Introducing—and explaining—Klaviyo’s updated multi-channel attribution model

5min read
What's new
March 21st 2022
Image shows a person working at a laptop

Today, the Klaviyo team has released an update to our attribution model to provide a more accurate understanding of which channels are having the most impact on your business.

This update will only impact multi-channel customers (i.e. those using both SMS and email tools within Klaviyo), but we know accurate attribution is a concern and priority of all marketers.

Here’s what you’ll find in this article:

Learn more about the 7 most common marketing attribution models:  
Your company’s size and stage will determine which marketing attribution model is best for you. The key? Pick one, and stick with it. Get the pros and cons of the 7 most popular types here.

A primer on multi-channel attribution

Buyer journeys are not linear. There are many touchpoints that we create as marketers to turn potential buyers into paying customers.

When it comes to understanding what is driving conversions for your ecommerce business, it’s crucial to understand the conversion path and which marketing activities—Google Ads, organic search, social media, retargeting, referrals, paid search, email or SMS—you should further optimize.

Multi-channel attribution helps you get a sense of which channels are or are not contributing to sales.

There are many different attribution models and multi-channel funnels used to understand which digital channels contribute to sales—first touch (also known as first interaction, first click or first channel), last touch (also known as last interaction, last touch point, last-click attribution), multi-touch attribution, multi-touch attribution models, time decay models, last non-direct click, linear attribution models, and even custom models.

At Klaviyo, we believe in making it easy to understand how much revenue which channels drive, to make interpreting marketing metrics and conversion data easier to understand and use.

Here are the changes we’ve made, and why.

Always treating email and SMS marketing as independent is ineffective

Our new cooperative multi-channel attribution model takes into account the shared impact of email and SMS channels used concurrently.

Historically, Klaviyo has incorrectly skipped attributing revenue that should have been attributed to an email or SMS due to attribution window rules.

Klaviyo’s configurable attribution defaults to 5 days for email and 1 day for SMS, per industry best practice.

“Why not attribute the conversion to the email campaign since the conversion still falls within the email’s attribution window,” asked Andrew Walters in the Klaviyo community forum. “It doesn’t make sense to have conversions go unattributed if the customer engages both email and SMS. The SMS message shouldn’t disqualify the influence of the email.”

He’s right, it shouldn’t. But it was.

The graph below explains how Klaviyo’s multi-channel attribution used to work.

Image shows an example of cooperative multi-channel attribution.

This lack of email or SMS attribution isn’t painting a clear picture, given that a customer interacted with both channels prior to purchase.

In the example above, the customer interacted with the last channel (SMS) outside of the SMS specific attribution window and still inside the email attribution window. As a result, no channel received attribution for the purchase even though it happened within the attribution window of email.

We’ve resolved this in our cooperative multi-channel attribution update.

A cooperative multi-channel attribution model for cohesive marketing communications

In the new model, the Klaviyo platform looks at both the attribution window for each channel and determines if either of those channels should get revenue attribution at the time of purchase.

This means that if the SMS channel’s attribution window has closed, but the email attribution window is still open, and the customer interacted with email during that time period, attribution will go to the email.

Image shows an example of multi-channel attribution.

This is part of a cooperative multi-channel attribution model in which SMS and email work together to engage customers with complimentary messages across these two collaborative communication channels.

Why this update? Why right now?

As marketers use more marketing channels along the customer journey, having accurate marketing attribution becomes more important when understanding which marketing efforts are working best.

Google analytics can only get your understanding of your digital marketing performance so far. Since Klaviyo offers the ability to have multiple touchpoints across multiple channels in your marketing campaigns, having a better understanding of the effectiveness of your marketing strategy is increasingly important.

From product features to our business model, Klaviyo aims to provide full transparency and flexibility to meet all customer needs, and that’s especially important when it comes to attribution.

Klaviyo is one of the only customer platforms that houses both email marketing and SMS marketing in a single system. This is important because SMS and email marketing can play off of one another, reinforce messages, and give brands more opportunities for engagement and conversion.

SMS and email marketing can play off one other.
They can also reinforce messages and give brands more opportunities for engagement and conversion.

Our previous multi-channel attribution model was not taking this cohesive communication channel strategy into account, and brands were losing visibility into Klaviyo Attributed Revenue as a result. When that happened, marketers were unable to tell their brand’s full email and SMS marketing story.

We have made this change to better arm Klaviyo customers using both email marketing and SMS marketing within our platform with the data they need to prove these two channels can be used together to build trust, loyalty and retention.

Integrated marketing is better marketing, and marketing measurement with properly attributed revenue helps great teams communicate their success effectively.

Ready for unified email and SMS marketing?
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Jake Cohen