ROI is always top of mind — understandably. We want to know where our money is going and what we’re getting in return for it. For many businesses, ROI is measured by lead generation or conversions because it is the easiest metric to tie a literal return to. But how credit is attributed to the source of each conversion can mean all the difference when measuring the success of your campaigns.

So, what does this mean? Well, in layman’s terms, it means conversions don’t necessarily come from one place, action, occurrence, or marketing effort. Conversions are a result of consumers interacting with various stages of what we call the Customer Journey, and attribution is how we connect the dots.

First, Let's Discuss the Customer Journey

The customer journey, often depicted as a funnel or map, is a visualization of the interactions a consumer makes with your company in the process of conversion. Though this can be broken out into several additional categories , for the sake of simplicity, we will use three main stages: Awareness, Consideration, and Conversion.

IMK_Customer Journey_F

In each stage, consumers are considered to be at different levels of interest relative to the product or service. This is an important point because success is tied to the purpose of each, depending on the primary goal of the campaign.


At this stage, you are educating and familiarizing prospects with your brand and offerings. Your goal here is to create brand awareness and associate your brand with the solutions they need or may need in the future. This is generally the stage with the highest CPA (Cost per Acquisition or Conversion) and lowest Conversion Rate but plays a key role in the nurturing of potential customers.

Useful Tools: Display Ads, Video Ads, Social Media

Important Measurements to Monitor (KPIs): Impressions, Reach, Engagement, Bounce Rate, Time Spent on Site


Here you are addressing and targeting prospects that are actively in search of your product or service. These buyers are closer to making a decision and are genuinely in search of more information. Here we like to focus on getting prospects to the site or landing page to provide them the information they need to move towards conversion.

Useful Tools: Search Ads, Display Ads (increased targeting), Soft Remarketing

Important Measurements to Monitor (KPIs): Clicks, CTR (Click-Through Rate), Impression Share, Quality Score


The questions have been answered, the competition has been considered, and your prospect is looking to move forward or purchase your solution. Now it’s time to help them. Make it clear what, how, why, and when they can get your fantastic product.

Useful Tools: Discounts/Deals/Promotions, Landing Pages, Hard Remarketing

Important Measurements to Monitor (KPIs): Conversions, Conversion Rate, CPA (Cost Per Acquisition or Conversion)


The most common way to give a particular marketing channel credit for a conversion is a last-click attribution model. This model is designed to give credit to the final point of contact before a conversion.

For example, your display and search ads were used to make the prospect aware of your product or service, then educate them on the benefits and solutions your company has available. After some consideration and comparison, they return to your site after seeing one of your Facebook remarketing ads and complete your contact form. In last-click attribution models, this conversion’s credit then goes 100% to the Facebook campaign, because it was the last click the consumer came through before converting.

So how do we accurately give fair credit to the other influences that result in a conversion?

This is where attribution modeling comes into play. Attribution modeling allows us to allocate conversion credit based on the individual interactions a prospect has made with our campaigns. Using different models, we can determine which interactions assisted in conversions and decide how much credit each can be given. Though this helps show the influence of other marketing efforts, it is still up to you to determine how each interaction is valued.


The customer journey is a process of lead nurturing that relies on more than one individual marketing effort or strategy, based on where the customer is in the journey. Though it may not always show in broad reporting (particularly those with only last-click attribution), all of your marketing efforts play roles in converting prospects into customers.

Marketing channels work as a team – each campaign has its own strengths and purpose. Just because one has proven to “generate more leads”, does not necessarily make it any more important than the other efforts in action. What is important to understand is that every interaction your business has with a prospect can be factored into their eventual decision, whether it is observable or not. Rather than compete for resources and investment, your campaigns should be operating in unison with a mutual goal.

Use attribution modeling to improve campaigns by revealing efficiencies and deficiencies. Use the data to determine which interactions are moving prospects along in the funnel, restricting them, and making the greatest overall impact. The more you can understand about your ideal customer’s journey, the more you can refine your targeting and simplify their conversion process.

Written by Ryan Lewis

Ryan is Digital Marketing Manager at Ironmark. Through his daily work, he enjoys collaborating with the team on marking solutions for clients with diverse products and services. Ryan has five years of marketing industry experience and holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Digital Marketing Promotions from West Virginia University. Ryan also holds several certifications in Google AdWords and Analytics.

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