6 Best Practices for Successful B2B Multi-Touch Attribution

“Which marketing channels should we put more money into? Reduce or stop spending?”

If you’ve ever asked these questions (or are still asking them), multi-touch attribution is your best bet to getting the right answers; it provides you with meticulous details of how buyers are engaging with your business and which marketing touches are driving purchase journeys. Plus, it shows everyone in your organization how much revenue you are bringing to the table, which puts you in good standing with your investors and builds credibility in budgeting with your peers.

While 82% of CMOs report that their goals are aligned to revenue targets (Forrester Research), B2B marketers are struggling to quickly connect the dots along a lengthy and complex B2B purchase process to make decisions that optimize revenue. According to DemandGen, 58% of B2B companies said their current ability to analyze marketing performance “needs improvement” or worse and 48% of B2B companies say their biggest challenge is the “inability to track activity between specific buyer stages.”


To close this burgeoning gap, many marketers are stitching together various technologies, data and spreadsheets to attribute marketing spend to revenue. However, this creates a data and management nightmare, and exacerbates your ability to continuously optimize your marketing investments to revenue.

WARNING: Unlike B2C, the B2B buyer’s journey is much longer and more complex, requiring the right multi-touch attribution system to capture and correctly attribute marketing touches to revenue. So if you are seriously considering instrumenting your marketing attribution to revenue outcomes, here are 6 best practices to ensure you’re on the path to accurately attributing spend and optimizing programs.

1. Capture all ad and conversion data

When it comes to attribution insight to do their jobs, most senior B2B marketers and their teams feel they are in a constant state of “data chaos,” suffocating under a combination of web, channel and CRM data that have been stitched together with Excel to give them the information they need to do their jobs. And how actionable, timely, and trusted is the end result?

To get an accurate and timely view of how buyers are interacting with your touchpoints, customer acquisition cost and lifetime value, you need to integrate your ad and conversion data into a multi-touch attribution system of record.


This allows you to accurately allocate revenue and cost back to all your marketing touches and channels that contributed to a closed sale.  Without a multi-touch attribution system of record, your team is plagued with messy reports and spreadsheet sprawl, wasting time on non-value activities. To eliminate this attribution data chaos, senior marketers should look to three ‘must-have’ capabilities:

  1. Automatically capture all your ad and conversion sources using pre-integrated connectors to most or all of your internal and 3rd party sources, making it much easier and less costly to connect and maintain.
  2. Instantly collect buyer interactions outside of ad and conversion sources using tracking technologies such as UTM parameters, click redirects and other unique identifiers.
  3. Seamlessly access your marketing attribution connections and overall system using only a web browser (think true, not fake SaaS), enabling simple and quick set up and configuration to your needs.

By building your B2B multi-touch attribution system to these standards, you’ll have the foundation or “plumbing” in place that frees you from “data jail” to focus your energy on optimizing marketing spend to revenue.

2. Connect every touch across your buyer’s journey

Rather than trying to make sense from fragmented lists of marketing touches, best practice B2B multi-touch attribution automatically connects all your touches to your buyer’s journey. This means every touch that achieved its intended outcome is connected to the buyer throughout their entire journey and is assigned a revenue credit and cost, resulting in a significantly higher degree of attribution precision and giving marketers the trusted insight they need to optimize their budgets to revenue.

buyer journey

To illustrate the power of following your buyer’s journey, let’s consider a scenario for a technology buyer for ZZZ bank who is looking for business intelligence tools.


In the buyer’s effort to understand ZZZ’s challenges and explore solutions, he begins by googling the web and researching various sources. One of your blogs shows up in his search results and he clicks on it and learns new insights on tackling his company’s problems – he also checks out your banking solution and company web pages. A week later he digs further into an independent tech community site he discovered for business intelligence and sees one of your ads pop up for an e-book, fills out the form and downloads it. That same week he continues researching on the web and one of your paid search ads pops up offering an educational video on business intelligence for banking.


Feeling he has a good handle on ZZZ’s business intelligence pains and different solution options, the buyer begins to crystallize the capabilities they need to solve their challenges and the vendors they should consider. Impressed with your e-book and blog, he registers and attends one of your live webinars. Another week later he receives and clicks on one of your emails (that he consented to when he downloaded your e-book) featuring a new blog on business intelligence for banking and checks it out. A month later he attends a banking technology conference and drops by your booth and speaks with a product specialist to discuss his needs; he also watches a demo of your business intelligence product.


