An effective marketing strategy is data-driven: you need to know - not guess - what’s working, what’s flopping, and what the most logical next steps are to achieve your overarching goals. As John Wanamaker, merchant and owner of the first department store in Philadelphia, once said, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”
We can’t have that! One critical piece of data you need to avoid wasting money, and time, is attribution. What touchpoints in your media mix led consumers to complete a call to action (e.g., a purchase)? The best way to understand multi-touch attribution is to compare it to single-touch attribution.
With this attribution model, 100% of the credit for a customer is assigned to a single marketing touchpoint. Then, the full revenue amount is credited to that channel. What does this look like? Say a prospect clicks on a Facebook ad, lands on your website, navigates to your blog, reads some case studies, downloads an eBook, and then completes the CTA when sales reaches out with a call.
In this case, only one touchpoint gets revenue credit - even though all were involved in converting the consumer. This doesn't seem very practical, given most marketing plans employ a diverse media mix of social media marketing, email marketing, search engine marketing, etc.
Multi-touch attribution recognizes that there are many moving parts involved in nurturing a lead and converting them into a customer. It seeks to assign credit to channels, keywords, campaigns, and other touchpoints that they hit along the way. However, there are different kinds of multi-touch attribution, including:
Linear: This is the simplest model. Here, each touchpoint is assigned equal credit. While easy and logical, it also doesn’t account for key touchpoints that facilitate an important transition. Because certain touchpoints can be more influential, u-shaped and w-shaped attribution models are often more helpful when analyzing data and assigning spend.
U-Shaped: This model focuses on two key touchpoints. The first touch is assigned 40% of the revenue credit, and the lead creation touchpoint is given 40%. The middle touchpoints share the remaining 20%.
W-Shaped: This model adds one more touchpoint to the mix: there’s the first touch, lead-creation, and opportunity-creation touchpoints. They each receive 30% of the credit. The remaining touchpoints divvy up the remaining 10%.
Full Path: This model utilizes all three touchpoints in the W-Shaped model, with the addition of the customer-close touchpoint. It brings sales into the equation too, integrating those activities with marketing.
The reality is that it requires a rich media mix to reach, connect with, and convert prospects. Multi-touch attribution recognizes the importance of assigning credit to more than one touchpoint in the customers’ journey.