Suppose that you’re piecing together a puzzle of your customer’s journey, trying to make out the final piece that led them to make a purchase. In the world of marketing, the process — known as last-touch attribution — is crucial to determining what works and why.
With that in mind, let’s explore last-touch attribution and how it can influence your marketing decisions. We’ll also highlight the shortcomings of the attribution model and provide some practical tips for overcoming them so you can market smarter and drive meaningful results for your brand.
What Is Last-Touch Attribution?
Last-touch attribution gives full conversion credit to the final interaction a customer had with your brand.
As an example, let’s say that you run a multichannel marketing campaign that involves using emails to raise awareness about a new product alongside social media ads that nurture top leads. In our scenario, a customer reads an email your brand has sent them and then, a few days later, they see an ad for your product on Facebook, ultimately clicking on it to visit your site and make a purchase.
Under a last-touch attribution model, the Facebook ad would receive 100% of the credit for the conversion. While the email is what generated awareness, last-touch attribution only recognizes the final event that directly led to the conversion.
Why Should Last-Touch Attribution Matter to You?
Last-touch attribution offers valuable insights and benefits that you can use to optimize the efficacy of your marketing campaigns.
For one, it makes things simpler, cutting through the complexity of multi-channel interactions and focusing on the final event in the journey. It is also incredibly easy to implement, making it a go-to option for many brands.
Additionally, the model helps identify which of your marketing strategies is the best closer, which can be crucial knowledge, especially if you’re looking to boost immediate conversions or condense the customer journey.
Finally, last-touch attribution can guide your budget allocation. You can devote more marketing dollars to your most impactful channels and reroute funds away from touchpoints that are underperforming.
The Flip Side: What You Might Miss
Though last-touch attribution is great at providing insights into what occurred just before a customer performed your desired action, the model is not without its shortcomings, which include things such as:
A Lack of Insight Into Other Touchpoints
The biggest hurdle associated with last-touch attribution is that it completely ignores all other touchpoints. The guiding premise behind last-touch attribution is that the sale wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for that final interaction, and while that is true, the final interaction may not have occurred if not for the initial (or previous) touchpoint.
The good news is that such minimal insight is a relatively simple shortcoming to overcome. All you need to do is gather data using multiple attribution models, such as a first-touch attribution or linear framework. Combined, these models will help you acknowledge various touchpoints while also revealing what it was that gave your customers the final push they needed to take action.
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An Incomplete Picture of the Sales Funnel
When you focus on the final touch, it’s not hard to lose sight of the rest of the sales funnel. You only see part of the story, which can be problematic when crafting a widespread marketing strategy.
Again, the key here is to overlay multiple types of data, including other models, as well as analytical insights. Most importantly, make sure you are gathering feedback from your customers so you can better understand the road they took toward making their purchase. Find out what they liked, what they didn’t, and what they want you to do better.
An Overemphasis on Conversions
Conversions are critical to your bottom line, but if you want the whole story, you need to consider granular metrics like click-through rates, ad views, site visits, and time spent on-site, among others.
That said, be careful not to inundate yourself with data. Select a manageable amount of metrics to track and monitor them on an ongoing basis. Identify trends over time, make adjustments as needed, and continuously optimize your marketing strategy. Also, pay close attention to how these adjustments impact your last-touch attribution data.
Applying Last-Touch Attribution to Your Strategy
Incorporating last-touch attribution into your marketing decisions points you toward what works best in securing sales, but it’s important to remember that every touchpoint matters and not to lose sight of the entire journey.
With that said, it’s best to use last-touch attribution as a guide, not the sole driver of your marketing strategy. Keep exploring and adjusting your approach to keep pace with shifting consumer trends. By doing so, you’ll not only boost sales but build stronger connections with your audience.
How Last-Touch Attribution Influences Your Marketing Decisions