Executives have always desired a “single source of truth” to measure marketing effectiveness and avoid wasted ad spending.
John Wanamaker famously said, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”
While today’s data-driven marketers have untold access to data and metrics, the question is still as valid today as it was in John’s day
Which marketing activities contribute to the bottom line – and which ones do not?
Each online platform – be it Instagram, Facebook ads, Google Ads, LinkedIn, or YouTube – wants you to spend more money with it.
But it is not always possible to gain the full picture of accurate marketing performance.
Thankfully for us marketers, multi-touch (or multi-funnel) attribution may be the solution.
A multi-touch attribution model (MTA) enables you to understand each touchpoint’s role in creating a new customer.
This shows you what to leverage to boost performance and hit growth targets.
That’s why it is so important to gain a complete picture since every touchpoint a customer has with your brand can influence their decision to convert.
Once you understand which touchpoints result in conversions, you can better allocate your budgets to similar touchpoints in the future and reduce funds from less effective ones.
First, How Does Multi-Touch Attribution Work?
Multi funnel attribution – also known as multi-touch attribution – is a way to measure conversions.
It considers every touchpoint in the customer marketing journey and gives tribute to each channel to show the value of each touchpoint.
The challenge most marketers face is which channel or touchpoint to credit and how much to credit each touchpoint for the conversion.
In the graph showing a customer journey above, should the Facebook ad (first touchpoint) get all the credit, the Google paid-search ad (last), or all of them?
We’ll take you through all the attribution models to better understand how you could shape your measurements.
What Is Multi-touch Attribution?
Multi-touch attribution models refer to those that evaluate and weigh the impact of several touchpoints, not all attribution models.
As a result, they only consider the first or last touchpoint encountered before a conversion rather than every touchpoint encountered throughout the sales cycle.
What Multi Funnel Attribution Is Not
An easy way to understand multi-touch attribution is to compare it with other attribution models.
It Is Not First-Touch Attribution
Under the first-touch attribution model, the initial marketing touchpoint of a campaign before a closed sale is given full credit for the sale. This is where awareness marketing campaigns get credit for triggering a sale at the top of the funnel.
This may be useful for niche situations, but it gives no attention to the middle or bottom of the funnel activities.
However, this can be useful as companies prepare themselves for when there are no 3rd party cookies in the future, and other metrics – such as the first point of contact – need to be tracked.
It Is Not Last-Touch Attribution
In this model, the final touchpoint that has been interacted with before a closed lead is given full sales credit.
Last-touch attribution seems to be used more frequently than first-touch.
This attribution method is primarily concerned with the end stage of the customer journey and doesn’t focus on top or mid-funnel activities.
Why Adopt A Multi-touch Attribution Approach For B2B Marketing
Since you sell to companies, not individuals, you need more of an account-based attribution model rather than focused purely on the individual.
While some B2B transactions are conducted as B2C transactions, most B2B attributions need you to consider the many stakeholders in your buying journey to the account level.
These stakeholders are responsible for determining whether the company will buy from you.
Companies, Not Individuals
It is easy to lose sight that B2B means that you sell products or services to companies, not individuals.
The buying process includes users, decision-makers, stakeholders, and other advisers, but ultimately a company has to decide whether to pay another company for its solutions.
However, account-level or not, their journey will mirror the consumer’s.
Your brand and product are still going to be researched and engaged across all your different channels, including:
- Live chat.
- Phone calls.
- Review sites.
- Your product’s free trial.
- Social media.
Organized Data, Better Strategies
All of this data is difficult to organize, understand, and build a useful attribution model without structured thinking.
That is why a multi-touch attribution model, which provides a more granular, human-centric view of a campaign than traditional methods such as media mix modeling, is becoming more important for marketers.
In addition to providing visibility into the success of touchpoints across the customer journey, multi-touch attribution offers many other benefits.
It is crucial to utilize data-driven marketing to use the right channel to meet consumers at the right time, as consumers are becoming increasingly adept at avoiding marketing messages.
Multi-touch attribution makes this possible, which provides marketers with granular data to identify audiences across channels and determine their specific marketing goals.
Return On Investment
Multi-touch attribution models can help marketers improve the consumer experience and help them increase the return on their marketing expenditures by revealing where their money is being spent most and least effectively.
This supports a shorter, more effective sales cycle by presenting consumers with more impactful marketing messages.
Quick Overview Of The Types Of Multi-Touch Attribution Models
In multi-touch attribution, each touchpoint engages with the customer before conversion – the difference is the amount of credit attributed to each touchpoint. These models can either be adopted as is or modified to create custom models.
Linear Multi-touch Attribution Model
When you use a linear attribution model, each touchpoint in the buyer’s journey receives the same amount of credit for driving the sale. While this type of attribution considers all touchpoints in the buyer journey, it weighs each equally.
Although linear attribution improves first or last touch attribution, it still leaves a lot to be desired as all touchpoints don’t equally impact consumers.
U-shaped Multi-Touch Attribution Model
Based on the U-shaped multi-touch attribution strategy, 40% of value is attributed to the initial and last contact, and 20% goes to the subsequent touchpoints.
It provides your team with a clear picture of where the customer’s journey has begun, and where the journey ends.
Because this attribution model considers that not all touchpoints are equal, it is more reflective of how marketers value touchpoints intrinsically.
This is because it gives gravitas to the starting and ending campaigns.
