Attribution Models and the Buyer’s Journey – Measuring ROI

The Challenge of B2B Marketing

The volume of marketing data now accessible to marketers and advertisers is nearly limitless. Each time we generate a campaign there are thousands of tools we can tap into to understand the sales cycle and buyer’s journey both online and off.

For companies that focus primarily on a B2B (business to business) target market, the sales cycle is complex and frequently runs for longer durations than businesses focused on a B2C (business to customer) market.

For B2B companies, their consumers require multiple touch points, as well as the approval of key decisions makers within the target organization. This means that B2B companies need to create multiple marketing strategies to reach out and connect their value propositions with a variety of  key roles within the target business.

For example, the CEO may see an article in a national newspaper which draws awareness about your company, but the accountant may come across a helpful white-paper and then a display ad that links through to your website. For this reason, your marketing needs to reach all of the right contacts at exactly the right moment within the buyer’s journey to effectively convert to a sale.

This is why it’s critical that B2B companies capture and track where, when and how conversions occur. For example, did the customer connect because of social media ads or did the customer click on a Google AdWords campaign? Knowing the difference helps to focus our efforts and ad spend.

The 4 Most Common B2B Marketing and Sales Scenarios

  1. Your brand connects with the right person with the right marketing message at exactly the right time.
  2. Your brand markets to a number of individuals within the organization with the right message.
  3. Your brand reaches out to a number of individuals over time with multiple marketing materials and strategies.
  4. Your brand responds to inbound inquiries driven by decision makers using your website, or by reaching out with an email or call.

We know that most brands use a variety of these scenarios, but which scenario is most fruitful? Marketing attribution can help us answer this.

What is Marketing Attribution and Attribution Analysis?

The process known as marketing attribution via marketing attribution models allows us to assign proper credit to the channel, content and source the conversion was driven from. When we can access this information, we gain an understanding of which efforts are paying off and which are draining our time and resources.

The 2 Most Commons Attribution Models, First Touch and Last Touch.

The First Touch model gives 100% of the credit to the marketing effort that drove a visitor to your website for the first time.

Because first touch gives all the credit on the basis of a single touchpoint, it over-emphasizes the value of top-of-the-funnel marketing channels that drive awareness.

The Last Touch model is the easiest model to track and gives 100% of the credit to the marketing channel the visitor connected with immediately before purchasing or converting. Last Touch doesn’t account for the awareness and consideration that may have been driven outside of the immediate attribution window.

First touch and last touch attribution models can work well for campaigns with short sales cycles, but few B2B companies have speedy sales cycles. To really understand the buyer’s journey, we need a better understanding of how our efforts influence our success. When we ignore the touchpoints that occur between first touch and last touch attribution, we can inadvertently over or under-fund the resources that are driving the largest gains.

Multi-Channel or Custom Attribution

To fine tune attribution, B2B companies can assign values to both converting and assisting actions across channels and touchpoints. When we integrate website analytics with CRM account data, we can begin to connect the dots and understand the sequence of events in longer sales cycles. This allows us to optimize our campaigns and budgets for each stage of the customer journey.

An article recently published on identified a series of questions that will help B2B companies to develop their organization’s unique attribution analysis strategy. Armed with the answers to these questions, B2B companies can then analyze the data and make actionable recommendations supported by their conclusions.

Key questions to ask when exploring B2B Marketing Attribution include:

  1. What are my top converting channels by first and last interaction?
  2. Does Paid Search traffic convert immediately or come back through another channel?
  3. Are non-branded campaigns leading to branded conversions later?
  4. What campaigns, if any, are users interacting with before converting through remarketing?
  5. What is the average number of touchpoints prior to conversion?
  6. When blended with marketing costs, is a channel more effective at assisting or converting?
  7. Does leveraging your attribution model scenarios change how you assess certain channels (i.e., are certain channels being undervalued)?


With the volume of data we can capture, brands and organizations should integrate their sales and marketing tools to fully map out the buyer’s journey. With a full model of attribution or a complete attribution model, marketers and advertisers can make better use of their advertising dollars (understand their return-on-investment), in-house production and create an actionable strategy to increase conversions.

If you found this article helpful, or would like to work with a company that help you map out a more accurate buyer’s journey and attribution strategy, contact Full Blast Creative here or call 403-870-3434 now.

About the Author

Crystal DeCnodder

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Crystal DeCnodder is a keynote speaker, social media, and digital marketing expert and is a partner at Full Blast Creative, a creative digital marketing and web design agency in Calgary, Alberta. When Crystal is AFK, she enjoys skateboarding, guitar, travel, and time with family and friends.

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