B2B Marketing Attribution

Today, your B2B customers’ journey has become increasingly complex compared to the past. Your prospects interact with digital touchpoints such as social media, email promotions, videos, blog posts, and paid advertisements on their way to becoming your customer.

As a result, you must determine which channels genuinely influence conversion and to what extent. B2B marketing attribution offers a solution to this complex multitouch buying experience.

B2B marketing attribution is the method of identifying the marketing touchpoints that ultimately lead to a conversion and assigning a specific percentage of attribution to each contributing touchpoint. In simple terms, marketing attribution is a plan that helps you figure out which of your actions helped to move the customer closer to making a purchase.

A lot of B2B marketers find marketing attribution to be a challenging task. You have to determine which programs are effectively generating qualified leads, and ensure that those leads are accurately tagged throughout the entire buying journey.

Given the long lead cycles, various digital touchpoints, and multiple contacts from the same accounts, it’s challenging to determine the exact contribution of each channel to your revenue. Let’s take a look at the basics of B2B marketing attribution and how you can examine how your marketing channels are influencing your sales pipeline.

Importance of B2B Marketing Attribution

B2B marketing attribution is a critical aspect of your marketing strategy.  It enables you to evaluate the effectiveness of each marketing channel, the impact it has on your ROI, and helps you make data-driven decisions. Additionally, it offers a more advanced method than just basic click tracking to monitor your customer’s journey.

You’ll also be able to assign credit to the marketing initiatives that played a significant role in the path to purchase. In B2B, your customer’s journey usually involves various decision-makers and multiple stages. The more significant the contract value, the more complicated the journey can be. Attribution will help you to quantify the impact of each touchpoint.

With this knowledge, you can optimize your marketing efforts and budget to ensure that every action you take contributes directly to your bottom line. Here are some of the advantages of implementing B2B marketing attribution models.

Helps You Identify Your Most Impactful Marketing Activity

B2B marketing campaigns involve various components such as organic social, paid social, and dedicated landing pages. By using attribution modeling, you can identify which activities are most effective in generating leads and conversions for your business.

Helps You Identify the Specific Point of Conversion

Accurate attribution not only helps you identify the most impactful marketing channels and activities, but it can also pinpoint the moment of conversion. Using the appropriate tools, you can determine which channels, keywords, or websites led your customers to make a purchase.

Helps You Streamline the Process of Collecting Data

Your data-gathering process is simplified through the collection of data from multiple sources. This allows you to have a comprehensive view of your customer’s journey. Marketing attribution helps you streamline the data analysis process by consolidating all the data into a single dashboard, tailored to your needs. This allows you to quickly uncover insights without requiring advanced data analysis skills.

Helps You Determine Your Overall Strategy

By providing data-driven insights into the most effective marketing campaigns and preventing the over- or under-valuation of specific channels, B2B marketing attribution can assist in aligning your broader strategy.

Types of B2B Marketing Attribution Models

There are several attribution models that you can choose from, and there isn’t a right or wrong option. Research has shown that it usually takes between 6 to 8 touchpoints before you can generate a lead. Therefore, your choice of attribution model should align with your specific strategy and marketing goals.

Each of the following attribution models has its own unique advantages and limitations, so you need to have an in-depth understanding of your preferred method of measuring data and your strategies.

One-Touch Attribution Models

A one-touch attribution model assigns full credit for a conversion to a single channel, as the name implies. Generally, these models assign conversion values to the first or last touchpoint a visitor engaged with before completing a conversion.

While one-touch attribution models are simple to implement and may be advantageous for certain campaigns, they do not give you an accurate representation of your customer’s journey. There are two primary models in this category.

First-Touch Attribution

With a first-touch attribution model, all the credit is assigned to the initial touchpoint that directs your potential customer to complete a conversion. It gives 100% of the credit to the first place where your customer started interacting with your business, also known as the point of entry.

