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Why single touch attribution isn’t enough and how marketers can better it

customer-attribution-profileCustomer journeys don’t come down to a single touch point. Customers control how they interact with you and may engage a number of times before a purchase. Single touch attribution doesn’t account for the full scope of the customer journey and attribute revenue appropriately. Multi touch attribution, when used effectively, allows the marketer to turn insights into profitable changes to the customer journey.

When is the last time you made a purchase? Was it a large purchase that required advance research or did you simply pick up everyday household items? What ultimately led to the purchase; an email, a text message, a combination of messages? The journeys we take as customers can be influenced by any number of factors and we may jump into and out of several points in the journey, interacting on multiple devices, in multiple channels, before we ultimately decide to buy.

As marketers, understanding what channels, creatives and tactics are reaching the audience and driving the intended actions allows marketing dollars to be spent more effectively, but figuring out how to tie revenue back to communications within a customer journey isn’t always as simple as looking at the last click before purchase.

Visualizing the full customer journey

This is where attribution modeling, which can provide a framework for analyzing which communications or marketing channels receive credit for a conversion, comes into play. The attribution model used for analysis ultimately determines what weight is applied to each communication/touchpoint throughout the customer journey. There are seven key attribution models, and depending on the model applied, different weights are assigned to each of the touchpoints within the campaign.

Model name Model description  
First Touch Any matching purchases will be attributed to the first qualifying campaign received by the individual. attribution-model-types_0006_attribution-first-touch
Last Touch Any matching purchases will be attributed to the last qualifying campaign received by the individual. attribution-model-types_0005_attribution-last-touch
Linear Any matching purchased will be equally split between all of the qualifying campaigns.


Positioned Multi Touch U-curve attribution weighted towards first and last touchpoints. attribution-model-types_0003_attribution-positioned
Positioned First Last Multi Touch

For any matching purchases and campaigns, 50% will be attributed to the first touch and 50% will be attributed to the last touch.

Time Growth

Decays from first touch.

Time Decay Decreases from most recent touch.  attribution-model-types_0001_attribution-time-decay


Using the different models

Single touch models such as First and Last Touch allow you to account for a single communication a customer received within the journey and attribute the revenue appropriately based on the model selected. This information can be useful, especially when trying to understand what initially started the customer journey, and ultimately, what was the last action taken before conversion. For frequent or smaller purchases that have a shorter buying cycle, for example shampoo or blue jeans, these models can be sufficient and meet the needs of the marketer.

But, as we said before, for larger purchases or purchases that have a long purchase cycle you’ll need to consider all of the other interactions a customer may have with your brand before making a purchase. How do those various communications along the journey contribute to the end conversion?

Marketers working in these verticals may need to understand more about the customer’s actions. For example, insurance is a once a year purchase, but a marketer working in that vertical won’t just want to account for the last touch, they’ll need to consider every touch throughout the year.

This is where multi touch attribution models, such as Linear, Position Multi Touch, Positioned First Last Multi Touch, Time Growth and Time Decay can come into play. As the name would imply, these multi touch models allow you to account for multiple touchpoints within the overall customer journey, not just the first or last communication received.

Watch the Cross-Journey Optimization webinar

As marketers, we need to move past the old metrics and campaigns that have no relevance in the new age of the customer and look at new ways to monitor cost, measure response, attribute impact and improve communications.

In this webinar, BlueVenn Principal Consultant Jim Kelly will explore this topic in more detail and discuss concepts such as ‘cross-journey communication’ to manage the customer experience.

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If we go back to our insurance vertical example, marketers will have the most influence just before renewal and just after renewal, during the short window when individuals can change policies. With that in mind, utilizing a multi-touch model allows the greatest weight to those campaigns around renewal, and places less emphasis on communications that happen throughout the year when someone is unlikely to make a purchase. 

Weighing up the customer’s actions

By looking at the full customer journey and understanding the impact of all communications that ultimately led to a purchase, marketers can start to make decisions about which communications are most effective and make changes to or eliminate those communications that show little value, thus freeing up budget dollars for tactics that provide greater returns. Beyond actual purchases, think about which other conversions matter to your business and focus on encouraging those too.

Those actions judged to be most valuable, for example clicking on the link provided in a marketing email, can then be prioritized in subsequent marketing plans, with greater time and budget being allocated to ensuring that the customer will complete that action. Any customers that do subsequently complete the desirable action can be further targeted with tempting deals and extra information that will lead them even more strongly towards a conversion, helping to secure their custom and maximize their value to your business.

Of course, it is important to keep an open mind, keep using your chosen model, and take note of what’s working and what’s not rather than putting all your eggs into one basket. Be prepared to be flexible and evolve your marketing campaign in response to the insights provided, rather than assuming the same strategy will work every time.

Delivering true value

Different models will work better for different businesses, depending on their available time and budget (the greater the availability, the easier it will be to focus on and optimize multiple touchpoints) and how many forms of advertising and channels they are currently using. The important thing is to use a model that is easy for your team to understand and use to drive the best possible ROI.

To learn more about attribution and how a Customer Data Platform can help you to perfect the weighting of your customer touchpoints and your marketing strategy, read on.

Find out more about BlueVenn's Customer Data Platform. Register to see a live demonstration now.

Join us at 10am EDT / 3pm BST on May 19, 2021 when we will cover:

  • Using predictive analytics to make real-time decisions that positively affect the customer journey
  • Improving targeting of campaigns using customer segmentation and RFV analysis
  • Using real-time personalization to better engage customers
  • Integrating online and offline channels into the BlueVenn Customer Data Platform to create a true Single Customer View
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Topics: customer journey marketing communications customer insight consumer insight customer journey orchestration attribution multi-touch attribution modeling