B2B Marketing Blog

An Inside Look at how Multi-Touch Attribution Data Moves from First Touch to Closed Won

By Lauren Frye
Aug 12, 2016
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Multi-touch attribution data tracks prospect behavior from the beginning to the end of the marketing funnel. From the moment a potential buyer first encounters a B2B brand, a multi-touch attribution solution is tracking, modeling, organizing, and reporting that data inside the organization’s CRM.

But how does this actually work? -- here’s an inside look at how attribution data moves through our Bizible marketing org. 

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The four main forms of tracking used in this process are (a) javascript tracking code, (b) utm parameters, (c) martech integrations, and (d) the organization’s CRM. An attribution solution uses these three methods to gather data on marketing touchpoints across all channels, both online and offline.

True, Anonymous First Touch

True, anonymous first touch is the first step in a multi-touch attribution progression. This step requires anonymous session tracking since first-time engaging prospects haven’t yet revealed their identity. We don’t yet know who is viewing our site, clicking our display ads, or following a link to our content. This true, anonymous first touch information is stored on Bizible servers and waits for the user to later make an identifying action, such as a form fill -- then that anonymous data is then linked to a name and an email address. So, this dormant information hangs out in the cloud, waiting for the user to reveal themselves.

What Does “True, Anonymous” First Touch Mean?

True, anonymous first touch shouldn’t be confused with other rhetorical uses of the term “first touch,” which can often be associated with the referring touch, immediately prior to the lead touch. This is not true first touch because it’s never guaranteed to represent the user’s initial discovery (or the account’s initial discovery) of your company’s brand.

Examples of common first touch touchpoints:

  • Click on a social post linked to a blog article
  • Organic discovery of a piece of content
  • Display ad click to an ebook landing page
  • Direct referral to the company site’s home page
  • Outbound call from sales (offline)

In the case below, the first touch on this particular account came from AdWords, where Kathleen clicked a paid search ad. Through an attribution + AdWords API integration, the record from that marketing touch flowed seamlessly from one platform to the other.

However, at this point, the attribution solution doesn’t know that it was Kathleen who clicked the ad, so it stores that anonymous, true first touch data without pushing it through to the CRM just yet. Only after Kathleen responds to an email nurture sequence three touchpoints later does the attribution program connect her first touch on the account (AdWords) with her personal identifier (email address).

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Lead-Create Touch

The lead create touch in the case above originated through the LinkedIn social network, where Arthur followed a link. During the course of the contact’s visit to the Bizible website, they filled out a form, subscribed to the blog, or identified themselves by some other means. This created a contact inside our organization’s CRM, and since the session began with a referral from LinkedIn, that channel receives credit for the lead. This data was then pushed into Salesforce and displayed under the company account.

Attribution data, at least in the case of Bizible, is organized by account as opposed to being organized by lead. This means that a salesperson, or a marketer, can see how an account is engaging as a whole -- which is important because Kathleen was the first touch, Arthur was the lead-create touch, and Tony will eventually serve as the opportunity-create touch.

Three separate individuals moved the account through the funnel. Lead to account-based mapping is critical to gaining an accurate picture of an account’s buying journey, as opposed to simply viewing the funnel progression on a lead-by-lead basis.

Examples of common lead-create touchpoint sources:

  • Direct
  • Social
  • Organic
  • Paid media
  • Events (offline)
  • Outbound calls (offline)

Last Touch (i.e. Opportunity Touch)

Based on the dashboard above, Tony seems to be the heavy hitter. Kathleen, Arthur, and Leslie (who added some middle touches through organic and email), engaged in the early stages of the account. However, it wasn’t until Tony answered an outbound sales call that the account clicked over into its opportunity stage.

Because an attribution solution is integrated with the CRM, data regarding sales activity (outbound calls, events, emails, etc) is integrated into the touchpoint reports right next to the marketing data. If an attribution solution didn’t integrate with the CRM, it would look like the account failed to move from the lead-create stage, whereas in reality, the sales team is working effectively with a higher-up decisionmaker.

Examples of last-touch (opportunity) touchpoints:

  • Outbound calls (offline)
  • Email nurture stream
  • Social engagement
  • Sales dinner

Closed-Won Touch

Kathleen attends a sales dinner in San Francisco and makes the final decision to purchase, converting the account to a closed won status. Up to this point, Arthur and Tony have continued to engage via newsletters, webinars, and PR announcements. But the dinner seals the deal. Because there’s a campaign in the CRM for the sales dinner, that offline touchpoint is also linked directly to the account touchpoint report.

Examples of closed-won touchpoints:

  • Outbound call (offline)
  • Sales dinner (offline)
  • Salesforce app exchange

Multi-Touch Attribution Models: W-Shaped and Full Path

After the deal has closed and the revenue for the account is recorded inside the CRM, the attribution model takes over and divides revenue credit across all of the touchpoints, based on a weighted model. W-shaped attribution gives 30% of the revenue credit to the first touch, the lead touch, and the last touch -- the final 10% is allocated across all middle touches up to the Opportunity stage. Full-path gives credit across all touchpoints, even the final closing activity.

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(click to view larger)

In the image above, revenue credit is allocated for both W-shaped and full path attribution models. Full path attribution models allow touchpoints after the opportunity stage to receive revenue credit. In W-shaped attribution, the system wouldn’t allocate revenue credit to the conference that Kathleen attended, the webinar that Arthur registered for, or Tony’s discovery of the techcrunch PR article.

So there you have it -- an inside look at how our Bizible data moves from first touch to closed won. This one dashboard shows how important it is to have an attribution system integrated with the company’s CRM. The dashboard shows net new data organized by account and populated with touchpoints data from other marketing platforms. It creates a seamless flow of data insights that our sales and marketing departments couldn’t live without.

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

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