Although it only represents a small portion of your customer’s journey, a first-touch attribution model offers a significant advantage in identifying the most effective top-of-the-funnel marketing channels that attract and engage your potential customers.

Let’s say you purchased a pay-per-click ad for a paid search. If you use a first-touch attribution model, that particular touchpoint would receive all the credit for your customer’s conversion, regardless of whether they interacted with your business through multiple touchpoints. Essentially, these other touchpoints would receive no recognition for contributing to the conversion.

For example, your potential customer comes across your sponsored Facebook ad promoting a recent blog post on “essential tools for digital marketers.” Intrigued, they click on the ad and read the blog post. After reading, they subscribe to your newsletter.

Two weeks later, the same prospect receives an email promoting an upcoming webinar. They attend the webinar and then sign up for a free trial by filling out a form. If using a first-touch attribution model, all the credit would go to the initial Facebook ad that led the prospect to your website.

First-touch B2B Marketing Attribution with Facebook having one hundred percent credit

First-touch attribution is useful when you want to identify which touchpoints are effective at the beginning of your customer’s journey, but it neglects the middle and end of their journey. As a result, it’s generally only used in niche situations.

Last-Touch Attribution

In a last-touch attribution model, all credit for a conversion goes to the final touchpoint that your prospect encounters before converting. The main drawback of this model is that it ignores the channels that your prospect interacts with in the early and middle stages of their journey.

Even so, a last-touch attribution model can tell you the channels that are most successful in prompting conversions and providing prospects with the final push they require. If you are interested in understanding what led your target customers to convert rather than what raised their awareness, you can rely on last-touch attribution.

Consider the earlier example in which your prospect engages with a Facebook ad, a blog post, and a promotional email before attending a webinar that convinces them to request a product trial. In a last-touch attribution model, all credit for the conversion would be attributed to the webinar, which represents the last touchpoint before the conversion.

Last-touch B2B Marketing Attribution with the webinar having one hundred percent credit

Although last-touch attribution is more commonly used than first-touch attribution, it’s subject to many of the same drawbacks. The first touchpoint and all intermediate touchpoints are disregarded under this model. Unfortunately, in a last-touch attribution model, every other touchpoint is not significant to the sale.

Multi-Touch Attribution Models

Multi-touch attribution enables you to gain a more accurate understanding of your customer’s complete conversion journey. The purpose of multi-touch attribution is to enhance your marketing budget allocation. This enables you to focus on the channels that significantly impact conversions and revenue.

One of the main advantages of multi-touch marketing attribution is that it can give you insights into the effectiveness of touchpoints throughout your customer’s entire journey. Your target B2B customers are highly logical and are skilled at avoiding marketing messages.

To be able to successfully engage with them, you must use data-driven marketing strategies and tailor your messages to reach your customers on the right channel at the right time. Additionally, multi-touch attribution models can help you attain a greater ROI for your marketing spend by highlighting which channels are most and least effective.

Lastly, this model can help in shortening the sales cycle by engaging your target customers with fewer, yet more powerful marketing messages.

There are several multi-touch attribution models that can help you analyze all touchpoints your customer interacts with before conversion. The significant difference between these models lies in the amount of sales credit that you assign to each touchpoint. You can either implement these models as they are or adapt them to design your own custom model.

Linear Attribution

In linear attribution, you assign an equal amount of credit to every touchpoint that contributed to a conversion. This approach takes into account all touchpoints involved in your customer’s journey, and an equal value is assigned to each one. However, the linear attribution model can’t help you identify which touchpoints were more influential than the others.

To simplify, we’ll still use the same example that we used earlier to illustrate the one-touch attribution models. With regards to the linear model, each touchpoint that your customer engaged with, such as the paid Facebook ad, blog post, email newsletter, and webinar, would be given an equal amount of credit for their role in leading to the conversion. In this case, the free trial request.

