Explore & select the best attribution model for SaaS demand gen, considering goals & sales cycle, to optimize campaigns & drive growth.

As SaaS demand generation professionals, our primary goal is to drive new users and revenue for our products or services. But, to optimize our marketing efforts, we need to determine which campaigns and channels contribute the most to our success. This is where attribution models come into play.

We'll explore the different attribution models available, discuss their pros and cons, and guide you in selecting the best model for your SaaS business to measure the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns.

  1. First Touch Attribution

First touch attribution gives 100% credit to the first marketing touchpoint that a user encounters before converting. This model is beneficial for understanding which channels are most effective in driving initial awareness of your SaaS product or service.


  • Easy to implement and understand
  • Highlights top-of-funnel marketing channels


  • Ignores subsequent touchpoints, potentially undervaluing their impact
  1. Last Touch Attribution

Last touch attribution assigns 100% credit to the final touchpoint before a user converts. This model helps identify which channels drive the most conversions.


  • Simple to implement
  • Highlights bottom-of-funnel marketing channels


  • Overlooks prior touchpoints and their role in nurturing leads
  1. Linear Attribution

Linear attribution evenly distributes credit across all touchpoints in a user's journey. This model acknowledges that every touchpoint plays a role in the conversion process.


  • Recognizes the importance of every marketing channel
  • Useful for businesses with long sales cycles


  • Lacks nuance and may overvalue less impactful touchpoints
  1. Time Decay Attribution

Time decay attribution gives more credit to touchpoints closer to conversion, with the idea that later interactions have a greater impact on the user's decision to convert. This model is particularly useful for businesses with longer sales cycles where multiple touchpoints are involved.


  • Emphasizes recent touchpoints, reflecting their importance in decision-making
  • Better suited for long sales cycles


  • May undervalue initial touchpoints that contributed to lead generation
  1. U-Shaped Attribution

U-Shaped attribution, also known as Position-Based attribution, assigns 40% of the credit to both the first and last touchpoints, with the remaining 20% distributed evenly among the middle touchpoints. This model aims to balance the importance of both generating leads and closing deals.


  • Recognizes the significance of the first and last touchpoints
  • Provides a more balanced view of the user journey


  • May not accurately reflect the true impact of middle touchpoints
  1. W-Shaped Attribution

W-Shaped attribution expands on the U-Shaped model by giving equal credit (30% each) to the first touch, lead creation, and opportunity creation touchpoints, with the remaining 10% divided among other touchpoints. This model is helpful for businesses that prioritize lead nurturing and opportunity creation.


  • Emphasizes key moments in the sales cycle
  • Provides a more detailed view of the user journey


  • May still overlook some touchpoints' actual impact
  1. Custom Attribution

Custom attribution models are tailored to your unique business needs, taking into account the specific goals and nuances of your marketing campaigns. This approach requires in-depth analysis and understanding of your sales cycle, allowing you to weigh touchpoints based on their actual impact on the conversion process.


  • Highly customizable to suit your business requirements
  • Can provide the most accurate representation of the user journey


  • Requires more resources, time, and expertise to implement

There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to attribution models for SaaS demand generation professionals. The best model for your business will depend on your marketing goals, sales cycle, and resources. To determine the most effective model, it's essential to experiment, analyze, and adjust based on your findings.

For businesses just starting with attribution, a simple model like first touch or last touch may be the easiest to implement. However, as your campaigns become more complex, consider adopting more advanced models such as U-Shaped, W-Shaped, or even a custom model to better understand the effectiveness of your marketing efforts.

Ultimately, the right attribution model will help you make data-driven decisions to optimize your demand generation campaigns, allocate resources more efficiently, and drive sustainable growth for your SaaS business.

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