycle.
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#5 Path Length Report – This report shows the number of interactions it took
for your website visitors to convert.

Data discrepancy between multi‐channel


funnel reports and other reports in Google
Analytics

In multi-channel funnel reports, a conversion can be a Goal Conversion or e-


commerce transaction. Whereas in non-multi-channel funnel reports a
conversion means Goal Conversion. The e-commerce transactions are reported
separately in non-MCF reports.

So total number of conversions in multi-channel funnel reports can be different


than the total number of conversions in non-multi-channel funnel reports. Multi-
channel funnels data collection lags by up to 2 days. So their results are
temporary out of sync.

Conversion Paths

A Conversion Path is the sequence of interactions (clicks, visits, impressions)


with digital marketing channels during the 1 to 90 days period that lead to
conversions.

The period of 1 to 90 days prior to conversions is known as the 'Lookback


Window':
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Note: The lookback window is available in all MCF reports and you can change
the setting by dragging the slider.

Now consider the following hypothetical conversion path of a user:


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Fig.1

Here a visitor is exposed to 6 marketing channels before he made a


purchase. Google Analytics will show this conversion path in the ‘top
conversion path report’ as:

Fig.2

Note (1): The conversion path is created for each conversion recorded by
Google Analytics.

Note (2): The conversion paths are recorded via _ga cookie.

To know more about Google Analytics cookies, check out the


article: How Google Analytics uses cookies

Note (3): There is no limit to the number of conversion paths, Google Analytics
can record.

Multi‐channel Funnel Data

MCF data is a combination of conversion data and conversion paths and is


compiled from un-sampled data. Since the multi-channel funnel data collection
lags by up to two days, you may not see this data for today or yesterday in your
multi-channel funnel reports.

You also won’t see this data if not a single conversion has occurred on your
website in the last 90 days or conversion tracking has not been set up in your
GA view.
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Interaction

Interaction is an exposure to a marketing channel. Interaction is also known as


‘touch’.

For example in the chart above, the visitor is exposed to 6 different marketing
channels before he made a purchase. Each exposure is known by the name of
‘interaction’ in multi-channel funnel reports.

Note: Google Analytics can record up to 5000 interactions per conversion path.

Types of Interactions

There are several types of interactions. For example:


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#1 Interactions based on position – First interaction, middle interaction and


last interaction. These interactions are also known by the name: first touch,
middle touch and last touch which are more commonly used in the web
analytics world.

#2 Interactions based on type – click interactions (which is basically clicking


on ads), impression interactions (which is basically viewing an ad), direct visit
interactions etc.

#3 Interactions based on campaign or traffic source type – keyword


interactions, campaign interactions, facebook interactions etc.

Any interaction other than the last interaction is called the assist
interaction.

Any interaction other than the first and last interaction is called the
middle interaction.

Types of Interaction Analysis

In Google Analytics you can do two types of interaction analysis:

1. Assisting Interaction Analysis


2. First Interaction Analysis
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As the name suggest, the ‘Assisting Interaction analysis’ is the analysis of assist
interactions (any interaction other than the last one) and the ‘First Interaction
Analysis’ is the analysis of the first interactions.

You can do such type of analysis in the ‘Assisted Conversions’ report (under
Multi Channel Funnels)

Channel Labels

Channel label is the label applied to a digital marketing channel in Google


Analytics. For example ‘paid search’, ‘organic search’, ‘social’, ‘display’ etc are
all examples of channel labels.

Types of Channel labels


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Fig. 3

There are two types of channel labels in Google Analytics:

1. Default Channel Labels


2. Custom Channel Labels

The default channel labels are the predefined channel labels. For
example: ‘paid search’, ‘organic search’, ‘referral’, ‘display’, ‘email’, ‘social’,
‘direct’ and ‘other advertising’ are default channel labels. The custom channel
labels are the labels defined by a user. For example, ‘branded keywords’, ‘non-
branded keywords’ etc are custom channel labels.

Channel Grouping

Channel Grouping is a set of channel labels. There are two types of channel
grouping in Google Analytics:
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1. Default Channel Grouping


2. Custom Channel Grouping

The ‘Default Channel grouping’ is the set of predefined channel labels. The
‘custom channel grouping’ is the channel grouping created by a user. You can
see the example of default and custom channel grouping in Fig.3 above.

