Understanding Attribution: Choosing The Right Model For Your Business

As marketers, it is important to leverage the information we have on customer journeys to the point of purchase. By understanding customer behaviors and analyzing results from your top-performing marketing activities you can move forward with real data on what has proven to drive conversions in the past with your previous efforts. This also helps remove some of the guesswork and faulty assumptions for what is making an impact within your marketing mix.

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What Is An Attribution Model?

An attribution model (of which there are many) is a strategy or set of rules that determines how your analytics tool assigns credit for clicks that lead to conversions. With the right attribution model capturing data, you are able to provide a deeper analysis to further understand your campaign performance.

An attribution model can lend us valuable insights on customer behaviors, best-performing content, the effectiveness of advertising, and so much more - allowing your approach to your audience to be even more strategic and effective on an ongoing basis. Brands should strive to track as many customer touchpoints as possible. This allows you to more accurately contextualize your data and improve customer experience.

Common digital channels to keep in mind when considering attribution include (but are not limited to):

  • Social media
  • Organic search
  • Paid search
  • Referrals
  • Email
  • Digital or social ads

What Is Last-Click Attribution?

Last-click attribution is an attribution model that solely credits the “last click” for the resulting sale or conversion. For example, if you made a social-media post that linked to your website - all sales coming from that site visit would be attributed to the specific social-media post that drove them there. This is the most common and straightforward attribution model, in fact most web analytics packages are set to last-click attribution by default. 

While there is beauty in the straightforward nature of this approach, most marketers agree that last-click attribution oversimplifies the customer journey and gives too much credit to the “last click” driver. Last-click attribution does not take account all of the potential touch points and interactions that led up to that fateful converting click. 

In some cases, a visitor may come to your website several times prior to converting. While understanding what traffic sources are driving conversions is incredibly important, being able to use that information to your advantage is what makes it valuable.

What Is First-Click Attribution?

On the flip-side, first-click attribution ties sales and conversions to the very first, recordable customer interaction. First-click attribution allows you to assess which of your campaigns are best at generating awareness, traffic, and new customers into your ecosystem. 

This model can be effective if your advertising is only running on one or two channels. This would mean that a customer’s options for finding your store are limited, and first-click attribution could be utilized to measure which channels are driving new-customer acquisition and at what rate. However, if you utilize multi-channel marketing or expect to have a potentially longer sales cycle, first-click attribution will not adequately represent the contextual value of your broader marketing efforts. 

If choosing between last-click and first-click attributions, you should consider what data your campaign is more focused on. While first-click attribution can help demonstrate how a customer enters your brand ecosystem on the road to a sale, last-click attribution will demonstrate the singular channel or activity that effectively landed the conversion.

What Is A Revenue Attribution Model?

A revenue attribution model is a system of tracking, connecting, and crediting your marketing efforts to the revenue they ultimately generate. By tying financial values to digital marketing activities, campaigns can be optimized and marketing dollars can be redirected to the channels driving the most revenue.

Unlike both first and last-click attribution, every significant touchpoint from beginning to end should be tracked to accurately apply revenue attribution. If one or more steps are excluded or left untracked, the tracked channels may be overvalued and the results may be potentially misleading. 

There are a wide variety of revenue attribution models, and it is up to you to determine which one will work the best for your campaign - or how you will craft a revenue attribution model to fit your own needs.

  • Single-Touch Attribution Model: This applies 100% of the credit to a single touchpoint (think first and last-click attribution).
  • Multi-Touch Attribution Models: These models give credit to multiple touchpoints in the buyer journey. Simple models like the Linear model give equal credit to every touchpoint, while more nuanced multi-touch models will give higher percentages of credit to key touchpoints (such as the first touch, the lead creation, or the opportunity creation) and lower percentages to less prominent touchpoints.
  • Custom Attribution Models: While unorthodox, you can create a model that meets your specific needs - giving more credit to the areas that are most meaningful for your business.

From Online to In-Store

Depending on your business, online marketing and advertising efforts may eventually translate to in-person sales. This poses a challenge for marketers attempting to keep tabs on the customer journey as it is inherently difficult to track. Common approaches to tying online to in-store purchases include online offers to redeem in-store such as: printable coupons, QR code offers, and direct offers via email. While these strategies see varying degrees of success, they all require several steps of engagement from the customer and require them to keep track of their offer prior to their in-store visit. 

A more seamless approach (for both brands and customers) to managing that offline to online transition is card-linked-offers from Empyr. This stores an offer directly on a consumer's credit card, and in-turn connects digital advertising efforts to in-store purchases.


While each attribution model comes with their own advantages and disadvantages, it is important that you have one in place prior to embarking on a significant marketing campaign. Not only will this strengthen your future marketing efforts, it will also demonstrate the value of your marketing activities and reinforce them with tangible, revenue-driving metrics.

With Empyr card-linked offers, we are able to deliver full offline attribution in ways that most other platforms cannot. Within our real-time analytics dashboard you are able to see in-store sales attributions alongside online marketing and advertising efforts. This solves a real problem for marketers looking to close that online to offline attribution gap.

Contact us today to see if Empyr can help elevate your next campaign - and truly track the results to show for it.

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