At this stage in the buyer’s journey, he has narrowed down ZZZ’s short list of vendors to further evaluate and recommend.  He recalls the great experience he had at your booth and check’s out your website again to read the case studies of other banks that have gone through a similar business intelligence journey and are successfully using your tools. Later in the week the buyer is favoring your company and registers to watch your on-demand demo. At this point, your sales rep reaches out and schedules a live personalized demo for the following week. Impressed with the live demo, the buyer signs on for a paid proof of value and, upon completion of it, validates their business case. Though the buyer continues checking out your website, he moves ahead with pricing and a purchase contract for your business intelligence tools.

In this scenario, attributing 100% of the revenue credit to a single touch ignores the influence of the other seven touches. Further, analyzing touches in parts of the funnel such as “lead conversion” or “opportunity creation” neglects the full story of how your marketing is working (or not). In both cases, the attribution insight is heavily biased and/or flawed, leading to guessing your way into allocating marketing spend to optimize revenue.  However, using a multi-touch attribution model such as a position-based type allows you to accurately allocate weighted credits to all touchpoints in your buyer’s journey. For example, as shown in the illustration below, if your business most values the touchpoint that introduced a buyer to your brand and the final touchpoint that influenced the deal, you can assign the revenue credit accordingly with the balance (50%) being assigned to the touches in the middle of your buyer’s journey.

Postion Based Attribution

A position-based multi-touch attribution model allows you “see the forest for the trees” – to automatically connect and assign (and easily refine) the revenue and associated cost of every touch across your buyers journey, making it ideal for longer, more complex B2B buyer’s journey. With this level of insight into what’s really influencing (or not) your buyer’s journey, you can make precise decisions to continuously rebalance your marketing spend to maximize revenue.

3. Use a cohort method to determine ROI

The entire business value for building a best practice multi-touch attribution capability is based on the ability to accurately (and quickly) quantify the influence each touch has on the buyer’s decision, enabling marketers to optimize their marketing to revenue. The better the fidelity of the ROI calculation, the greater the value it has for marketers.

In senior marketer terms, a cohort method simply allows you quantify the ROI of your paid programs (ads, events, etc.) based on the start date of your ad/campaign (the initial spend) and capture the subsequent stream of conversions to calculate ROI. Having this true ROI insight allows you accurately compare “apples-to-apples” of your programs and confidently rebalance your total spend to maximize revenue. The cohort method is ideal for multi-touch attribution in longer B2B buying journeys (which makes it hugely problematic in determining true ROI), providing precise ad/campaign ROI and Customer Lifetime Value (CLTV). According to Neil Patel in The Case for Cohort Analysis and Multi-Touch Attribution Analysis, “In B2B SaaS, there are two techniques that I feel are particularly important but not used widely enough – cohort analysis and multi-touch attribution analysis.”


In stark contrast to the level of precision using a cohort method ROI method, a non-cohort approach typically starts with a given conversion date (i.e., content download, ad click through) and “looks back” at random and changing time periods in an attempt to quantify the true ROI, leading to poor insight about the relative performance of your programs and channels. While this method may seem straight-forward, it’s deeply misleading. As a result, when you are trying optimize your spend among Google Ads or AdRoll as an example, you are using ROI information that is analogous to comparing “apples to oranges,” leading to erroneous conclusions and suboptimal decisions.

To put in place a best practice cohort method, senior marketers should look for flexibility that allows you to calculate ROI from the campaign start date and calculate the revenue against multiple dimensions depending on your business needs such as:

  • campaign/channel by source
  • any date up to current
  • various types of traffic

For example, you invest $10,000 each with Google Ads on January 1 and want to know how well the campaign has performed through September 30; a cohort method would automatically link conversion A for $40,000 and conversion B for $80,000 to your original investment and allocate a portion of the $120,000 revenue credit.  You can then compare this to LinkedIn ads using to same method. This eliminates the fuzzy math of a using non-cohort approach and gives you true insight as to what’s really converting (and not) to make better paid spend decisions.