Defining channel labels is part of creating your own channel grouping. You can
define a channel label by creating specific rules. Each rule is based on one or
more conditions.
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Note: You can create as many channel groupings as you want.

Conversion Path Analysis

You can analyse a conversion path by changing its primary dimension in the
‘Top Conversion Paths’ Report:

You can switch to following 17 primary dimensions to analyse your


conversion paths:

1. MCF Channel Grouping Path


2. Source/Medium Path
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3. Source Path
4. Medium Path
5. Campaign Path
6. Campaign (or Source/Medium) Path
7. Keyword Path
8. Keyword (or Source/Medium) path
9. Adwords Campaign path
10. Ad group path
11. Adwords Keyword path
12. Ad content path
13. Matched search query path
14. Placement domain path
15. Placement URL path
16. Display URL path
17. Destination URL path

All of these dimensions are pretty self-explanatory and if you play with, you can
get a pretty good idea of how they can be used to analyse a conversion
path. You can access the last 13 dimensions by clicking on the ‘Other’ drop
down list in your ‘Top Conversion Paths’ report:
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Segmenting Conversion Paths

You can segment conversion paths through ‘conversion segments’. They are
just like the Google Analytics advanced segments but are meant especially for
multi-channel funnel data.
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Fig.6

Through conversion segments you can isolate and analyse specific subsets of
conversion paths. There are two types of conversions segments:

1. Default conversion segments


2. User defined conversions segments

So if you want to see all of those conversion paths where the first interaction
was 'paid search' then select ‘First Interaction is Paid Advertising’ from the
‘Default Segments’ and then click on the ‘Apply’ button.

Similarly, if you want to see all of those conversion paths where the first
interaction was 'Facebook' then create a new user defined segment named ‘First
Interaction is Facebook’ by clicking on the link ‘create new conversion
segment’ (see the Fig.6 above) and then click on the ‘Apply’ button.
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Note: You should look at your multi-channel funnel reports in an un-filtered


view. A filtered view can corrupt your conversion path data. Use ‘Conversion
segments’ instead of filtered views.

Introduction to Google Analytics Attribution


Models

An attribution model is a set of rules that determine how credit for conversions
should be attributed/distributed to various touch points in a conversion path.

Attribution models can be broadly classified into two categories:

1. Baseline Attribution Models


2. Custom Attribution Models

Introduction to Baseline Attribution Models

The baseline attribution model (also known as default model) are pre-built
models that defines how credit for conversion should be distributed to various
interactions (or touch points) in a conversion path, before the custom credit
rules are applied.

Types of Baseline attribution models

Google Analytics provide 8 different types of baseline attribution models:

#1 Last interaction attribution model (popularly known as last touch


attribution model) – This model assign 100% credit for conversion to the last
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interaction (or touch point) in a conversion path. Google Analytics uses this
model by default for Multi-channel funnel reports.

#2 First interaction attribution model (popularly known as First touch


attribution model) – This model assign 100% credit for conversion to the first
interaction (or touch point) in a conversion path.

#3 Linear attribution model - This model assign equal credit for conversion to
each interaction in a conversion path.

#4 Time Decay attribution model – This model assign more credit to the
interactions which are closest in time to the conversion.

#5 Position based attribution model – By default this model assign 40% credit
to the first interaction, 20% credit to the middle interactions and 40% credit to
the last interaction.

#6 Last non direct click model - This model assign all the credit for
conversions to the last non-direct click in a conversion path. Google Analytics
uses this model by default for non-Multi channel funnel reports.

#7 Last Adwords Click - This model assign all the credit for conversions to the
last Google Adwords click in a conversion path.

#8 Data driven attribution model - This model uses an algorithm to assign


credit for conversions to various touch points in a conversion path. For now,
this model is available only in Google Analytics 360 (aka Google Analytics
Premium).

Note: There is no one size fit all attribution model and the selection of
attribution model depends mainly on your business model and your advertising
objectives.
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Custom Attribution Models

As the name suggest these models are developed by people like me and you.
They are user defined attribution models.

