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What is multi-touch attribution?

Article originally published in July 2023 by Stuart Brameld. Most recent update in February 2024.

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Definition of multi-touch attribution

Multi-touch attribution is a method used by marketers to understand and credit which marketing strategies are driving customer actions. It’s like a map that shows the journey a customer takes from the first time they hear about a product or service, through all the different touchpoints they interact with, until they finally make a purchase. This method helps marketers to identify which marketing channels or campaigns are most effective in influencing customer decisions.

In a simpler term, imagine you’re playing a football match. Multi-touch attribution is like a detailed report that shows who passed the ball, who assisted, and who scored the goal. It doesn’t just credit the person who scored, but recognises everyone who contributed to the goal. This way, marketers can see the full picture of their marketing efforts and make more informed decisions on where to invest their resources.

An example of multi-touch attribution

Here is an example of how it works:

Growth Method, a SaaS company, launches a new project management tool. They use various marketing channels to promote their product.

1. John, a project manager, first hears about the tool on LinkedIn where he sees a sponsored post from Growth Method. He clicks on the post but doesn’t make a purchase.

2. A week later, John receives an email from Growth Method, as he had previously signed up for their newsletter. The email contains information about the new tool. He clicks on the link in the email, browses the website, but still doesn’t make a purchase.

3. The next day, John sees a Google Ad for the same tool while searching for project management solutions. He clicks on the ad, revisits the website, and this time he signs up for a free trial.

4. After using the free trial for a week, John receives a follow-up email from Growth Method offering a discount if he purchases the full version of the tool. He clicks on the link in the email, goes to the website, and makes a purchase.

In this scenario, each touchpoint (LinkedIn post, email newsletter, Google Ad, follow-up email) contributed to John’s final decision to purchase the tool. This is an example of multi-touch attribution, where each marketing channel gets credit for the final conversion.

How does multi-touch attribution work?

Multi-touch attribution works by tracking and assigning value to all the touchpoints a consumer interacts with on their journey to a purchase. This method allows marketers to understand which marketing channels and campaigns are most effective in driving conversions. It involves tracking the customer’s journey from the first point of contact, such as an online ad or email, through various interactions like website visits, social media engagement, and finally to the point of purchase. Each touchpoint is then assigned a certain value or credit based on its contribution to the final conversion. This comprehensive view helps marketers optimize their strategies and allocate their budget more effectively.

Expert opinions and perspectives

Here are how some of the world’s best marketing and growth professionals, and companies, think about multi-touch attribution.

  • Multi-touch attribution is the only way to get a complete picture of how your marketing is performing.” – Chris Goward, founder of ConversionXL
  • “Multi-touch attribution is not just about measuring the last click. It’s about understanding the entire customer journey.” – Amit Ahuja, CEO of Attribution Ninja
  • “Multi-touch attribution is the key to optimizing your marketing budget.” – Diana Smith, marketing director at HubSpot

Questions to ask yourself

As a modern growth marketing or agile marketing professional, ask yourself the following questions with regard to multi-touch attribution:

  1. Am I effectively tracking all customer touchpoints across various channels?
  2. Do I have a clear understanding of the customer journey and how each touchpoint contributes to conversions?
  3. Am I using the right multi-touch attribution model that best suits my business needs and marketing goals?
  4. Am I regularly reviewing and adjusting my multi-touch attribution strategy based on data and insights?
  5. Am I effectively using the insights from multi-touch attribution to optimise my marketing budget and improve ROI?

Here are some related articles and further reading you may find helpful.

Additional reading

Here are some related articles and further reading around multi-touch attribution that you may find helpful.

  1. “Multi-touch attribution: What it is and why it’s important” – Smart Insights
  2. “What is multi-touch attribution? A simple (and illustrated) explanation” – Econsultancy
  3. “The Ultimate Guide to Multi-Touch Attribution” – Marketing Evolution
  4. “The Comprehensive Guide to Multi-Touch Attribution Models” – Bizible
  5. “The Definitive Guide to Attribution and Mix Modelling” – Neil Patel

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