Be Knowledgeable in Marketing Attribution in seven minutes.

Table of Contents

  • 1. What Is Marketing Attribution?
  • 2. Marketing Attribution Models
  • 3. Marketing Attribution Models to Avoid (We Can Do
  • 4. marketing Attribution Models to Consider
  • 5. Marketing Attribution Essentials
  • 6. The Best Marketing Attribution Quotes, Stats, and Success Stories
  • 7. The Bottom Line

What Is Marketing Attribution?

Marketing attribution measures the impact that marketing campaigns, channels, or events have on revenue by assigning credit to all the successful marketing touches from lead acquisition to close. Understanding how your marketing activities move a buyer down the funnel is critical for today’s multi-faceted, multi-channel B2B buyer. Think about all that goes into closing a deal! If you are just looking at what sources revenue, your marketing team is missing out on a big piece of the pie. And, if you are only focusing on vanity metrics like email opens, clicks, and social shares, you are missing a huge component of what makes a campaign successful—driving pipeline and revenue.


Marketing Attribution Models


One thing you might be wondering is: how much credit do we assign to each marketing campaign? This is where marketing attribution models come in.

Marketing attribution models are varying sets of rules for crediting revenue or pipeline dollars back to marketing campaigns. Depending on the model you use, credit will be attributed to different touch points along the buyer’s journey.

Before we introduce the different models, it is important to understand the different stages, or touches, that make up the buyer’s journey.


Anonymous Touch

The anonymous touch is the channel where the lead first finds you.

Think:Original lead source

Examples:PPC advertisements, SERPs


First Touch

The first touch is where the lead first becomes known to you.

Think:Lead generation

Examples: Contact Us or content download form submission


Middle Touch(es)

The middle touch(es) are the identified touches between the first and last touch point where a lead interacts with your content or an offer over time.

Think:Lead nurturing

Examples:Blog posts, social posts, webinars


Last Touch

The last touch is the last interaction a lead has with your brand before becoming an opportunity.

Think:Lead conversion

Examples: Field event, direct mail

The first step to choosing an attribution model that makes sense for your business is to decide which touches are most important to you and your sales cycle, as that information should influence which model you select.

There are several models you can choose from—each with its own advantages and disadvantages.

Marketing Attribution Models to Avoid (We Can Do Better)


No Model

Without an attribution model, there are no rules to attribute revenue to
marketing campaigns. A life without rules invites chaos. Data reporting can
be inconsistent and without structure. An attribution model, regardless of
type, should always be used.


Single-Touch Attribution

Single-touch attribution attributes 100% credit to one marketing touch point.
This model is a popular starting point for companies just beginning to consider
revenue or marketing attribution. In fact, AdRoll reports that this model is
used by roughly two-thirds of marketers.

The two main single-touch models are first-touch and last-touch:

  • First-touch attribution assigns 100% credit to the first-touch interaction when a buyer becomes known to your brand. For example, let’s look at a sample buyer journey. The first interaction a buyer has with your brand is filling out a website form to download an ebook. After that first interaction, she watches a video, attends a webinar, and stops by your booth at a tradeshow. If you are only tracking first-touch attribution, the only marketing engagement that gets credit for the closed deal is the original ebook download. But what about the other touches? In the world of using only first-touch attribution, all of the other high-value marketing activities get ignored.
  • In last-touch attribution, 100% credit is assigned to the last-touch interaction (lead conversion). This is the last interaction the buyer has with your brand before becoming an opportunity. Let’s use the example above. If you are only tracking last-touch attribution, the only marketing activity that gets credit is the tradeshow. All other touches are ignored.

These attribution models both have the same problem: they only focus on one portion of the customer journey. Only touch points in the beginning or end of the journey are considered and given credit. The other stages of the journey are completely ignored, even if they influenced the customer. For these reasons, in addition to tracking first-touch attribution, a more complete attribution model is recommended.

