Single vs Multi-touch attribution

Single vs multi-touch attribution

Let us talk about basketball.

The ball is passed from player A to player B; player C sets a screen for player B to shoot an open shot. Who gets the credit for the resulting basket? Is it player A who had started the move? Is it player B who finished the play? Or is it player C who created the avenue for player B to score? Or do we consider the individual roles of each player that led to the basket being scored?

Well, we have just understood attribution. In marketing terms, understanding which touchpoint led to a conversion.

There are broadly two varieties of attribution:

1. Single-touch attribution (STA): Where the credit of the conversion is given to a single touchpoint.
2. Multi-touch attribution (MTA): Where all touchpoints play a role in driving conversions. Given the customer of today and the technological ecosystem within which they operate, the choice should be clear. But understanding why that is the case is key.

Single-touch attribution

Going back to the basketball example, let us look at the scenario if we gave credit to players A, and B individually; that is STA. STA credits the conversion of your customers to single touchpoints across the engagement journey.

If player A gets all the credit, that means the first movement is given all the credit. For marketers, this means that the first interaction that a customer has with their brand holds the most importance—and the channel that facilitates the exchange is given the credit for the conversion. In this case, STA does not provide any clear information on the remainder of the customer’s interactions with the brand, even though subsequent interactions very likely occurred.

Giving credit to player B would make sense, as it is the last touchpoint before the conversion. This means that the channel that facilitates the final exchange between the brand and the customer is given all the credit for the conversion. There is, however, still a built-in blind spot to this model, since it eliminates from view any of the previous interactions the customer might have had with the brand before the final conversion.

STA is a good way of looking at the beginning and end of a customer’s path to conversion— namely discovery and conversion. However, it entails a rather narrow view of a customer’s journey with the brand. The reality is that multiple touchpoints exist—and matter—across a customer journey, and assuming that conversions come from just a single touchpoint diminishes the omnichannel nature of customer experience that many brands have painstakingly curated.

Multi-touch attribution

Customers today have multiple profiles and identities across several channels. This necessitates the creation of omnichannel communication to contextually interact with each customer across their journey. MTA considers the individual importance of these touchpoints with respect to conversions.

In the basketball example without the initiation by player A and the assistance by player C, player B would not have been able to complete the play. In marketing terms, the combination of these touchpoints led to the conversion of a customer. The initial interaction, a follow-up reminder, and a timely personalized discount are just three of the many steps that helped convert the customer.

While MTA considers the role of each touchpoint, it assigns different weights to the roles they each play in facilitating the conversion, thus offering more nuanced attribution insights. A linear distribution would imply that each touchpoint has an equal importance. Placing a higher importance on the final touchpoint would mean a sequential, planned series of interactions that culminate in a strategic communication that wins over the customer.

Besides more complex insights, MTA also presents more flexibility when it comes to aligning how much each touchpoint matters with the unique priorities of the brand.

Closing thoughts

While having STA will help if your customer engagement journey is short, MTA will assist your marketing efforts in a way that allows you to focus on how each touchpoint adds value for the customer and contributes to a multi-step omnichannel path to conversion.

Are you interested in more robust attribution capabilities? Schedule a demo with our experts to learn how Resulticks can you get started.


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