Do you know which of the marketing strategies or channels are bringing you the most customers?

That may sound like a straightforward question. But it’s not.

At any given time, marketers use several marketing channels and strategies to attract and convert the most customers. Since each customer goes through multiple touchpoints within the buyer’s journey, pinpointing which marketing channel or strategy is making the most impact in generating sales for your business can be challenging.

That’s where marketing attribution comes in.

In this article, you’ll learn what marketing attribution is and how to build an attribution model customized for your business. 

What is a marketing attribution model?

Marketing attribution refers to the process businesses use to figure out which of their marketing campaigns or channels are directly responsible for converting website visitors into customers. 

Marketing attribution models guide marketers on evaluating each touchpoint within the sales funnel following a set of guidelines. 

By building and implementing a marketing attribution model, you and your team can make more informed decisions on which channels and campaigns you should focus on. 

As a result you can boost our ROI while lowering your marketing spend. This is vital since more than 50% of businesses today still allocate less than 10% of their overall budget to their marketing campaigns and activities.

Marketing attribution models fall into two general categories: single-step and multi-step attribution models.

Single-touch attribution models

First-touch attribution

This single-touch marketing attribution model shows you which of your marketing channels caused a potential customer to visit your website for the very first time. 

Businesses often use this when they’re planning to launch a marketing campaign focused on brand promotion.

Last-touch attribution

As the name suggests, the last-touch or last-click marketing attribution model assigns the entire conversion credit to the last customer touchpoint before the purchase or opportunity creation. 

Multi-touch attribution models

The downside of using a single-step marketing attribution model is that both the first-touch and the last-touch attribution models only pinpoint to a single interaction on the buyer’s journey. They don’t show whether other marketing channels you’re using have also influenced a potential customer’s decision to buy. 

Thus, many marketers use one or more of the following multi-touch marketing attribution models.

Lead-conversion touch attribution model

This is perhaps the most widely used attribution model because it shows which channels are the most influential in converting your website visitors into qualified leads.

The reason is simple: generating qualified leads is still the most significant challenge faced by businesses across all industries. By identifying the channels and campaigns that bring in leads that are ready to buy, it will be easier for you to convert them into customers.  

Linear attribution model

This multi-step marketing attribution model divides the conversion credit equally across all channels used in the buyer’s journey from start to finish.

The drawback of this multi-step attribution model is that the points are evenly distributed among all the touchpoints, so you can’t identify the top-performing channels. 

Time-decay attribution model

Similar to the linear attribution model, the time-decay attribution model shows how each marketing channel you’re using affects a visitor’s eventual conversion into a customer.

The difference between the two models is in the way they distribute points. 

Instead of giving equal points to each marketing channel, in the time-decay attribution model the value of the points awarded are based on how close each touchpoint is to the actual conversion. That means that channels used in the bottom of the sales funnel are awarded higher points than those used at the top of the funnel, or at the beginning of the buyer’s journey.

U-shaped attribution model

This marketing attribution model gets its name from the way the points are distributed. 

Here, both the first and last touchpoints of your sales funnel get 40 points each, from the total of 100 points or the total conversion value. The remaining 20 points are then distributed to the marketing channels used between the first and the last touch.

This model works if you assume that all your leads complete the same journey, starting at the top of the funnel. But, as this study shows, 74% of B2B customers would have completed half of the buyer’s journey before reaching out to you. 

More importantly, not everyone that enters your marketing funnel goes through the entire buyer’s journey. In fact, 79% of your leads never make a purchase.

Custom attribution model

Custom attribution model or algorithmic attribution model is quickly gaining popularity among businesses.

As its name suggests, this model is tailored specifically for your business based on your buyer persona, buyer’s journey, and data from the marketing campaigns you’ve launched. 

With this model you have more control over how you credit points to each touchpoint based on how much it influences your customers to convert.

How to choose & build an effective marketing attribution model 

1. Audit all your marketing efforts

Conducting an audit of all your marketing channels and campaigns gives you a clearer picture of how many touchpoints spread across your sales funnels. It also helps you and your team decide whether building a custom attribution model will be the best option for your business. 

Building a marketing attribution model from scratch, after all, requires a significant amount of resources. So, you want to make sure that it will be worth your investment.

Build a custom attribution model if you: 

  • Have a big marketing team/access to more resources
  • Use multiple online and offline marketing channels
  • Previously tried one or more standard marketing attribution models without success
  • Need to provide stakeholders with a more comprehensive report on how each touchpoint influences your sales and their ROI

2. Set clear goals

Once you’ve determined that a custom marketing attribution model is the best option for your business, you need to choose the main goal for creating one. 

Having a clear and specific goal will guide your marketing team to identify which datasets to analyze and use as references in building your attribution model. 

Setting a clear goal will also help your team establish the metrics they’ll use as benchmarks to determine whether or not you’d need any adjustments so you can reach the goals.

3. Map your customer journey

Your customer journey serves as the roadmap of your entire attribution model because it helps you identify the specific marketing channels you’ll be monitoring. 

Use your customer journey map to categorize each touchpoint based on its impact on your customer’s buying decisions, then distribute the points accordingly.

4. Incorporate lead scoring

Lead scoring is the process of identifying which of your leads will most likely convert into customers.

This is crucial because once you identify your “hot” leads, you can then identify common touchpoints that resulted in conversion and include these into your custom attribution model.

5. Invest in the right tools 

Tracking and monitoring the data for each touchpoint manually can be extremely tedious and time-consuming. Not to mention that it’s going to be prone to errors. 

Investing in a unified CRM like Insightly makes it easier to track and automate your custom attribution model. It also enables you to collect data across multiple marketing channels in your buyer’s journey and create dashboards and visual reports of all key performance metrics.

6. Customize your attribution report

If you’re going to build an attribution model for your business from scratch, you’ll also need to customize sales reports in your CRM. 

Insightly’s advanced reporting features enable you to create a custom report based on the selected touchpoints and the specific values you’ve established. 

It also allows you to schedule when these reports will be generated and automatically shared with your team. These regular reports will help you to monitor, evaluate, and make adjustments to your custom attribution model and keep you and your team on track with your goals.  

Conclusion

Implementing a marketing attribution model—standard or customized—takes a lot of time and effort. But it’s going to be worth it in the long-term.

For starters, a marketing attribution model helps you and your team to identify top performing channels and focus on them, instead of worrying about ROI every time you launch a new campaign.  

Ultimately, marketing attribution models allow you to maximize your marketing budget, improve your customer engagement, and generate more revenue and scale.

Of course, having a marketing attribution model isn’t foolproof, especially if you’re using one that you’ve built from the ground up. So, test regularly, use data to adjust your attribution model, and keep your goals in mind.