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Linear Attribution Model: How to Calculate and Examples

linear attribution model

In the world of digital marketing, understanding marketing attribution is crucial. It helps businesses figure out what’s causing people to buy their products or services. One of the ways to do this is by using the Linear Attribution Model. 

This guide will explain why the Linear Attribution Model is important and how it works, including how to calculate the credit when we should use it, and provide some examples. Let’s get started!

What is a Linear Attribution Model?  

A Linear Attribution Model is a method used in marketing to give credit to multiple touchpoints equally in the customer journey. It considers every interaction a prospect has with your brand before they make a purchase. In a mathematical way, this model is the most simple one, among the various Marketing Attribution Models. 

Linear Attribution Model

How Does the Linear Attribution Model Calculate Credit?

In a Linear Attribution Model, each touchpoint is given equal credit in order to measure this, we use a straightforward formula:

The Linear Attribution Model Formula

Here, ‘100 (% of The Overall Credit)’ represents the total credit that we’re distributing among all the touchpoints, and ‘Number of Touchpoints in Conversion patch’ tells us how many steps or interactions occurred in the customer journey. This formula is all about fairness in attribution. It divides the total credit (100%) equally among all the touchpoints in the conversion path.

So, if a customer goes through, let’s say, 4 interactions before making a purchase, each of those 4 interactions would receive an equal share of 25% of the overall credit. This makes it easy to understand and implement in your marketing strategy because it ensures that credit is distributed evenly among all the touchpoints that contributed to the conversion.

How does the Linear Attribution Model work in Real-life examples? 

Picture yourself running an online gourmet coffee shop in order to reach a global audience, you’ve wisely invested in Facebook advertising, a platform renowned for its extensive user base. However, simply running ads isn’t enough; you need to understand how different touchpoints contribute to your sales. This is where the concept of a linear attribution model comes into play. 

Let’s illustrate the power of a linear attribution model with a hypothetical scenario. Imagine a coffee enthusiast scrolling through their Facebook feed and stumbling upon one of your enticing ads. This ad sparks their curiosity, leading them to click on it and explore your online gourmet coffee shop.

The Coffee Club's Journey

Step 1: Facebook Ad (25% Credit)

It begins with the Facebook ad, which initially captures their attention. In the linear

Step 2: Subscribing to Your Coffee Club Newsletter (25% Credit)

Rather than making an immediate purchase, they decide to subscribe to your coffee club newsletter. They hope to stay informed about new brews and exclusive deals. This subscription step is equally valuable and is assigned 20% credit.

Step 3: Instagram Ad (25% Credit)

Over the following months, they regularly see your coffee club Instagram Ad, even if they don’t click into them. This ongoing engagement, too, plays a significant role in the eventual sale and is credited with 20%.

Step 4: Visiting Your Website and Making a Purchase (25% Credit)

One day, a special promotion catches their eye in one of your emails. This prompts them to revisit your website and indulge in a selection of your finest coffee beans. The final step in their journey contributes 25% credit.

Now, let’s say their coffee order totals $60. With the linear attribution model, each of these touchpoints receives $20 in credit for the successful sale of those delightful coffee beans. This method ensures that every interaction in the customer’s path is equally recognized for its contribution.

You also can walk through some short customer journeys below: 

Customer A:

  • Receives an email newsletter from your company and clicks a link inside
  • Visits your website and explores your products
  • Adds an item to the cart but doesn’t make a purchase
  • A few days later, sees a retargeting ad on Instagram and decides to complete the purchase

In this journey, there are 4 touchpoints. The linear attribution model divides the credit equally among them, so each touchpoint gets 25% credit for the sale. 

Customer B:

  • Comes across your YouTube video showcasing your product
  • After watching the video, clicks on a link in the video description to visit your website
  • Navigates around your site, checking out different product pages
  • Leaves the site but later receives a promotional email from your company
  • Clicks the email link and makes a purchase

In this journey, there are 5 touchpoints. With the linear attribution model, each touchpoint gets an equal share of the credit, so each one receives 20% credit for the sale. 

