From Clicks to Conversions: Understanding Multi Touch Attribution Definition Models 

February 8, 2024
Tasha Wise
Marketing Attribution
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February 8, 2024
Tasha Wise
Marketing Attribution

Multi-touch attribution models are methods used in marketing to track the various touchpoints a consumer interacts with before they make a purchase. Multi-touch models allow businesses to properly assign credit to each marketing effort, such as email campaigns, social media ads, or search engine advertisements that contribute to a conversion or sale, by considering the impact of the first and last-touch attribution.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the world of multi-touch attribution models, their benefits, and how to implement them. Whether you’re new to the concept or looking to refine your existing attribution strategy, this article will provide you with all the insights you need.

Breaking Down Multi Touch Attribution Definition

multi-channel marketing

Multi-touch attribution is a crucial concept in marketing analytics that seeks to provide a more accurate understanding of how various touchpoints contribute to customer conversions. In today’s multi-channel marketing landscape, customers interact with numerous touchpoints before making a purchase or completing a desired action.

Therefore, marketers need to have a holistic view of the customer journey. Multi-touch attribution models enable marketers to assign credit to every touchpoint along the customer journey, moving away from the limitations of single-touch attribution models, such as first-touch or last-touch attribution.

Definition of Multi-Touch Attribution

Multi-touch attribution involves the analysis of the customer journey, considering every touchpoint that a customer interacts with before a conversion event occurs. It aims to understand the impact of each marketing touchpoint and the role it plays in influencing the customer’s decision-making process.

By providing a comprehensive view of the customer journey, multi-touch attribution allows marketers to gain insights into the effectiveness of different marketing channels and the overall marketing mix.  This approach assigns credit or value to each touchpoint based on its influence on the final conversion or purchase.

Multi-touch attribution models can include linear, time decay, U-shaped, and other strategies to measure and distribute credit across multiple touchpoints. This enables organizations to optimize their marketing efforts, budget planning, and customer acquisition strategies.

Importance of Multi-Touch Attribution

The importance of multi-touch attribution lies in its ability to offer a more accurate and nuanced understanding of the customer’s path to conversion. In contrast to the restrictive nature of single-touch attribution models, multi-touch attribution recognizes the contributions of various marketing touchpoints, giving marketers a clearer picture of the customer journey. This understanding is vital for optimizing marketing strategies and allocating resources effectively across different touchpoints and marketing campaigns.

  1. Enhanced Marketing Strategy: By using marketing attribution to gain a granular view of the customer journey and acknowledging the role of different channels, companies can design and execute marketing campaigns more effectively while understanding the importance of first and last-touch attribution. They can identify which channels are performing well and which need improvement.
  2. Resource Allocation: Multi-touch attribution helps in allocating resources more effectively. It helps identify, which channels are contributing more to the sales funnel, and hence, more investment can be pushed towards them. Conversely, channels that are not contributing significantly can be re-evaluated for their relevance and efficiency.
  3. Customer Understanding: It also helps in understanding customer behavior and preferences more effectively. For instance, marketers can gather insights about which type of content is preferred by their target audience, the combination of touch points that leads to the highest conversion, the typical journey of a customer before conversion, etc.
  4. Better ROI: With more accurate attribution, businesses can potentially increase their return on investment (ROI). By identifying and investing in the right channels, brands can drive more conversions and generate better results from their marketing efforts.
  5. Informed Decision Making: Data from multi-touch attribution models can also facilitate more informed decision-making. Marketers can use insights from the data to optimize current campaigns and strategize future marketing efforts, using multi-touch attribution also.
  6. Customer Retention: Understanding the importance of various touchpoints in the customer journey can also help businesses improve their customer retention strategy. They can identify the stages or touchpoints where customers are dropping off and take necessary actions to minimize churn.

Benefits of Multi-Touch Attribution

Implementing multi-touch attribution provides several benefits for marketers. It allows for a more comprehensive analysis of marketing efforts, enables the identification of high-performing touchpoints, and facilitates a more informed allocation of marketing budgets.  Additionally, multi-touch attribution supports a deeper understanding of consumer behavior and provides insights to optimize marketing strategies for improved performance across the customer journey.

