Profile picture for user Andrew Nguyen

While 2014 is marked by difficulties in B2B multi-touch attribution modeling, 2015 will be the year multi-touch attribution matures. We explain why. 

But first, what is marketing attribution modeling? 

The Easy Way to Understand Marketing Attribution Modeling

In many fields of science, from physics to psychology, there is what are called “black boxes.” A black box theory is defined by its function alone -- inputs and outputs are observable but you cannot observe the system’s innerworkings.

For marketers, the consumers’ mind is the black box. We can see our efforts and we can observe outputs like sales revenue, brand awareness and etc. But understanding the moment of conversion in the consumer's mind is elusive.

Marketing attribution modeling is simply a way to replace the black box with a model that shows how each input (email, PPC, SEO, social) is contributing to the outputs like revenue.

Getting transparency into the black box of online marketing allows businesses to understand how their efforts can be improved and optimized.

The State of Multi-touch Marketing Attribution Models

“Attribution has been a discussion topic for about three years, but in reality, we’re still in the early days. Decision-making tools are only about a year old,” attribution modeling is “in late infancy, getting into teens.” - Marketing Attribution Comes of Age,  Criteo

In multi-touch attribution the credit for revenue output is distributed across multiple touchpoints. For B2B companies the multi-touch attribution model more accurately reflects the longer sales cycle; it predicts how multiple touchpoints are contributing in proportion to its influence on the prospects purchase decision.

Today's online marketing experts say it's the best available attribution model. We wrote a primer on the different marketing attribution models and more advanced concepts.

Almost any type of multi-touch attribution model is preferable to a last-touch model in terms of getting one step closer to understanding true marketing impact,” according to Kohki Yamaguchi for,

Multi-touch attribution is in its early stages because of the difficulties marketers face in reporting the ROI from touchpoints data.

The Current Challenge In Attribution Modeling

Multi-touch attribution modeling requires connecting data with a CRM and computing large amounts of data from multiple channels/touchpoints.

Getting reliable multi-touch attribution data is a challenge reported by marketers today.  

According to Cross-Channel Attribution Must Convert Insights Into Action by Forrester Consulting, 33% of surveyed marketers say leveraging marketing attribution results to take action is a struggle, and 40% of corporate marketers say gaining confidence from colleagues and executives in marketing attribution results and recommendations is a challenge.

Despite the challenges, marketers have long regarded multi-touch or customized models to be the most effective. 

Multi-touch is thought to be the best attribution model by marketers, and it is now becoming easier to implement.

Implementing Multi-Touch Attribution Modeling  

What used to require spreadsheets and client side computing power is becoming more accessible and easier to use.

Using the Bizible Salesforce dashboard as an example, it shows click data and Salesforce data compiled and run using the U-shaped attribution model. The data is made possible from tracking tags and our Salesforce App that connects Adwords data with the Salesforce CRM.

The chart shows how much revenue is generated on a monthly basis from channels/touchpoints, ranging from paid search to referral.

These attribution models are a powerful tool that addresses the marketer’s black box problem. Marketers use this information to better understand the performance of their different channels, and the areas that need improvement. 

In 2015 marketers will be testing attribution models, working closely with b2b marketing attribution data companies, and optimizing their campaigns based on revenue. 

One of the principle tenets of online marketing is testing. And then more testing. Marketers will move attribution modeling from its “teen years” to maturity, and make smarter decisions in their marketing spend for 2015. 

As companies test and optimize in 2015 we'll be sharing insights, and writing about the maturity of multi-touch attribution modeling. 

Original photographs by Kamyar Adl and Francesco on Flickr.