Making the leap to multi-touch attribution: How to get buy-in from sales, tech, leadership

“As a marketer if you’re not using a MTA model, it’s challenging to prove your impact on the business and improve the customer experience by continuing to invest in what works for you and the customer,” said Adam Kirby, director of marketing at MediaCurrent, an open-source development and digital marketing agency that works with enterprise brands, when asked if companies should be moving to multi-touch attribution (MTA).

“MTA is more than just another piece of martech because the insights gathered impact every area of the business including lead gen, the customer experience, ROI, to what event your sales teams get to attend next year or what technology you choose to renew or cancel,” said Kirby, who will be speaking on making the leap to multi-touch attribution next month at our MarTech East conference in Boston.

He believes most companies should be adopting MTA. These solutions aren’t inexpensive or perfect and the process to get there is often time-consuming and complex, admits Kirby, but when done right, the upside is better understanding about your customers and, ultimately, getting more revenue from your marketing investments.

What are the signs you should be considering a MTA model?

If your organization invests in multiple channels throughout a customer’s buying journey, that’s a sign you should consider a MTA model,” said Kirby. For example, in SaaS purchasing decisions, there may be up to a dozen people involved in the process, all engaging with your campaigns and content. Withoug an MTA model “you’re likely over and underestimating different touchpoints along the buyer’s journey,” said Kirby. “Misinterpreting the data results in over- and under-investing in key areas, which equals wasted time and missed opportunities.”

Overcoming buy-in barriers from stakeholders

Getting stakeholders on board for an MTA solution isn’t always easy. You might hear, “We already have too much martech,” or “It’s too expensive,” or “We already measure KPIs,” said Kirby.

“To gain support for stakeholders outside of marketing,” said Kirby, “you’ll need to share how moving to MTA will benefit their team. In short, for sales it means more leads and revenue, for technology it means cleaner data, less reporting, and better allocation of budget, and for your C-suite it’s all about ROI and reducing waste.” And, as marketing channels expand, you’re going to be missing pieces of the customer journey without this kind of solution, added Kirby. 

Earlier in his career, Kirby found success gaining support from sales for MTA by setting up casual meetings and demonstrating common goals. “I approached a sales leader to say we want more information about the customer journey and asked, ‘Who would be a good person on your team to talk to over the phone for 30 minutes?” explained Kirby. “Have the leader explain to a sales rep what the expectations are. Explain that the overall goal is to generate more revenue — not to claim more marketing-influenced revenue. Start the conversation by saying, ‘We need to understand what’s most effective to get you better leads and help close them.’”

Get granular, anecdotal

“If you need help convincing an executive sponsor, I recommend leveraging data and stories,” said Kirby. He suggests learning about some of the recent deals that person has closed and talk about their customer’s journey. “Try and connect with that client directly to learn the specifics. What you’ll find is multiple engagements with your brand that aren’t being tracked by your current process. It’s likely our organization isn’t assigning the proper credit to these touchpoints and is assigning too much to others,” said Kirby. “This information is very compelling to leadership that you are likely not investing in the right areas or measuring the true ROI of a given marketing tactic or technology.”

While there are less expensive and tech-intensive ways to go about it, Kirby recommends investing in an MTA solution. “You can do multi-touch attribution in Excel, but you spend so much time manipulating and maintaining it, you lose time to actually act on the results,” he said.

Getting your data in one spot — a data warehouse, CRM, customer data platform — is critical “so the vendor can apply their technology,” said Kirby. “Getting all the technology to talk to each other and getting the data clean and organized is a huge undertaking, but worth it. Then you can measure better.”

Questions to ask when evaluating multi-touch attribution vendors

When you’re looking at MTA vendors, it’s important to know the right questions to ask so you don’t end up regretting your choice. Kirby says the first key is to have your goals clearly outlined to be able to see if the vendor’s solution aligns with them. Then ask these questions:

  • How do you integrate with other technology? Can you integrate with ours?
  • What types of models do you have? Make sure their models align with your goals. For example, account based marketing attribution is key for B2B. 
  • What does support look like? 
  • What does the onboarding process look like?
  • Do they cover all of your channels? 
  • What are the reporting capabilities? Make sure they are robust and consumable — and preferably prescriptive with insights.

Kirby cautions marketers to set expectations. “It’s a long journey to MTA,” he said. “With so many influencers in the customer journey, multiple channels, and usually large martech stacks it’s a big undertaking to tie all of that together for a single version of the truth that you can model. But it is worth it in the end.”

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