What Is Multi-Touch Attribution and How Does It Work?

What if your entire approach to marketing and sales was completely wrong?

Chances are that you focus on specific techniques to foster leads and conversions (such as content marketing). But focusing on these techniques by themselves actually overlooks the specific way most customers navigate your sales funnel.

Multi-touch attribution is a way to modernize your marketing, but most companies don’t know what this is or how it works. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about multi-touch attribution!

What Is Multi-Touch Attribution?

Our guide is going to help you learn the types and benefits of multi-touch attribution. First, we need to start with the basics by exploring what multi-touch attribution means.

In short, this is a technique designed to help you learn more about which touchpoints are more valuable when it comes to converting customers. When done right, this method will help you to discover which of these touchpoints are most valuable and then allocate your resources accordingly.

Even if you have mastered lead generation, it’s important to improve conversion. And the multi-touch model is a great way to start maximizing your conversions.

In order to discover why multi-touch attribution is so important, let’s review some of the key benefits it has to offer your business.

The Importance of Multi-Touch Attribution

Why is this attribution method so important? The main reason is that it better represents how customers interact with your touchpoints.

There are other types of attribution, including first and last touch attribution. But the multi-touch approach is the only one that realistically accounts for the variety of touchpoints customers encounter before conversion.

And with the data you gather from focusing on mult-touch attribution, you can better discover which channels and marketing techniques have proven most successful with your customers. This ultimately helps you make your budgeting more efficient and more effective when you know exactly where to focus your dollars.

Other Types of Attribution

As we said before, multi-touch attribution is different from first and last touch attribution. But what are these other attribution models, and how do they stack up against multi-touch?

Simply put, first touch attribution places value on the first touchpoint the customer encounters. While they may encounter many other touchpoints, this approach credits the first touchpoint for successfully converting customers.

With that in mind, last touch attribution is pretty self-explanatory. Under this model, conversion credit is given to the last touchpoint a customer interacts with before conversion.

While nothing is inherently wrong with paying close attention to the first and last touchpoints, each of these approaches puts too much attention on a single touchpoint. With multi-touch attribution, you pay attention to all of the touchpoints customers interact with while discovering which touchpoints are most valuable.

Now that you know a bit more about why to use multi-touch instead of first or last touch attribution, it’s time to review the different multi-touch attribution techniques.

Time-decay Multi-Touch Attribution

The time-decay multi-touch model is relatively simple. It basically focuses on multiple touchpoints that occur closer to customer conversion.

What is the benefit of this approach? For some businesses, it makes more sense to focus on later touchpoints rather than earlier ones because if they didn’t convert before, it is clear that the earliest touchpoints did not impress consumers.

While this approach may sound a lot like last touch attribution, keep in mind it still involves looking at multiple touchpoints instead of giving all the conversion credit to the last one.

Linear Multi-Touch Attribution

The linear multi-touch attribution model is relatively unique. Unlike other approaches, this method gives equal credit to every touchpoint that the customer encounters before conversion.

This approach is beneficial because it offers you a fuller view of the entire process than first or last touch attribution models. But the linear approach doesn’t really help you discover which touchpoints were most valuable during the process.

Because of that, many businesses experiment with other attribution models.

W-shaped Multi-Touch Attribution

The W-shaped multi-touch model is very true to its name. This approach involves focusing on three points (like the three points in the letter “w”): first, middle, and last touchpoints.

While this is a more complex approach, it is very useful if your marketing involves multiple cross-touch campaigns. Done right, this multi-touch model will help you discover which aspects of each campaign are the most effective.

U-shaped Multi-Touch Attribution

Now that you know what the W-shaped multi-touch model is, the U-shaped model will be pretty obvious. In this approach, you pay the closest attention to the first and last touchpoints.

The logic behind this approach is that these two touchpoints are equally important. The first touchpoint is like a hook that makes the customer interested and kicks off their journey. And the final touchpoint represents the moment they decide to buy your product or service.

In this approach, you don’t have to fully discount the touchpoints in the middle. But you would focus most of your effort on understanding and improving the first and last touchpoints.

Analytics and Synthesis

It’s one thing to understand the different multi-touch attribution models. It’s another thing entirely to get multi-touch “just right” for your own business. To help you get started, we’ll review some of the basic strategies you’ll need to master.

The first step involves collecting as much demographic data as you can about website visitors. Through Javascript, custom APIs, or data-rich UTMs, you can learn where your customers are coming from, what they do on the page, and when they make each visit.

Next, you need to store and study this data. Think of this like any other kind of analytics: studying and understanding the data is just as important as gathering the data.

Finally, you need to visualize the data and your findings. This will help your sales and marketing team understand what you have learned and what they will need to do.

Doing this on your own will involve much trial and error and purchasing a lot of expensive software. Fortunately, you don’t have to do everything on your own!

What’s Next?

Now you know what multi-touch attribution is. But do you know who can help you apply this model to your own business?

Here at Demand Machine, we are experts at digital strategy, CRM implementations, media management, and so much more. To see how we can get multi-touch attribution working for you, contact us today!

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