4. Unify offline attribution

While offline marketing such as field events and conferences generally represent a large portion of B2B budgets, their conversion outcomes are often disconnected from online marketing efforts which can lead to flawed ROI conclusions and misguided budget allocations. As an example, a common practice for offline attribution is to collect and report on outcomes shortly after the event occurred. Success is usually based on “leads captured,” “deals piped,” and/or the proverbial, “hey, that was a great conference” with 100% revenue credit allocated for any wins that were captured under a traditional first or last touch system.

But B2B buyers who visited your booth frequently visit your site (direct URL) or Google your brand, and engage in other touches (i.e., registers for a webinar, downloads an e-book). And unlike the instant conversion associated with your online channels such as clicking on a retargeting ad, offline channels have what senior marketers call the “halo effect,” meaning the true value or conversions of events shows up over a much longer period of time. How are you supposed to be able to best allocate your marketing budget when you can’t accurately determine the true ROI of offline channels and/or compare offline channels like conferences with online channels?  You may be getting more revenue per dollar at conferences compared to paid ads, but you’d never know the true picture without unifying online/offline attribution.

B2B Venn

Unifying your offline campaigns with online channels into a single multi-touch attribution system solves the attribution madness that plagues senior B2B marketers through the following capabilities:

  1. Automatically capture event cost and credit the stream of conversions (using a cohort method – see best practice #3) attributed to it over a longer period to account for the longer halo duration associated with offline channels.
  2. Flexibly assign ROI credit among offline and online with weighted touchpoints, allowing you to allocate the most accurate value of each touchpoint based on their relative impact on the whole customer journey from beginning to closed-won.

Senior B2B marketers will have a much more accurate understanding of the customer journey and marketing’s impact on it when their multi-touch attribution model takes these two capabilities into account. From branded search queries and on-demand webinar views to conference booth demos and field seminar receptions, you’ll have a single, holistic view of what’s driving conversions and revenue.

5. Track B2B account-based attribution

Today’s B2B buying journey often involves multiple people and roles – seldom will a single person click on an ad, visit your site, and purchase. B2B buyers are usually a team of people within the same account who have different buyer roles such as researcher or decision-maker depending on the buying stage. Hence, according to Martech Today, “the rise of account-based marketing has spurred a shift in how marketers think about accounts.”

Using our earlier scenario for a technology buyer for ZZZ bank who is looking for business intelligence tools, we illustrate below moving from a single buyer to multiple buyers in an account and their roles.

B2B Account

Best practice account-based multi-touch attribution enables you flexibly attribute the revenue and cost of all your successful marketing touches to account, resulting in complete visibility of the account-level journey and true account marketing ROI (especially account-based marketing [ABM] campaigns) and enabling you to fine tune your marketing investments to maximize revenue.

6. Make sure everything adds up

For senior B2B marketers who have ROI accountability for multiple channels and big budgets, errors adding up the right cost or assigning the correct revenue credit to touches can impair your optimization efforts and ruin your credibility among peers and board members. And with increasing complexity of the B2B buyer’s journey, current multi-touch attribution practices exacerbate this problem of duplicate and/or incorrect revenue credit.

Consider this scenario (simplified for illustrative purposes): a buyer clicks through on your LinkedIn ad and a week later he or she clicks through your Google retargeting and TechTarget content syndication offer, eventually buying your product for $50,000. And because these media programs aren’t integrated to one multi-touch attribution system, they each claim $50,000 in conversion credit. Sure you can manually override this for your presentation, but how painful is this problem with dozens and hundreds of programs running simultaneously, media prices changing constantly, and buyer journeys evolving continuously? And how would this impact your ability to demonstrate to executive and board members your ability to drive more outcomes with the same or less dollars?


To safeguard the fidelity of your attribution insights and preempt a costly and possibly embarrassing problem, senior marketers should build their attribution capability on the best B2B multi-touch attribution practices discussed earlier:

  1. Capture all ad and conversion data
  2. Connect every touch across your buyer’s journey
  3. Use a cohort method to determine ROI
  4. Unify offline attribution
  5. Track B2B account-based attribution

These are required to ensure you’re not duplicating attribution credit. The sixth best practice is to automatically and continuously check your calculations and allocations through multiple dimensions. In much the same way accounting is reconciling transactions, a best multi-touch attribution practice is to continuously (and proactively) reconcile revenue credit to your marketing touches. This preempts giving credit to channels/campaigns that had no role in the conversion to revenue, duplicating credit, and over/under (+/- 100%) assigning the total of all revenue credits for a given deal. In addition, you should have a complete audit trail that lets you drill down into every marketing touchpoint, channel, user, and account across your buyer’s journey.


