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It seems like more and more people are talking about marketing attribution these days. That’s a good thing. Marketers are now being held accountable to more than just leads and need attribution to connect their efforts to revenue. According to a survey of B2B marketers, about three-quarters of organizations have some sort of attribution in place.


asking questions



Maybe you’ve read some articles or heard coworkers talking about attribution, and feel like you’re missing part of the picture. Here are some answers that you’ve been looking for.

1. What is it?

Attribution is marketing measurement software that connects marketing data to sales data with the primary goal of tying marketing efforts to downstream revenue.

As marketing technology advances and matures, business executives are increasingly holding the marketing function to revenue accountability. Attribution enables this.


2. What is the difference between conversion tracking and attribution?

Conversion tracking is simply tracking specific actions that people do on a webpage. Most often, conversion tracking refers to tracking form submissions, but it could also be tracking button clicks, time spent on the page, or a number of other actions. When the intended action or goal occurs, that’s a conversion.

Attribution, on the other hand, is specifically tracking how marketing impacts down-funnel metrics -- ideally revenue. By tracking every engagement from a prospect, from the very first visit (even if there’s no “conversion”) to closed deal, attribution applies appropriate revenue credit to the marketing activities that caused each engagement.


3. Can I use attribution to track offline marketing?

Yes! Ideally you’d want to track all of your marketing efforts using the same criteria. That way, no channel is subject to being over or under-valued based on the biases of your attribution application.

If your online efforts are held to one standard and your offline efforts (like events) are held to another, there is no way to truly optimize your entire marketing budget.

In the same way, you want to make sure your attribution is channel agnostic to ensure fairness through centralization. If you track one marketing channel with one type of attribution and another marketing channel with a different type of attribution, the data may not add up. Because channel-specific attribution analytics don’t communicate with each other, you will end up double-counting leads, opportunities, and revenue.


4. What is the deal with single touch and multi touch attribution?

Single touch attribution uses a model that tracks a single touch in the customer journey and attributes 100% of the revenue credit to that touch. That can be the first touch, the lead-creation touch, or the last touch (opportunity conversion).

Single touch is the simplest form of attribution. This works for organizations that either have extremely limited marketing channels or have a short buying journey where there are very few touches from first touch to closed deal.

Multi touch attribution, on the other hand, takes into account multiple touches (as the name implies) along the buying journey and gives partial credit to each, depending on the particular model. The benefit of multi touch attribution is that it makes it possible to give credit to all marketing touchpoints, regardless of where they happen in the buyer journey. Therefore, certain marketing efforts aren’t overlooked simply because they are top-of-the-funnel or bottom-of-the-funnel.

The simplest multi touch attribution model is a linear model. If there are X touches in the buying journey, each touch is credited 1/X credit. The limitation of this model is that it doesn’t take into account recency or the different impacts of particular touchpoints. Evenly weighting each touch oversimplifies the many nuances of the buyer journey.

A more advanced multi touch attribution model is the W-shaped model. It similarly tracks every touchpoint, but it gives extra emphasis to three key touchpoints in the buyer journey: the very first touch, the lead creation touch, and the opportunity converted touch (arguably the last marketing stage). Those key touchpoints receive 30% each, and the remaining touchpoints share 10% equally.


attribution model


5. Why should Marketing care about Sales data?

In the W-shaped model that we just discussed, the last key touchpoint is opportunity conversion, which is deep in the funnel. Some may even say that it is Sales territory. Why should Marketing care that attribution connects marketing data to the sales team’s data? Why does that matter?

For a long time in B2B organizations, the goal of marketing was to generate leads. The sales team was then supposed to take those leads and turn them into customers.

However, when Marketing optimizes for lead volume instead of balancing that with lead quality, it works against the goals of Sales.

To optimize the entire process -- not just Marketing or Sales -- both teams must work towards the same metrics and goals, which, primarily, is generating revenue.

With attribution, Marketing can optimize for revenue just like Sales. When both teams work together, they perform better.

6. Is attribution a point solution or a part of something else?

Well, the industry has let you down here. It seems like every tracking and analytics platform says they do some form of attribution. Most often, when they talk about attribution, they really mean conversion tracking (as discussed earlier).

Again, attribution connects marketing to revenue.

Currently, all advanced attribution solutions (read: multi-touch, omni-channel) are point solutions. When considering attribution solutions, it’s important to find one that plays well with and complements the rest of your marketing stack, like your marketing automation platform and CRM.