Still using Last Click? Let’s talk about why you should start asking some hard questions and not just using last click to decide how you spend your money and time. A lot has changed in the last decade but everyone still struggles with attribution.

Attribution is the name of the game today. A few years ago, I attended a conference in Portland, Oregon and had an amazing time. Great food scene and tons of stores to shop. Since then, I have gone back and keep wanting to return when possible.

However, I digress a few of the topics at the conference talked about attribution and moving us beyond last click (or even first click). Everyone seems to be very set on using position based attribution for their model of figuring out how to assign sales and conversions to different channels in their customer journey.

What Is Each Attribution Model?

A quick crash course on different attribution models. There are several types of attribution models:

  • Last interaction attribution model – This model assign 100% credit to the last interactions. Google Analytics uses this model by default, also known as “last click” (the thing we are stepping away from).
  • First interaction attribution model – Popularly known as first touch attribution model, this model assign 100% credit to the first interactions. This is what Google AdWords and Bing use.
  • Linear attribution model – This model assign equal credit to each interaction in a conversion path.
  • Time Decay attribution model – This model assign more credit to the last interactions before someone became a customer.
  • Position based attribution model – This model assign 40% credit to the first interaction, 20% credit to the middle interaction and 40% credit to the last interaction.

Using position based attribution while saying all first & last clicks are the same value is odd. What if one channel is bringing in a higher valued customers with a higher lifetime value (LTV) than another channel? Isn’t that channel worth more to the business?

If that channel is indeed worth more, that starts to make any model you build utterly more complicated. Not to make anything more complex but Google also now has data driven attribution, which I thought was new but it seems to be something that Google Analytics premium customers have had for a few years now.

I don’t have all the answers but I do know that paid search drives a lot of top-of-the-funnel conversions for clients I’ve had over the years, even if that person converted from another channel on the last click. How much of that sale should paid search get is the question I still ask myself. This of course does not take into account the last click conversions that paid search is known for.

The fact that some channels or customers may be of more value, means there are some questions each company needs to ask themselves if they want to move beyond last click. Making sure that everyone is on the same page is going to make life easier.

3 Attribution Questions To Ask Your Data Team

If you’re drowning in options and confused as to where to start from, that normal. The three questions below will help unify the team and make sure everyone is on the same page.

How Will We Define Success?

Trying to figure out what success means beyond the initial campaign is important. Success can’t be defined within a campaign launch window. Many potential customers may start their journey with your company with this campaign. If it’s the starting point and not the end point when they buy, understanding how the campaign can help grow your business is intrinsic to successs. It also dictates whether you have to inject more money into that campaign.

What Should Our Success Framework Look Like?

Every brand has different goals and conversions. Figuring out if your latest campaign has contributed to more than one goal is a good starting point. Maybe you thought a campaign would achieve one goal but after looking at all your campaigns, you discover it’s better at a different goal.

Having that information means you can better align your campaigns with the goals you want to achieve. One other area I looked at was budget, only comparing campaigns that spent a certain budget is another decent starting point. It gives you a baseline to judge all campaigns on the same level

What Is Our Attribution Window?

Knowing how far back you should look at customer interactions with your company will help you understand if you’re being successful and if your framework is starting to take shape and make sense. I tend to look back at 90 – 180 days as a starting point. It’s a long enough window to get an idea if your campaigns and attribution is starting to take shape and give you meaningful data. That data can be turned into information, which then turns into action.

The Path Forward

To judge the success of a campaign, beyond getting a customer, I’ve started to look at longer attribution windows. I might also look at different goals within your organization. More specifically, to test performance by turning off remarketing or brand campaigns. That way you see what is working and what isn’t.

I’m starting to only hit the tip of the iceberg and though my model is rough and could use work. It’s a starting point and you have to start somewhere or you’ll never get anywhere.

The last few weeks have reminded me of a good post a few months back. It takes a look at the 3 top UK retailers, and how they have grown up and handled going from last click to multi-channel attribution. A line from the article I like is…

… ensure that the data is presented clearly and the journey of events is one that tells a story…

At the end of the day, the data has to tell a story and it’s not always the story you want to hear, but one that needs to be told.


There are half a dozen or more questions you will ask yourself as you go through this process but you have to start from somewhere. Good truly is better than perfect and if you don’t start then you can’t grow your business in the long run.