According to Forrester Research’s What B2B Marketers Must Know and Do, “Crystallizing a view of the lengthy B2B purchase process and recontextualizing marketing activity as steps leading toward revenue, rather than disconnected conversions, allows B2B marketers to connect the dots along the path to won deals.” Hence, the linchpin of multi-touch attribution is the ability to precisely track and allocate credit to across all efforts that contributed to revenue.  Applying these six practices to your multi-touch attribution journey will eliminate the pain of your current attribution efforts and enable you to see what’s really working (and not) so you can focus your energy on optimizing your marketing to revenue.

Top 5 Marketing Attribution Trends for 2019

Investor demands, customer expectations and competitive intensity will drive adoption of marketing attribution technologies and new attribution models.

Although classic web analytics and marketing automation tools serve up point KPIs, marketers are grappling with the lack true attribution insight to optimize their spending to revenue. According to a 2017 research study by the Marketing Attribution Think Tank (MATT), which was spearheaded by marketing leaders from some of the world’s top brands including Unilever, Allstate and Bank of America, while “81% of marketers use CTR (click-through rate) more than any other metric…there is virtually no relationship between click-through and sales.”

The good news is that marketers are finally recognizing the need to evolve their attribution approach. The days of last-click, first-touch and CTRs are fading into the annals of advertising, and a new day of multi-touch attribution models is gaining momentum, where MATT’s study also showed “75% of respondent marketers said they are or will be using multi-touch attribution within 18 months.”  Companies large and small are using these advanced analytics to patrol online (and offline) marketing touches and connect them to revenue. They can quickly tally campaign and advertising costs, allocate revenue credits and collect new insights to show marketers what’s really working, what needs watching, and what needs to go.

The rise of multi-touch attribution is just one example of change, one of our marketing attribution trends for 2019 with the potential to drive significant evolution and deliver economic opportunity over the next five years. Our CMO, Yancy Oshita, shared his perspectives on the adoption of multi-touch attribution and other pivotal trends in an article published by Martech Advisor: Top 5 Marketing Attribution Trends for 2019. Having successfully scaled marketing and grown revenue at venture-backed and some of the best-known tech brands, Yancy combines his experience and passion in a plain-speaking way to offer his insights and practical guidance to senior marketing leaders in B2B and B2C industries. In the article, he expands on the following movements:

  1. Connecting Marketing to Revenue Outcomes
  2. Rise of Multi-Touch Attribution
  3. Performance Monitoring of Ad Vendors Comes of Age
  4. Shift to a Marketing Attribution System of Record
  5. Emerging Marketing Organizations and KPIs

As an advanced marketing attribution platform working with B2B and B2C clients, we’re always pushing ourselves to help marketers and advertisers use data to optimize their marketing to revenue. We believe the future will be characterized by smart attribution delivering increasingly insightful intelligence everywhere marketers connect with buyers. Still, most marketers are wrestling to act on attribution insights, indicating the challenge to take advantage of attribution intelligence goes beyond technology and includes process and culture. As Yancy predicts, next year we’ll see more companies tune their organization models and KPIs around the new insights offered by multi-touch attribution technologies.

Advanced marketing attribution is really about connecting marketing to revenue. It’s about bringing the science of marketing to a whole new level and organizations need to evolve with it to reap the enormous benefits. And unless CMOs are taking extreme ownership of revenue return on marketing, moving to advanced marketing attribution would likely lead to marginal success at best. As you grapple with “doing more with less” and “showing the money” to you’re your investors, the Top 5 Marketing Attribution Trends for 2019 in Martech Advisor is worth a read!

