If you really think about it, every ad campaign tells a story about your brand. It takes your customer on a journey from the initial introduction—or the moment when they first meet you—to the climax—that moment when they make a purchase.

As with any story, there are many stops along the way while your customer learns more about your brand and why you’re the “hero” they should care about. And every one of those touchpoints is crucial to your brand story’s success.

Paying close attention to the touchpoints in the customer journey is vital to ensuring campaign performance, which is the meaning of attribution and the reason why multi-touch attribution exists. MTA is a marketing measurement method that assigns credit to each touchpoint in the customer journey, and provides insight into its contribution to conversions. Multi-touch models, also called multi-sourced models, consider account interactions like display ads, native ads, email promotions. In the world of attribution theory, knowing the impact that each of these has on the consumer’s decision to make a purchase gives brands a more holistic view and “person-level perspective” on their campaigns by showing them how each investment is helping them meet their goals.

These days, many marketers use multi-touch attribution models to analyze user-level data. Compared to traditional aggregated methods of marketing attribution, such as single-touch attribution and classic media-mix modeling, multi-touch attribution enables marketers to customize their messaging and tell a more complete story of their brand. From a revenue perspective, this strategy can also lead to a higher marketing ROI (return on investment)—something every brand is sure to appreciate!

Choosing the right attribution model for your business needs can be a time-consuming process, and as you work to determine how much revenue credit is given to each touchpoint in the customer funnel, some models are more effective than others. Taboola’s platforms and tools offer a variety of attribution methods and related solutions, using the latest technology and AI developments to drive users and help you shape the customer journey.

Consider this your guide to multi-touch attribution, and the only resource you’ll need to uncover the best MTA strategy for your brand.

The Difference Between Multi-Touch & Multi-Channel Attribution Models

When your goal is to understand marketing attribution, the place to start is with definitions. What’s the difference between multi-touch and multi-channel attribution models, anyway?

Although they’re similar, multi-channel considers attribution credit by channel (social, paid ads, organic, etc.) rather than focusing on specific touchpoints, messages, or sequences. Multi-touch attribution, on the other hand, is more granular, focusing on the effectiveness of specific ads, including the channel they ran on, the message they delivered, and the sequence of interaction.

Overall, multi-touch attribution models provide more insight than other marketing measurements, especially when coupled with MMM (marketing mix modeling), which can further help you understand the effectiveness of each marketing channel. But those insights aren’t always perfect. Studies show that more than half of today’s consumers engage with 3 to 5 different channels during each journey toward making a purchase. Choosing the right Taboola multi-touch attribution model enables brands to successfully address this challenge.

Ultimately, your goal as a brand should be to determine which type of attribution is the best fit for your needs, and tailor it to address the key challenges you’ve been facing. For some marketers, a simple first-touch or last-touch model is enough, while others need deeper analysis in order to understand campaign performance.

Since everything from budget to the type of messaging you use and the time of year can influence your marketing results, it’s best to home in on your objectives when picking the attribution solution that’s right for you.

Strategies Under Multi-Touch Attribution

Let’s break multi-touch attribution down a little further. Because the customer journey can be so complex, and there are many potential factors involved in influencing a purchase, MTA can sometimes feel overwhelming. Today’s customers often dance across multiple devices, channels, and platforms before they decide to buy from your brand, so tracking them can be tricky and may even raise privacy concerns.

Still, brands shouldn’t let that stop them from considering this method of measuring their return on marketing spend. MTA can provide you with a variety of data, insights, and calculations to better understand your customers and how they interact across your website and blog, along with social channels and other platforms.

If you’re considering a multi-touch attribution model, and want to make sure you achieve the best possible results, keep the following four tried-and-true strategies in mind.

1. Determine which KPIs and models are appropriate

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: before you can start to measure your marketing results, you first need to understand your goals. What are your priorities as a brand? What do you hope to get from your online marketing investment? Knowing the answers to these questions will empower you to identify the attribution strategy that delivers the most valuable data for your brand.

When you’re choosing an attribution model, you should also consider factors like sales cycle length and campaign type. Multi-touch attribution can track KPIs (key performance indicators) ranging from revenue and ad spend to impressions, click-through rates (CTRs), conversion rates, average customer value, and more, so it’s imperative that you grasp which of these (if not all of them) to zero in on for your brand. Since marketers using MTA are typically trying to boost ROI and improve their user experience, metrics like these can be incredibly useful for measuring results.

2. Develop a shared value and objectives within the team

As you develop your marketing attribution strategy, make sure to be in close contact with your marketing team and all key stakeholders at your business. It’s important that you’re all on the same page when it comes to marketing objectives, and that you share a common vision for your campaigns.

