When it comes to giving credit to marketing touchpoints, most marketers and their attribution models focus on time: the first touch, the last touch, or even the amount of time before conversion (time decay model).
If your customer journey and sales process is short and straightforward, time may be sufficient as the only factor. But B2B customer journeys are more complicated and more fluid than ever before.
Therefore, time shouldn’t be the only factor that marketers use to determine the value of each marketing interaction.
Multi-touch models do a great job of layering on key customer journey transitions into the model. For example, the W-Shaped attribution model gives extra emphasis to three key transitions, no matter how much time or what else happens between them. The very first visit (even if it is anonymous), the lead-creation touch, and the opportunity-creation touch all have importance in the customer journey beyond set amounts of time from the deal closing.
Attribution models that factor in the account-based nature of B2B sales and marketing are another example of layering on B2B-specific factors. Account-based attribution acknowledges the multiple customer roles (researcher, user, decision-maker) involved in a deal and attributes revenue credit accordingly. Again, time isn’t the only factor.
Weighted Touchpoint Values
Adding value to represent the importance of the transitional stages, as well as acknowledging that there often are multiple individuals involved in a single account, are big steps in the right direction, but they still don’t take into account one major thing: not all marketing touches have equal impact.
A click on a display ad does not make the same impact on a prospect as a user conference, where they flew across the country to spend several days. That difference holds true irrespective of both time and transitional stage.
A smart attribution model understands the natural differences in marketing touchpoints and values them accordingly.
Similar to lead scoring, what value you give to each marketing channel begins, largely, as an educated guess. Should all user conferences be credited an additional 30% to whatever your multi-touch model says? Or 20% or 10%? It is hard to say, but as you collect more data, you are able to refine the values you give to each channel to make it more accurate. This can, and probably will, be done by AI in the near future.
Weighted Halo Effect
The differences between marketing touchpoints can be applied beyond saying that a Search touchpoint is worth an extra 10%, a Display touchpoint is worth the standard percentage, a Webinar touchpoint is worth an extra 20%, etc. If touchpoints naturally have different amounts of impact, then you must also consider the second element of impact: the halo effect. The impact of some marketing touchpoints have longer effects than others. Impactful marketing touchpoints can potentially be the catalyst, and should receive some credit, for future sessions.
I’ll give you an example: a person comes to your website through organic search and eventually leaves without filling out a form. Then, she returns five minutes later by typing in your URL (direct) and proceeds to fill out a form. That lead creation should not be credited to direct -- it would more accurately be credited to organic search.
That’s because, as a touchpoint, we know that organic search is higher impact than direct. Without the engagement that happened because of organic search, that direct visit likely would not have happened. And while we can’t say with certainty the exact duration of organic search’s halo effect for every B2B company, it’s probably longer than five minutes.
This doesn’t just apply to decrease your direct traffic (though it will); instead, it should apply across all marketing channels.
For example, attribution models should weight significant events like user conferences with longer halo effect durations. If someone flies across the country to spend a couple of days thinking about your product and category, and then a couple days later comes to your website via search and requests a demo, that conversion was probably affected more by the multi-day user conference than your SEO.
Therefore, to accurately give credit where it’s due (the purpose of attribution), that conversion should be credited to the conference. And that only happens with weighted touchpoints.
The concept of weighted touchpoints has two components: its weighted value and its halo effect. B2B marketers will have a much more accurate understanding of the customer journey and their marketing’s impact on it when their attribution model takes these two components into account.