A Practical Guide To Multi-touch Attribution


The shopper journey includes a number of interactions between the shopper and the service provider or service supplier.

We name every interplay within the buyer journey a contact level.

In line with Salesforce.com, it takes, on common, six to eight touches to generate a lead within the B2B area.

The variety of touchpoints is even larger for a buyer buy.

Multi-touch attribution is the mechanism to judge every contact level’s contribution towards conversion and offers the suitable credit to each contact level concerned within the buyer journey.

Conducting a multi-touch attribution evaluation may also help entrepreneurs perceive the shopper journey and determine alternatives to additional optimize the conversion paths.

On this article, you’ll study the fundamentals of multi-touch attribution, and the steps of conducting multi-touch attribution evaluation with simply accessible instruments.

What To Contemplate Earlier than Conducting Multi-Contact Attribution Evaluation

Outline The Enterprise Goal

What do you wish to obtain from the multi-touch attribution evaluation?

Do you wish to consider the return on funding (ROI) of a selected advertising and marketing channel, perceive your buyer’s journey, or determine vital pages in your web site for A/B testing?

Totally different enterprise aims might require completely different attribution evaluation approaches.

Defining what you wish to obtain from the start helps you get the outcomes quicker.

Outline Conversion

Conversion is the specified motion you need your prospects to take.

For ecommerce websites, it’s often making a purchase order, outlined by the order completion occasion.

For different industries, it might be an account sign-up or a subscription.

Several types of conversion probably have completely different conversion paths.

If you wish to carry out multi-touch attribution on a number of desired actions, I might advocate separating them into completely different analyses to keep away from confusion.

Outline Contact Level

Contact level might be any interplay between your model and your prospects.

If that is your first time working a multi-touch attribution evaluation, I might advocate defining it as a go to to your web site from a selected advertising and marketing channel. Channel-based attribution is simple to conduct, and it may provide you with an outline of the shopper journey.

If you wish to perceive how your prospects work together along with your web site, I might advocate defining touchpoints primarily based on pageviews in your web site.

If you wish to embrace interactions exterior of the web site, reminiscent of cell app set up, e mail open, or social engagement, you may incorporate these occasions in your contact level definition, so long as you might have the info.

No matter your contact level definition, the attribution mechanism is identical. The extra granular the contact factors are outlined, the extra detailed the attribution evaluation is.

On this information, we’ll concentrate on channel-based and pageview-based attribution.

You’ll find out about the way to use Google Analytics and one other open-source device to conduct these attribution analyses.

An Introduction To Multi-Contact Attribution Fashions

The methods of crediting contact factors for his or her contributions to conversion are known as attribution fashions.

The only attribution mannequin is to offer all of the credit score to both the primary contact level, for bringing within the buyer initially, or the final contact level, for driving the conversion.

These two fashions are known as the first-touch attribution mannequin and the last-touch attribution mannequin, respectively.

Clearly, neither the first-touch nor the last-touch attribution mannequin is “honest” to the remainder of the contact factors.

Then, how about allocating credit score evenly throughout all contact factors concerned in changing a buyer? That sounds affordable – and that is precisely how the linear attribution mannequin works.

Nonetheless, allocating credit score evenly throughout all contact factors assumes the contact factors are equally necessary, which doesn’t appear “honest”, both.

Some argue the contact factors close to the tip of the conversion paths are extra necessary, whereas others are in favor of the other. Consequently, we’ve the position-based attribution mannequin that enables entrepreneurs to offer completely different weights to touchpoints primarily based on their areas within the conversion paths.

All of the fashions talked about above are underneath the class of heuristic, or rule-based, attribution fashions.

Along with heuristic fashions, we’ve one other mannequin class known as data-driven attribution, which is now the default mannequin utilized in Google Analytics.

What Is Information-Pushed Attribution?

How is data-driven attribution completely different from the heuristic attribution fashions?

