The Multi-Touch Attribution Guide for Marketers

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A deal closes, hooray! It’s time to peer into the customer journey and glean insights so the go-to-market team can repeat the success. Was it the blog they first came through after clicking on its LinkedIn post, the ebook they downloaded next, or the call from the sales rep that closed the deal? But wait. Throughout the sales cycle the rep used a handful of content and assets, the prospect clicked on a paid search ad, and they came to a dinner event at the recent tradeshow. 

First-touch attribution would give full credit to the blog.

Last-touch attribution would give the glory to the dinner. 

Both leave insights on the table and can lead a marketer down the wrong strategic path. That’s where multi-touch attribution comes in. 

What is Multi-Touch Attribution?

While it made its debut on the 2020 Gartner Hype Cycle, it’s been on marketers’ minds for years with promises of 15-30% efficiency gains. Multi-touch attribution models share credit across all the touchpoints. In some frameworks, each moment is weighed equally while others leverage AI to give each point unique weight. 

As Nielsen describes it, multi-touch attribution is a sophisticated alternative to traditional, rules-based attribution approaches like first- or last-touch. Although it’s easier to capture the first and last touchpoints, these methods don’t account for all the moments and channels customers engage with throughout a buying cycle. Using just one point as their north star, marketers make future decisions based on skewed data. 

Why is Multi-Touch Attribution Important?

Actionable, accurate data is what marketers need. It’s a tale as old as time. The challenge is that traditional, predictive machine learning tools that marketers have access to today can only collect data and surface insights. However, they fail to understand the cause and effect of each touchpoint in order to prescribe action. Most if not all executives believe that delivering a relevant and reliable customer experience is critical to their business, but many can’t act on the data they collect.

For example, in recent conversations McKinsey has had with top marketing executives, less than a fifth reported having a very strong understanding of how their brand-building campaigns are performing. One executive said, “It’s tough to measure either the short-term or long-term impacts of brand campaigns. We attribute increases in sales to them because of correlation, not necessarily causation.” 

The wrong tools and attribution frameworks confuse correlation for causation in campaign results. Multi-touch attribution modeling is one layer of the solution. 

By collecting as much customer data as possible and giving it weight, marketers can better understand cause-and-effect insights, helping marketers get answers to KPI questions like:

  • Which asset along the sales cycle was most valuable?
  • If that campaign hadn’t run, would the deal still have closed?
  • How much revenue did each marketing asset generate?

Multi-touch attribution helps marketers analyze the customer journey over all of the touchpoints to see which channels are providing the largest impact on revenue, so they can streamline campaigns and budget allocation. 

Optimizing the Customer Journey In a Digital-First World

The customer journey is changing at a dizzying pace and they prefer to do a bulk of their research online, making it hard for sales to guide buyers through the cycle. In PWC’s latest Global Consumer Insights Survey, 41% of respondents report shopping daily or weekly via smartphone – compared with 39% six months ago – and just 12% five years ago. 

A digital trends report for Adobe also found that 82% of marketers have observed new and changing customer journeys reporting they have seen a surge in existing (75%) and new (72%) customers using digital channels to buy.

In a world where customers can engage with brands across TV, print, video, social, events, content, paid ads, email, website, and more every touchpoint matters. Marketers are trying to keep up. To optimize and personalize each customer’s unique experience across these channels, marketers need a full view of how the touchpoints are performing in their attribution reports. 

Multi-touch attribution gives marketers a bird’s eye view of all the channels that contribute to conversion so they can see where their efforts are making the greatest impact. Layering on Revenue Science with Dealtale propels those data-driven insights into prescriptive actions. Learn how you can better understand and target your customers by scheduling a demo with our team.

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