Lead Attribution Models

Why digital marketing attribution models matter

B2B digital marketing strategies are ever more intricate, with cross-channel and multi-channel campaigns, web content and blog posts, paid searches, display ads, organic search, and more contributing to your customer’s decision-making process.

In an ideal world, marketers would know that each and every touchpoint is optimised to provide value for the lead at that point in their customer journey – and each touchpoint would provide a lineal progression on the final path to that ultimate goal: a sale. However, showing exactly what makes customers purchase from your business can be tricky. 

This is precisely why marketing attribution models are so important: they allow marketers to find out which touchpoints customers interact with before they make a purchase. Once you know which touchpoints and which marketing channels lead to a sale, you can optimise these points for higher lead generation, lead conversion rates and more sales – and you can begin to calculate your marketing ROI

In other words: marketing attribution can help you find out what which marketing efforts are working working for you so that you can do more of it. 

The five benefits of lead attribution models

  1. Focus your efforts: find out which marketing efforts are working and discover which can (and should) be optimised
  2. Understand user journeys better so you can enable more effective lead nurturing campaigns
  3. Understand where your most valuable and qualified leads come from so you can refine your lead scoring and lead qualification
  4. Track your ROI by attributing conversion rates to each specific touchpoint along the user journey
  5. Justify and defend the impact of your marketing budget

Lead attribution models: finding out what works – and what doesn’t

Lead attribution models assign credit to different points in the customer journey, enabling marketers to see which touchpoints work and to optimise those points to drive higher conversion rates. They work much like a set of rules that assign credit to the different points in your customer journey.

It’s important to find out which model fits your business best. In fact, while most companies use marketing attribution models, only 22% of companies feel that their organisation is using the right marketing attribution model!

That’s because each model has a different way of assigning credit for lead conversion. The model you choose can influence your results to show you what seems to work best, so make sure you have time to review and understand these models – both at the time of implementation and in periodic reviews after the have been in use for some time.

The two main types are single-touch attribution models and multi-touch attribution models.

Single touch models

  • First touch: all the credit for a customer purchase goes to the touch point that the customer interacts with when they first visit your site. This model does not gather information on what makes your customer actually BUY–therefore, it isn’t the most accurate model for optimising leads along the sales funnel.
  • Last touch: all the credit goes to the final touch point the customer interacts with before buying. Because it can be easy to track this point, this conversion-focused model tends to be the default attribution model. However, this model won’t account for the touch points a lead interacted with before the point that led to conversion.
  • Lead conversion: all credit goes to the touch point that generated the lead. It can help you pinpoint which touch points are generating qualified leads—but it omits other, often crucial, parts of the buying journey.

The problem, however, is that single-touch (first or last touch) models give credit to the acquisition source or the opportunity source (respectively) – and a lot can happen in between those two points!

Multi-touch attribution models

Multi-touch models allow marketers to gain more granular attribution data from each touchpoint. They represent a shift away from legacy attribution (which measured all data through campaigns and thus required clean CRM data, form fill outs, list uploads, and use of hidden fields), allowing for more granular, comprehensive, and adaptable insights and reporting.

The benefits of using these models include:

  • More efficient and faster reporting on marketing ROI (attribution provides efficiency gains of 15-30%, on average)
  • Full overview of the complete user journey (seeing the effectiveness of each touchpoint across all channels to optimise performance at each interaction)

Some examples of multi-touch attribution models include:

  • Linear: all touch points are tracked and credit is split evenly across the buying journey.
  • Time decay: the further from the conversion a touch point is, the less credit it gets.
  • U-shaped (or position-based): credit lands heavily on the first and last touch points (40% each to beginning and end points), with the 20% of credit remaining split evenly among the middle touch points.
  • Custom (or algorithmic): an entirely customised model is created and built to match the customer journey of your business and its clients.
Read more on multi-touch

Marketing automation platforms: making attribution visible

Marketing automation platforms allow marketers to make more data-driven decisions by providing them the tools to visualise and optimise their marketing channels.

Use your marketing automation platforms to:

  • Assign credit for first and last touch, typically on a campaign basis
  • Centralise and manage marketing data
  • Use automated processes to increase lead velocity through the funnel
    attribution data

Our project success stories

Our customers know that data doesn’t tell the whole story. We help our clients prove the impact of their marketing investments and the value of their marketing strategy with actionable insights that help them drive results across the entire business.


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