Daniel Kehrer, a frequent contributor to Forbes Insights describes marketing attribution as a brave new world. We agree. The heat is on for healthcare marketers (and their agencies) to demonstrate the value of their digital campaigns and to accurately describe what’s working and why. The ever-increasing development of digital marketing channels and devices in the consumer landscape has added a new level of difficulty to this assignment. The healthcare consumer’s journey now weaves through a maze of digital, paid and earned media channels, making accurately demonstrating the value of any online effort a challenge. Welcome to the brave new world of measurement called marketing attribution.

Marketing Attribution

Before a consumer purchases a product or service, they are exposed to numerous marketing “touchpoints.” Attribution is the science of assigning credit to those touchpoints. In healthcare, touchpoints can include measuring:

  • casual encounters by way of social media, online search and SEO, content marketing or similar
  • more intense encounters including searching website content, videos, interacting through social media

The idea behind attribution is to divide up credit for a conversion among marketing touchpoints preceding it, so you can determine what’s working and structure future marketing spending accordingly.

Attribution Models  

There is no perfect attribution model. Models range from basic to extremely complicated, each with its own strengths and drawbacks.


Consumer interest is influenced by total marketing effort. Search impressions and clicks are a part of that effort. Attribution models do not take into account:

  • an existing customer base that has built up over time and feeds a good portion of recurring revenue
  • existing brand equity that influences customer decisions
  • offline (untrackable) marketing efforts


Perfection is not the goal of attribution. Understanding all your marketing channels and devices is an ongoing process. What digital attribution can do is give you:

  • the ability to get a clearer picture of how consumers interact online with your brand before converting
  • better visibility into which online marketing tactics are performing best
  • the ability to more successfully allocate digital marketing dollars
  • the ability to be agile if a tactic is not performing well

The online and offline customer experience requires deep insights to ensure that we are connecting in meaningful ways to drive engagement. Attribution enables healthcare organizations to move beyond individual tactics toward the development of a more holistic approach to understanding the path patients take to conversion.


Proper digital attribution is complex. It begins with aligning your goals and objectives, as well as ensuring that the data you start with is accurate. Then and only then, should you progress to using the best model you can to test, predict, compare against results and improve until you move closer to understanding the true impact of your digital marketing efforts.