Linear B2B Marketing Attribution with Facebook, blog post, email newsletter, and webinar having equal credit of twenty-five percent each

Position-Based Attribution

The position-based model, also known as the U-shaped attribution, allocates 40% of the credit to both the initial and last touchpoints that contributed to a conversion. The remaining 20% is distributed among all the channels between the first and last touchpoints.

This approach provides you with a solid understanding of which touchpoints initiate your customer’s journey and which touchpoints drove your potential customer to ultimately convert. Compared to the linear attribution model, this approach is more complex since it lets you acknowledge that every touchpoint does not hold the same value.

However, this method is not entirely perfect, because it shows you a simpler method of addressing the middle part of your potential customer’s journey.

Position-based B2B Marketing Attribution with Facebook and webinar having forty percent credit

Time-Decay Attribution

With time-decay attribution, every touchpoint is taken into consideration, but you assign greater credit to the more recent touchpoints. This approach is particularly beneficial for extended sales cycles, where the most recent touchpoints are typically the most influential in driving conversions. In the B2B world, where sales cycles are often longer than those in B2C, this is especially advantageous.

In a time-decay model, each touchpoint in your potential customer’s journey – starting from the Facebook ad to the free trial request – is acknowledged for their contribution. However, the email campaign and the webinar would receive a greater proportion of the attribution. This is because these touchpoints occurred nearer to the conversion point than the Facebook ad or blog post.

Time-decay B2B Marketing Attribution with Facebook having ten percent credit, blog post having twenty percent credit, email newsletter having thirty percent credit, and webinar having forty percent credit.

Custom Attribution

The custom attribution model is the most advanced and complex, but it can give you the most accurate representation of your marketing channels. Using platforms such as Google Analytics, you can create tailored attribution models and assign a specific value to each touchpoint that led to a conversion.  

For you to create a custom attribution model, you need to have a deep understanding of your customers and their purchasing patterns. By analyzing the history of your customer’s data, you can identify behavioral trends and determine which channels had the greatest influence on them.  

Let’s keep on using the same example we used for the previous models. With the first and last-touch attribution, the Facebook ad and webinar were given all of the credit for the conversion. However, your historical data indicates that the email marketing campaigns contribute greatly to the majority of your free trial conversions.

Even though your email campaigns are in the middle part of your prospect’s journey, your analysis reveals their importance and influence to convert your target. So you decide to assign a higher percentage of attribution to email campaigns in your custom attribution model.

How to Implement B2B Marketing Attribution in Your Business

Setting up an attribution model for your business can be challenging. You need to choose the best model for your business, which may be even more difficult because of your customer’s complicated journey.

Your target B2B customers often use multiple devices, platforms, and channels before making a purchase decision. Additionally, due to the increasing privacy concerns, tracking their behavior has become more challenging too.

It’s important to begin as soon as possible so you can optimize your attribution strategy earlier. You can follow the steps below if you plan to implement B2B marketing attribution models for your business.  

Set Up Your Analytics Tools

When implementing B2B marketing attribution, you need to set up analytics tools so that you can track and measure the success of your marketing campaigns. Tools like Google Analytics will enable you to collect valuable data on website traffic, your target customer’s behavior, and conversion rates.

This data can help you understand which among your marketing channels are performing the best, and which campaigns are delivering the highest ROI for your business. Your chosen analytics tools will provide a foundation for measuring and optimizing the success of your marketing efforts.

Create Tracking URLs

In order to accurately track the performance of your marketing channels, you’ll need to create tracking URLs. These URLs contain special parameters that allow you to track the source of your website traffic, such as the specific campaign or email that led a visitor to your website.

For each marketing channel that you decide to use, you’ll have to create a unique URL that will allow you to track the source of traffic. You can use URL builder tools such as Google Analytics Campaign URL Builder or Bitly to create these URLs.

After you have created the tracking URLs, you should definitely test them to ensure they are working properly. You can do this by clicking on the URL and checking if the tracking parameters appear correctly in your analytics tool.

