TLDR: Marketing aims to spend on the campaigns and channels that offer the most significant ROI. Discover why multi-touch attribution is vital for making those decisions.

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 they register for a webinar. Several emails down the line, this person becomes a customer. Congrats—now, how do you proportion credit for that deal?

We’re big advocates of multi-touch attribution because most customer journeys comprise multiple interactions with your brand. The prevailing view on attribution in B2B is to credit one single touchpoint with driving revenue.

If that’s your marketing team’s approach, then you need to read this Tough Talks Made Easy. Marketing spends on the campaigns and channels that give the best ROI, so we’ll help you explain to your team why multi-touch attribution is essential for making the best decisions.

 

Single vs. multi-touch

It’s important to note that both methods have unique advantages and limitations. The choice between them often depends on the specific goals and business circumstances. We outline the strengths of each below.

Single-touch attribution

Single-touch attribution is a method of crediting a conversion to the first touchpoint (e.g., an ad click or email open) that a customer had with a brand before converting.

It helps you answer particular questions about campaign performance, for instance:

  • First-touch attribution: Details which campaign sparked initial interest.
  • Lead-creation attribution: Identifies which campaigns get people into your database.
  • Last-touch attribution: Pinpoint which campaigns convert the most leads to opportunities.

Each method is effective at evaluating performance against KPIs, but no one interaction accounts for the sum of marketing activities that influence revenue.

A 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

Multi-touch attribution assigns credit to multiple touchpoints along the customer journey. It allows for a more nuanced understanding of how different touchpoints contribute to a conversion.

It responds to reality because there’s no one correct answer 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: Assigns more credit to the first and last touchpoints in the customer journey and equal credit to all other touchpoints. Helpful for driving awareness
  • W-Shaped: Assigns more credit to the first and last touchpoints in the customer journey and less credit to touchpoints in the middle. Helpful for determining which campaigns turned leads into opportunities.
  • Full-Path: Assigns credit to all touchpoints in the customer journey, regardless of their order or importance. Helpful for measuring the entire funnel.
  • Sourced: Assigns credit to all touchpoints in the customer journey that originate from a specific source while giving no credit to touchpoints from other sources. Helpful in determining which campaigns helped to create new pipeline.
  • Accelerated: Assigns credit to touchpoints that occur in a shorter time frame and across fewer touchpoints. It prioritizes the touchpoints that are most likely to have driven a conversion. Helpful in determining which campaigns helped to close deals.
  • Influenced: Assigns credit to touchpoints that influence a customer’s decision to convert even if those touchpoints didn’t directly lead to the conversion. Helpful in determining which campaigns helped to source and accelerate prospects.
  • Time-Decay Assigns more credit to touchpoints that occur closer in time to a conversion and less credit to touchpoints that occur further away in time. Helpful in understanding the effectiveness of short-term marketing efforts.

The takeaway for your marketing team: Both single- and multi-touch attribution have their place in your gameplan, but the latter leads to various discoveries that help you double down on campaign success.

 

Maximize ROI with multi-touch attribution

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 to 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.

Your marketing manager is probably focusing on cost per lead when making spending decisions.
If you pump more money into the sub-channels where you get cheaper leads and 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.

When you 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 if you’d 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.

Multi-touch attribution takes figures from across your brand activity and tells you what’s creating deals and ROI. That lets you double down on your strategy and determine how to max out spending at multiple levels:

  • channels (e.g., social, display)
  • sub-channels (e.g., LinkedIn, Facebook), and
  • tactics (e.g. whitepapers, webinars).

This is the essence of how attribution helps your marketing team succeed — from your CMO setting growth targets and strategic aims to your marketing manager running campaigns.

 

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. Contact us to start a conversation.

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