Pros and Cons of the Linear Attribution Model? 

The linear attribution model offers several key advantages compared with other multi-touch models that you need to notice. 

4 Key Benefits

Comprehensive Understanding 

The Linear Attribution Model shines by taking a holistic view of the customer journey because they often interact with a brand through various touch points before making a purchase. So, the Linear Attribution Model recognizes that each of these touchpoints played a role in converting the prospect into a customer. It ensures that credit is shared equally among them, giving you a complete picture of how all interactions contribute to your business’s success. 

User-Friendly and Accessible

Simplicity is one of the Linear Attribution Model’s strengths. It’s like using a straightforward map to navigate a complex terrain. Unlike some sophisticated attribution models that demand advanced data analysis skills, the Linear Model is easy to understand. With this model, each touchpoint such as a Google ad, visiting your website, signing up for your newsletter, or receiving an email all receive equal credit, making it accessible to marketers at all skill levels.

No Need for Data Science Expertise

This model doesn’t require in-depth data science capabilities. Because it is a straightforward attribution model from both mathematical and technical perspectives, the Linear Attribution Model doesn’t overwhelm you with complex data analysis. It’s user-friendly, meaning you can utilize it effectively without needing a team of data scientists.

Effective Budget Allocation

The Linear Attribution Model excels in its fairness. It allocates credit equally among all these touchpoints, allowing you to divide up your marketing budget more effectively. Instead of favoring one touchpoint over another, you’re distributing your resources evenly, resulting in a well-balanced marketing strategy that caters to different stages of the customer journey. 

Some Drawbacks need to consider

Simplicity Conundrum

One of the primary downsides of the Linear Attribution Model is its simplicity, which can be a double-edged sword. Because this model does not extensively investigate other attribution approaches, the information it produces remains rather basic, which can lead to inaccuracies in attributing success.

Equal Weights, Unequal Impact

When a potential customer engages with your brand through various channels: Facebook ad, website visit, Instagram engagement, email clicks, and direct purchase; the Linear Model assumes all touchpoints have an equal level of impact on conversions, but in practice, some touchpoints may play a more critical role in influencing the final decision. This uniform distribution of credit can result in misallocation of marketing resources.

Difficulty Tracking Across Channels

The Linear Model may struggle to connect all these dots across different platforms. This difficulty in tracking across multiple channels can lead to gaps in your understanding of the customer’s path and impact the accuracy of your results, making it harder to optimize your marketing efforts effectively.

When Should We Use The Linear Attribution Model?

Determining when to use the Linear Attribution Model isn’t a one-size-fits-all scenario; it depends on your specific business goals and marketing strategies. This model has its own time and place where it shines. Let’s break it down:

Linear Attribution offers a balanced view of your marketing channels’ performance, giving each channel equal credit. It’s ideal for understanding how your entire marketing ecosystem contributes to conversions, especially in cases where each touchpoint matters across the customer journey.

However, if your marketing strategy is more focused, single-touch models like first-click or last-click attribution may be more suitable. Various attribution models, such as the U-shaped model for recognizing the start and end of the customer journey or the time decay model for events leading to conversion, are available. Advanced tech like data-driven attribution leverages machine learning to assess touchpoints based on their performance.

Furthermore, custom attribution models allow you to tailor your approach by setting individual touchpoint weights aligned with your business objectives and resource allocation preferences. Regardless of the model chosen, maintaining a data-driven approach is essential. Continuously analyzing attribution data, learning from it, and adjusting marketing strategies is akin to having a guiding compass in the ever-evolving world of marketing.

So.. Just try out various models to find what suits you best! 

Remember that the Linear Attribution Model is just a single piece of the attribution puzzle. While it serves as a good starting point, especially for those new to multi-touch attribution, it might not be the perfect fit for your business. So, here’s the tip: 

Don’t hesitate to explore different attribution models to discover which one aligns best with your business needs. There’s a variety of models available, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. 

It’s your journey towards gaining a better understanding and enhancing your marketing efforts, and trying out multiple models could be the key to unlocking your business’s success! 


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