What’s the one perfect way to get customers to convert?

It’s through organic search! Or wait, maybe Facebook Ads? But what about the one true king, email?

All of the marketing channels work, but which one works the best?

It’s different for every business. A channel that makes lots of customers convert for one organization may not work very well for yours.

In lieu of tracking down every single customer you have and asking them how they came to their buying decision, you can just track them – and learn what led to their conversion from a marketing attribution report.

What is marketing attribution? This post will cover everything about it, including:

  • What is marketing attribution?
  • Why should you care about marketing attribution?
  • What do you learn from a marketing attribution report?

What is marketing attribution?

Marketing attribution is a reporting method to show which touchpoints during the customer journey have the most impact on the action you want people to take – like making a purchase, filling out a form, or completing another type of customer conversion.

Marketing attribution helps you assess the ROI of the marketing methods you use to connect with your customers.

The conversion process is almost never as linear as you want it to be. You can set up the perfect blend of emails, paid ads, organic content, and product pages — with the expectation customers will follow your flawless path right to conversion.

But the customer’s mind doesn’t work like that.

It’s rare that a customer ever goes straight to a website and makes a purchase – even with a business they frequent. Many steps happen between the initial stage of awareness and the decision to buy – and most customers hop around steps, repeat steps, or skip some steps altogether.

A survey of 2,274 performance marketers in the UK and US by Tune and Acceleration Partners, showed that first- and last-click models were used by nearly seven in 10 respondents.

Attribution model preferences vary across businesses, but each has its pros. (Source:eMarketer)

The most common types of marketing attribution models are:

  • First-touch attribution: First-touch gives all of the credit for a conversion to your business’s first touchpoint with the customer. It doesn’t take any other touchpoints after the first into account.
  • Last non-direct click attribution: This is similar to last-touch attribution because credit still goes to the last touchpoint. But, with the last non-direct click, it eliminates any “direct” interactions that happen right before the conversion.
  • Linear attribution: A linear attribution model divides credit for a conversion equally between every touchpoint the customer has with your business on the way to a conversion.
  • Time decay attribution: Time decay attribution also distributes credit equally between all touchpoints. But this model also considers when the touchpoint occurred. The closer a touchpoint is to the moment of conversion, the more attribution value that touchpoint gets.
  • Position-based attribution: Also called the “U-shaped attribution model,” position-based attribution splits the credit for conversion between the first and last touchpoints a prospect interacts with.
  • Last-touch attribution: Last-touch attribution credits a customer conversion with the last interaction they had before converting. It doesn’t take any previous interactions into account.

These are all helpful ways to look at attribution, but a popular one is last-touch attribution. That’s where you can see the exact moment that the customer conversion clicks.

As you may have guessed from the name, this attribution model gives 100% of the credit to the last interaction a contact has with your business before they convert.

The last touchpoint a contact interacts with is attributed to the conversion. (Source: Curata)

A visitor finds your website through organic search. A week later they see a Facebook Ad for a webinar you plan to host and click the ad. When it’s webinar day, they attend.

The webinar attendance is then 100% attributed to that conversion. Last-touch attribution is the default attribution model in many platforms. This type of attribution model lets you see the most recent activity that led to a conversion.

Why is attribution important to your marketing strategy?

Attribution is data that puts you into the minds of your prospects and customers. It helps you make marketing decisions that align with your sales efforts and produce more conversions.

Data-driven decisions are a big part of what makes your marketing efforts effective — without it, you are left to guesswork. Some of the top objectives of data-driven marketing for marketers include attributing sales revenue to marketing.

33% of people say attributing sales revenue to marketing is a top objective. (Infographic Source: Invespcro)

How a conversion attribution report helps you elevate your marketing

A conversion attribution report shows you which touchpoints a customer experienced in their path to conversion. This can include marketing channels, sales channels, and specific touchpoints on your website.

As a marketer, you want to measure how effective your different touchpoints are. You need a comprehensive view of which touchpoints (by platform, source, or medium) lead to a customer’s conversion, to better identify which customer journey paths are the most successful.

