How to Leverage Attribution Modeling for SaaS Marketing Success

Ranga Kaliyur
min read
May 10, 2023

It’s no secret that B2B SaaS sales cycles involve several customer touchpoints across campaigns, channels, and stakeholders. From building awareness to closing the deal, marketing teams are constantly on their toes to deliver the right message at the right time to the right people. 

But how do these touchpoints influence customer conversions? And which marketing initiatives impact pipeline more than others? 

Attribution modeling is a powerful marketing analytics technique that helps SaaS marketers answer these questions and more by assigning value or credit to each touchpoint along the customer journey.

This blog explores what attribution modeling is, why it’s important, and how it can benefit SaaS marketers. We also highlight a few common attribution models and discuss specific use-cases to help you get started on your attribution journey. 

What is Attribution Modeling? 

Attribution modeling is an analytics technique that involves assigning value or credit to marketing touchpoints across keywords, campaigns, and channels based on a specific conversion goal. As a result, attribution can help quantify the impact of marketing on conversions, pipeline, and revenue.

As you might have already guessed, attribution modeling heavily relies on data collected across the customer journey including ad campaigns, website activity, offline events (mails, webinars, demo calls), and CRM in order to accurately report the influence of each touchpoint. 

As we’ll see in later sections, there are several types of attribution models — each of which assign unique weights of credit to different touchpoints based on their position along the customer journey and relative contribution to the conversion goal. 

Why do SaaS Businesses Need to Worry about Attribution?

“The reality is that marketing has become the most efficient way to accelerate growth in our digital economy. The imperative is to connect the dots, so each marketing expense dollar is aligned and reported against revenue growth.” - Paul Albright of Captora

At a high level, attribution modeling helps businesses measure the efficacy of their marketing efforts, optimize resource allocation towards initiatives that drive results, and improve the customer experience to increase conversions, and ultimately, pipeline.  Here’s a breakdown of how:

1. Measure Marketing Performance 

SaaS marketers often invest significant resources into paid campaigns and SEO-friendly content to capture leads. But the metrics used to measure the performance of these initiatives are limited to surface level KPIs such as impressions, CTR or page views. With attribution modeling, teams can tie marketing initiatives back to bottom-line metrics such as pipeline and revenue to gauge real business impact. 

2. Optimize Resource Allocation

Attribution modeling helps understand which campaigns and content drive conversions — and which initiatives are causing a leakage in marketing budget. As SaaS marketers are increasingly being asked to more with less, attribution modeling is a valuable tool to allocate resources towards what works and away from what doesn’t. 

3. Minimize CAC, Maximize ROI 

As a result of measuring marketing performance and optimizing resource allocation, attribution modeling ultimately helps businesses reduce their customer acquisition costs and maximize their return on marketing investment by empowering data-driven decision making. Overall, attribution modeling can result in efficiency gains of up to 30%!

Campaign-level attribution modeling: First touch vs Linear

Benefits of Attribution Modeling

The previous section covered the importance of attribution modeling at a high level. Let’s explore a few specific benefits to using attribution modeling:

  • Scale the right campaigns: Attribution modeling empowers demand gen teams to pin-point what works at a keywords, campaigns, and channel-level. This provides valuable insight into which initiatives to scale or cut down on to drive more conversions with less spend.  
  • Measure the impact of content: Attribution modeling provides deep visibility into how ungated content such as blogs, case-studies, and web pages impact conversions. Content teams can use this data to identify what resonates with the target audience and tailor their strategy accordingly. 
  • Identify growth opportunities: Attribution modeling provides insight into what customers are consuming before they convert. For one, this helps identify what pain-points, use-cases, or general information appeals to the audience. For another, it helps identify opportunities for upselling and cross selling based on what marketing assets current customers are consuming.
  • Improve ABM effectiveness: As SaaS teams increasingly adopt account-based marketing, account-level attribution modeling plays a growing role in guiding the decision making process. With account-level attribution, teams can identify campaigns that drive the most business — not just campaigns that drive the most clicks.
  • Align sales and marketing: Attribution modeling helps sales and marketing teams align over a common metric: revenue. Setting revenue as the primary conversion goal helps go-to-market teams identify what campaigns, content, and sales efforts drive bottom line metrics regardless of department. Shared KPIs promote synergy and alignment between both teams. 

Are All Attribution Models Created Equal? 

As mentioned in the introduction, there are several types of attribution models that teams can choose from based on the nature of their business. 

Each attribution model assigns credit differently to every touchpoints along the customer journey based on the order of events or their relative contribution to the conversion. 

The different types of attribution models
First touch attribution model
Time decay attribution model 
U-shaped attribution model

3 Examples on How to Use Attribution Modeling for SaaS Marketing Success

Driving More Trial Sign-Ups with Attribution 

SaaS companies are increasingly adopting product-led growth as part of theri GTM strategies. As a result, driving the number of “free trial” sign-ups may be a conversion goal of interest. 

Let’s take a common SaaS customer journey as an example:. A prospect attends a top-of-the-funnel webinar, clicks on a Linkedin ad, receives a sales mail, reads a comparison blog, and watches a product demo video on the website before signing up for a free trial. 

Using last-touch attribution, we can determine that the product demo video viewed by the prospect before they converted had the most significant influence on the conversion. We credit 100% of the revenue to this demo video. Accordingly, since demo videos seem to be working well, we might also want to produce more of them, improve the quality of the videos, or distribute the demo video on social channels to drive more engagement and conversions. 

Optimizing Ad Spend

Early-stage SaaS teams are often asked to stretch limited budgets a long way. Attribution modeling helps track performance and iterate strategy quickly based on bottom line conversions coming through various channels and campaigns.

For example, if we run the same creative across Twitter, Linkedin, and Facebook, we can pin-point how different channels result in different conversion rates and costs per conversion. A multi-touch attribution tool like can reveal that, after considering the entire customer journey, Linkedin ads seem to drive the most paying customers. With this insight, we can minimize spends on Twitter and Facebook and redirect resources towards Linkedin ads to optimize ad spend and ROI. 

Personalizing Marketing Efforts

A lesser known use of attribution modeling is for personalization. At an account-level, attribution can help identify how different types of audiences prefer different forms of marketing. 

For example, attribution can reveal that large scale enterprises are more likely to convert when the SaaS solution they’re considering provides privacy-compliance related material. On the other hand, marketing messaging around cost-effectiveness or easy-implementation may resonate more with smaller companies.

Breaking down the results of attribution modeling by segments helps gauge what works for different types of accounts. In turn, the marketing team can serve relevant information to the right people. 

Key Takeaways

  •  Attribution modeling is a valuable analytics technique for SaaS marketers to measure and improve the influence of touch points on conversions and customer experience.
  • There are several types of attribution models including first/last touch, U-shaped, linear, and time-decay. Each attribution model has a unique approach to assigning credit.
  • Attribution modeling helps teams measure marketing performance, optimize resource allocation, and drive return on marketing investment
  • Attribution modeling can help drive more trial sign ups, optimize ad spend, and personalize marketing efforts. 
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