Define Your Customer’s Journey

This step is important when implementing your B2B marketing attribution. Defining your customer’s journey involves mapping out each touchpoint that your target audience might have with your brand. Beginning from the initial awareness all the way through to a successful conversion or a sale.

It’s necessary to identify all possible touchpoints, including things like social media ads, landing pages, email campaigns, and more. By doing so, you can create a detailed roadmap of your customer’s journey and you’ll have a better understanding of the role that each touchpoint has in driving conversions.

This information is crucial so that you can properly attribute credit to each touchpoint, allowing you to make data-driven decisions and improve your strategies.

Collect and Analyze Data

After mapping out your customer’s journey, you can now track the actions that your visitors take on your website, including link clicks and page visits.

By collecting and analyzing this data, you can start to understand which touchpoints are most effective at driving conversions. You can also identify which marketing channels are providing the highest ROI and which ones are not performing well. It’s important to regularly review and update your data to ensure that you have the most accurate and up-to-date information to inform your marketing strategies.

Interpret and Act on Results

By now, you should have a clear understanding of which touchpoints are driving the most conversions. Based on your analysis, you can define your attribution model and decide how much credit you’ll give to each touchpoint.

This also involves reallocating your marketing budget, refining your targeting, and optimizing your landing pages to improve conversion rates.  You should also understand each attribution model’s strengths and weaknesses, and use the data you’ve gathered so that you can create a more effective and efficient marketing strategy.  

Best Practices for Successful B2B Marketing Attribution

B2B marketing attribution models can help you identify profitable marketing campaigns and touchpoints that can effectively increase the revenue of your business. Implementing these models is greatly beneficial for optimizing your strategies, and it can be difficult to achieve excellent results without them. Here are some best practices so you can make the most out of the attribution models.

Align Attribution with Business Objectives

It can be challenging and overwhelming to implement marketing attribution, especially if you want to create a sophisticated multi-touch model. It’s common to focus on the implementation of marketing attribution, and then struggle to take actionable steps based on the insights you’ve gathered.

To avoid this, you have to establish clear objectives for both your marketing attribution model and each marketing channel you plan to use. Determine the actions you’ll take to enhance your strategy based on specific attribution results. Additionally, make sure that everyone on your team understands the purpose and function of your marketing attribution model.

Continuously Test and Refine Attribution Models

An attribution model is not a one-time solution that you can set and forget.  As you make adjustments and test your marketing campaigns, you must also revise your attribution model to align with these changes.

It’s also important to understand that you may not develop the perfect attribution model for your business on the first try. Imperfections in the model are acceptable, as long as you keep refining and enhancing it through experimentation and testing.

Begin With a Basic Attribution Model

It’s important to avoid creating overly complex attribution models with too many rules. This can make it difficult for you to identify areas for improvement and pinpoint specific problems later on. Instead, you should start with a simple but relevant attribution model. This way, you can easily add more rules and improve existing ones as needed, while still being able to identify any mistakes along the way.

Understand That Attribution Takes Time

There is no perfect marketing attribution model and continuous improvement is necessary. In order to fully understand the results of an attribution model, you need to invest time in analyzing and testing it. This allows you to identify areas for improvement and define the necessary enhancements. Sometimes, you’ll have to compare multiple attribution models and evaluate different scenarios.

For example, you might use a time decay model to better understand how to close sales opportunities and compare it with a position-based model to gain insights into the initial touchpoints that led to the creation of the opportunity.


B2B marketing attribution can be a complex process. You have to carefully choose the attribution model that aligns with your goals and objectives. Additionally, you need to continuously make improvements and refine your strategies over time. Luckily, with the availability of free tools like Google Analytics, attribution can be cost-effective for your business.

Don’t be dismayed if you encounter difficulties during the initial implementation stages. You’ll gain valuable insights through experimentation and ultimately create an attribution model that’s suitable for your business.

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