Complete Guide To Multi-Touch Attribution

Complete Guide To Multi-Touch Attribution -

Multi-touch attribution is crucial for modern marketing teams. There are multiple types of attribution models you can use, and the best one will depend on your unique situation and use case. In this guide, we discuss what multi-touch attribution is, the key benefits, and how you can overcome the challenges associated with it.

Marketers in startups to enterprise companies alike struggle to make decisions due to a lack of clear and actionable data.

Do you feel like you should know more about multi-touch attribution?

If you’re nodding your head.

Don’t worry.

The vast majority of marketers are in the same position.

Multi-touch attribution allows marketers to see how well individual campaigns are performing, how they relate to overall marketing ROI, and, most importantly, lets them make decisions based on actionable data.

In a survey by Kanter Millward Brown, 78% of marketers admitted that they struggle to connect the dots of their performance across various marketing channels.

Source: Getting Media Right – Kantar Millward Brown

Luckily, it’s getting easier to track and measure marketing performance.

Multi-touch attribution is the best way to measure how all of your campaigns contribute to your overall marketing funnel performance.

With a better understanding of Multi-touch attribution, it will become easier to identify which of your channels are generating the most value.

So, in this article, I’m going to walk you through the following topics:

  • What Multi-Touch Attribution is
  • The key benefits of using it
  • Single-Touch vs. Multi-Touch Attribution
  • The different types of Multi-Touch Attribution models
  • Challenges to successful Multi-Touch Attribution

Let’s get started!

Editors Note: Now more than ever it’s important that you know exactly which of your marketing initiatives are driving revenue growth. If you’re here because you’re struggling to attribute sales revenue across multiple channels, or you want to sharpen up on your attribution knowledge, then I suggest that you go ahead and download our Closed-Loop Marketing Attribution eBook.The Closed-loop marketing framework creates a cycle of data between marketing and sales. This allows marketers to attribute revenue data back to the marketing campaigns that generated it over multiple touchpoints.

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What is Multi-Touch Attribution?

Multi-touch attribution is a method of judging marketing channel success by analysing each touchpoint that leads to a conversion.

Traditionally, marketers had to rely on single-touch attribution, which typically only gives credit to one marketing channel for conversions.

For example:

If someone reads a blog post and then converts, you’ll credit that piece of content for the conversion, but ignore other channels they may have been influenced by.

Multi-touch attribution allows you to see the conversion paths that your customers took with more clarity.

Another example:

That person who converted on a blog post may have previously seen your ad campaign on Facebook or engaged with your email nurturing campaigns.

Both of those channels deserve a portion of the credit for the conversion.

The ultimate goal of using multi-touch attribution is to optimise the allocation of your marketing spend to focus on the channels that have the most influence on conversions.

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That’s why more and more marketers are adopting multi-touch marketing attribution models into their workflow.


Benefits of Using Multi-Touch Attribution

There are countless benefits to having a better picture of your marketing results.

However, let’s take a look at some of the biggest.


1. Determine Marketing Channel ROI

Most of your marketing budget is used on digital channels, you can make data-driven decisions.

But, no matter how much data you have, if you’re not using it correctly, you won’t be able to see a clear picture of how your budget is being used.

Multi-touch attribution is the ideal way to help you harness the information you have and use it to tell you a story of what’s actually happening in your marketing funnel.

Once you’re using it, you’ll be able to weigh the influence that different channels had on users over the entire course of the buyer journey.

It’ll help you justify why you should be spending money on individual channels, and identify where to double-down.


2. Identify Important Micro-Conversions

We all want people to hit the “Sign Up Now” or “Purchase” button on our landing pages, but it’s equally important to know what happens before that conversion.

With multi-touch attribution models, you’ll discover what touchpoints in your funnel lead to significant changes in conversion rates.

For example:

You might discover that if a lead reads a particular blog post, they have a 30% higher chance of converting.