When you build your own attribution model, you create your own rules to
assign credit to different interactions in a conversion path. These rules are
known by the name ‘custom credit rules’ in Google Analytics.

Attribution Reports in Google Analytics

Google Analytics provide following attribution reports:

1. Model Comparison Tool (also known as 'Attribution Model Comparison


Tool')
2. ROI Analysis - This report is available only in GA premium/360 enabled
properties.
3. Model Explorer (also known as 'Data Driven Attribution Model
explorer) - This report is available only in GA premium/360 enabled
properties.

You can access these reports by navigating to: Conversions > Attribution in
your GA view:
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Introduction to Model Comparison Tool

As the name suggest, the model comparison tool (or Attribution Models
Comparison Tool) is an attribution tool in Google Analytics, which is used to
compare different attribution models to each other.

An attribution model is a set of rules which is used to determine how credit


for conversions should be attributed to different marketing channels.

Through Model Comparison tool you can compare different baseline and
custom attribution models to each other. This comparison is carried out to
determine how a marketing channel can be valued from different perspective.

You can also use this tool to create custom attribution models in Google
Analytics.

ROI Analysis in Google Analytics


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You can do ROI analysis in Google Analytics by using the ‘ROI Analysis’ and
‘Cost Analysis’ reports.

Through these reports you can calculate the ROAS of various marketing
campaigns under different attribution models.

In Google Analytics, the ROI analysis is done via ROAS (i.e. Return on
Advertising Spend). So while the name of the GA report is 'ROI Analysis'
report, it is actually computing and reporting on ROAS.

Through the ‘Cost Analysis’ report you can determine the ‘Cost Per Click’
and ‘ROAS’ of all those marketing channels for which you imported the cost
data in Google Analytics.

Through this ‘ROI Analysis’ report you can determine ‘Cost Per Acquisition’
(CPA) and ‘Return on Advertising Spend’ (ROAS) for each marketing
channel under different attribution models.

Misinterpretation of analytics data and how


to fix it

I have dealt with hundreds of Google Analytics accounts in my career and I


have seen a lot of issues ranging from incorrect tracking code, selecting the
wrong KPIs to analysing data without using custom reports and advanced
segments.

All of these issues prompted me to write the following two articles:

#1 Google Universal Analytics Setup Checklist


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#2 Common Universal Analytics Mistakes that Kill your Analysis, Reporting


and Conversions.

But these articles don’t really solve the biggest problem of all in web analytics:

"Misinterpretation of analytics data"

Everyone seems to be making the mistake of crediting conversions and e-


commerce transactions to the wrong marketing channel and that to over and
over again.

Many marketers can’t help themselves because they believe that the reports
provided by Google Analytics (and other web analytics software) are ‘what you
see is what you get’ when they are actually 'what you interpret is what you
get'.

Even today the majority of businesses and marketers will give the credit for
conversions to the last campaign, ad or search that referred the visitor just
before they completed a goal conversion (like making a purchase). This has
resulted in marketers making wrong business decisions and losing money.

All of the data you see in Google Analytics reports today lies to you, unless you
know exactly how to interpret it correctly.

Let us consider three different scenarios:

Scenario 1:
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The majority of marketers looking at this standard ‘All Traffic’ report in Google
Analytics for the last three months will draw the following conclusions:

# Organic traffic is playing a secondary role to direct traffic.

# The majority of traffic and revenue is coming through direct traffic.

# We need to speed up content development and link building to increase


organic traffic to the website.

Scenario 2:

One look at this monthly PPC report and many of you will declare this whole
campaign a total failure. Look at the first campaign, just one conversion in the
whole month and cost per conversion is whooping $531.
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You must be kidding, right?

Scenario 3:

This report shows that the majority of traffic and sales has come from your
brand name. But do you really think your brand name generated revenue of
more than $241k?

Welcome to the real world

Let us analyse these three different scenarios once again but this time in the real
world.

Scenario 1:
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The truth about direct traffic

All untagged or improperly tagged marketing campaigns from display ads to


emails could be treated as direct traffic by Google.

Whenever a referrer is not passed, the traffic is treated as direct traffic by


Google.

