Today I want to talk about one of the most asked questions we get asked from clients when it comes to multi-channel marketing: how does Facebook and Paid Media traffic attribution work? In order to understand that, we need to take a step back and look at the entire shopping journey from the customer’s point of view.

“When is the last time you discovered a brand and immediately purchased?”
Ali Parmelee, Facebook Ads Strategist at IMPACT, poses a great question.

Guessing never. That’s because we need a little convincing when shopping for the first time. It goes like this.

You meet a new skin care brand on your Facebook feed, you “shake hands”;

you like what you see - or not; continue scrolling;

oh, here it is again on your Facebook feed, that skin care brand you like - it looks really nice, speaks to you;

you engage, click ahead, take a look around, add to cart because you can really imagine that organic brightening treatment on your bathroom shelves, so many women are raving about it;

you subscribe to the newsletter, curious of what incentive you may receive on your first purchase;

you go on with our day;

you receive that email - oh, there’s another customer who loved that same beauty routine, and you tell yourself you’ll get it later;

you’re wrapping up work, you casually see that organic brightening treatment in your Facebook feed again, you rush to get to dinner;

it’s midnight, your kids are in bed, you finally have a moment for yourself, sit down and run a quick Google search to go to the website where you can make a purchase;

it’s done, you placed the order;

oh - here’s another email suggesting an exfoliation cream that goes with you brightening treatment;

you decide to place a second order and make it the perfect purchase; after all shipping is free.

Paid traffic attribution is something that has media buyers and business owners talking. How do you navigate tracking and attribution between Facebook, Google, Email Service Providers and other platforms? How does it work? Why the discrepancies? These are very common questions we hear all the time.

So let’s get to it.


1. How Facebook Attribution works

Facebook attributes a purchase to the last touch point within a specific tracking window. By default, Facebook attributes conversions to users who:

1) clicked an ad in the last 28 days

2) or viewed an ad in the last 1 day. Although the user may not have clicked an ad, they still have seen it in their Facebook newsfeed in the last 24 hours, been reminded about your brand, and searched for your website, for ex. on Google, later that day. Facebook attributes this as a conversion since they had a partial role in generating the purchase.

2. Facebook vs. Google vs. Klaviyo Attribution

Facebook and Google often work hand-in-hand to generate purchases, however they have very different attribution models. Here are a few scenarios, suggested by Lauren LeBrun, Marketing Specialist:

  1. A new user who hasn't heard of your brand before sees your Facebook ad and clicks it. They view some product pages, then leave your site. The next day, they remember that they were shopping for your products and they search your website on Google. They visit your site and make a purchase. Although the most recent visit came in through organic search, the user was still introduced to your brand via a Facebook ad. You may see this reported within your Google Analytics as: organic search.

  2. A past customer searches for your website on Google. They visit your website and view your product pages. The next day, they receive a retargeting ad from Facebook. They click the ad and then complete their purchase. Although the initial visit came from Google, the sale was closed after the customer was prompted to buy and possible offered an incentive by the Facebook ad.

  3. In the case that - the customer who searched for your website on Google and added to cart or viewed your product pages - is an email subscriber, then Klaviyo jumps in and sends an email. We'll see the purchase attributed within Klaviyo in the reporting of a specific Flow.

Since Facebook and Google work together to help you generates conversions, it can be tricky to definitively determine which channel made the sale. Because the answer is often "both."

This can be frustrating from an analytics perspective. But at the end of the day, this means that you have two or three marketing channels that are working for you rather than one. And, of course, the opportunity to grow your website traffic and purchases gets larger and exponential as you run more marketing channels.

Facebook (tool for demand generation) feeds prospecting traffic to Google (tool for demand capture)

They both feed your Email Marketing efforts (tool for lifetime value, customer experience and relationship building) by generating qualified traffic to convert new visits into new subscribers and by engaging subscribers.


3. What doesn't get credited to Facebook even if it may come from Facebook


With multi-channel Marketing, there are purchases that won’t be credited to Facebook ads even if the channel is "responsible". Here are a couple of common scenarios we have discussed with Karen Sahetya, Founder at Brand Central Marketing and Lead-Gen legend:

  1. You acquire a new customer through Facebook Ads, and the first purchase is tracked and attributed to Facebook. The new customer then becomes a repeat customer, but usually purchases directly through the website or purchases off of email campaigns as they have now become email subscribers. In this case, Facebook doesn't get credit for a lifetime value of purchases, unless there is a new touch point - which is often the case with retargeting of customers on the platform.

  2. The new customer tells a friend and sends a link for their friend to purchase; that purchase doesn't get credited to Facebook.

As you can see, with multi-channel Marketing there is intangible exposure to the brand that is exponential, but can’t be measured.

4. The solution

The solution is simple: having an open mind when it comes to attribution.

Ok, but we still have to draw a line somewhere by sticking to specific attribution models within each strategy and channel in use. Therefore, it’s good practice to stick to Facebook attribution to track and measure results within Facebook ads; stick to Klaviyo for in-email tracking and conversions; stick to Google to measure tracking and performance within Google Ads.

Want more resources? Listen to Episode 182 of eCommerce Influence Podcast “How To Make Sense Of Organic & Paid Traffic Attribution” by Andrew Foxwell and Austin Brawner.