  • More accurate representation of the customer journey can be achieved with the use of multi-touch models: Single-touch attribution models only provide limited insights, focusing on the first or the last interaction a customer had with your brand. Multi-touch attribution, on the other hand, considers the entirety of the customer journey, giving a more holistic view.
  • Better forecasting: With a comprehensive view of customer interactions, you can anticipate future behavior more accurately. This can help streamline marketing efforts and make better predictions about future campaign performance.
  • More comprehensive performance data, using MTA: Multi-touch attribution accounts for all touchpoints along the customer journey, providing a more comprehensive view of campaign performance. This leads to more informed decision-making and the ability to refine and optimize marketing strategies.
  • Personalized strategies: The in-depth insight provided by multi-touch attribution allows for the creation of more personalized marketing strategies. By understanding the most effective touchpoints for individual customers, businesses can create personalized campaigns that resonate more effectively.
  • Boosted Revenue: By optimizing marketing initiatives based on data-driven insights, businesses can boost their revenue and, ultimately, enhance their bottom line.
  • Eliminate inefficiencies in marketing attribution: By attributing value to all the marketing touchpoints in the customer journey, you can easily identify which ones are underperforming and eliminate them, thereby increasing efficiency.
  • Higher customer engagement: Understanding what works best for your customers means you can use those methods more often, leading to increased customer engagement and ultimately, customer loyalty.

What are examples of multi-touch attribution?

digital models

There are several types of multi-touch attribution models, including the last touchpoint model, the first and last-touch attribution, and the u-shaped model.

  1. Equal Weighting: This assigns equal credit to every interaction along the customer journey.
  2. Time Decay: This weighs touchpoints closer to the conversion more heavily than earlier interactions. Based on the logic, the final few touchpoints were more influential in persuading the customer to convert.
  3. Linear: This assigns equal credit to every single interaction throughout the entire customer journey. It considers that each interaction played an equally important role in the final conversion.
  4. U-Shaped: This distributes more credit to the first and last interaction, with the rest evenly split among the middle interactions.
  5. W-shaped: Similar to U-shaped, but it also assigns significant credit to the middle interaction that makes the lead a qualified potential customer.
  6. Position-Based: This assigns specific amounts of credit to the first and last interactions, with the remainder distributed evenly across the other touchpoints.

By implementing a multi-touch attribution model, businesses can gain a better understanding of which marketing efforts are most successful, allowing them to optimize their marketing strategy.

The Difference Between Multi-Touch Attribution vs. First-Touch vs. Last-Touch Models

attribution models

When it comes to attribution models, multi-touch attribution models stand apart from single-touch attribution models like first-touch or last-touch attribution.

First-touch attribution would conclude that the blog post that the customer read gets the credit for their conversion whereas last-touch attribution would give the credit to the social media post they interacted with. This simplistic approach overlooks the impact of subsequent touchpoints in the customer journey.

On the other hand, last-touch attribution gives full credit exclusively to the touchpoint immediately preceding the conversion event. This model disregards earlier interactions that may have played a pivotal role in nurturing the customer’s decision-making process.

In contrast, multi-touch attribution takes into account every touchpoint encountered by the customer. They provide a more comprehensive understanding of the customer journey, considering the diverse interactions that contribute to conversions. By analyzing the complete customer journey, marketers gain valuable insights into the effectiveness of each touchpoint and its role in driving conversions.

While each attribution model has its merits, marketers need to recognize their limitations and select the model that aligns best with their specific business objectives and marketing strategies. If the goal is to gain a balanced and detailed comprehension of the entire customer journey, a multi-touch attribution model is typically the most suitable choice.

In a multi-touch attribution model, marketers can leverage features such as different attribution methods, the time decay model, and the use of fractional attribution. These models provide a comprehensive understanding of how each touchpoint contributes to the conversion process. Additionally, full path attribution modeling provides a holistic view of the customer journey, enabling marketers to assess the impact of marketing efforts across multiple channels or campaigns.

It is worth noting that the terms “attribution models” and “multi-touch attribution” are often used interchangeably in the marketing world. This indicates the unique nature of multi-touch attribution and its ability to provide valuable insights that other models may overlook. By embracing the complexity of the customer journey and considering different multi-touch attribution models, marketers can accurately assess the influence of every touchpoint, leading to more informed decision-making and ultimately driving better results.

Implementing Multi-Touch Attribution

implementing multi-touch

Implementing multi-touch attribution involves a series of steps to ensure a comprehensive and accurate understanding of the customer journey. It requires the selection of an appropriate attribution model like the multi-touch attribution, the gathering of data from various touchpoints such as the first and last touchpoints, and the integration of marketing efforts for a cohesive analysis.

Steps to Implement Multi-Touch Attribution

Step 1: Choose an Attribution Model like the first-touch and last-touch attribution or the u-shaped attribution model in multi-touch attribution. 