Or, leads who engage with a specific retargeting ad converted in a shorter time frame than those who didn’t.

Once you start applying multi-touch attribution models to your marketing activities, you’ll uncover hidden information data that will help you make better decisions in the future and discover how well all of your channels deliver value to your audience.


Single-Touch vs. Multi-Touch Attribution

If you’re using single-touch attribution, you might be wondering if it’s worth switching how you track your conversions and marketing efforts.

Single-touch attribution usually refers to models such as First-Touch Attribution and Last-Touch Attribution.

Side note: If you want to learn more about single-touch models, then I suggest you check out my guide to first click, last click and attribution modelling.

These assign conversion values to either the first or last channel a lead engaged with you on before converting into a customer.

Let me use a demonstration.

In the first screenshot, revenue has been assigned to marketing channels using the first-click model.

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Ruler Analytics Source Report – Last Click

In the next screenshot, revenue has been assigned using the last-click model.

I have used the same account and date range:

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Ruler Analytics Source Report – Last Click

Have you noticed the change in revenue?

Now if you were to just use last-click attribution in this scenario, you wouldn’t know how valuable Google Paid was at the top-of-the-funnel.

My point here is that, by using multiple attribution models, you gain a holistic view of your entire customer journey.

With the information above, you could allocate more budget to your awareness campaigns on Google Paid, which in turn, should drive more revenue for the business.


What Types of Multi-Touch Attribution Models Can You Use?

Below is a list of multi-touch attribution Models which you can use to measure the effectiveness of your marketing performance.


1. Linear Attribution Model

The linear multi-touch attribution model assigns the same credit to every channel that a lead viewed or engaged within their conversion journey.

Multi-Touch Attribution - Linear Attribution -

If they clicked a Google ad, used a brand search 3-days later, signed up to your newsletter and then converted using direct search, all of those assets will be given the same amount of credit.

Linear attribution shows you what touchpoints were interacted with but won’t show you how important they were in the overall buyer journey.


2. Time Decay Model

Time-based attribution assigns more weight to interactions that happen near the conversion event.

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For example:

If a user clicked on your Google ad, did nothing for a month, performed a brand search, signed up to your newsletter and converted using direct search, then the last click (direct) would receive more credit than your other touchpoints.

Time decay attribution can work, but if you have a long sales cycle then it will discount touchpoints that may have been crucial to getting a buyer to put your solution into their consideration set.


3. U-Shaped Attribution Model

The U-shaped attribution model (also known as the Position-Based Attribution) gives credit to two main touchpoints.

Multi-Touch Attribution - U-Shaped Attribution - www.ruleranalytics

The two key touchpoints are the first touchpoint that a prospect interacted with, and the second is the lead conversion touchpoint (where they became a qualified lead).

Those two touchpoints receive 40% of the credit each, and the remaining 20% is divided between other touchpoints that someone interacted with.

The rest of the credit is then evenly distributed through any touchpoints in between.


4. W-Shaped Attribution Model

The W-shaped attribution model gives the majority of credit to three main touchpoints.

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30% goes to the first touchpoint, 30% to the touchpoint where a prospect becomes a qualified lead, and 30% to the final touchpoint a lead interacted with before becoming a customer.

Then, the remaining 10% is assigned evenly to all other touchpoints that the customer interacted with.


5. Full Path Attribution Model

The Full Path attribution model (sometimes referred to as Z-Shaped) assigns credit to even more of the touchpoints in the buyer journey.

Multi-Touch Attribution - full path attribution 0 (1)

In this case, 22.5% of the credit is given to four points:

  • First touch (where the customer first interacted with your brand)
  • Lead-generation touch (where they became a qualified lead)
  • Opportunity-creation touch (where they became sales-ready)
  • Customer close touch (the final touch where they became a customer)
  • The remaining 10% is then assigned evenly to the rest of the touchpoints in the buyer journey.

6. Custom Attribution

A custom multi-touch attribution model is what you’d expect.

