Data Science, Digital Marketing Strategy,

Beyond Last-Touch Attribution: Understanding the Pros and Cons of Different Models

Terez Tocheva

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Are you struggling to understand which touchpoints in your customer’s journey are driving conversions? You’re not alone. Choosing the right attribution model in SaaS marketing can be overwhelming, especially with the ever-evolving technology and consumer behavior. But with the right strategy and tools, you can unlock the secrets of your customer’s journey and drive ROI for your business.

Considerations for Choosing an Attribution Model

One key consideration when choosing an attribution model is budget and resources. For companies with limited budget or resources, simpler attribution models such as last-touch attribution may be the best fit.

However, it’s important to note that simpler models do have their limitations and may not take into account the entire customer journey, leading to an underestimation of the impact of some touchpoints. More elaborate models like Markov Chain Attribution, require more data and resources to implement and analyze but can provide a more comprehensive view of the customer journey.

Another consideration is the type of business and customer journey. For example, a SaaS business that relies heavily on trial sign-ups may find that a first-touch attribution model is more appropriate. This is because the first touchpoint, such as a website visit or email campaign, may have a greater impact on the conversion than subsequent touchpoints.

Popular Attribution Models and Their Limitations

Here are some of the most popular attribution models:

  • Last-Touch Attribution: This model attributes the conversion to the last touchpoint before the conversion. It is the simplest and most commonly used model.
  • First-Touch Attribution: This model attributes the conversion to the first touchpoint in the customer journey. It is more appropriate for businesses that rely heavily on trial sign-ups.
  • Linear Attribution: This model attributes the conversion to all touchpoints in the customer journey equally. It is useful for businesses with a longer and more complex customer journey.
  • Time-Decay Attribution: This model attributes the conversion based on the time since the touchpoint occurred. The most recent touchpoints receive the most credit while older touchpoints receive less credit.
  • Position-Based Attribution: This model attributes 40% of the conversion credit to the first and last touchpoints, and the remaining 20% is distributed among the other touchpoints.
  • Markov Chain Attribution: This model takes into account the probability of conversion based on previous touchpoints. It requires more data and resources to implement and analyze but provides a more comprehensive view of the customer journey. 
  • Data-Driven Attribution: This model uses machine learning algorithms to analyze large amounts of data and determine the most important touchpoints in the customer journey. It is considered the most elaborate and accurate attribution model, but also requires significant resources to implement and maintain.

The Importance of Complementary Metrics

Beyond attribution models, there are several other ways that companies can evaluate the effectiveness of each separate marketing channel such as:

Measuring channel-specific metrics such as click-through rates, conversion rates, and revenue per visit can provide insight into how well each channel is performing. Isolating channel performance by shutting off specific channels or testing new channels can help identify which channels are driving the most conversions. Customer surveys and A/B testing can provide qualitative data on customer preferences and behavior.

Calculating the ROI of each channel can help determine which channels are providing the most value for the cost. Cohort analysis can show how different customer segments are behaving over time. By understanding the different attribution models and their limitations, as well as the importance of complementary metrics, marketing executives can make informed decisions about how to allocate their marketing budget and resources.

Conclusions and Best Practices

In conclusion, attribution is a crucial aspect of SaaS marketing and should be given the attention it deserves, but it’s important to remember that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. There is no magic bullet. The right attribution model will vary depending on your company’s resources and goals. The ultimate goal is to drive ROI and growth for your business, and the key to achieving that is to have a holistic view of marketing.

Terez Tocheva
Terez Tocheva

Strategic CSM Team Lead

I help my clients achieve better business results by improving the way they think, act and communicate online.

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