An attribution report helps you:

  • Spend your marketing budget in the most responsible ways (to see positive marketing ROI)
  • Learn which channels are most effective for marketing to your target audience
  • Make data-driven decisions because you understand customer thinking right at the moment of conversion
  • Realize where the problems in your marketing are so that you can address them

A conversion attribution report can help you answer these specific questions:

  1. Which channels generate the most leads?
  2. Which campaigns have the greatest impact?
  3. What are the most common paths customers take to get to conversion?
  4. What is the average number of touchpoints a customer visits before conversion?
  5. What types of content generate the most conversions?

How to run a conversion attribution report in ActiveCampaign

The ActiveCampaign Conversion Attribution Report measures the effectiveness of all touchpoints that led up to a customer’s conversion. This attribution report uses a last-touch attribution model. This means that we’ll display the final touchpoint (platform, source, or medium) that convinced the customer to convert.

With this report, you will be able to:

  • Summarize conversion trends
  • See the value of a contact’s activity over time
  • Identify which touchpoints your customers interacted with before converting
  • Make data-based decisions after learning which touchpoints were the
  • most effective in your strategy

Under the Reports tab in ActiveCampaign, here’s what the conversion attribution report looks like:

All your attribution data is in one convenient place so that you can make the best marketing decisions.

Here’s what you can see in the report:

  1. Conversion (Current Period): The number of conversions attributed to last-touch in the current attribution time period
  2. Conversion (Previous Period): The number of conversions attributed to last-touch from the precious attribution time period
  3. Percent change of conversion: The rate of increase or decrease in conversions between time periods
  4. Attribution Source Over Time: A chart to show the value of each touchpoint over time
  5. Top Conversions: A chart to show your most effective marketing channel based on conversions
  6. Source Medium Pairs: A table to show conversions from tracked UTM links
  7. Touchpoints Leading Up to a Conversion: A flow that shows the customer path through touchpoints to conversion
  8. Source Distribution: A pie chart to show the distribution of touchpoint attribution
  9. Conversion Attribution Details table: A table breaks down conversion data on a more granular level.

This “Touchpoints Leading Up to a Conversion” flowchart shows that one customer interacted with an email sent from an ActiveCampaign account, which prompted them to view a video on Instagram, then click a banner on Facebook — which led to conversion.

The conversion attribution report will automatically load metrics for all conversions that took place within the last 7 days, with a 7-day attribution window.

The filter bar at the top of the report lets you see data filtered by:

  • Conversion type
  • Measure
  • Currency
  • Conversion Date
  • Attribution Window

What do you need to set up touchpoints and run a conversion attribution report in ActiveCampaign?

First, you need Site Tracking.

Attribution relies on ActiveCampaign site tracking to work. ActiveCampaign Site Tracking tracks every visit your contacts have on your website, and associates it with a contact’s record. This lets you segment your contacts by if they do (or don’t) visit a web page – and triggers automations when a key web page is visited.

Then, you need UTM codes.

A UTM code is a way to track your campaigns. UTM codes are added to the end of regular URLs to tell Google Analytics (or other analytics tools) more information about each link – like what source a contact clicked from – and which marketing campaign it relates to.

A breakdown of what a UTM code looks like. (Source: MH Insider)

Attribution automatically parses the 5 common UTM parameters when a contact visits a site link that contains these parameters. These site visits are touchpoints.

The five UTM parameters you can use to organize attribution info are:

  • utm_medium (ex: “CPC” for cost per click)
  • utm_source (ex: facebook.com)
  • utm_campaign (ex: “US Newsfeed”)
  • utm_term (ex: “Buy more stuff”
  • utm_content (ex: “Red Banner”)

There are free UTM builders you can use, like:

The last piece of the attribution puzzle is conversions. Without a conversion, there is nothing to base the attribution info on.

Conversions can have a value attributed to them. So for example, if you know that 1 in 10 contacts that subscribe to your newsletter end up spending $200, then you might give a “Newsletter subscription” conversion a value of $20.

This conversion info tells you the value of your different marketing channels. Once you set up your chosen conversions, this report attributes last-touch value to the conversion and it’s reflected in the report.

Customer attribution shows you what works best—and makes it easier to find your top-performing marketing channels. Be smarter about your ad spend and make informed business decisions with the help of a conversion attribution report.

For more information about the conversion attribution report in ActiveCampaign, check out these guides from our Attribution Help Center!