Listed below are some highlights of the variations:

  • In a heuristic mannequin, the rule of attribution is predetermined. No matter first-touch, last-touch, linear, or position-based mannequin, the attribution guidelines are set upfront after which utilized to the info. In a data-driven attribution mannequin, the attribution rule is created primarily based on historic knowledge, and due to this fact, it’s distinctive for every situation.
  • A heuristic mannequin appears at solely the paths that result in a conversion and ignores the non-converting paths. A knowledge-driven mannequin makes use of knowledge from each changing and non-converting paths.
  • A heuristic mannequin attributes conversions to a channel primarily based on what number of touches a contact level has with respect to the attribution guidelines. In a data-driven mannequin, the attribution is made primarily based on the impact of the touches of every contact level.

How To Consider The Impact Of A Contact Level

A typical algorithm utilized by data-driven attribution is known as Markov Chain. On the coronary heart of the Markov Chain algorithm is an idea known as the Elimination Impact.

The Elimination Impact, because the identify suggests, is the affect on conversion price when a contact level is faraway from the pathing knowledge.

This text is not going to go into the mathematical particulars of the Markov Chain algorithm.

Under is an instance illustrating how the algorithm attributes conversion to every contact level.

The Elimination Impact

Assuming we’ve a situation the place there are 100 conversions from 1,000 guests coming to an internet site by way of 3 channels, Channel A, B, & C. On this case, the conversion price is 10%.

Intuitively, if a sure channel is faraway from the conversion paths, these paths involving that individual channel shall be “minimize off” and finish with fewer conversions general.

If the conversion price is lowered to five%, 2%, and 1% when Channels A, B, & C are faraway from the info, respectively, we will calculate the Elimination Impact as the share lower of the conversion price when a selected channel is eliminated utilizing the system:

Markov Chain Removel Effect FormulaPicture from creator, November 2022

Then, the final step is attributing conversions to every channel primarily based on the share of the Elimination Impact of every channel. Right here is the attribution consequence:

Channel Elimination Impact Share of Elimination Impact Attributed Conversions
A 1 – (5% / 10%) = 0.5 0.5 / (0.5 + 0.8 + 0.9) = 0.23 100 * 0.23 = 23
B 1 – (2% / 10%) = 0.8 0.8 / (0.5 + 0.8 + 0.9) = 0.36 100 * 0.36 = 36
C 1 – (1% / 10%) = 0.9 0.9 / (0.5 + 0.8 + 0.9) = 0.41 100 * 0.41 = 41

In a nutshell, data-driven attribution doesn’t depend on the quantity or place of the contact factors however on the affect of these contact factors on conversion as the idea of attribution.

Multi-Contact Attribution With Google Analytics

Sufficient of theories, let’s take a look at how we will use the ever present Google Analytics to conduct multi-touch attribution evaluation.

As Google will cease supporting Common Analytics (UA) from July 2023, this tutorial shall be primarily based on Google Analytics 4 (GA4) and we’ll use Google’s Merchandise Retailer demo account for instance.

In GA4, the attribution stories are underneath Promoting Snapshot as proven under on the left navigation menu.

After touchdown on the Promoting Snapshot web page, step one is choosing an acceptable conversion occasion.

GA4, by default, consists of all conversion occasions for its attribution stories.

To keep away from confusion, I extremely advocate you decide just one conversion occasion (“buy” within the under instance) for the evaluation.

advertising snapshot GA4Screenshot from GA4, November 2022


Perceive The Conversion Paths In GA4

Below the Attribution part on the left navigation bar, you may open the Conversion Paths report.

Scroll all the way down to the conversion path desk, which reveals all of the paths resulting in conversion.

On the prime of this desk, you could find the typical variety of days and variety of contact factors that result in conversions.

GA4 touchpoints to conversionScreenshot from GA4, November 2022 


On this instance, you may see that Google prospects take, on common, virtually 9 days and 6 visits earlier than making a purchase order on its Merchandise Retailer.

Discover Every Channel’s Contribution In GA4

Subsequent, click on the All Channels report underneath the Efficiency part on the left navigation bar.

