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Episode 2: How to Run Multi-Touch Attribution Reporting

There’s one question that haunts every marketer: “What’s the ROI of this marketing campaign?” But with so much data to sift through, where should you start?

Multi-touch attribution ties marketing actions to revenue. It tells you which interactions someone had with your brand on their journey to becoming a customer. Anni walks through the six different types of multi-touch attribution reporting, and she helps you decide which one is right for your company.


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Episode Transcription

Hi. I’m Anni Kim from HubSpot, and this is Skill Up, the show where you’ll learn how to take your sales, marketing, and service skills to the next level.

I’m gonna tell you a Tale of Two Folks. Let’s be honest, I read Tale of Two Cities a decade ago and remember, really, none of it. So, sorry Dickens. It’s all for framing, anyway.

In this tale, we start with Marketing.

It’s the end of the quarter and you’re ridin’ that fresh off Summer, pumpkin-spice high.

You just spent the last three months pulling off one of your company’s largest marketing campaigns to-date. Wow. By all accounts, your team has exceeded expectations. 

You’ve been creating content that’s converting leads. Your lead nurturing workflows, featuring automated emails, hitting all the goals you’ve set. Traffic to your site is growing month over month, and so is your contacts database. Things are looking good, girl.

Untilll.. the director of marketing puts time on your calendar. And the purpose of the meeting? To discuss ‘how your team positively impacted the company’s bottom line this quarter.’

Which means, much like many marketers before you, it’s now your job to answer the age old question. What’s the ROI of this marketing campaign?

Is it too late for a career change?

Let’s take a look across the office. 

You’re a sales manager. This last quarter has been hectic. Marketing’s just run a huge campaign, and there’s an endless stream of leads constantly being assigned to your team. Great news! Right? 

Well, sort of.

Some deals have gone really well. Your sales reps were able to prioritize active leads and personalize their sales presentations. But, other leads that came from that same marketing campaign, weren’t so ready to buy. 

On the floor, you’ve been hearing frustration about marketing’s lead qualification and the influx of passive leads. You’re a sales manager. So button down those shirt collars, cause it’s. your. job. to work with marketing and determine what led to the successful deals. That way, you can try to replicate that process for your reps.

If these problems sound familiar, you’re not alone, friend. 42% of marketers list proving ROI as one of their top marketing priorities. And just so happens, 48% of salespeople are making it a priority to improve the efficiency of the sales funnel.

 Ok, but with so much data to sift through, where do you start? 

Multi-touch attribution ties marketing actions to revenue. It tells you which interactions someone had with your brand on their journey to becoming a customer.

With the right software, multi-touch attribution allows teams to set up parameters and assign credit to various teams for a customer who is going through the buyer's journey.

This type of reporting gives marketers credit for driving growth within their business. And it helps you make smarter, more strategic decisions by understanding exactly which marketing actions drive revenue for your business.

Multi-touch attribution is the best way to start a conversation with your team about your opportunities for improving your content and process. These reports will make it clear what is working vs. what is not when it comes to driving revenue.

It can also be a conversation about growing the team. With a more informed budget and a proven impact in marketing, making the case for headcount is all but a sure thing.

But let’s talk real quick about reporting. Multi-touch attribution reporting makes it easier for marketing and sales to come together, examine closed deals, and determine the best ways to replicate success in their handoff. You have the information you need to see exactly what happened in the customer journey, down to the granular interaction. 

Ok, hold up. This is advanced marketing, right? We’re both either advanced or aspirationally advanced. So let’s get a little more granular ourselves.

Like the Mission Impossible films before it, Multi-touch attribution is basically Tom Cruise hanging off the sides of planes, fighting baddies around the globe, and refusing to be replaced by Jeremy Renner. It’s a Tom Cruise series! [deep breath]

Sorry. Got away from myself. Ok, so maybe, not entirely the same. But there are six of them!

The first type of attribution model is called ‘first touch attribution.’

This model attributes 100% of the deal revenue to the first interaction that happened. Yes, of allll the interactions, the first one is what matters most. And, honestly, ask any Bachelor fan about getting the first rose. The theory holds up. 

This attribution model is helpful in figuring out which content is driving people to your site. Top of the funnel talk here. Lotta value. 

Next -- shocking, I know -- is Last Touch Attribution. Pretty sure you’re tracking this one all on your own, but this model attributes 100% of the deal revenue to the last interaction that happened before the deal was closed. So, bottom of the funnel.

Last touch attribution looks closely at the value of sales calls and final touchpoints before decisions.

After that, we have Linear attribution. This model looks at the total deal revenue, then divides the amount equally among all of the interactions that took place leading up to the deal. Linear attribution can be a useful baseline, especially when just starting out.

The fourth attribution model to keep in mind is U-Shaped attribution. No, not the heartthrob psycho-killer boyfriend drama from Netflix. Just the letter U. 

This model emphasizes the top-half of the funnel. U-shaped attribution assigns 80% of the credit to the interactions where your contact first interacts with your business, and then when it becomes a lead in your CRM.  Two touchpoints. The remaining credit -- quick math, 20% -- goes to the other touchpoints that your customers interacted with.

So the value here is looking at the content that drives leads into your CRM for folks who eventually close on the deal.

The fifth, my personal favorite -- [off mic] is it weird to have a favorite attribution model? That’s normal, right? -- and it’s called the W-shaped attribution model.

This model distributes 90% of the revenue to the first interaction, the lead creation, and the deal creation touchpoints. So three points… like, in a W. Did I just come up with that?

The W-shaped model mostly focuses on marketing efforts, but by including deal creation, it places value on the handoff between marketing and sales -- hello backdoor plug for last season on Sales Enablement. Listen later!

The remaining 10% is split equally between all the rest of the touchpoints along the way.

Which takes us to the final model. Wow, all 5, look at you. Is it too early to tell you how proud I am?

The final attribution to call out here is the Full-path attribution model.  This model distributes 90% of the revenue credit equally among the four 'major' interactions -- first interaction, lead creation, deal creation, and last interaction. The remaining touchpoints split the final 10%. 

This type of attribution works well for business models where deal negotiation is more lengthy.

And that’s the whole lot ‘em. Look at you, advanced marketer. I knew ya had it in you.

So to recap, multi-touch attribution tells you the interactions a prospect took that would eventually lead them to becoming a customer. From there, you can figure out which assets are the most valuable.

And there’s a bunch of different models at your disposal. Six, to be exact. First touch, last touch, linear, U-shaped, W-shaped (my favorite), and Full-path.

It’s not that one is better than another, it’s finding the one that works best for your business and goals.

Next week, we’ll look at more ways to test out which pieces of content work best for your customers. That’s right, everyone’s favorite alphabet song -- A/B testing.

See you there!