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What You Need to Know About Marketing Sales Attribution

You want your marketing dollars to work hard for you and your company, and marketing sales attribution can help you do that. Knowing whether something works or does not work should be a top priority for creating a marketing budget and strategic plan. Marketing attribution is a method to determine which marketing efforts are working and which efforts may not be worth the time and expense.

There are two general methods of marketing attribution: single-source and multi-source marketing attribution. Both provide different levels of information, but both can be used to create more effective market efforts.

The Sales Funnel and Marketing Sales Attribution

You have probably heard of the traditional sales funnel, which generally includes the following process.

  • Awareness
  • Interest (Consideration)
  • Decision (Evaluation)
  • Action (Purchase)

Tracking and understanding how consumers move through the sales funnel are vital to an effective marketing plan. Each stage of the sales funnel can be broken out into separate data points in marketing attribution. In some cases, you know when the prospect moves from interest to decision so you can pinpoint exactly what marketing efforts helped make that conversion.

While the sales funnel generally applies to all sales interactions, B2B sales often require a more complex data logic. This is because the B2B sales landscape should review the account as a whole rather than one or two individual decision-makers.

Single-Source Marketing Attribution

Single-source marketing attribution assumes that all the credit of a sale or other action should go to a single touchpoint. It is often the first touch or the last touch, which are usually different.

Technically, first-touch and last-touch models are subsets of single-source marketing attribution. The first-touch model gives “credit” to only the very first touchpoint. The touchpoints that move the lead through the rest of the sales funnel are ignored. That means that the only marketing effort that matters is the one that created awareness or allowed the discovery of your brand.

In the last-touch model, the effort that triggered the action (in the decision/evaluation phase) gets the “credit” for the sale. As a result, the only marketing effort that matters is creating the action rather than building awareness or interest.

It is much easier to track using the last-touch approach, but it may not be the most effective. Instead, seeing how the lead moved through the sales funnel and knowing what marketing triggered each next move might have more value. Of course, when evaluating ad conversion you will focus more on first-touch until you have enough leads completing the entire process to determine how qualified those ad clicks were overall.

Multi-Source Marketing Attribution

Marketing teams can actually pinpoint the efforts that enticed each lead to move through the sales funnel toward the final purchase. Interestingly, it is rarely just one marketing effort that leads to a purchase, particularly online.


In B2B sales, the clients spend 45% of their buying decision time researching on their own before a sale. Comparatively, only 17% of people will meet with a sales rep with the supplier before purchasing. Buyers are taking more control over their own buying journey, especially online platforms, and those numbers are only expected to increase. Research conducted by Gartner found that by 2025, 80% of B2B sales interactions between suppliers and buyers will occur in digital channels.

All of this research concludes that we must acknowledge that the sales funnel begins long before a client finds your website. They are doing a lot of purchasing research beforehand. Understanding the marketing attribution that drives them to your brand at each level in the sales funnel can be invaluable to your marketing efforts.

Marketing Attribution and Optimizing Your Content for ROI

Having an effective marketing attribution model will help your company optimize its marketing efforts to increase ROI. By examining your current model in-depth, you can see what is working and what is not. This information allows you to make adjustments and trim any campaigns that aren’t contributing to sales.

You need to not only look at the analytics provided from marketing platforms (like Facebook, Google ads, or other online tools) but also examine how those analytics correspond with all of your other efforts.

Tracking where a potential customer has been, the timeline of their journey, and which advertising methods are most attractive to them through a multi-source model will help you use your marketing spend more effectively. It is difficult but worth the effort over time. Having source attribution and solid tracking across all platforms will help you increase your ROI and your bottom line.