What is Multi-Touch Attribution

By: Seth Arnold

April 15, 2022  |  

We all know that a buyer’s journey is not a linear experience. As a result, you’re likely using a variety of different tactics to reach customers. But between social media, digital content and traditional print methods, do you know which campaigns, platforms and messages are having the biggest impact on your bottom line?

What is Multi-Touch Attribution?

First, let’s talk about what multi-touch attribution is. Simply put, multi-touch attribution is a marketing measurement method that determines the impact each marketing touchpoint throughout the marketing funnel has on conversion rates. But it’s not quite as simple as whether you’re getting more clicks on Facebook ads versus promotional emails. Multi-touch attribution also looks at the overall cost of each touchpoint compared to its value and ability to influence user-level events.

Multi-touch attribution isn’t a one-touch model like first-touch or last-touch attribution. First-touch attribution gives full credit to the very first touchpoint a user interacted with before converting. But while this can help determine which tactics and messages are effective at the top of the funnel, first-touch attribution ignores strategies at the middle and end of the funnel that may have more impact over a sale.

Last-touch attribution, on the other hand, gives the sales credit to the last touchpoint a user interacted with before converting. Last-touch attribution models can be helpful in determining which strategies drive conversions, but like first-touch attribution, it neglects the top and middle of the funnel where leads are generated and nurtured.

6 Types of Multi-Touch Attribution Models How, Why and When to Use Multi-Touch Attribution

Marketers use several different multi-touch attribution models to assess the touchpoints users are interacting with across the marketing funnel before converting. Here are the top six marketers implement:

  1. Linear Multi-Touch Attribution
    Linear attribution assumes each touchpoint throughout the buyer journey carries the same weight toward driving conversions. But while this model considers every touchpoint a user interacts with, it’s very unlikely users are equally influenced by every kind of touchpoint. You could see 100 ads for a product but not actually commit to buy until you get that promotional email. For this reason, linear attribution isn’t very effective for determining the most impactful touchpoints.
  2. U-Shaped Multi-Touch Attribution
    The U-Shaped model attributes equal credit to the first, lead-generating touchpoint and the last, conversion touchpoint. These each receive 40% of the credit, while all other touchpoints in between receive the remaining 20%. This model offers a good view of which touchpoints are best at kicking off the customer journey and which seal the deal.
  3. Time Decay Multi-Touch Attribution
    The time decay gives more weight to the end-of-funnel touchpoints a user interacts with closer to conversion. Top-of-funnel and middle-funnel are given some credit, but tactics that can be directly attributed to a conversion are valued significantly more.
  4. W-Shaped Multi-Touch Attribution
    This model gives the most credit to the first touch, lead creation and opportunity creation touchpoints, assigning 30% of the value to each. The W-shaped model is great for cross-channel campaigns with many touchpoints because it spreads credit equally across the funnel.
  5. Full Path Multi-Touch Attribution
    This model is very similar to the W-Shaped model, spreading credit out evenly across the customer journey. However, it incorporates another key moment – the lead creation touchpoint where a user became a qualified lead. The full path attribution model is common in the B2B space and in industries where the buyer gives a great deal of consideration to a potential purchase, such as in the car industry.
  6. Custom Multi-Touch Attribution
    A custom multi-touch attribution can be created for marketers and campaigns who want to play by their own rules. With a custom model, you can weigh the value of whichever touchpoints you find most important throughout the buyer journey using your own strategy. Custom models can be complex to create, so be prepared to invest in an advanced marketing attribution software or service–like Oodle!–if you want a customized approach.


How and Why to Use Multi-Touch Attribution

Multi-touch attribution models are great for measuring the impact of digital campaigns–especially those that run across several platforms and devices. With multi-touch attribution, you’re getting a finer view into the success of varying touchpoints throughout the buyer’s journey.

Knowing which campaigns, messages and platforms resonate best with your audience not only improves the customer experience, but it also helps you to focus marketing spend and efforts where you’ll get the highest ROI.

So how do you implement a multi-touch attribution model for better insights into your customers’ journey? The right software and marketing analysts can make all the difference. You can go the DIY route if you have the technical expertise and manpower to confidently build your own solution. Or you can work with data and performance management experts like the team here at Oodle who already have the tools and the know-how to improve the effectiveness of your digital ecosystem through data.

But whether you do it yourself or hire a team, here are a few things to keep in mind when considering multi-touch attribution.

  1. Think through your goals and KPIs. Your organization’s marketing campaigns, goals and the metrics you’re using to measure their success will determine which attribution model can best help you improve ROI and user experience. Remember that multi-touch attribution models are really only helpful for collecting data on digital campaigns, as they measure consumer actions like clicks.
  2. Make sure you have the right people on board. Skilled marketing analysts, budget stakeholders and creative teams can help you turn the insights you gain from multi-touch attribution models into profitable strategies.
  3. Choose the best software. Advanced analytics software is a must if you want to collect and correlate data into actionable insights. The software you use should provide person-level information and motivational insights, such as effective creative.
  4. Use the data you gain to course-correct. A good multi-touch attribution model should give you a comprehensive understanding of your digital strategy successes and fails. Use this data to your advantage and optimize your messaging and campaigns to meet the needs of your consumers and drive more conversions.
  5. Continue to Optimize and Test. Consumer behavior is constantly changing and evolving, and so should your digital marketing campaigns. For the most accurate insights, use multiple models and continue to regularly test and optimize your campaigns.

Sound overwhelming? We get it, and we’d love to help you out. Oodle’s team of marketing professionals and data analysts are skilled at providing our clients with unique insights and data from multiple systems and cross-platform analysis–all in one digestible package.

Want to find out more? We’d love to talk to you about how we use data to build stronger digital ecosystems with better user experiences at every touchpoint. And we can chat about how to improve your digital marketing strategies too.


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