Inbound Marketing + Sales Blog

May 26, 2014

Demystifying Attribution: Measuring Success in the Marketing Funnel

Written by: Matthew Solomon  |  Share:

Matthew Solomon

What is Attribution?shutterstock_103270178

Through the marketing funnel your leads will make multiple interactions with your content and website. Attribution is a way of understanding which marketing channels or campaigns contributed to a conversion on your website by looking at the different "touches" a lead makes during the lifecycle stages. Most digital marketing tools such as HubSpot and Google Analytics have reports built in to track attribution. There are several different types of attribution and it is important to understand the differences as each type can be used to determine how your content and site pages are pulling leads through your marketing funnel.  

3 Main Types of Attribution for Marketing Analytics

When you break it down there are three main types of Attribution: First Touch, Last Touch and Assist Attribution. Below is an outline of each one and ways you can use them to measure how successful your inbound tactics are.  

1. First Touch Attribution

  • First Touch Attribution is just that; it is the first instance a contact clicks through to your site.  This type of attribution is important because it helps you nail down just how successful your inbound links and channels are at generating web traffic.
  • HubSpot's Source Report measures First Touch and shows you the effectiveness of your different marketing channels. This metric can be very useful for reporting closed-loop ROI, because you can compare and measure how many leads certain channels (such as social media and organic search) pull onto your site.

2. Last Touch Attribution

  • Last Touch Attribution looks at the LAST interaction a lead had before converting to a customer. In HubSpot, all of your landing pages and site forms act as instances of Last Touch; basically, they are the pages where the deal was closed.
  • Most analytics packages such as Google Analytics use Last Touch as their main method of reporting. HubSpot’s Landing Page Analytics reports Last Touch by letting you see which of your landing pages are generating the highest conversion rates.

3. Assist Attribution

  • If First Touch is the start of a leads journey and Last Touch is the end, then Assist Attribution is made up of all of the stops and refueling the lead makes along the way. Assist Attribution looks at all of the pages that a lead interacts with from the first time they interact with your site to the page they convert to a customer on. This type of attribution can help find and optimize influential pages on your website that are visited by leads.
  • HubSpot’s Conversion Assists report lets you look at what pages your leads viewed throughout their life cycle. Assist Attribution measures the effectiveness of pages in the middle of your marketing funnel. 

Attribution and the Pay-Per-Click Pipeline

A good use for attribution is determining how effective your PPC pipeline is and its place in the customer lifecycle. Attribution in many ways can justify what PPC campaigns spend. For example, using First Touch Attribution you can find exactly where leads first clicked through to your site or CTA and determine the ROI of that specific channel. Attribution is an effective way to determine what is working to drive leads to your site and the pathways that are most effective for conversion. By using attribution you can determine where your best PPC marketing efforts are. 

Reporting With Attribution

As you can see each type of attribution plays a role in determining the effectiveness of your marketing channels and lifecycle pipeline. While each individual type of attribution gives key insights to particular parts of your marketing, it is important to view each as only a small part of a successful conversion. Just because all of your conversions from leads to customers occur on a certain landing page does not mean that you should neglect insights from the other attribution types. A relatively new type of attribution model is Time Decay Attribution. This attribution model gives more credit to channels closest to the conversion of lead to customer. So First Touch would get less credit then a page viewed before a customer conversion. This attribution model helps to unify the three main types. Currently not many digital marketing tools offer Time Decay reporting; however, it may be offered sooner than later as more marketers adopt this model of attribution.

What type of Attribution reporting does your business use? Comment below and let us know why! 

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Topics: Demand Generation

Matthew Solomon

About The Author

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