Campaign Attribution Models

Before we dive in, let’s cover the basics: what are campaign attribution models and why are they important

Attribution modeling is a way to analyze which marketing channels are accredited with lead conversion. Think of your attribution model as a map of sorts. You have a starting point (the campaign) and a finish (the deal), and it is your attribution model that will reveal how your buyer travelled from point A to point B. By analyzing your “map,” you will have a better idea of each campaigns’ ROI so you can begin making more strategic decisions on which campaigns to push and when. 

Now, that buyer of yours could have taken several turns and interacted with several different campaigns before purchasing your product. So how can you tell which campaign was THE campaign, the one that most influenced the buyer’s purchase? Maybe it was the first campaign that caught the buyer’s attention, maybe it was the last. Heck, it could have been three different campaigns! It is up to you, the marketer, to determine which campaign carries the most weight. 

There are several campaign attribution models, each distributing the value of conversion across the touchpoints differently. Unfortunately, there is no one universal attribution model that works best. It can take some trial and error to determine which attribution model is the right one for your company, and while we can’t give you one magic attribution model in this article, at the very least we can offer a few recommendations based on how you go to market.

B2C Marketing

Individual consumers tend to make emotional decisions. Impulse purchases often play a role in B2C, resulting in a much shorter sales cycle, sometimes only minutes long. B2C marketing needs to reflect this fast-paced sale. B2C marketers often create simple messaging that is easy to digest and positioned in easily accessible places, such as in web banners and emails.

Because consumers will only interact with one or two marketing campaigns before making a purchase, a first-touch or last-touch model works best to gather ROI information.

Recommended Attribution Models for B2C

First-Touch Model: Where 100% of attribution credit goes to the campaign that first caught a lead’s attention. 

The pros? It’s a simple way to measure activity at the top of the funnel and at the individual level, and best for B2C companies with a highly transactional sales cycle.

And the cons? If you want full funnel analysis, this isn’t the model for you. The first-touch model pays attention to just one part of the customer journey and disregards the impact of multiple channels and additional contacts.


Last-Touch Model: 100% of the conversion credit goes to the campaign last presented to a lead. 

The pros? This model is best for companies that only run one or two campaigns at a time. And the cons? Just like the first-touch model, the last-touch model disregards the influence of other marketing channels and the influence of multiple people. Following just a last-touch attribution model could lead you to falsely favor just one advertising platform and this model won’t accurately inform you where you should be placing your marketing spend.


B2B Marketing

There is little to no personal emotion involved when it comes to making a purchasing decision in  B2B. Often times, many players are involved in a purchase, creating a much longer sales cycle than that seen in B2C. To reflect this slower, more deliberate purchasing process, B2B marketers usually create in-depth marketing materials that focus on addressing a business’s need (time saved, resources, ROI, etc.)

The campaign spread in B2B is vast. Marketers must keep pushing new campaigns across multiple channels (AdWords, events, webinars, emails, etc.) to maintain potential buyers interest. A multi-touch model works best in analyzing the ROI of these campaigns. 

Recommended Attribution Models for B2B

Weighted Multi-Touch Model: This model determines the value of each customer touch point and considers each touch a factor in funnel progression. 

The weighted multi-touch model takes into account all marketing campaigns and their influences on conversion over an extended period of time. Though one campaign may not have a strong influence at the top of the funnel, it would be unfair to discard it because it may still help with conversion later on.


But wait! There’s more. There are several weighted multi-touch models, each distributing weight differently across touchpoints. 

Linear: This model distributes the attribution credit across all forms of interactions that progressed a lead through the marketing funnel. This means the revenue credit is spread evenly among touchpoints. 

The pros? This model collects data through every step of the lead conversion process. 

The cons? This is the simplest of multi-touch attribution because it does not give additional weight to marketing touches that have a greater impact.

Time-Decay: This model assumes that the closer an interaction is to opportunity conversion, the more influence it has. This means that more weight is given to the proceeding touch point. 

The pros? A time-decay model puts greater emphasis on down funnel conversion, making it ideal for B2B companies with a sales cycle between 3 to 9 months.

The cons? Top of the funnel efforts will not be considered as valuable as campaigns. 

U-Shaped: A U-shaped model gives around 80% of the total weight to the first and last touch points. The remaining weight is evenly distributed across middle touchpoints. 

The pros? This is the ideal multi-touch model for teams that focus on lead generation because of its emphasis on the anonymous first touch and the lead conversion touch. 

The cons? It doesn’t analyze marketing’s influence after lead conversion. 

W-Shaped: Takes the U-Shaped one step further by adding additional weight to the touch that converted the lead. 90% of the weight goes to those three touches, and the remaining 10% is evenly distributed across the rest. 

The pros? It emphasizes the opportunity creation touch that the U-shape model lacks. 

The cons? Customization is often needed to make sure all activities are accurately reflected in the model.

Full-PathAdds a fourth stage to the W-shaped so you can analyze first touch, lead conversion, opportunity conversion and closed won. In this model, 22.5% of the weight falls on each of these four stages and10% is spread across the remainder. 

The pros? A full-path model provides a more accurate representation of the customer journey and is most appropriate for marketing teams that continue to contact open sales opportunities. The cons? Not the best model for organizations that give full messaging responsibility to their sales teams once they are working an opportunity. 

CustomIf none of the above seem like the right fit for you company, you can always create your own weighted multi-touch model. This is the best option for marketing teams that have a mature operations function.

Whichever model you choose, make sure it’s not the only model used. A webinar, for example, may not appear to have that much of an impact when analyzing the campaign with a first-touch model. When looking at a last-touch model, however you may uncover that the webinar is a highly effective campaign and not one to be scrapped. Compare, contrast, cross-examine. Play with it! It could take some time to figure out which cocktail of models will fit the ticket, but once you have the correct mixture, your team will be able to expertly pinpoint where and when marketing efforts will result in the highest ROI.

Which attribution model are you using? Let us know in the comments below or reach out to us here to learn more about how InsightSquared can help you with your marketing attribution.