Aligning your expectations in this way will ensure that each team under your brand umbrella is working toward a common goal and has the same priorities for marketing attribution. This makes it easier to optimize your attribution strategy and coordinate the processes involved in maximizing your results.

3. Implement a marketing analytics software

With your team aligned on brand objectives, you’ll be ready to select and implement the analytics software you need to measure your results. Considering the multiple complex attribution models and thousands of pieces of data each business has to work with, investing in advanced analytics software is a must for correlating and standardizing that information into more digestible metrics and deriving the insight you’re looking for.

Along with granular, person-level data, a marketing analytics software platform can provide additional insights and assist with attributing sales and revenue. A good platform can even indicate the motivation behind a specific conversion, including the impact of brand equity and the effectiveness of ad creative.

4. Use a circular strategy aiming perfection

Reaching the point where you have a strategy in place is great—but don’t “set it and forget it!” Over time your customers’ needs, the e-commerce landscape, and marketing opportunities can change, so it’s important to continuously test and optimize your multi-touch attribution model with an eye toward mining the most accurate information possible.

Evaluating your MTA data on a regular basis will reveal the best strategies and marketing sequences for your brand, reach customers when the time is right, and supply valuable insight into their online behavior. Attribution analysis should always be a core part of your multi-touch strategy.

Best multi-touch attribution reporting tools

Now that you’ve got a handle on multi-touch marketing attribution, it’s time to talk about how to build a multi-touch attribution model. To do that, you’ll need a reporting tool that lets you parse all the information you’ve got and get to the bottom of what’s driving sales.

Keeping campaign insights separate for each software we use as marketers poses a challenge, so your aim should be to bring them all together in one big, all-encompassing reporting strategy. One example of this is Google Analytics, which offers attribution model capabilities for actions like paid and organic last clicks, as well as an algorithm based data driven attribution model.

For some marketers, this option provides enough information to keep you on track. Other brands, however, require a solution that’s robust enough to compile thousands of pieces of data from separate ecosystems and synthesize that information in a way that allows you to extract the insights that matter most.

HubSpot’s Marketing Analytics. HubSpot’s Marketing Analytics tool measures the performance of campaigns and marketing efforts with built-in analytics and reports that are accessible in one dashboard. By condensing marketing data in this way, the tool allows users to identify, review, organize, and share marketing attribution (and other) data from a single CRM platform.

Ruler Analytics: This multi-channel, multi-touch marketing attribution and call tracking software gives brands access to all revenue and conversions in one place. Ruler Analytics provides both online and offline conversion tracking to help you determine your return on ad spend (ROAS); identify which campaigns, channels and keywords are driving conversions; and understand the customer journey.

Branch.ioBranch is a cross-channel attribution and mobile linking platform that provides insight into all of a brand team’s marketing efforts. This solution links different customer touchpoints across all the channels with conversions that occur on any platform for those whose marketing goals include measuring cross-platform attribution with mobile investments. It also allows you to track referral and advertising attribution and measure the success of email, web, and social media marketing, enabling you to use cross-platform, cross-channel cohort analysis to gauge marketing performance across campaigns.

Windsor.ai: When brands are assessing reporting tools for attribution, Windsor.ai often makes the list. Built to integrate all marketing data and metrics, this multi-touch marketing attribution software measures the attribution ROI across multiple channels, keywords, and campaigns. In essence, Windsor.ai maps the customer journey and empowers you to optimize results by determining where your budget should be spent. It also provides ROAS for all touchpoints by combining multi-touch attribution with cost data sourced along the path to purchase.

Attribution: Aptly named, Attribution is an enterprise multi-touch attribution software that identifies the specific impact that marketing funnel touchpoints have on your brand’s sales. Attribution is designed for both B2C and B2B marketers, with features that can help you optimize ROI along the path to purchase. Another feature to look for with this tool is its automated data collection, which organizes online and offline touchpoints in the context of your budget and marketing spend. You can build automated attribution models using machine learning algorithms that identify partners in the data you’re working with.

Understanding the most common multi-touch attribution models and reporting tools, and identifying which ones are best suited to your brand goal, is a crucial part of every modern marketing plan. There are countless tools to choose from, but homing in on the ones that bring data together in a clear, fast, and easily accessible report will give you a better understanding of the customer touchpoints and channels that matter most.

Taboola’s affiliate marketing programs offer a variety of attribution models designed to give you the best possible insights into advertising strategies. Since we make it easy to track revenue back to individual channels and campaigns, you may find that you’re spending less time on reporting and more time optimizing your results. Interested in hearing more? Get in touch with us today.

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