On this report, you could find the attributed conversions for every channel of your chosen conversion occasion – “buy”, on this case.

All channels report GA4Screenshot from GA4, November 2022


Now, you understand Natural Search, along with Direct and E mail, drove a lot of the purchases on Google’s Merchandise Retailer.

Look at Outcomes From Totally different Attribution Fashions In GA4

By default, GA4 makes use of the data-driven attribution mannequin to find out what number of credit every channel receives. Nonetheless, you may look at how completely different attribution fashions assign credit for every channel.

Click on Mannequin Comparability underneath the Attribution part on the left navigation bar.

For instance, evaluating the data-driven attribution mannequin with the primary contact attribution mannequin (aka “first click on mannequin” within the under determine), you may see extra conversions are attributed to Natural Search underneath the primary click on mannequin (735) than the data-driven mannequin (646.80).

However, E mail has extra attributed conversions underneath the data-driven attribution mannequin (727.82) than the primary click on mannequin (552).

Attribution models for channel grouping GA4Screenshot from GA4, November 2022


The info tells us that Natural Search performs an necessary function in bringing potential prospects to the shop, but it surely wants assist from different channels to transform guests (i.e., for purchasers to make precise purchases).

However, E mail, by nature, interacts with guests who’ve visited the location earlier than and helps to transform returning guests who initially got here to the location from different channels.

Which Attribution Mannequin Is The Finest?

A typical query, in the case of attribution mannequin comparability, is which attribution mannequin is one of the best. I’d argue that is the fallacious query for entrepreneurs to ask.

The reality is that nobody mannequin is totally higher than the others as every mannequin illustrates one side of the shopper journey. Entrepreneurs ought to embrace a number of fashions as they see match.

From Channel-Primarily based To Pageview-Primarily based Attribution

Google Analytics is simple to make use of, but it surely works effectively for channel-based attribution.

If you wish to additional perceive how prospects navigate by means of your web site earlier than changing, and what pages affect their selections, it is advisable to conduct attribution evaluation on pageviews.

Whereas Google Analytics doesn’t help pageview-based attribution, there are different instruments you should use.

We lately carried out such a pageview-based attribution evaluation on AdRoll’s web site and I’d be glad to share with you the steps we went by means of and what we discovered.

Collect Pageview Sequence Information

The primary and most difficult step is gathering knowledge on the sequence of pageviews for every customer in your web site.

Most net analytics techniques document this knowledge in some kind. In case your analytics system doesn’t present a approach to extract the info from the person interface, it’s possible you’ll want to drag the info from the system’s database.

Much like the steps we went by means of on GA4, step one is defining the conversion. With pageview-based attribution evaluation, you additionally have to determine the pages which might be a part of the conversion course of.

For instance, for an ecommerce website with on-line buy because the conversion occasion, the buying cart web page, the billing web page, and the order affirmation web page are a part of the conversion course of, as each conversion goes by means of these pages.

It’s best to exclude these pages from the pageview knowledge because you don’t want an attribution evaluation to inform you these pages are necessary for changing your prospects.

The aim of this evaluation is to know what pages your potential prospects visited previous to the conversion occasion and the way they influenced the shoppers’ selections.

Put together Your Information For Attribution Evaluation

As soon as the info is prepared, the subsequent step is to summarize and manipulate your knowledge into the next four-column format. Right here is an instance.

data manipulation: 4-column formatScreenshot from creator, November 2022


The Path column reveals all of the pageview sequences. You should utilize any distinctive web page identifier, however I’d advocate utilizing the url or web page path as a result of it lets you analyze the consequence by web page sorts utilizing the url construction.  “>” is a separator utilized in between pages.

The Total_Conversions column reveals the whole variety of conversions a selected pageview path led to.

The Total_Conversion_Value column reveals the whole financial worth of the conversions from a selected pageview path. This column is non-obligatory and is usually relevant to ecommerce websites.

The Total_Null column reveals the whole variety of instances a selected pageview path didn’t convert.

