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How Multi-Channel Attribution Gives Subscription Brands Total Control

  • Jeannine Crooks - Partner Development & Acquisition Manager
  • Oct 4, 2021
  • 4 minute read
  • Awin

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The ability to fully track and manage different channels is the holy grail of digital marketing. Having a purely data-driven approach that reveals every touch point in the purchase funnel allows brands to shift their budgets and creates accountability for their decisions. 

By seeing the performance of each campaign and customer journey, marketers and retailers are able to make informed decisions for stronger conversions and engagements. In other words: strategic investment, improved return on investment (ROI), and increased revenue.

Multi-channel attribution, then, is an all-encompassing solution to a problem many online businesses face, especially e-commerce and subscription-based retailers.

What Is the Problem?

Up until recently, a holistic approach was virtually nonexistent. Makeshift attempts at piecing together multiple data sources from gatekeepers that control nearly 70% of global ad spend (think: Google, Facebook, and Amazon) was too expensive and made it difficult to make strategic decisions based on fragmented data.

Additionally, traditional first- and last-click attribution models don’t accurately measure today’s complicated customer journeys where multiple touch points lead to a purchase. For example, consumers may start on a social platform, be directed to a product page on a brand’s website, add the product to their cart, divert to a review site to get more information on the product, search for a coupon, and then ultimately end up back on the retailer’s website to make a final purchase. 

Without insight into all touch points, online retailers are left unnecessarily wasting their budgets without guaranteed ad-spend ROI.

Why Is Single-Source Data Tracking a Problem?

Traditional data modeling is slowly being replaced as data privacy and ad-blocking regulations emerge globally amidst increasing consumer concerns. In 2019, Europe’s Global Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) went into effect. Under GDPR rule, websites can no longer receive, use, or track any user’s data without receiving permission to do so. 

In 2020, California passed the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), which is similar to GDPR but not quite as inclusive or as far-reaching. Nevada and New York followed suit by passing similar privacy legislatures.

The rise in ad-blocking software poses additional problems for companies wanting to track data. Browsers including Firefox and Safari have been preventing third-party cookie tracking since 2013. 

Google is the latest to join the movement, announcing that it will start blocking third-party cookies by 2022. With Google Chrome currently controlling over 60% of web usage globally, this initiative will have a big impact on data collection from a majority of users.

Finally, the recent iOS 14.5 update launched and drastically changed the way retailers gathered data. This update had major implications across the board, even for subscription retailers, because it no longer allowed networks to automatically track activity and ad clicks across different websites and platforms. Instead, users have the opportunity to opt in or opt out, which has ultimately led to less user data.

Without access to the data needed to learn about a consumer’s online activity – such as websites they visit, purchases they’ve made, interests they’ve shown – brands and digital marketers can’t uncover the true value of each touch point.

What’s the Solution for Subscription Brands?

Ideally, the solution is access to unrestricted, unbiased, and unlimited attribution data. 

Access to data is critical to truly understand how consumers are behaving for optimal return on ad spend. A multi-touch attribution model provides a greater understanding of consumer activity and the ability to analyze the data to make informed decisions. 

Using multi-touch attribution, digital marketers can connect granular interactions to broader results for smarter, more efficient investments with a guarantee that retailers are seeing the whole picture and investing in the most profitable partnerships and activities. Even more so, multi-touch attribution gives a broader view across departments – such as SEO, affiliate marketing, PPC, social media, and more – to collectively achieve business goals. 


Multi-touch attribution enables you to know exactly how your partners are driving value for your brand and how incremental your activity is beyond measuring just clicks and sales.

Subscription brands operating purely online rely on data insights to guide strategic decisions. These insights can help figure out which messaging works best for your top-spending customers, discover where and why along the customer journey the conversion dropped off, identify which campaigns or product releases lead to increased conversions, and more. 

The information allows for a deep dive into customer acquisition, determining which exact steps led to their purchase. Since the goal of subscription-based retailers is to gain recurring customers, it’s crucial to understand what activity led to the initial conversion so that it can be repeated and optimized to gain more subscribers in the future.

Gaining access to accurate, non-biased metrics and a holistic view across all marketing channels allows online retailers to confidently assess true marketing value, identify opportunities for growth, influence strategy, and enhance the definition of incrementality.

Are you spending your marketing budget with confidence and taking the guesswork out of your campaigns?

Looking for more ways to grow your brand? Discover the latest trends on how subscription businesses can expand by attending SubSummit!