An effective marketing strategy requires a steady stream of accurate information so that you can be sure you're allocating resources in a way that maximizes ROI. However, most of today's marketers still rely on an approach that oversimplifies a complex scenario. The sales funnel typically includes a number of customer touches, such as the prospecting call, webinars, white papers, tradeshows and exhibitions, and product demonstrations.
But despite the complexity of the sales funnel, marketers who use the standard attribution method in their marketing automation tool usually credit only the first or last campaign touch when identifying which campaigns drive revenue. If you want to up your game, consider moving beyond a single-touch attribution strategy and use a new approach that better reflects the multifaceted reality of the buying cycle today-weighted campaign influence. This will accurately represent the complex reality of the customer journey through the sales funnel. With a more complete picture, you can gain a competitive advantage.
Why Companies Use First and Last Touch Attribution
Companies with a shorter sales cycle may want to rely on a single-attribution method that assigns all revenue credit to the first touch because how the deal was sourced is a critical piece of information for them. While it's true that the first touch generally carries more weight in a shorter sales cycle because there are fewer overall touches, crediting the first touch with the entire amount of revenue generated from a sale is still inaccurate because it assumes that subsequent touches did not contribute at all.
Conversely businesses that have a longer sales cycle and use a single-touch attribution method may want to credit the last touch with the sale. For them the last marketing campaign after a long sales cycle may deserve more credit because it finally drove a lead to become an opportunity, or at least drove sales engagement. But it's still inherently inaccurate because it discounts all the touches that preceded the final customer contact. In fact, it may credit the sale to an email campaign that the customer didn't see or respond to, resulting in business decision-making based on faulty data.
It's important to analyze the effect of the first and last touch and understand the weight each carries in relation to the sales cycle because for every business it may be a little different. But it's equally crucial to appreciate the inherent limitations of single-touch attribution models and to understand the difference between single-touch attribution and multi-touch weighted influence models. Weighted campaign influence involves reaching a more in-depth understanding of how each touch contributed to the sale; it factors in the weight of every touch for a more accurate view of what drives revenue and has the best ROI.
Moving Toward a More Accurate Analysis Model
Because it encompasses every campaign touch, a multi-touch influence analysis model returns a more accurate view of campaign effectiveness than a single-touch-attribution model. But making the shift requires a change in methodologies, and before you can effectively drive change, it's advisable to demonstrate the benefits of a campaign influence strategy to make a sound business case for the shift. Once you successfully make a business case then you need to start determining where and how in fact you will track weighted campaign influence for your marketing programs.
You can create custom attribution models that fit your business needs, starting with whichever attribution point your company currently uses (first or last touch), and then developing a second model that weights touch-points equally. The latter model won't be 100 percent accurate since not all touchpoints are equally effective in generating revenue, but it does demonstrate how a multi-touch attribution approach works and provides visibility into every campaign touch (albeit without showing their true value). Next you can create the weighted campaign influence model and can then adjust the weight of each touchpoint based on what you know about campaign influence in the real world as well as what your unique business practices tell you. This generates a more accurate view that enables more effective resource allocation.
As marketers deal with rising levels of competition, it becomes increasingly important to find a competitive advantage. Finding one source of truth for your marketing metrics and to track the influence of your campaigns can improve marketing efficiency and increase campaign effectiveness. If you're relying on a single attribution point to track the revenue from your campaigns, now is a good time to rethink that strategy. By doing so, you can more effectively demonstrate marketing value and make better choices on campaign spend in the future.