OpGen Media: Marketing Ops & Demand Generation Insights

Multi-Touch Attribution Models and When They are Most Effective

Mar 26, 2020 10:02:13 PM / by Taran Soodan

Attribution Models: Why you need them

Marketing professionals are great at capturing and analyzing data – especially conversion rates. New software technologies make it easier than ever for businesses to analyze critical data like click-through rates and sales to drive financial decisions. 

While these metrics are today’s gold standard, multi-touch attribution models measure additional data far more important than the number of products you’ve sold. For example, say you’ve sold 100 products. If you don’t know where your customers came from and how they arrived at the decision to purchase, your chances of increasing sales aren’t great. However, if you can find out which touchpoints along the customer journey solidified the sale, you know where improvements can be made (and what to leave alone).

If you attribute conversions only with obvious touchpoints like sales calls or last clicks, you miss the opportunity to credit unobvious actions that contribute heavily to a conversion. Multi-touch attribution solves this dilemma. 

What is multi-touch attribution?

An attribution model is a way of attributing conversions to specific marketing channels. For example, after receiving a spike of 10 leads, you’ll naturally want to know what marketing efforts drove those leads. When you know which marketing channels are effectively converting, you can make better use of them to generate more targeted traffic, leads, and acquire customers.

What ultimately led to those prospects converting into leads on your site? Was it your LinkedIn ad or that email campaign that your marketing team was testing? Chances are, there was not just one action that leads your prospect to convert into a lead. Rather, there is a series of events such as reading a blog post, then seeing that well-timed LinkedIn ad to remarket to them and drawing them into your site with some gated content, in which your marketing team had a well-prepared email nurture to further educate that prospect, piquing their interest to respond and set up a demo with a sales rep.

Without a multi-touch attribution model, you would only see where a lead came in from and 100% attribute the success to that source, which in this case was a LinkedIn ad. But, if they hadn’t read those blog posts on your site before seeing that ad, they would have been much less likely to convert. A multi-touch attribution model captures all of this.

The marketing research group Neilsen describes multi-touch attribution as “a way of measuring marketing effectiveness that takes all of the touchpoints on the consumer journey into consideration and assigns fractional credit to each so that a marketer can see how much influence each channel has on a sale.” 

Multi-touch attribution measures unseen effectiveness

Multi-touch attribution measures the effectiveness of touchpoints that have a profound effect on ROI that aren’t immediately visible. For example, if your sales cycles are longer than a quick consumer purchase, it’s common to have multiple touchpoints before someone becomes a qualified lead and even more touchpoints before a lead becomes a paying customer. All of those touchpoints have the potential to make or break a conversion. 

Some of those touchpoints might include published content delivered as a search result to a user, a retargeting ad shown to a previous visitor to your site, an ad delivered to a newsletter subscriber or even a webinar attendee who found you through a free trial. Multi-touch attribution provides insight into the effectiveness of these largely unseen, yet crucial, touchpoints.

If you’re looking for a better way to effectively measure your marketing efforts, the following three multi-attribution models are the most effective.

Attribution model #1: the time decay model

Using the time decay model gives recent interactions more credit than older interactions. This model assumes that later touchpoints have more of an influence on conversions.

This model is largely seen as ineffective in terms of distributing credit, however, the time decay model is essential for identifying which marketing channels are closing the deal.

With this model, you won’t get an accurate picture of how all touchpoints have contributed to a conversion, but that’s not the point. Use the time decay model to find out which marketing channels are effectively closing deals so you can rework the channels that aren’t effective.

Attribution model #2: the data-driven model

The data-driven multi-attribution model analyzes data from multiple sources and then assigns a percentage of conversion credit to the top touchpoints. You might be familiar with this model if you use Google Analytics (GA). GA uses a predictive algorithm to analyze the data and you can also define custom rules for assigning credit.

While this model is highly effective at assigning proper credit, it requires the input of good data. While it’s possible to use this attribution model without software, it’s highly recommended to automate this process. You’ll need to sign up for Google Analytics 360 if you want to analyze a high volume of data accurately. Signing up also requires you to meet a minimum conversion threshold. 

Attribution model #3: first-touch Attribution model

First-touch attribution tells you which marketing channels are effectively moving people into your sales funnel. When you know what’s working to bring in leads, you can start split testing methods to ramp up your numbers.

While first-touch attribution is effective, just like all other models, it’s not the complete picture. When choosing an attribution model, make sure you understand the context of the data. For instance, first-touch attribution isn’t going to help you figure out how effective your retargeting strategies are in moving people along in your sales funnel. 

Know which attribution models to use for the purpose you’re trying to achieve.

Hiring an expert marketing agency will simplify multi-touch attribution

If you don’t have the time or bandwidth to learn about multi-attribution marketing, we’re here to help. At OpGen Media, we work with a variety of professionals including large B2B SaaS and Services organizations, CEOs of small B2B SaaS companies, marketing managers, and CMOs.


We’re committed to helping our clients drive new sales through building a strong marketing ops/demand foundation to establish a consistent, repeatable process. If you’re ready to take your business to the next level, book a free consultation by clicking the button below. Let’s talk about how OpGen Media can generate more sales opportunities and grow revenue for your business.

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Topics: Demand Generation, Marketing Automation, SaaS, Digital Marketing

Taran Soodan

Written by Taran Soodan