The first step involves deciding which attribution model to implement. The model should align with your business goals and suit the nature of your marketing activities. Different models will allocate credit for sales and conversions differently across consumer touchpoints. Linear, time decay, U-shaped, and W-shaped are all examples of multi-touch attribution models.

Step 2: Data Collection 

Once you’ve determined the most suitable model, the next step is to collect and integrate data from every marketing touchpoint. This might include online and offline channels, such as email marketing, social media, TV and radio ads, and more. The data may also involve customer behaviors, actions, interactions, and experiences. This comprehensive data collection is crucial for accurate attribution analysis.

Step 3: Data Integration

After gathering the necessary data, you must integrate the data to create a single customer view. This involves consolidating data from various sources and ensuring it is standardized and cleaned, ready for analysis. This step helps create a complete picture of the customer journey.

Step 4: Implement Multi-Touch Attribution

Now it’s time to implement the multi-touch attribution model chosen in the first step. In this stage, credit for sales or conversions are distributed across the customer touchpoints by your chosen model (linear, time decay, etc). This enables you to understand the role and effectiveness of each touchpoint in the customer journey.

Step 5: Integration with Marketing Mix Modeling

The final step is to integrate multi-touch attribution with your marketing mix modeling. This will provide a holistic view of your marketing efforts, allowing you to optimize your marketing strategy and spend efficiently. By quantifying the impact of different marketing channels and activities in multi-touch attribution, you can make informed decisions about resource allocation and strategizing.

Implementing multi-touch attribution is not an easy task, it involves leveraging technology, analytical skills, and a deep understanding of your customer journeys. But taking the time to implement it correctly can offer a better understanding of which of your marketing efforts are working best, and which need improvement.

Challenges and Solutions

While implementing multi-touch attribution, organizations may encounter challenges related to data collection, integration, and the complexity of the customer journey. Ensuring data accuracy and consistency across different touchpoints can be a significant challenge.

Additionally, reconciling conflicting insights from various attribution models and effectively integrating multi-touch attribution with marketing mix modeling may pose challenges. To address these challenges, organizations can invest in advanced analytics tools, data integration platforms, and specialized expertise to streamline the implementation process and derive accurate insights from multi-touch attribution.

Integration with Marketing Mix Modeling

Integrating multi-touch attribution with marketing mix modeling is essential for a comprehensive understanding of marketing effectiveness. By combining these two approaches, marketers can assess the impact of individual marketing touchpoints as well as the overall contribution of different marketing channels to the organization’s performance. This integration enables organizations to optimize their marketing strategies, allocate resources effectively, and make data-driven decisions to enhance their overall marketing effectiveness.

Analyzing Multi-Touch Attribution Models

conducting attribution analysis

Conducting Attribution Analysis

When conducting attribution analysis, marketers delve into the intricacies of the customer journey, meticulously examining each touchpoint and its impact on the conversion process. This involves tracking and analyzing the various interactions that customers have with the brand across different channels, enabling a comprehensive understanding of the customer’s path to conversion. By conducting attribution analysis, marketers gain valuable insights into the effectiveness of their marketing efforts and the specific touchpoints that contribute significantly to driving conversions.

Choosing the Best Model for Your Business

When choosing the best attribution model for a business, several factors come into play. These include the complexity of the customer journey which the multi-touch attribution is unique in representing, the nature of the marketing activities, and the specific goals of the organization.

Marketers need to consider whether a pre-defined model such as linear, time decay, U-shaped, or W-shaped model aligns with their needs, or if a custom model is necessary to accurately reflect the customer journey and assign credit to the most influential touchpoints. Making an informed decision about the best model for the business is vital to obtaining accurate and actionable insights from multi-touch attribution.

Remember, the goal of an attribution model is to help you understand which marketing activities are driving conversions and delivering the best return on investment. The best model for your business will be the one that answers these questions most accurately for your specific circumstances.


Understanding and leveraging Multi-Touch Attribution models can undoubtedly give a holistic view of the customer journey and guide more informed marketing strategies. But it also requires a significant investment in terms of technology, resources, and a solid understanding of its functionalities and limitations.  It is not a one-size-fits-all solution and needs to be customized depending on the nature of the business and the objectives of the marketing campaigns.

Still, with proper implementation and continuous optimization, Multi-Touch Attribution can be a powerful tool to gain deeper insights into customer behavior and measure the effectiveness of various marketing channels accurately. Overall, it offers businesses a more comprehensive perspective and the ability to allocate their marketing budget in a way that maximizes returns.

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