Tough Talks Made Easy | Multi-touch attribution: help your Marketing leadership spend on impact
Written by Andy Caron
Here’s a puzzle for you. Someone visits your website. Weeks later, a blog post shared on LinkedIn brings them back to your site and registering for a webinar. Several emails down the line, this person’s buying what you’re selling. Congrats—now how do you proportion credit for that deal?
Many customer journeys comprise multiple interactions with your brand, but the prevailing view on attribution in B2B is to credit one single touchpoint with driving revenue. If that’s the approach of your Marketing team, then this Tough Talks Made Easy is for you. Marketing’s out to spend on the campaigns and channels that give the largest bang for your buck, so we’ll help you explain to your team why multi-touch attribution is essential for making the best decisions.
Single vs multi: answers to different questions
Single-touch attribution helps you answer particular questions about campaign performance. Curious about the campaigns that spark initial interest? First-touch attribution tells you that. Want to know what campaigns get people into your database? Look at a lead creation model. Which campaigns convert the most leads to opportunities? Last touch attribution unearths final interactions before conversion.
These are all effective methods of evaluating performance against KPIs, but no one interaction accounts for the sum of marketing activities that influence revenue. Each lead could have anywhere from 5 to 50 interactions with your company on their journey. Limiting your analysis to a single or handful of interactions means the vast majority of your activities have impacts that you’re not even measuring—and if you don’t measure it, you won’t optimize it.
Multi-touch attribution doesn’t rule out single-touch use cases. Instead, it responds to reality; there’s no silver bullet for where to spend your budget. Multi-touch models assign dollars across different touchpoints, and by doing so, the analysis leads to insights that a single factor can’t explain. Here’s a rundown of what some common models can answer for you:
- U-shaped: What campaigns were strong at driving brand awareness? Bookend your analysis from first-touch to lead creation.
- W-shaped: What campaigns turned leads into opportunities? Add in last-touch attribution.
- Full-path: What campaigns were the most impactful across the lifecycle? Measure your interactions from first-touch to done deals.
- Sourced: What campaigns helped to create new pipeline? Look at your activities X amount of days before opportunity creation.
- Accelerated: What campaigns helped to close deals? Check your actions between creating and closing opportunities.
- Influenced: Which campaigns helped to source and accelerate prospects? Analyze engagement from source to closure.
The takeaway for your Marketing team: both single- and multi-touch attribution have their place in your gameplan, but the latter leads to a variety of discoveries that help you double down on campaign success.
ROI’s the goal—rethink how you get there
As a marketer, you’re a driver of revenue. One of the most important decisions Marketing makes for the business is to allocate campaign dollars into the places that give you the highest return on investment. Your company’s invested in martech to make sense of the data, but if you’re making that call without multi-touch attribution, then you’re spending in the dark.
Cost per lead is probably what your Marketing Manager looks at when making spending decisions. Pump more money into the sub-channels where you get cheaper leads, get more leads for your money. By that logic, organic SEO wins every time, then platforms with the next-lowest spend, and that’s where you’ll invest. Case closed, right?
Not quite. Take a more gradual approach to the analysis and let lead data play out until you can calculate cost per deal. Estimate revenue based on deal size, and you might see the picture shift. Platforms like Google Ads and LinkedIn may be more expensive per lead but more efficient per deal, bringing in sales at much higher values than sub-channels with cheaper leads.
This is where ROI really comes from—revenue vs spend—and it produces a different decision than had you focused on cost per lead. The lesson for Marketing here is that not all leads are created equal; if you reduce spend based on leads, you could lose out on deals in the long run.
What multi-touch attribution does, then, is to take figures from across your brand activity and tell you what’s creating deals and ROI. That lets you double down on your strategy and determine how to max out spend at multiple levels—channels (e.g. social, display), sub-channels (e.g. LinkedIn, Facebook), and tactics (e.g. whitepapers, webinars). From your CMO setting growth targets and strategic aims to your Marketing Manager running campaigns, this is the essence of how attribution helps your Marketing team to succeed.
Drive better decisions
Multi-touch attribution connects the dots between marketing interactions and revenue, letting you accurately measure and spend on impact. That understanding puts everyone on the same page about what campaigns really boost your bottom line, and it gives Marketing a more effective way to think about and surface value.
If you’re facing pressure to optimize right this second, just remember: this is an engine for long-term success. Take time to handle your modeling with care and collect the data you need as campaigns progress; you have more of both on your side than you think.
For any advice on succeeding with attribution, Revenue Pulse is here to help.