Data & Analytics

Multi-Channel Attribution: A Guide

thinking about mail

Before the advent of modern technology, most buying and selling was a pretty straightforward process. The buyer met the seller at the seller’s place of business and goods and services were exchanged. In short, the buyer and seller had one interaction before the transaction.

However, technologies such as the Internet and telephone changed the game completely. Now, instead of one point of contact leading to a transaction, also known as a “touchpoint,” customers and businesses have many touchpoints, any of which can lead to a sales conversion.

Knowing the most effective touchpoints gives marketers a leg up because they know where to devote the most resources.

In this article, we’ll dive into the best tool for discerning this information: multi-channel attribution.

What is Multi-Channel Attribution?

In short, multi-channel attribution is a term for the process of identifying the touchpoints that lead to the most sales conversions.

While specific touchpoints differ based on transaction type, the most common include:

Some of these are obvious. Some are subtle. The big picture is that all of these touchpoints represent a place where the business and consumer “meet,” introducing the potential for the customer to convert. 

As stated above, knowing which touchpoints generate the most conversions is essential for any digital marketing campaign. According to The Online Marketing Institute, the journey from initial contact to sale takes 7-13 touchpoints for most people.

Benefits of Multi Channel Attribution

Given the number of touchpoints, multi-channel attribution comes with many advantages. 

We’ve broken down the five most important benefits below.

#1 Understand the Customer Journey

If the journey from initial contact to conversion were linear, knowing each step of the sales process would be easy.

However, because most conversions entail a cyclical process of enthusiasm and hesitation regarding a purchase, the journey is much more complex.

Take, for example, a customer’s potential journey in purchasing a new watch. 

In short, the customer’s journey from interest to conversion is full of starts and stops, engagements and breaks. Multi channel attribution helps you understand this journey better.

#2 Deep Dive Into Data

Multi channel attribution results in a lot of data; this data can then be used to strengthen your marketing strategies.

Let’s look at a few important pieces of cross channel attribution data.

How Customers Interact With Your Website

A multi channel attribution model can give you an idea of how customers use your website. This data can then be used to see which aspects of your website are “capturing” the most customers.

Multi channel attribution allows you to see customer movement through the following:

Knowing customers’ movements through your website can chart their path from interest to conversion more accurately. Then, you can highlight the most successful pages in paid search ads, social media links, internal linking, and beyond.

Which Channels Offer the Highest ROI

Multi channel attribution also gives you data regarding which channels offer the highest ROI. This data can then be used to:

Although data about ROI can be informative, analyzing the data can be tricky—especially for direct mail.

Fortunately, Poplar’s here to help. A leader in direct mail marketing, Poplar’s direct mail attribution analysis can give you invaluable data regarding the efficacy of your direct mail campaign.

#3 Inform Future Decisions

Marketing decisions are anything but straightforward. One minute, customers are driven by ads on Facebook; the next, they’re relying more on organic searches.

In a perfect world, you’d have the budget to fund all of these channels. However, that’s just not possible.

Multi channel attribution greatly helps with budget allocation. In addition to assigning values to different channels (thereby telling you how much you should spend on each channel), multi channel attribution allows you to fund the most efficient channels.

For example, although a channel may bring in a lot of traffic, these customers aren’t as active as customers brought in via a less-trafficked channel. Multi channel attribution lets you know to budget more resources towards the latter.

#4 Improve Customer Satisfaction/Experience

Finally, multi touch attribution helps improve the customer experience. In addition to helping you design the most customer-friendly websites, multi touch attribution enables you to understand buying behavior.

With this knowledge, you can more effectively meet customer needs, transforming habitual and situational customers into loyal fans.

Different Attribution Channels

There are two primary types of attribution channels: free and paid.

Free attribution channels are the channels that can generate traffic without a monetary investment on your part. Paid attribution channels, however, come with fees for the traffic.

Let’s look at a few free and paid attribution channels.


The most common free attribution channels include the following:


The most common paid attribution channels include the following:

Attribution Models

To measure the conversion value of specific touchpoints, marketers rely on several different attribution model options.

Here are a few of the most common:

While these models can be effective at highlighting the value of certain channels, they can’t tell you for certain which marketing channel or channels led to the conversion.

To see which touchpoints actually caused the conversion, we need a more precise model: causal lift analysis.

How to Get the Most Out of Multi-Channel Attribution

Getting the most out of the multi-channel attribution model ultimately means one thing: identifying which channel or channels lead to the most conversions that wouldn’t have otherwise occurred.

However, the problem with most models, is that while they can show correlation, they can’t show causation.

To show causation, we must turn to causal lift analysis.

What is Causal Lift Analysis?

Casual lift analysis is an approach to multi-channel attribution modeling that utilizes observational analysis.

In short, observational analysis involves identifying the difference between projected outcomes and actual outcomes. This difference, also known as the lift, can then be attributed to your channel. 

The higher the difference, the greater your channel’s value.

What is Causal Lift Analysis Important?

Like the scientific method, causal lift analysis’s usefulness stems from its ability to isolate the factors that are actually driving an outcome.

For example, let’s suppose you run a casual lift analysis to measure the effectiveness of your email strategy on sales conversions. 

To set up the experiment, you need data on sales conversions that were actually impacted by your email strategy. This data set is the actual outcome. Now, you need data from sales conversions in which email played no role. This data set is the control.

By measuring the difference between the two data sets, you can precisely attribute a value to your email campaign.

Multi-Channel Attribution With Poplar

Multi-channel attribution can do wonders for your marketing strategy. In addition to giving you insight into the average customer’s journey, multi-channel attribution modeling helps you make future decisions.

That said, given all of the technical jargon and complex models, where do you begin?

Direct mail can be a powerful touchpoint in your holistic marketing strategy. If you’re looking to boost your results and back up your decisions with data, Poplar has your back. Through their direct mail channel attribution analytics, Poplar helps you make the best marketing choices every time.


1. AgencyAnalytics. Attribution Models for Marketers: The Definitive Guide.

2. Market Maven. 5 Ways to use Multi-Channel Attribution.

3. Online Marketing Institute. Why It Takes 7 to 13+ Touches to Deliver a Qualified Sales Lead (Part 1).

4. SmartBug. The Difference Between Direct and Organic Website Traffic Sources.