Most paths to purchase are not a straight line. There are lots of ways for customers to discover your brand, engage with it, and move further down the sales funnel. That’s why attribution models have become a necessary tool for marketers looking for data to improve their campaigns.

What are attribution models?

Attribution models are templates for analyzing all the marketing touchpoints that turn a potential customer into a conversion.

When you use an attribution model you’re assigning credit to specific steps in the customer journey, helping you better understand which parts of your marketing efforts are driving the most leads to that part of the sales funnel.

With multi-touch modeling, you can distribute credit across multiple touchpoints to see how marketing interactions affect the entire sales funnel.  

Why do attribution models matter?

As a marketer running multiple campaigns on multiple platforms, it can be difficult to determine which mix of PPC keywords, ad copy, landing pages, and SEO are generating leads that move efficiently through the sales funnel and convert.

If you only give credit to the last touchpoint before a sale, for example, you’re missing out on all the touchpoints along the way that influenced your customer’s choice to invest in your brand. Understanding which top-of-funnel efforts are successful helps you decide which marketing efforts attract customers in the first place, and guide them deeper into the sales funnel.  

Similarly, attribution models that emphasize the last touch before the conversion action give you insight into which channels drive potential buyers to actually convert. If you have an idea of which touchpoint creates conversions, you can make sure to infuse those channels with the best calls to action and other purchasing prompts.

Without analytics for the complete customer journey, your marketing can feel more like shooting in the dark than a targeted plan of action. Attribution models give you visibility to important milestones in the sales process, so you can know how to optimize your sales funnel from start to finish.   

Examples of attribution models and when to use them

With attribution models, you can zoom into a specific touchpoint to optimize that part of the sales funnel, or use multi-touch attribution models to get a sense of how your marketing affects your sales funnel as a whole.

1. First Touch Model

Use this model to see what catches new customer attention at the top of the funnel. This attribution model identifies the unsung heroes of your marketing. Maybe your PPC campaigns don’t directly create sales, but they lead to the kind of awareness and engagement with future customers that does eventually generate revenue. If you only count what’s at the end of the funnel, you might cut your PPC efforts and see a drop in sales accordingly.

This attribution model is especially important for businesses that have longer sales cycles and are working to create brand advocates, rather than simply one time purchases:

First touch model attribution graph

2. Lead Creation Model

Sometimes referred to as the Last Touch Model, the Lead Creation Model shows you what happened immediately before a conversion. For example, if a customer visited a blog post you wrote before calling your company number on that page, the blog post would be their “last touch” or the touchpoint that created the raw lead.

The last touch approach has been used in marketing for a long time and is (when used by itself) starting to fade as the most effective way to analyze your marketing, especially when there are so many other touchpoints involved in a decision to buy. However, this model lets you know which marketing channels or campaigns drive your customers to action, so you can optimize on those important moments.

This model is particularly effective for understanding shorter sales cycles where the buying process is quick and the conversion action is often immediate:

Lead creation model attribution graph

3. Multi-Touch Models

Multi-touch attribution models are a rule or set of rules that allow you to view multiple touchpoints at once and get a better sense of how your marketing functions as a whole.

This is an example of a 50/50 split where credit is dispersed evenly between the first touch and the lead creation touch from the previous two models.

Some other examples of multi-touch models include the linear model, time decay, position-based, or custom rule-based models:

Multi-touch attribution graph

Do you use attribution modeling? Let us know what works for your company or ask any questions you might have in our CallRail Community.

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