1. Mobile applications don’t send a referrer.


2. Word/PDF documents don’t send a referrer.
3. '302 redirects' sometimes cause the referrer to be dropped.
4. Sometimes browsers don’t pass the referrer.
5. During a http to https redirect (or vice versa) the referrer is not passed
because of security reasons.

All such traffic is treated as direct traffic by Google. So on the surface it looks
like 618,199 visits/sessions were direct, but it may actually be only 25,000
sessions which were from direct traffic and the rest were from display ads,
email, organic, social media and applications/campaigns in which the referrers
were not passed.

But this analysis does not end here, because you are still not looking at the
complete picture. Here is the complete picture:
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Visitors do not always access your website directly and then make a
purchase straight away.

They are generally exposed to multiple acquisition/marketing channels (like


display ads, social media, paid search, organic search, referral websites, email
etc) before they access your website directly and make a purchase.

So if you are unaware of the role played by prior marketing channels, you will
credit conversions and e-commerce transactions to the wrong marketing
channels, like in the present case to direct traffic.

If you look at the chart above, organic search is playing a key role in driving
direct traffic to the website which eventually resulted in conversions and
ecommerce transactions.
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To get this type of understanding you need to understand and implement


attribution modelling. The conclusion that organic traffic is playing a secondary
role to direct traffic is incorrect.

Scenario 2:

Visitors do not always click on your paid search ads and then make a
purchase straight away.

They are generally exposed to multiple acquisition/marketing channels before


they click on your ad and make a purchase.

Sometimes visitors may click on your ads but make a purchase through a
different acquisition channel or medium. For example a person may click on
your paid search ad through their laptop at work. Then later make a purchase
via their home desktop PC through a branded organic keyword.

Sometimes your paid search ads play a bigger role in assisting conversions than
directly completing conversions.

The ‘conversions’ and ‘cost per conversions’ (cost/conv) reported by Google


Adwords in scenario 2 above, are all based on the last AdWords touch
attribution model (people click on ad and buy) and hence provide poor
analytical insight.
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When I paused these campaigns, I saw a decline in revenue. These campaigns


are in fact profitable and their assisted conversion value is also very high.

Scenario 3:

This scenario is not any different from scenario 1 and scenario 2. Here too you
don’t see the complete picture.

Visitors do not always search for your brand name and then make a purchase
straight away.

They generally start their search with a non-branded and generic search term
then they refine their search queries as they get better understanding of what
exactly they are looking for.

Sometimes they make a purchase right after making a search but often they
come back later to your site via a branded search term.

Since a website or brand name is easiest to remember among all branded search
terms, it often ends up being attributed a lot of conversions and transactions by
Google Analytics.
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User journey is Complicated

Users do not always use the navigation path you expect them to follow.

There is no guarantee that a person who lands on the website via a PPC
landing page will not navigate to the home page before making a purchase.

Users switch between marketing channels

A user may visit your website the first time via a paid search ad but can return
to your website via branded organic search or directly to make a purchase. So
you may think that your paid search ad is not working but in reality it is.

Users do not always use the same device when they return to a website.

They may browse your product page via a laptop at work and then browse the
rest of the website via a tablet at home and may buy your product the next day
via a mobile at work.

For Google Analytics the person who browsed the product page via a laptop at
work is different from the person who browsed the rest of the website via a
tablet at home and also different from the person who bought the product via a
mobile the next day, as cookie information is not shared across devices.

In such case here is how Google Analytics will record user activities:

User 1 browsed the product page via a laptop but didn’t make a purchase. So the
AdWords ad will not get credit for conversion.

User 2 browsed a lot of pages on the website but didn’t make a purchase.

User 3 came to the website directly via a mobile device and made a purchase.
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So online user journey is complicated.

Marketing channels effect each other’s


performance

Because of multi-channel and multi device attribution, any improvement or


decline in the performance of one marketing channel impacts the performance
of other marketing channels. So if you suddenly switch off all of your PPC
campaigns, you are most likely to see a decline in direct traffic.