Construct Your Web page-Stage Attribution Fashions

To construct the attribution fashions, we leverage the open-source library known as ChannelAttribution.

Whereas this library was initially created to be used in R and Python programming languages, the authors now present a free Net app for it, so we will use this library with out writing any code.

Upon signing into the Net app, you may add your knowledge and begin constructing the fashions.

For first-time customers, I’d advocate clicking the Load Demo Information button for a trial run. Remember to look at the parameter configuration with the demo knowledge.

Load Demo Data buttonScreenshot from creator, November 2022

Once you’re prepared, click on the Run button to create the fashions.

As soon as the fashions are created, you’ll be directed to the Output tab, which shows the attribution outcomes from 4 completely different attribution fashions – first-touch, last-touch, linear, and data-drive (Markov Chain).

Keep in mind to obtain the consequence knowledge for additional evaluation.

On your reference, whereas this device is known as ChannelAttribution, it’s not restricted to channel-specific knowledge.

Because the attribution modeling mechanism is agnostic to the kind of knowledge given to it, it’d attribute conversions to channels if channel-specific knowledge is supplied, and to net pages if pageview knowledge is supplied.

Analyze Your Attribution Information

Manage Pages Into Web page Teams

Relying on the variety of pages in your web site, it might make extra sense to first analyze your attribution knowledge by web page teams quite than particular person pages.

A web page group can include as few as only one web page to as many pages as you need, so long as it is sensible to you.

Taking AdRoll’s web site for instance, we’ve a Homepage group that accommodates simply the homepage and a Weblog group that accommodates all of our weblog posts.

For ecommerce websites, it’s possible you’ll take into account grouping your pages by product classes as effectively.

Beginning with web page teams as a substitute of particular person pages permits entrepreneurs to have an outline of the attribution outcomes throughout completely different components of the web site. You’ll be able to all the time drill down from the web page group to particular person pages when wanted.

Establish The Entries And Exits Of The Conversion Paths

In spite of everything the info preparation and mannequin constructing, let’s get to the enjoyable half – the evaluation.

I’d recommend first figuring out the pages that your potential prospects enter your web site and the pages that direct them to transform by inspecting the patterns of the first-touch and last-touch attribution fashions.

Pages with significantly excessive first-touch and last-touch attribution values are the beginning factors and endpoints, respectively, of the conversion paths. These are what I name gateway pages.

Be sure that these pages are optimized for conversion.

Remember that any such gateway web page might not have very excessive site visitors quantity.

For instance, as a SaaS platform, AdRoll’s pricing web page doesn’t have excessive site visitors quantity in comparison with another pages on the web site but it surely’s the web page many guests visited earlier than changing.

Discover Different Pages With Robust Affect On Prospects’ Selections

After the gateway pages,  the subsequent step is to seek out out what different pages have a excessive affect in your prospects’ selections.

For this evaluation, we search for non-gateway pages with excessive attribution worth underneath the Markov Chain fashions.

Taking the group of product characteristic pages on AdRoll.com for instance, the sample of their attribution worth throughout the 4 fashions (proven under) reveals they’ve the very best attribution worth underneath the Markov Chain mannequin, adopted by the linear mannequin.

This is a sign that they’re visited in the midst of the conversion paths and performed an necessary function in influencing prospects’ selections.

4 attribution models bar chartPicture from creator, November 2022


Most of these pages are additionally prime candidates for conversion price optimization (CRO).

Making them simpler to be found by your web site guests and their content material extra convincing would assist raise your conversion price.

To Recap

Multi-touch attribution permits an organization to know the contribution of varied advertising and marketing channels and determine alternatives to additional optimize the conversion paths.

Begin merely with Google Analytics for channel-based attribution. Then, dig deeper right into a buyer’s pathway to conversion with pageview-based attribution.

Don’t fear about choosing one of the best attribution mannequin.

Leverage a number of attribution fashions, as every attribution mannequin reveals completely different features of the shopper journey.

Extra assets: 

Featured Picture: Black Salmon/Shutterstock


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