When we chat with experienced marketers, they are always asking questions about “first touch” and “last touch” attribution in HubSpot’s analytics. These are different ways to attribute conversions on your website, and each tells you something different (and important!) about the effectiveness of your marketing and the behavior of your visitors.
What are ‘Attributions’?
Let’s begin with a definition, so we’re all on the same page:
‘Attribution’ is a way of understanding which marketing channels or campaigns contributed to a conversion on your website.
Because a lead’s behavior includes a number of different interactions, there are multiple ways to report on attribution. Understanding how attribution works will help you understand which of your marketing efforts are actually generating results.
There are three different kinds of attribution that we will explore: last touch, first touch, and assists.
Last touch attribution
Last touch data shows you the most recent interactions and conversions your lead had on your website. This is useful in determining what happened just before the lead converted. Last touch attribution is usually a good measure of the effectiveness of various landing pages, email campaigns, and other efforts that lead to a direct conversion.
This screen shot comes from the HubSpot Sources report, filtered to include only landing pages.
What last touch attribution doesn’t tell you, however, is what other actions led up to that conversion. We’ll get to that shortly.
First touch attribution
First touch attribution answers the question, “How did this lead or customer originally find us?” In HubSpot, first touch attribution is shown in the Sources report. This shows you a breakdown of which channels brought in leads and customers in a given time frame.
First touch attribution is useful for evaluating the effectiveness of different channels at generating website visitors and leads. This is especially helpful for channels that are traditionally difficult to measure, like social media or search.
First touch attribution show you how a lead originally came to your website, and last touch attribution shows you the final interaction that triggered a conversion. Assists attribution identifies the pages that were viewed throughout the lifecycle of the people who end up converting.
Using this report, you can pinpoint the source, page URL, or referrer that contributes to the most conversion for your site. Attribution Reports allow you to break down a visitor’s journey and discover which pages are driving the most success.
Attribution Reports are currently available for Enterprise customers and a lite-version is available for Professional customers. The screen shot above is from Professional (Reports > Reports Home > Create a New Report > Attribution Report). Details on how to create an Attribution Report in Enterprise are here.
Assists reports can help you identify and optimize influential pages on your site, and will give you insight into the middle of your marketing funnel.
Because you can slice marketing data a number of different ways, it can sometimes be difficult to understand exactly what you’re measuring. The best approach to marketing analytics is to start with a question. Determine what it is you want to know, and then find the attribution method and analytics report that will get you the closest to the answer.
Attribution reports give you a lot of useful information about your content marketing strategy and its effectiveness. You can study your existing content to see which types appeal to your target audience at various stages of the customer buy cycle. This allows you to plan and schedule content development to improve lead and customer conversions with optimized content for each step.
Where you are weak, for example in the mid-funnel, you can reinforce with appropriate blog posts, website pages and downloads to help nurture leads into customers. Where you are strong, you can expand your funnel with more content and provide lead nurturing campaigns to follow-up and accelerate sales.