Organic traffic can impact the CTR of PPC ads, as when people see double
listing (both paid and organic listing) they are more likely to click on an ad. As
such, a decline in organic traffic can reduce the CTR of PPC campaigns.
Similarly people who are exposed to a brand for the first time via paid search
may return to the website via branded organic search or directly. So any decline
in PPC traffic may negatively impact branded organic search traffic or direct
traffic.

In a multi-channel, multi-device world, different marketing channels and


devices work together to create user experience and conversion.

We don’t optimize just for SEO or just for PPC. We optimize for users
regardless of the channel or device they come from.

Takeaways

1. Web analytics reports are not ‘what you see is what you get’. They are ‘what
you interpret is what you get’.
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2. Direct traffic is polluted so find ways to clean it. The first step should be to
correctly tag all of your campaigns URLs. Use Google Analytics URL Builder.

3. Visitors do not always access your website directly and then make a purchase
straight away.

4. Visitors do not always click on your paid search ads and then make a
purchase straight away.

5. Visitors do not always search for your brand name and then make a purchase
straight away.

6. Understand the role that various website referrals, social media, display,
email, paid/organic search etc played prior to conversions via multi-channel
funnel reports before you discard or label any marketing channel as ineffective
or you over invest in any particular channel.

7. Understand how different acquisition channels work together to create


conversions and transactions.

8. No one acquisition channel is solely responsible for sales in the world of


multi-channel marketing.

9. Do not overestimate or underestimate the impact of other marketing channels.

10. Understand that when you change the budget of one marketing channel it
will have impact on the performance of other marketing channels. Nothing is
black and white in the world of analytics.

5 Keys to Digital Success in Attribution


Modelling
43

Following are the 5 keys to digital success in Attribution Modelling:

1. Understand Customers Purchase Journey


2. Understand the concept of 'Missing Touch Points'
3. Fix Data Integration issues
4. Go beyond Google Analytics
5. Understand not all "touch points" are equally valuable

1. Understand Customers Purchase 
Journey 
Understanding customers purchase journey is the no.1 requirement to fixing
the attribution problem.

If you fail to understand your customers then you have already lost the
attribution battle. Well not just the attribution battle but almost every other
battle in the business and marketing world.

I have broken down this journey into following steps:

1. Interview your client, customer support and the sales people.


2. Understand the decision making process
3. Understand ZMOT
4. Use data from ‘Google Think’
5. Do Proper Market Research

Interview your client, customer support and the sales people

Your client and his staff know more about their business and industry than you
ever will. So it is imperative that you leverage their industry expertise and get a
better understanding of their target market.
44

Ask following questions:

1. How do you define your target audience (age-group, gender, education,


income, likings, ethnicity, lifestyle etc) and where majority of them live?

2. Who are your best customer types in terms of revenue generation and why?

3. What kind of relationship you want to build with your target audience?

4. What are the desires and expectations of your target audience?

5. What is the level of product use? Are your customer loyal to you?

6. What are the most common objections raised by your customers?

7. Who are the actual decision makers (who has the final say)?

8. What are the buying triggers?

(A trigger is an event that causes a person to get into a serious buying mode.

For example you might have a vague interest in going to Seattle. This might
have caused you to browse the web for hotels, flights etc.

But an upcoming Mozcon event could act as a trigger that makes you seriously
look for hotels and flights. )

Ask as many questions as you like. I have just given you few examples.

Understand the decision making process

Start your analysis by understanding the decision criteria framework of your


customers.
45

In case of fast moving consumers goods (like toothpaste, milk, soap, vegetables
etc which are bought frequently) least amount of consideration and evaluation is
involved before making a purchase.

It is highly unlikely for someone to visit half dozen reviews websites, product
comparison and coupon websites just to make an informed decision on buying a
toothpaste.

Often in case of FMCG products, people already know what they want to buy.
They already have set decision criteria in their mind (like certain model or
make). So they just go to the store and make a purchase straightaway.

However they are many products/services which require lot of consideration


and evaluation before a purchase is made as they are bought occasionally.

Often in case of such products, the decision criteria framework cannot be


established quickly because of ever changing specifications which results in
a long sales cycle.

For example:

People don’t buy a new car ever week. So when they do think of buying a new
car, there are not really sure what they are looking for in the new car.