Even so, it doesn’t meet all of the customer’s journey requirements due to its simplistic viewpoint.
Time Decay Multi-touch Attribution
This model gives a larger share of credit to customer touchpoints closer to conversion.
Although it gives some credit to touchpoints in the top and middle of the funnel, this article focuses primarily on touchpoints at the end of the marketing funnel.
The time decay model emphasizes touchpoints that directly lead to conversions and ignores awareness-based touchpoints.
While conversions are critical to ensuring your business is profitable, downplaying the first touchpoint is not perfect for all marketing teams.
The W-Shaped Multi-Touch Attribution Model
The W-shaped model is responsible for assigning credit of 30% at the first touch, mid-way (lead creation), and final (conversion) touchpoints.
The remaining 10% is equally split between additional engagements.
This model is puro when there is a clearly defined “opportunity creation” stage in the journey.
And, while this is a massive improvement on the “one or none” approach, it is not always the best model for marketing teams to accurately attribute conversions.
Full Path Multi-Touch Attribution Model
This model – commonly used in B2B spaces – is quite detailed and complex.
Similar to the W-shaped multi-touch attribution, it has the addition of the lead creation touchpoint.
This notes the moment that a marketing lead becomes a qualified lead.
Here, 22.5% of the credit is attributed to the first touchpoint and lead generation, opportunity creation, and sale touchpoint, with the remaining 10% spread among the leftover touchpoints.
It is useful because it gives a granular view of the customer’s journey from start to finish.
So granular, in fact, that it may not be the best choice for B2C companies or those with low-involvement purchases.
Tailored Multi-Touch Attribution Model
The company itself designs this model.
It allows marketers to base value per touchpoint against their own parameters.
This is puro for those who want to get the most from multiple models.
It can be difficult to put all the benefits of bespoke attribution together.
You may need to invest in software and attribution modeling experts to tailor your attribution strategy properly.
How To Deploy Multi-funnel Attribution For B2B
This can be a daunting task, but here are the steps we use to roll out a multi-touch attribution model.
Identify The Models And KPIs
Choose the attribution models that suit your organization best. Consider the length of the sales cycle, the types of campaigns, and the level of detail required. Then, identify the key metrics to measure success or failure.
Bring The Team Onboard
Your in-house team may need to bring on some external marketing analysts and strategists to get this job done. Internal finance and creative teams will also need to understand how data will drive campaigns going forward.
- Collect the data. Who is visiting your site, how did they get there, and did they convert?
- APIs can be integrated with your CRM system, external advertising vendors, and third-party software that have unique ways of identifying your users.
- Combine the data. To turn this raw data into useful insights, you need a place to store it, such as a central, secure data warehouse.
- Visualize the data. It is important to transform this data into graphs and charts that non-analytic stakeholders will find easier to understand. There are many vendors available who can do this for you.
- Invest in analytics software. If your attribution models are complex, it is best to implement analytics software that is advanced enough to work with your models. This will standardize and correlate the spans of raw data into reports that offer insights. Ideally, it will highlight consumer motivation, such as strong brand equity, compelling campaign creatives, etc.
- Apply insights and remodeling. Once you have collected and cleaned the data, use it to try and predict what might come based on past observations. Those insights can be translated into campaign improvements right away.
- Optimize and test. Tracking and testing are never done. Embrace a culture of continually evaluating your MTA data and testing campaigns to improve results.
- A/B testing: Tools like Google Optimize, Optimizely, or your strategic marketing partner make it easy to change campaigns to see what audiences prefer.
- Server-side testing: Growing in popularity for channels like SEO if other methods aren’t working.
- Geo experiments: For channels that cannot be A/B tested (such as TV), splitting campaigns by geographical region is useful to see the impact of the marketing on sales.
- Deprivation testing: Quite simply, switching the ad off and then on again to see its impact on sales and conversions.
Is MTA The Same As Multi-Channel Attribution?
Quite simply – no. Multi-channel attribution allocates credit according to channel (social advertising, paid search, organic SEO, etc.). It does not take into account specific touchpoints, messaging, or sequences.
While multi-touch attribution does factor in the channel, it is more granular in that it zooms in on each of the ads, their creatives, messaging, sequencing of interaction, and so on.
How Do We Know If We Need Multi-Touch Attribution?
It is best to apply MTA to campaigns that pivot on digital spending and that need to link an individual to a specific marketing event.
This could be email or online paid advertising that spans multiple channels and devices.
If your campaigns require this level of insight, then MTA is a good fit for you.
Multi-touch attribution allows B2B marketers to respond more rapidly to changes in their target audience and greater market.
The granular understanding they are given at an account level of which elements of their campaigns are working – and those that are not – means they can be flexible, agile, and competitive.
They have clarity into every touchpoint on the B2B customer journey, empowering marketing teams to make better data-backed decisions going forward.
Remember, B2B marketing attribution isn’t so much about budget as what marketing teams are doing.
Finding the right attribution model is imperative to success.
If yours is not supplementing your strategy with useful data, it will negatively impact your performance.
Every dot of data, every graph, and report should give you more insights into your puro customer and their typical behavior.
As modern B2B marketers, we must have multiple weapons in our digital arsenal.
This will bring clarity to data chaos and give the organization an edge that will help them forge ahead with confidence.
Featured Image: MaximP/Shutterstock