Multi-Touch Attribution: What Is It and How Do You Set It up in Hubspot?

3 min read
October 2022

A common complaint for marketing departments of all sizes is their struggle to find an accurate way to determine what channels perform best. Whether you’re trying to choose where to focus your attention or how to launch your next offer for maximum impact, you need this data to increase your chances of success.

The thing is B2B marketing and sales are increasingly complex — something we’ve talked about before. According to Gartner, B2B buying teams have six to 10 people involved, often researching and coming to the conversation more educated than ever before.

What’s more, it’s nearly impossible for the average Joe to track exactly where these buyers got the information, whether that is because they started learning about the product before they realized they had a need or because they relied on colleagues or industry leaders to obtain the information — through social, podcasts, YouTube, emails and more.

As a marketer, this means that the onus is on you to figure out the best channels to show up in front of your ideal buyers. Here’s how you can do that.

What is multi-touch attribution?

Traditionally, marketing reporting involves metrics like open rates, conversion rates and cost per click to determine the effectiveness of a campaign. This is known as last-touch attribution. However, this model falls short in capturing everything a user goes through before making a purchase. 

For example, let’s say your B2B buyer heard about you during a podcast episode first. Then, they saw one of their LinkedIn connections comment on your posts. A few weeks later, a colleague forwards them one of your emails. And finally, they come to your website and download a whitepaper. Under the traditional reporting model, you’d see this person as a direct visitor who converted on the first interaction. But that’s entirely inaccurate.

Multi-touch attribution is a way to measure your marketing efforts by taking into account all the touchpoints your buyers engage in and assigning each a score to measure their effectiveness in your strategy.

How to set up a multi-touch attribution model

There are many types of multi-touch attribution models you can choose from:

  • Linear multi-touch attribution: This model establishes an equal value for each time your buyer interacts with you. For example, in the case above, you’d have four touchpoints (the podcast episode, the LinkedIn post, the email, and the website visit), each of them coming in at 25%. This is the simplest model to create, but it falls short in details and may not paint an accurate picture of why your customer converted.
  • Time-decay multi-touch attribution: This model gives more weight to the last touchpoints than the first, arguing that if the first interactions were as valuable, the user would have converted sooner.
  • U-shape multi-touch attribution: This model attributes 40% each to the first and last interactions before conversion, dividing the remaining 20% among all the touchpoints in between. It’s a very simplistic approach as it subtracts value from whatever happened between learning about the product and finally buying it.
  • W-shape multi-touch attribution: This model assigns 30% of the credit to the first touch, the point at which they become a lead, and the conversion. All other touchpoints, like LinkedIn posts or targeted ads, get the remaining 10%.
  • J-shape multi-touch attribution: This model gives 20% of the credit to the first interaction and 60% to the last, dividing the remaining 20% between all the intermediate steps, prioritizing the conversion as the most important step, which is helpful for teams prioritizing conversions over reach.
  • Inverse J-shape multi-touch attribution: This model is the exact opposite of the J-shape, giving 60% of the weight to the first interaction and 20% to the conversion, dividing the remaining 20% equally between all the intermediate steps. In this case, the first point of contact is the one taking the bulk of the credit, which makes sense if you’re trying to increase reach, for example.

Finally, you can create a customized model based on your unique business needs. HubSpot reporting allows you to create multi-touch attribution reports to track the channels that matter to you.

The first step is to determine whether you want to attribute contact creation, deal creation or revenue — or any combination of the three. 

From there, go to the Report tab in your HubSpot account and click Reports > Create custom report > Attribution. The right panel will display the available revenue attribution reports you can use as starting points, or you can start from scratch.

Next, you’ll select the chart type and the attribution model. You can select between First interaction, Last interaction, Linear, U-shaped, W-shaped, Time decay, J-shape, Inverse J-shape, or Full path, which is only available for revenue attribution.

The fourth step is selecting the dimensions, aka the ways you want to assign conversion credits.

And finally, you’ll need to set up your report filters, which allow for proper attribution to your marketing channels, sales reps, and assets.

Multi-touch attribution plays a key role in your reporting

Multi-touch attribution reports add depth and understanding to your data, allowing you to hone in on the most effective platforms to engage with prospects and develop high-impact marketing campaigns.

Using multi-touch attribution as part of your RevOps strategy to transform your organization and get the best out of your marketing dollars. 

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