So they need to do lot of research just to determine the ideal specifications of


their new car. Once they have determined their ideal car’s specifications they
have established their decision criteria framework.

Once the decision criteria is set, consideration and evaluation begins to take
place and ZMOT occurs.

Understand ZMOT
46

There is no attribution without understanding ZMOT. Zero Moment of Truth or


ZMOT is the moment which occurs after the customer has been exposed to your
brand, but before a purchase is made.

It is the moment when the customer do research and make decision about
buying your product by going back and forth between various digital and non-
digital channels known as ZMOT sources:

Since 84% of all shoppers use ZMOT sources in the path to purchase (source:
Google Think Insight),

You need to find ZMOT sources and optimally allocate your marketing spend
across them.
47

You need to determine that if you invest in multiple ZMOT sources, then how
much incrementality does each ZMOT source can bring to your company’s
bottomline.

ZMOT is the most powerful moment in a customer journey to purchase as it


shapes the consumer’s purchase decision. And

If you fail to understand your customers at ZMOT, you have already


lost the attribution battle

Use Data from ‘Google Think’

Google Think Customer journey to online purchase is an excellent tool to


understand how certain acquisition channels assist conversions in your industry
and how the length of the customer journey impact the order size.

For example:

Before you create your own attribution model, you need to understand the role
of acquisition channels in your industry:
48

As seen in the graph above, within the tech industry, direct and ‘other paid’
interactions often act more as a last interaction.

The organic search acts both as assist interaction and last interaction.

Whereas display, social and email act more as an assist interaction.

Without such understanding, you could negatively impact your brand awareness
if you dump campaigns which play key role in initiating conversions.

Do Proper Market Research

By 'proper' I mean, investing considerable amount of time and resources in


conducting the research. Market research is an excellent way of understanding
your customers.

Conduct surveys, do A/B testing (see what works and what doesn't work), hire a
market research agency.
49

Buy market research and industry reports from companies like Experian and
read them from page to page. The level of insight that you will get from such
reports is unparalleled.

2. Understand the concept of 'Missing 
Touch Points" 
Both Google Analytics and Google Adwords attribution modelling is based on
only ‘known’ touch points, i.e. the users' interactions which can be tracked and
reported in analytics and AdWords.

Thus there is no guarantee, that your users' conversion paths contain all touch
points and provide complete picture of customers' purchase journey.

3. Fix data integration issues 
Data integration is the key to fixing attribution issues

You should always aim to minimize the number of missing touch points in your
conversion path by integrating as much data as possible from different data
sources.

4. Go beyond Google Analytics 
Attribution is much more than Google Analytics. It easily goes beyond Google
Analytics. Don’t limit yourself by just using the GA attribution tools.

You are not limited to just what you can achieve through Model Comparison
Tool and Multi-channel funnel reports.
50

There are lot of attribution modelling softwares out there which can provide
much more robust attribution solutions than Google Analytics.

You should definitely consider them esp. if you are a big company. In the end
only custom made attribution tools can minimize attribution issues as they
provide:

1. Robust data integration capabilities

2. Robust data forecasting platform

3. More flexibility in terms of creating attribution models and applying credit


rules.

4. Customized solutions as each business is different

5. Understand not all "touch points" are 
equally valuable 
In a conversion path, not all touch points can be equally valuable.

The acquisition channel which assists the most should get the maximum credit
for conversion and maximum resources are allocated to it regardless of it being
the first touch, last touch or middle touch. All other touches should get credit in
proportion to their contribution in the conversion path.
51

If you wish to learn more about attribution modelling and attributing


conversions and ecommerce transactions to the right marketing channel
then read my book on ‘Attribution Modelling’ (around 500 pages long) which
is available on Amazon:

Attribution Modelling in Google Analytics and Beyond

Discover What You Need To Know About Learning


World Class Web Analytics in Just 8 Weeks

Have you ever wondered,

Why attending countless webinars, conferences, workshops; reading


countless blogs, ebooks; watching countless YouTube videos are not
helping you in becoming an expert and what actually will?
52

Have you ever wondered,

What experts do differently?

Do you want to Learn World Class Web Analytics in 8 Weeks?

Do you want to create a strategic roadmap for your business?

