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Multi-Touch Attribution: Definition, Model Types, Example & More

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In the ever-evolving landscape of digital marketing, understanding the journey your customers take before making a purchase is crucial. This will allow businesses to allocate their marketing resources effectively and optimize their return on investment (ROI). Fortunately, Multi-Touch Attribution is here to provide a comprehensive view of a business’ marketing efforts throughout the customer journey online. In this blog, we’ll dive deeper into the topic of Multi-Touch Attribution. 

So, What is Multi-Touch Attribution?

Multi-touch attribution, essentially speaking, is a digital marketing strategy that takes into account all the touchpoints along the customer journey. It also gives credit to each of those interactions based on the influence they have on the final conversion. 

To better understand this concept, let’s look at a multi touch attribution example. A customer intended to buy a new pair of headphones. After looking around the internet, he saw an Instagram ad for Sony headphones and clicked on it. Having not made a decision to buy, he then was retargeted by an ad on Facebook. The customer proceeded to click on the link to the landing page. Once there, he went to the review section of the headphone product page and scanned the page. In the end, he finally decided to purchase after reading a 5 star review. 

In this case, the multi-touch attribution model will take into account all of these interactions. This unlike the first-click attribution model, in which the first Instagram ad will get full credit for conversion. Or the last-click attribution model, where the 5 star customer review will get the credit. 

Why Is Multi-Touch Attribution Important? 

Throughout the customer journey, customers will experience several points of contact with a business. Due to this, brands need to know the most efficient parts in order to optimize them and increase conversion.  

However, analyzing all that data is no easy task. In this case, a multi-touch attribution model will act as a framework to break down the data and turn them into actionable insights. There are a few more reasons why multi-touch attribution is absolutely necessary, including: 

An example of a multi-touch attribution model

Identify Important Touchpoints

Besides making sure that every touch point is included by analyzing the entire journey, Multi-Touch Attribution can also help identify which touchpoints are most effective. It can also provide a clear sight of the customers’ journey, from the initial awareness stage to conversion. Another thing is Multi-Touch Attribution will be able to tell you the strengths and weaknesses of each channel, and which channel is best for each specific goal. 

Allocate Resources Wisely

After having identified the most influential touchpoints, Multi-Touch Attribution can help businesses allocate and optimize their budget more effectively. This means that resources will be diverted to the most powerful touchpoints. And as a result, optimize your return on investment (ROI). 

Optimize Marketing Campaigns

With ample data on the touchpoints that generate the most conversions, businesses can adjust their marketing campaigns accordingly to emphasize these high-impact channels. For example, you can create more targeted and personalized marketing campaigns, or tailor your key message to better fit the potential customer. 

Improve Customer Experience 

Multi-Touch Attribution provides valuable insights into the customer’s perspective, which will help businesses tailor their marketing campaigns to meet the customers’ needs and expectations. Not to mention, this can encourage businesses to deliver more relevant content based on the customer’s journey. This will result in a smoother and more personalized experience. And once a customer feels understood and is happy with their experience, they will become more likely to spread a good word about your brands. 

Types of Multi-Touch Attribution Models

There are various types of Multi-Touch Attribution Models, catering to different business needs and customer journey complexities. As a result, understanding each type is essential to select the most suitable model for your business. Let’s dive deeper into the many types of multi-touch attribution models. 

Linear Attribution

Linear Attribution Model

What it is

In the linear attribution model, credit is evenly distributed among all the touchpoints encountered by the customer throughout their journey. In this case, businesses can have a balanced view of the entire funnel.

When to use

This type of attribution model is ideal when you want to give equal importance to all interactions in the customer journey. It’s valuable for understanding the overall impact of your marketing mix.


A customer intends to get a new pair of headphones, goes online to look at his options. He stumbles upon a blog post comparing different brands of headphones by brand A. After reading that blog post, he then sees brand A’s headphones ad on Facebook. Intrigued, he goes on brand A’s website and signs up a new account to receive email marketing. He finally decides to purchase brand A’s headphones after receiving a 10% promotional discount via email. 

