CXL Institute’s Digital Analytics mini-degree review — Part Eleven

Giannis Dandalis
4 min readAug 3, 2021


This week I spend quite some time deep diving at the concept of Attribution. Attribution is a course on the CXL Institute’s Digital Analytics minidegree. Here’s a small summary of what were the key concepts that were introduced in that particular course.

What is marketing attribution?

Marketing attribution is not the distribution of value and not even a mathematical calculation or a number in a spreadsheet. Attribution is all about understanding the consumer. Marketers need to understand the performance of their activities. When marketers run a campaign, change a landing page or anything else, they want to see exactly what changes they did performance-wise. But we must see attribution in a bigger picture. We need to be able to use attribution strategically in order to make better decisions.

In order to proceed to this lesson, Russell McAthy makes a very good explanation of what a conversion is. A conversion action is an action that a consumer takes that has some monetary value for the company. It can be a purchase, a sign-up or anything else. But it has to be the ending point of the consumer journey.

Understanding what a conversion is, is very important because its that one thing that attribution tries to comprehend. So starting out from the “end” of the consumer journey, we want to try and understand and give value to all the different touchpoints the user and consumer had

Attribution in the marketplace:

The key takeaway of this particular course, which is more general, and gives you a more wide view of attribution, is that because the key goal of every CMO and marketing director in this world is to become aware of the consumer behaviour, attribution modelling should be a top priority. Because understanding attribution is all about understanding the consumer, but also being able to understand your return on marketing and advertising spend.

Attribution — Not just Online

Attribution is not only online though, because marketing is not only online. Traditional media were not online but still marketers needed attribution in order to understand the performance of print, TV and all the other non digital marketing actions.

In digital marketing we are lucky to have so many data points collected that we can see every visit, every transaction and every interaction that matters to us and be able to see which channel and which campaign got it right.

But in TV for example, you cannot say at the individual level, that this particular consumer saw a TV ad and then got out of his home and purchased the product that was being promoted. However, recent advancements in technology have made attribution somewhat possible even in these media. TV analytics can now show us more specific data about location and time.

One important concept here is ROPO, research online/offline purchase online/offline, which gives us exactly the concept and the mind of the modern consumer. There is not a single channel that’s going to make the consumer go out and buy.

The buying decision process is very complicated. A user can research online for a product and go out and buy it in a store. So marketers need to get ahead and try to bring the technologies that they have at their disposal and try to understand as much better as possible the consumer journey

How to Use Attribution

Organizations are typically using attribution in a very simple way. They are using the default last-interaction model and they just compare it to other attribution models that their tools are giving them. But its not actually how attribution modelling is supposed to work.

Another valuable point is that even when organizations have implemented attribution modelling in their decision making, there are situations where different teams use different models. And that’s not helpful at all. In order to get to the point where you want to be as close to reality as possible, you need to be on the same page as anyone else in the company.

Do you need Attribution

Brands and companies are relying on data from web analytics tools in order to understand the consumer journey and the consumer behaviour, but they don’t take on account what their consumer is thinking during this process.

One of the most important questions that a brand or a company should ask is how many times does a user actually engage with the brand in their lifetime. How often does he or she is getting exposed to an advertisement or visits the website? And trying to answer this with the help of web analytics tools is not easy because the default analytics retain the user information for only 30 days.

Attribution Models

In this part of the course we are getting more tactical and getting away from the more theoretical stuff around attribution. Here is where we are actually learning the most popular attribution models. I’m not going to get into detail of what are the models, but one important thing is that there’s not a perfect model. Each company and brand should understand their consumer first and then try to understand what attribution model fits better on their situation.

What Data in Needed

So, what data does a company need in order to get better at understanding their consumer and utilize the power of attribution models? First of all, and most important, is a web analytics tool such as Google Analytics that can give you the data that you need in order to see the complete consumer journey and the interactions and events that users take when they are searching, reading or buying products and services.


In this part of the course, Russell McAthy gets down and analyze specific tactics and tips for attribution in the most important channels such as CRO, SEO, CPC and even offline channels such as Direct mail.

Strategic Applications

In the last part of Attribution course, Russell McAthy is talking about more strategic applications of attribution such as customer journey analysis, brand value and life time value analysis

Summing up, Attribution was one of the most interesting courses I took during my time with CXL Institute’s Digital Analytics minidegree. It was a very different approach that the other courses that were more tool-oriented. I felt like i was going back to university!