Multi-Touch Attribution Modelling

Marketing attribution, especially in the B2B space where the customer journey is long, complex, and requires both the marketing and sales team to work in tandem, tells the most complete and accurate story of the customer journey. Specifically, this means understanding the importance of multi-touch attribution models, such as W-shaped, for B2B marketers.

Most marketing automation platforms handle attribution using a lead-creation touch model and most CRMs handle attribution using a last-touch (opportunity-creation) model. Lead-creation touch (what they often call first-touch) gives full marketing credit to the marketing effort that led to the first form-fill. This is tracked through web source-referral analysis plus any attached UTM parameters that lead to a session where a lead is created. However, because it gives 100% of the credit to that single touch, the lead-creation touch model overvalues the middle of the marketing funnel, and undervalues the awareness stages as well as the bottom-of-the-funnel conversion stages.

Last-touch works in a similar fashion, but gives all the credit to the marketing effort that led to the final conversion. This model overvalues the bottom-of-the-funnel and ignores the efforts that brought the lead in as an anonymous visitor and nurtured them into a sales qualified lead.
The systematic over and undervaluing of specific stages in the funnel is called model bias. By having an attribution model that specifically targets only one part of the customer journey, you will spend all your time optimizing for those best performing activities, but you will shrink your funnel at all the other stages, which will constrain growth over time.

You’ll notice that none of the single-touch solutions are a great way to model the customer journey. It varies from business to business, but B2B sales are known to frequently take dozens of marketing touches. Of course, these many touches don’t all necessarily have equal impact — there are key stages in the B2B customer journey that are important for marketing and sales to understand.

The W-shaped attribution model, for example, accounts for these key stages and places emphasis on the three most important touches:
1) the first anonymous touch (site visit),
2) lead-creation touch, and
3) sales opportunity- touch.

You’ll notice that this conveniently mirrors the top of the funnel, the middle of the funnel, and the bottom of the funnel. It’s a model built specifically for B2B marketers to understand the B2B customer journey.

Of course, the W-shaped model isn’t the only, nor is it always the most appropriate, attribution model. A Full Path model, for example, takes it one step further and adds a fourth key touchpoint: closed-won. And for the most advanced marketers, a custom attribution model may be most appropriate, where the marketing team can set the key touchpoints and dictate their weight.

Multi-touch attribution models give credit to touchpoints throughout the entire funnel, ensuring a more accurate representation of the customer journey.
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