The roadmap which provides the big picture and the direction in which your
company and marketing campaigns should move to get the highest possible
return on investment.

Do you want to set up well defined goals, strategies and KPIs for your business
and teams/departments?

Do you want to implement attribution modelling in your organization and


influence decision makers to get your recommendations implemented?

So... why hasn't it happened for you yet?

Come on... admit it.

This isn't the first time you've tried to create a strategic roadmap for your
business.

This isn't the first time you've tried to set up well defined goals, strategies and
KPIs for your business.

This isn't the first time you've tried to implement attribution modelling in your
organization and influence decision makers to get your recommendations
implemented.

When you read this letter to the end, you're going to discover exactly:
53

# How to speed up your learning process.

# How to learn world class web analytics in just 8 weeks.

# How to quickly deliver recommendations and rapidly deploy


solutions which solve your customers problem either wholly or in
parts.

Not too long ago I was just like you...

Let me tell you a quick story about me.

Not too long ago, I didn't believe in spending any money on buying
information.

And why should I?

All of the information is available out there for FREE.

Internet provides free information on every conceivable topic.

There are even articles and videos on how to fly a commercial aircraft.

All I have to do, is to use Google and enter my search term.

So why spend any money on buying the same information in the form of a
course, book or any other form of training?

And all of these people who enrol in expensive courses, buy books and attend
conferences and mastermind programs are just plain stupid.

They are wasting their money on purchasing the information, which is readily
available online for FREE.
54

I used to think like that.

But then one day, I realised that if free information was the currency of success,
then everybody would be an expert, a millionaire with six pack abs.

There would be no need for coaches, teachers and mentors.

Amazingly, even tons of free information was not making me an ‘expert'.

Amazingly, watching countless YouTube videos, reading countless blogs, and


downloading countless ebooks were not making me an expert.

So what is wrong with the picture?

Then I discovered this secret.

"I don't have skin in the game".

When I consume free information, I am not obliged to act on it.

Nobody will hold me accountable for not taking any action.

I really have nothing to lose, whether or not, I choose to act on the free
information provided to me.

In other words ‘I don't have skin in the game".

However, if same free information is wrapped up in the form of a US $3000


course and sold it to me, I will most probably take action and I will most
probably get results, as I do mind wasting $3000.
55

That's is why coaching programs, mastermind groups and formal training still
thrive in the world of free information.

They create an environment where you are hold accountable for not taking
required actions.

They create an environment where there is a risk of monetary loss, if you fail to
implement what you have learned.

They create an environment where you learn a new skill, step by step, from start
to finish.

They create an environment which speed up your learning process.

There is a structure and process in place which guide you throughout your
training.

And that's is why, even when all of the information is available out there, for
free, I still don't mind paying for it.

I still enrol in courses, attend paid webinars and believe in learning from the
best.

I was struggling with finding a blue print for the entire optimization process.

And I was getting more and more frustrated with each passing week.

Even after watching countless videos, reading countless articles, I still wasn't
able to figure out the blue print of the entire optimization process.

That strategic roadmap which can deliver results for me and my clients.
56

You see, at the time I was trying to become an expert in web analytics.

Then one day something really bad happened. I was questioned for my
unreasonable use of maths and stats techniques in website analysis by an
authority figure.

It immediately casted a shadow on the rest of my analysis.

The thought that may have instantly popped up, in the mind of the recipients, of
my report was “what else I have done wrong?”

Which meant, I couldn't 100% convince the senior management to implement


my recommendations.

My KPI analysis failed and I was told to be better prepared next time.

As you can imagine, I was desperate, but I wasn't ready to give up on my dream
of learning world class web analytics.

The problem I had was I didn't know how to conduct a very focused and
meaningful analysis from the very start.

I didn't know how to learn world class web analytics in a short period of time.

I didn't know where to find that one person, who can teach me all the tips and
tricks of the trade.

I wanted to learn to avoid even those mistakes which I have not made yet.

Why repeat the mistakes which others have made before me?
57

It doesn't make any sense.

I wanted to learn from other people's mistakes and avoid them.

I wanted to head start and learn from the best in the industry.