Attribution Quora Partnership | Attribution

I am thrilled to announce our partnership with Quora, the popular Q&A platform that connects people seeking knowledge with those who have it. Quora Ads is now integrated to Attribution’s platform, meaning that marketers and advertisers on Quora can easily link their account to view their true return on ad spend (ROAS) alongside their other paid networks such as Google, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

With a reach of over 300 million monthly visitors, Quora Ads provide marketers with a native, high-performance channel to connect and engage with their audiences. Advertisers can automatically serve ads in a way that is consistent and additive to Quora’s user experience and deliver a strong ROAS. By integrating Attribution to your Quora Ads account, you’ll receive actionable insights that enable you to optimize your budget to drive more conversions and generate the best revenue outcomes. Attribution automatically captures ad and conversion data and connects it to every marketing touch across the full buyer’s journey.


Commenting on our new partnership, Quora’s GM & Head of Partnerships, Brendan L. Weitz, added, “We are excited to launch this integration to enable our customers to have greater insight into the value of marketing on Quora.”

Attribution provides marketers with single version of attribution truth in how paid channels are contributing to revenue. Using a patent pending multi-touch attribution approach and unique cohort-based ROAS method, Attribution quickly culls through how target audiences responded to various touchpoints and accurately assigns cost and revenue credit. These unique capabilities give you the true picture about what’s working, what’s not, and what is your current and forecasted return on marketing.

We’re dedicated to giving our customers a variety of options when it comes to measuring their success on Quora. Our integration with Quora will give you a way to track the holistic ROAS and optimize your campaigns. Linking Attribution to your Quora Ads account to is easy. Just go to your Attribution account, visit Settings->Integrations and “Connect Quora”, and start receiving insights alongside all of your other paid social platforms.

If you are interested in integrating your Quora campaigns into Attribution and/or would like a demo of Attribution, please reach out to us at get.attributionapp.com/request-demo. If you are new to Quora Ads, you can get started at quora.com/business.

Attribution App is one of the first to join new Stripe partner program

Most people today don’t know that only three percent of GDP is online. That’s why we’re excited to join the Stripe Partner Program to increase internet commerce and help companies start, run, and scale their businesses more efficiently.

By joining the program, our mutual customers will now benefit from the combination of Attribution’s multi-touch attribution solution with Stripe’s seamless payments platform.

This means that our customers can now connect their Stripe account to Attribution, which can then automatically integrate standard Stripe data like when a charge is successful (event label: Charge Successful) or a Charge is captured (event label: Charge Captured). These events can then be associated with the appropriate ad channels to calculate return on ad spend.

We believe that removing barriers to online commerce helps more new businesses get started, levels the playing field, and increases economic output and trade around the world, and we believe that democratizing attribution is a key for businesses to grow and thrive. Together with Stripe, our mission is to bring more commerce online and increase the GDP of the internet.

Read more about the Stripe Partner Program here: https://stripe.com/blog/stripe-partner-program

3 Remarketing Mistakes Everyone Makes

Remarketing is everywhere now. It’s so common that my grandmother complains about it, and people outside the marketing bubble make jokes about it. This is the slightly creepy reality of modern marketing, remarketing works so well that companies basically have to use it to stay competitive. So without further ado, here is a primer on remarketing without being annoying about it. Because let’s face it, nobody wants to see your banner ad 1,264 times.

1. Showing the same ad over and over.

There’s two ways to make this mistake. Either you start your remarketing campaign and only use your best ads, or you create a campaign with lots of ads and let Google or Facebook ‘tune’ the campaign by showing the top performing ads more often. This seems logical, because we’re used to running display ad campaigns where you can show the same ad millions of times before showing it to the same person twice, and nobody wants to use ads that perform worse on even rotation with the best ads.

The effect is showing the same ad to the same person dozens of times. You’re like the new friend who calls 12 times per day – every day – just to see what’s new. You’re like a sales assistant following someone out of a clothing store and into the mall, asking over and over again if they’d like to try something on. Make some new ads, and tone down the frequency, and put them on even rotation.

2. Continuing your remarketing after the purchase

You know what’s worse than an overly aggressive remarketing campaign? One that doesn’t stop marketing after you buy the product. This is the kind of thing that would never happen in the real world. It makes no sense to market this way, but let’s face it, remarketing technology is complicated. In a perfect world, your remarketing would turn off after a purchase, or switch to customer-success style ads that market add-ons and special features.