You assign the weighting to each touchpoint yourself depending on how important it is to your business.

Multi-Touch Attribution - Custom attribution -

If you have the resources, this is arguably the most effective way to attribute conversions to your entire marketing funnel, as you can tailor it to your exact needs.



Challenges of Multi-Touch Attribution

Everyone wants more (and better) data to judge their marketing efforts, so it’s easy to want to jump straight into using multi-touch marketing attribution models in your company.

However, there are some challenges that you need to be aware of.


1. Lacks Visibility into External Factors

Firstly, if you haven’t included or aren’t tracking a touchpoint, it won’t be given any credit in your attribution model.

For example:

Let’s say you have your product listed on a third party directory site like Capterra or G2.

Your prospects may visit your listing to see reviews and evaluate your product before making a final decision.

However, because you don’t have tracking installed on there because it’s not your own website, it won’t show up in your attribution models.

Depending on the external, untrackable factors, you could use marketing mix modelling to assess the impact of these factors.

Use your data to guide decisions, and look at the data with a critical eye if it doesn’t look right.


2. Lack of Offline Metrics for Calls or Meetings

Most multi-touch attribution models don’t easily allow for offline tracking.

This means any incoming calls or in-person customer visits won’t be logged (unless you input them manually), leading to confusion and holes in your tracking.

To get around this.

We use a purpose-built call attribution tracking tool.

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Ruler Analytics Call Attribution Report

This enables us to accurately track and attribute how influential phone calls are on conversions and see how every marketing and sales channel contributes to ROI.


How To Use Multi-Touch Attribution in Your Marketing

If you want to use multi-touch attribution, you’ll need to ensure your tools and processes are set up to capture the right data and display it in a way that you can make sense of.

Here are the two main ways you can get started with multi-touch marketing attribution.


Self-Hosted JavaScript and Cookie Based Tracking

Most marketers already have Google Analytics or a similar product installed.

Once you install their JavaScript code snippet on your site, you’ll have access to rich analytics on sessions, behaviour, and conversions on your website.

When a user arrives on your site, Google Analytics assigns a unique ID to that visitor that tracks their activity for a set period.

If they convert during that period, you’ll be able to see all of the on-site touchpoints they engaged with.

Google Analytics has a built-in model comparison tool.

Multi-Touch Attribution - Google Analytics Model Comparison -

Google Analytics Model Comparision Tool

You can filter your traffic and conversions through some of the most used attribution models.


Tracking Attribution Through Your Martech Stack

The average company uses 91 different martech tools.

Even if you’re using less than that, you’ll need to ensure you’re tracking how each tool influences conversions.

For example:

Most software companies use Intercom or Drift for live chat and customer support.

Live chat can be a very effective way to communicate with and nurture leads, so you should be tracking how it affects the buyer journey.

Most live chat tools integrate with Google Analytics, so you can track how these touchpoints affect conversions directly within your analytics tools.

We’d recommend going through all of your tools, audit how your customers interact with them and integrate with a central analytics tool like Google Analytics or Ruler Analytics.

You can use a tool such as Zapier to compile data in a spreadsheet too, so you can see how they contribute in your multi-touch attribution models.


Final Thoughts

Multi-touch attribution is vital to a successful marketing function.

If you stick to single-touch attribution, you’ll be missing critical insights on how each marketing touchpoint contributes to the bigger picture, and you’ll never gain the clarity you need to accurately assess ROI.

Multi-touch attribution is crucial for modern marketing teams.

There are multiple types of attribution models you can use, and the best one will depend on your unique situation and use case.

There will be some initial effort required to understand multi-touch attribution, and to implement the correct attribution model for your company.

But once you have true multi-touch attribution capabilities, you’ll wonder how you went without it.

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Written by

Marketing executive at Ruler Analytics with a background in SEO, analytics, content marketing and paid social. I help people (like me) close the loop between marketing-generated leads and revenue.