But I didn't know where to find that one person, who can teach me all the tips
and tricks of the trade, who can basically mentor me.

And that's when I knew I HAD to make a change...

So, first I tried reading as many articles as I could find about web analytics.

That didn't work at all.

I even tried attending webinars and conferences, but that just plain sucked.

Then I tried paid live workshops, and it worked a little better.

And that's when I finally tried learning from the best in the industry..

And guess what?

This time it worked!

And that's when I realized it wasn't my fault!

I was failing because of the fragmented knowledge I acquired through blogs,


webinars, conferences and workshops... No wonder I was struggling.
58

For years I wanted to believe, it takes atleast a decade to learn world class web
analytics and when I figured out that it wasn't true, I was finally able to grow
and get the results, me and my clients deserved.

The real problem are fragmented knowledge..

THEY were the ones keeping me from discovering how to conduct a very
focused and meaningful analysis from the very start.

THEY were the ones stopping me from getting the blue print of the entire
optimization process.

Once I realized I can get a head start in web analytics, only when, I learn from
the best in the industry, only when, I find a mentor., that's when I started to
understand, the blue print of the entire optimization process.

My mentor is 'Avinash Kaushik' the world famous Analytics Guru who works
for Google.

I was directly coached by him for three months, back in the year 2012.

Some 6 years ago.

I learned the very best skills, tricks and tips from him.

He helped me in creating the right foundation and I built my analytics house on


top of that.

Since 2012, I have acquired 10x more knowledge through my own efforts and it
is ever increasing.
59

I have learned so much in the last couple of years, that now I am the author of
three best-selling books on analytics and conversion optimization.

I used what I discovered to be able to:

# Do a very focused and meaningful analysis from the very start.

# Set up well defined goals, strategies and KPIs for any business.

# Create a strategic roadmap for any business.

# Implement attribution modelling in an organization.

# Influence decision makers to get my recommendations


implemented in a timely manner.

# Understand the behaviour of different cohorts (segment of website


users) and make informed and data smart marketing decisions
through Cohort Analysis.

# Master all of the elements that go into extracting insight from data
and optimizing the online performance of a business for sales and
conversions.

# Achieve business objectives within the area of my responsibility


and expertise, and that too in the most efficient manner.

# Quickly deliver recommendations and rapidly deploy solutions


which solve my customers problem either wholly or in parts.
60

But it wasn't just me, take a look at what learning from the best in the industry
has done for others.

I didn't realize it when I started that not only does it simplify the process for
how to conduct a very focused and meaningful analysis from the very start but it
also helped me in learning World Class Web Analytics in record time.

Unfortunately, 'Avinash kaushik' no longer teaches web analytics at market


motive from whom I got my training.

He sold his company to 'SimpliLearn' in 2015.

And that's why I created my "Web Analytics Training Course".

This took months of focused efforts to create and cost me tens of thousands of
dollars in lost consulting time.

But it was totally worth it!

It makes learning to do a very focused and meaningful analysis and finding the
blueprint of the entire optimization process, so much easier!

What used to take me 3 to 4 weeks in gaining insight and then delivering


recommendations in lump sum at the end of each month ., I can now get it done,
in just one week or less..

In fact, here's just a sample of what you'll get when you enrol in my web
analytics training course:

* Learn to do a very focused and meaningful analysis from the very


start. so you can deliver solutions weekly if not daily..
61

* Create a strategic roadmap for your business. So you can get the
big picture and the direction in which your company and marketing
campaigns should move to get the highest possible return on
investment..

* Set up well defined goals, strategies and KPIs for any business. So
you can align your goals with company's core business objectives.
This is the only way to ensure that everyone in your company is
pushing towards the same organisation goals. This is the only way to
ensure maximum productivity and profitability..

* Implement attribution modelling in your organisation. So you can


determine the most effective marketing channels for investment at a
particular point in time..

* Influence decision makers through your data reporting skills. So


you can get your recommendations implemented in a timely manner
and impact the business bottomline..

* Master Conversion Optimization & Google Analytics from


Industry Expert in 8 weeks.
62

Learn more about the course

Training Course URL >>


https://www.optimizesmart.com/web-analytics-training-course-promo/