Unfortunately, this is harder than it should be. There’s the easy way and the hard way, and most of us take the easy way and assume people won’t mind being targeted after they purchase. I blame this on the ad platforms. Firing a conversion pixel should turn off remarketing by default. Until this happens, marketers who don’t have a deep understanding of both JavaScript tracking and their ad platform will just keep on targeting. I don’t blame the marketer, this should be easier than it is.

3. Not splitting credit between the original source and remarketing ad

Want to know the real reason remarketing is so popular? Remarketing takes all the credit. Most of us still use a last-click attribution model, and that model heavily favors remarketing. Giving all the credit to your remarketing campaign is like a football team rewarding the extra-point kicker for scoring a touchdown. It’s just wrong.

If you use remarketing without using attribution software, you are seeing a vastly inaccurate picture of your marketing efforts. Sure, you should be skeptical of the guy who builds attribution software saying “You need attribution software,” but seriously you need attribution software. Without it you’re flying blind.

So there’s the three main remarketing mistakes. If you used remarketing, you’ve either made these mistakes or you’re still making them. I didn’t write this article to scorn you. I wrote this article because I set up remarketing for Attribution last week and I suddenly realized why everyone makes these mistakes. Google and Facebook encourage you to only show the ads that work best and discourage even rotation which would freshen up the ads. They both have a concept of “Audiences” but there’s no shortcut to exclude someone who’s fired a conversion pixel.

Finally, Facebook makes it genuinely difficult to UTM tag ads for Attribution software – their ads editor literally broke when I used a UTM tagged URL. The long URL caused a field to overlap the submit button, and I had to use developer tools to re-organize the page until the submit button was visible.

I’m guessing that some of the retargeting-specific tools like AdRoll and Perfect Audience would make this easier, so in the next part of this series I’ll explore some advanced remarketing techniques. Let me know in the comments what you’d like me to try!

Attribution Modeling Explained

These days, customers find your product through a variety of marketing channels (ad platforms, partnerships, content, organic, etc.). It is important to understand how these channels work together in driving conversions. After all, the journey of the converted customer is the one we really care about, the one we want to promote and replicate. To understand this journey, we use multi-channel attribution modeling.

Let’s say the follow diagram represents your customer’s journey, how much credit does each channel deserve? Let’s explore several ways distribute the credit.


First Click Attribution

First click attribution gives 100% of the credit to the first touchpoint. In our example, display would get 100% of the credit.


First click attribution is useful for figuring out how customers original found your product, but doesn’t shed much light onto the conversion driving touchpoints.

First click attribution is akin to giving my first girlfriend 100% of the credit for me marrying my wife.

– Avinash Kaushik

Although I love this quote, it’s not accurate. First click attribution is actually akin to giving your friend that introduced you to your wife full credit for your marriage.

Last Click Attribution

Last click attribution gives 100% of the credit to the last touchpoint. In our example, remarketing would get 100% of the credit.


Last click or last interaction is the classic model used in many reporting tools. It’s only good for figuring out which touchpoints are driving the actual conversions, it completely ignores the rest of the referral touchpoints.

Linear Attribution

Linear attribution is the most basic way of dividing a conversion. It divides the credit equally among each of the referring touch points.


This model is useful when analyzing a conversion event that has long sales cycles, where all the touch points are important in building a brand image.

Time Decay Attribution

The time decay model is the most advanced model we provide. It divides credit to each filter based on the number of days before the conversion.

Time Decay Attribution


The calculation we use for this is:

y = 2-x/7

where x is the number of days the referral happened prior to the conversion. The 7 in the equation is the half-life. A touchpoint 7 days before a different touchpoint, will receive half the credit.

For example, a user visits your site from a Google display ad, a remarketing ad and then finally a social channel, with the following timeline:


Based on the equation above, we would split the credit up for each channel accordingly:

2-8/7 2-4/7 2-1/7
.453 .673 .906
22.29% 33.13% 44.58%

So, What Should I Use?

The truth of the matter is, there’s no silver bullet for modeling attribution. Our team has found the best way to get an accurate understanding, is to compare our numbers for each of the models. This is easy to do using the model selector in Attribution. Give it a try with our demo data.