Applying the linear multi-touch attribution model, all 4 touchpoints including blog post, targeted ad, account sign up and promo email will get equal credit (25%) for the final purchase. 

Time Decay Attribution

Time decay attribution framework

What it is 

Along the customer journey, there are various touchpoints that a customer encounters. However, as time goes on, the influence of the earlier touchpoint might gradually wear off. Due to this notion, the Time Decay Attribution model allocates more credit to the touchpoints closer to the conversion stage and less to those at the beginning of the customer journey. 

When to use

This model is suitable when you want to account for the changing significance of touchpoints as the customers progress through their journey.


Here, we are going to use the same example from linear multi-touch attribution. With the time decay multi-touch attribution model, the earlier touchpoints such as blog posts and targeted ads will get less credit (5% and 20%), while the touchpoints closer to conversion, such as account sign-up and promo email will get more credit (25% and 50%). In this case, we can assume that the 10% discount promotional email is the main driver of brand A’s headphones sales. 

U-Shaped (Position-based) Attribution

U shaped credit distribution method

What it is

The U-shaped attribution model (also known as position-based) allocates credit to both the first and last touchpoints, with the remaining credit evenly distributed among the interactions in the middle. This model emphasizes the importance of both awareness and closing stages of the customer journey. 

When to use

This model is particularly useful in cases where your business wants to recognize the significance of both initial customer engagement and the conversion-generated interactions. 


We’re still looking at the same example of brand A’s headphones marketing activities. When we apply the U-shaped attribution model, the first and last touch points, a.k.a the blog post and promo email, will get the most credit (40%). The remaining 20% of credit will be equally divided between targeted ad and account sign up. In this case, we can assume that the main drivers of headphones sales are the headphones comparison blog post and 10% discount promotional email. 

W-shaped Attribution Model 

w shaped credit allocation method

What it is 

The W-shaped attribution model assigns credit to the the first, middle, and last touchpoint of the customer journey. Similar to the U-shaped attribution model, this model also places the majority of credit on the initial and last interactions. The main difference is it will also stress the importance of the lead creation point (where a customer becomes serious about buying your product by signing up an account or leaving their email address). 

When to use

This model would be most suitable for businesses with a complex, but clear customer journey, which makes it easy to identify lead creation points. 


Still the same example as brand A’s headphones, but here, there is an extra step to the buying process. Since it’s a hot item, the headphones are running low in stock, and customers must register on a shortlist to pre-order the item. Once the headphones are available, registered customers will receive the 10% discount promo email to motivate purchase. 

When applying the W-shaped attribution model, the first, middle, and last touch points, a.k.a the blog post, account sign-up, and promo email will be given the most credit (33%). The rest of the interactions, including targeted ads and shortlist register, will almost not be considered (1% of credit). Here, we can assume that the main drivers of headphone sales are the initial blog post, account sign-up, and discount offer promo email. 

Full path Attribution Model 

full path attribution framework

What it is

Similar to the W-shaped model, with the main difference being this model taking 4 touchpoints instead of 3 into account. Full path Attribution Model attributes the most credit to the first, lead creation and opportunity creation touchpoints. 

When to use

Since this model takes into consideration the initial customer interactions, the last closing stage, the moment the customer becomes serious about buying, as well as when they are ready to buy, it is usually applied for businesses with a long, complicated customer journey and a high level of customer consideration, such as the automobile or real estate industry. 


In this case, brand A has added another step to its marketing strategy. After sending the customer the 10% discount offer promo email, brand A continues to make a sales call directly to the customer to seal the deal. 

Applying the full path attribution model, the majority of credit will go to the first touchpoints (blog post), lead creation (register shortlist), opportunity creation (promo email), and the last closing stage (sales call) at 22.5% each. The remaining 10% will be equally divided between website visits and targeted ads, which both do not directly create a lead or sale. 

Custom Multi-touch Attribution Model 

custom credit distribution model

What it is 

True to its name, a Custom Multi-Touch Attribution can be customized to fit your business’ specific needs. You can assign credit to whichever touchpoints are based on your data and insights. 

When to use

This model may be the best fit for businesses with complicated customer journeys, while also having sufficient data and resources to determine which touchpoints hold the most significance.