Marketing Attribution Models to Consider


Multi-Touch Attribution

Marketing is a part of every stage in the buyer’s journey. In today’s complex B2B buying lifecycle, not only does it take multiple engagements to move a lead from acquisition to close, but most B2B sales transactions involve multiple decision makers and influencers within an account. This is where multi-touch attribution can be really helpful, as it accounts for each and every touch point in the sales cycle.

There are two main types of multi-touch attribution: evenly-weighted and position-based.

Evenly-Weighted Attribution

Evenly-weighted attribution, also referred to as linear attribution, does just what it sounds like. It applies the same weight to each touch point. First, middle, and last touch interactions all receive equal credit for the deal creating a balanced, even attribution model. The simplicity of linear, or evenly-weighted, attribution makes it the most common starting point for most marketers looking to implement a multi-touch attribution model. However, this equal approach runs the risk of overvaluing low-impact touch points or undervaluing high-impact touch points.

Position-Based Attribution

Position-based attribution emphasizes specific touches in the cycle, typically the first and last touches. This model is also known as a U-shaped attribution model or the 40-20-40 model. This model usually gives 40% credit to the first and last touches, and distributes the remaining 20% across the middle touches. Based on this model, each touch point receives credit, but priority is placed on first and last touches, like lead generation and conversion. The downside to this model is that you might be assigning low credit to critical points in the buyer journey that happen in the middle of the funnel.



Custom-weighted attribution models allow you to analyze your own buyer’s journey to determine which marketing interactions deserve the most credit. For example, you may want to place a large emphasis (50%) on a webinar which occurs in the middle of your sales cycle, a medium emphasis on the last-touch (30%), and a small emphasis on the first-touch (20%). Using this method, you can create your own custom-weighted attribution model that is tailored to fit your unique buyer’s journey. If you have a strong understanding of your buyer’s journey, custom-weighted attribution is a great way to assign credit based on your unique business use-case. However, since you are assigning what value each activity gets, there is a higher possibility that you might be missing out on a critical touch point.



As evidenced in the potential for a custom-weighted attribution model to be biased, human judgment can falter—it’s not perfect. AI-powered attribution attempts to fix this very problem using scientific and proprietary algorithms to allocate credit based on statistics and not human opinion. As we have said, every business is unique. AI-powered attribution uses data science to look at what causes a lead to convert throughout your funnel in order to come up with a customized model that can determine what credit to assign. AI-powered marketing attribution is easily the most complex and advanced model out there. We are currently investing heavily into research and development to bring AI-powered attribution to our clients.

Marketing Attribution Essentials:

A Checklist to Ensure Accurate and Actionable Data

Get Your Funnel Stages Straight
Set Your Goals for Each Channel
Make Sure CRM and Marketing Automation Are Set up Properly
Understand and Enter Cost Data
Compare Results of Different Attribution Models
Use Cohort Analysis
Create Essential Reports
Get Your Team on Board with Metrics Training
Develop a Communication Cadence with Report Sharing

Favorite Marketing Attribution Stats to Consider

Determining what influences your pipeline is a key part of business. 32% of marketers report that they’re directly measuring pipeline influence according to a 2017 Demand Gen Report. As a part of the sales cycle, it’s important to attribute pipeline dollars to the correct marketing channels and campaigns.

Measuring marketing impact is of the utmost importance. In fact, 88% of marketers cite the ability to measure and analyze marketing impact as a top priority as found in a 2017 Demand Gen Report.

Marketers remain confused on how their efforts contribute to revenue, let alone relate to it. Aberdeen reported that 51% of marketers are unsure of how their efforts objectively connect to revenue in 2016. That’s over half of us. Marketing attribution is the best way to translate your marketing campaigns into revenue.

The Bottom Line

Marketing attribution is imperative to running a successful sales and marketing team. Attribution enables
you to know your team�s true value and influence on the company pipeline. If done correctly, it can even help
unify your sales, marketing, and executive teams. For an in-depth look at multi-touch attribution and step-
by-step instructions for employing it within your own company.


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