What does multi-touch attribution mean for the B2B customer?

Back in the day, a typical customer journey was relatively straightforward. It could be as simple as sending your prospects a catalogue in the post, and if they liked it, they ordered from it. A multi-touch attribution model wasn’t even the stuff of marketing dreams.

Nowadays, only the most basic business models can operate in this way. When it comes to B2B in particular, the majority of businesses are doing most of their marketing and selling online. And while that’s opened up myriad possibilities, it has created a complex buying journey that can be a challenge to track and measure.

How do you track and measure it?

With a multi-touch attribution strategy.

Multi-channel marketing

If you sell B2B, you’ll likely be reaching prospects through a variety of channels. Organic social, paid social, email, organic search, paid search…the list goes on.

Customers coming to you through any of these channels will expect a seamless and personalised experience. One that’s easy for them and gives them just what they need. To achieve this, you need to have a handle on all of your channels, how they’re performing and what’s converting for different customer segments.

Understanding how each channel is performing means you’ll be able to maximise ROI from your campaigns, provide a great customer experience and maximise lead conversion and revenue.

Different channels mean different customer touchpoints on the road to a sale. Keeping track of each of these touchpoints is known as a multi-touch attribution strategy.

What is multi-touch attribution?

An attribution strategy seeks to measure the impact that different customer touchpoints have on conversions. It identifies and assigns a value to a combination of events and user actions that contributes to the outcome you desire – usually a sale.

It looks at every channel and the influence each has on a customer’s decision to buy from you.

Building an attribution strategy

There are a few core elements you need to have in place to understand attribution across different channels.

1. Understand your buyer journey

Before you begin to work out attribution, you need to understand the path a prospect takes through your sales funnel. Understanding this will show you how your prospects and customers engage with your brand.

It means that you can create content designed to influence prospects depending on where they are in the funnel, and you can deploy attribution tools at different points of the journey to see what’s working.

With each point mapped out, you can iterate and improve each step to enhance your customers’ experience and drive more sales.

2. Understand who your customers are

You also need to know the characteristics of your different customer segments. Different customers will enter your funnel at different points, via different channels and with varying motivations and levels of awareness and knowledge.

If you haven’t already, create customer personas so that you have a clear picture of what each of your core segments look like. Understanding each of them will mean you can understand their customer journey, and the touchpoints they have with you.

For each customer segment, ask yourself:

  • What channels do they use?
  • What motivates them?
  • Whose buy-in do they need?
  • What content do they consume, in what format?

3. Setting up your multi-touch attribution model

Now that you’ve got a clear idea of who your customers are, you can start to construct your multi-touch attribution model.

The idea is to analyse each of your touchpoints – from a digital ad to an email campaign – to get insight into the impact of each one on different customer segments. You want to know which ones are having the most impact (in terms of conversions) for each customer segment, so you can iterate and optimise.

By tracking and carefully measuring each touchpoint a customer has on the way to a conversion, you’ll get a map of their journey and a holistic view of how your channels are working together.

You’ll be able to iterate and optimise your marketing activity so that you’re able to:

  • Focus on your most effective channels
  • Employ the most effective strategy for each channel
  • Drive down cost per acquisition over time
  • Deliver an optimised experience to your customers

A data-driven multi-touch attribution model

Attribution isn’t a linear process. No two sales are the same, and the customer journey is different for everybody, but you can look for patterns in your data.

Check what data you have available to you. This will likely include

Work out if you have any gaps in your data.

In an ideal world, you’ll have access to data that allows you to measure the impact of each touchpoint a prospect has with you. Even better if you’re able to integrate your data to give a holistic view of how a customer interreacts with your brand on their way to making a purchase.

Understanding attribution means getting under the skin of what makes a prospect convert to a customer. While individual factors influence every sale, a good data set can give you insight into the bigger picture, enabling you to iterate and optimise.

Here are some insights that attribution can give you:

Velocity

How fast do your marketing efforts deliver results? Understanding which of your channels are slow-burn and which ones can create instant impact will help you plan campaigns over the short and long term. Make sure you bring your sales team with you on this journey of discovery – their support will be vital to give you time to develop the channels that require more patience!

Sale value

Compare the average order value of different customer segments and the channels they engage with. Do some tend to yield higher value sales than others?

Conversions

Review each of your touchpoints and assess which convert most frequently, and which are not converting. Can you optimise the latter by uncovering what is working in the former?

Landing pages

Which of your landing pages convert the most? Do different customer segments tend to convert on different pages?

Customer journey

Is there a particular chain of touchpoints that leads to more conversions? Do different customer segments tend to follow a different sequence of touchpoints?

Technology

When it comes to gathering multi-touch attribution data, technology is your friend. Audit the tech you do have to see if it’s fit for purpose, and identify where you might need to invest.

Tools and platforms are available to collect data at every point of the digital marketing funnel. Your organic search, paid search, digital advertising, website and email platforms all have data behind them. An ideal system communicates seamlessly with each element to deliver a holistic view.

Review, test, repeat

A successful multi-touch attribution strategy involves iterating and improving both your data gathering and your marketing activity.

A multi-touch attribution model depends on data, so the more comprehensive and accurate your datasets are, the better. Regularly review your data tools and look for opportunities to get more data.

Once you have the data, you can crunch the numbers and work out which elements of your marketing activity are working and which aren’t – and iterate and experiment to find ways that maximise bang for buck.

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