Brand A comes out with a new line of headphones, each with a unique design targeted at different groups of teenagers. In order to announce the release of this new collection, brand A has launched several social media posts. They have also included several CTA to increase website product page visits. 

In this case, we should adopt a different approach to data analysis to get more accurate results, so a custom attribution model is the answer. The majority of credit will be given to website product page visits, social media posts, and promotional emails, followed by account sign-up. 

Single-Touch Attribution Vs. Multi-Touch Attribution 

As you can tell, Multi-Touch Attribution Models can give you a full description of the customer journey. However, there is another approach – the single-touch attribution model. These models generally will emphasize one main touchpoint, either the first or last, and attribute the entire credit to said point. 

And while single-touch attribution models lack insights about the customer journey as a whole, some businesses still utilize them, as they are easier to implement and particularly useful in analyzing awareness level strategies (top-of-funnel) and conversion level strategies (bottom-of-funnel). Below are the main differences between Single-Touch and Multi-Touch Attribution. 

Single-Touch Attribution Multi-Touch Attribution 
Credit Attribution – Gives credit to only 1 touchpoint– Take into account various touchpoints 

Model Types
– First-touch Attribution Model (top-of-funnel)
– Last-touch Attribution Model (bottom-of-funnel)
– Linear Attribution Model
– Time Decay Attribution Model
– U-shaped Attribution Model (also called Position-based)
– W-shaped Attribution Model 
– Full Path Attribution Model 
– Custom Attribution Model
Implementation Barriers– Easier to implement– Harder to implement
Type of Customer Journey– Simple, straightforward customer journey – Longer, more complex customer journey

How to implement Multi-Touch Attribution

Once you have picked the suitable Multi-Touch Attribution model for your business, it’s time to start implementing it in assessing your marketing activities. Below are some steps on how to successfully execute your chosen attribution model. 

Identify touchpoints & set clear goals

The first task is to identify all the touchpoints along the customer’s journey according to your business’ marketing activities. Some of these interactions might be social media page launch (awareness), website email sign-up (lead creation), or any other touchpoints specific to your customer’s journey. 

Next, clearly define your goals for the implementation of the chosen attribution model. What criteria are you tracking? Which KPIs are you applying? Those are some essential questions to ask at the beginning of your assessment process. 

Data Collection & Synthesis

Once you have identified all the touchpoints and set out your goals, the next step is to collect data. We can do this by gathering data from all relevant sources and touchpoints. Some examples include website analytics, email marketing tools, etc. Your data should also be accurate, consistent, and up-to-date, as this can significantly affect the reliability of your attribution model.

Once finished, it’s time to synthesize the data from various sources into a centralized database or platform. This will help streamline the data analysis process and ensure all touchpoints are considered.

Regular Monitoring & Adjustment

After the initial implementation, businesses should monitor the performance of the chosen attribution model on a regular basis. Keeping an eye on any changes in customer behavior and market dynamics will help brands to assess if the attribution model is working effectively. This will also help businesses to adjust their attribution models and strategies based on the insights gained.

Education & Training

This seriously cannot be stressed enough. When implementing any Multi-Touch Attribution model, it is crucial that your marketing team fully understand what to do with the data. Training sessions should also be held regularly to update staff on any changes or adjustments. 

Implementing multi-touch attribution is an ongoing process that requires dedication, resources, and a commitment to data-driven decision-making. By following these steps and continually refining your business approach, you will be able to unlock the full potential of multi-touch attribution and drive more effective digital marketing strategies.

Or take the easier option 

We have mentioned above the detailed steps to applying a multi-touch attribution model. And while they may sound pretty straightforward, handling a large amount of data can be a challenge. Because of this, it is wise, and inarguably easier to invest in dedicated multi-touch attribution software or platforms. These tools are designed to help you unify all data from multiple advertising platforms into one complete dashboard, making the process way more efficient and less prone to human error. 

With marketing attribution software, you can track your ad performance across different platforms, gain deeper insights into customer journeys, and get access to a unique attribution model that is specifically tailored to e-commerce businesses. 


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