B2B Marketing Blog

What is a "Full Path" Marketing Attribution Model?

By Lauren Frye
Sep 1, 2016
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A full path attribution model is the most extensive method for attribution modeling. Reason being -- it’s detailed, comprehensive, and requires a significant amount of data tracking. However, the more complex a system, the more useful and impactful it tends to be. So not only is full path attribution highly technical, it’s also highly effective.

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What is a Full Path Marketing Attribution Model?

The key to understanding full path attribution is to first understand weighted touchpoints. Every time a user, prospect, or contact interacts with your marketing (via an ad, webpage, event, SERP, CTA, etc) they create a touchpoint. Using several tracking methods that funnel data into the CRM, these touchpoints are collected and stored. Once the prospect or account in question becomes a customer, the chosen attribution model determines the method by which the revenue credit is divided between these touchpoints.

What are weighted touchpoints?

Weighted touchpoints (or weighted modeling) is the process of assigning how much credit touchpoints in certain positions along the buying journey will receive. For example, a touchpoint that began a session that resulted in a form fill, which in turn converted the prospect to a lead, would receive more credit than a touchpoint that did not result in a stage change.

For more information about the myriad of different weighting systems, take a look at this article about the 11 attribution models, explained in full.

How is full path different from other weighted models?

The difference between full path attribution and other weighted models is due to its inclusivity -- it measure the entire funnel. From view through attribution (discussed below) through to touchpoints after the opportunity stage, full path attribution records all touchpoints along the way.

The U-shaped model only tracks from the first touch through to lead conversion. The W-shaped model only tracks from the first touch through to opportunity creation. Full path attribution tracks users from their initial exposure to your brand through to their signature on the dotted line. The entire journey is represented in accurate, granular data.

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How is revenue credit distributed using a W-shaped model?

W-shaped marketing attribution divides the revenue credit for a customer between the first touch, lead conversion, and opportunity creation stages. Of the 100% total credit for the sale, 30% of the credit being assigned to the FT the LC and the Opp.

The remaining 10% (30 * 3 = 90) is distributed across all of the touchpoints in between the first touch and the opportunity.

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How is revenue credit distributed using a full path model?

With full path attribution, 22.5% of the credit is divided between those three key touchpoints (FT, LC, and Opp), as well as the customer close stage. This also means that down-funnel sales activities are incorporated into this modeling method.

As with W-shaped attribution, the remaining 10% of the revenue credit is distributed across the middle touchpoints between those key stage conversions.

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What is view-through marketing attribution?

View-through marketing attribution tracks user impressions on ads. It gives marketers an idea of which ads the user has viewed, regardless of whether the user clicks on the ad. Having access to user activity prior to the first touch can help marketers assess the effectiveness of their ads, and it can inform on brand awareness campaigns.

While view through isn't included in the Full Path Model as a key touchpoint, the data gleaned from tracking these pre-buying-cycle impressions can help inform on strategy and spend. With these view-through insights offered by full-path marketing attribution, B2B marketers can see what goes on behind the curtain, even before any of the action has begun.

What is “custom” attribution modeling?

Full path marketing attribution and custom modeling are often lumped into the same category -- which makes a certain amount of sense. Full path attribution (not to be confused with the Full Path Model) is the general term for tracking and reporting on touchpoints at every funnel stage.

Once marketers have this versatile attribution tracking capability at their fingertips, they can customize the weights of their modeling system. They can decide which touchpoints at which funnel stages receive what percentage of the overall revenue credit. This is why full path attribution and custom modeling are often discussed side by side. One leads to the other.

When is full path attribution most helpful?

More data is never a bad thing, but there are some unique situations in which a full path attribution model can be particularly useful -- or might we go as far to say, indispensable.

1) When you want to track touchpoints before first touch and/or after opportunity

While U-shaped and W-shaped attribution models are multi-touch models, they don’t measure touchpoints prior to the first touch, or after the opportunity conversion. If you’re focused on down-funnel initiatives post-opportunity, then full path attribution is extremely helpful in measuring the effectiveness of opp-to-customer conversion journeys.

Also, referring to our earlier discussion of view-through conversion tracking, full path tracks impressions prior to the first touchpoint, showing you the ads your contacts viewed as well as the ads they clicked.

2) When your team is doing account-based marketing

We’ve written a more extensive article explaining the reasons why full path attribution models are extremely helpful for ABM reporting. The gist of the discussion is that ABM primarily measures account engagement -- because the target is the account, not one particular lead / contact. Cross-company contact engagement is the most influential metric used to gauge progress.

This means that every touchpoint in every stage of the buying journey is key to understanding the current status of that account’s engagement. If the touchpoint report stops reporting after the opportunity-stage, it cuts off all of your intel, making it more difficult to close the account.

What could you do with a full path attribution model? 

To conclude, full path attribution prepares a team to develop their own custom attribution modeling system based on their industry, size, marketing strategy, and desired reporting methods. And, it also enables view-through tracking that provides granular impression data prior to the first touch on an account.

B2B marketers seeking down-funnel insights will find exactly what they’re looking for when they arm their dashboards with a full path modeling system. Overall, it’s an exhaustive approach to revenue-based analytics that provides insights at every funnel stage.

B2B Marketing Attribution 101  An intro guide to attribution for revenue-driven B2B marketers  Download Now

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