What is Lead Attribution? (+ How To Get Started!)

Madhurima Chatterjee

In the ever-changing world of marketing and sales, it is crucial to have your marketing methodologies and initiatives backed up by concrete results. How would you otherwise be able to replicate your success over time to earn those magic revenue numbers or avoid a fiasco that earned you negative publicity in your industry?

With most businesses investing heavily in digital marketing channels, you need to know what content your target audience likes, which platforms they predominantly use, and what strategy best entices them. 

Thanks to lead attribution today, you can continue maximizing the results of your successful marketing efforts by tracking the marketing channels that generate the most leads for your business as you promote your brand across more of them. Not to mention the initiatives that bring you the high-ticket qualified leads ready to invest in your product or service immediately!

But what does this powerful method of marketing analysis entail? And how do you get started on it right now? This blog answers all these questions and more—and is geared toward informing you how lead attribution can supercharge your marketing strategy and boost your company revenue to skyrocket the growth of your organization.

Let’s get started!

What is lead attribution?

In a nutshell, lead attribution, also known as marketing attribution, is a technique for evaluating the success of a marketing channel by examining and attributing value to each touchpoint that leads to a conversion or a sale.

Let's explain this with an example.

Suppose you put out an Instagram post highlighting the 30% discount a customer can avail of on your product using a link embedded with a special code. Upon viewing the post, the customer clicks on the link, immediately transforming into a lead, and goes on to buy your product. In such a scenario, the credit for conversion completely goes to your Instagram post, and you can call it a successful marketing initiative.

But why is lead attribution key to your successful marketing efforts?

Why do you require lead attribution?

Why should you consider tracking and proportioning all the revenue brought to you by your marketing initiatives and tracing them back to their leads? Well, it is the simplest formula to achieve success, i.e., convert sales and generate revenue.   

This is a no-brainer, but you must create leads to increase your business's conversions, sales, and revenue. In order to do that, you need to know which channels and marketing initiatives are most effective in attracting your target prospects.

Lead attribution helps you determine which marketing initiatives are succeeding for your business and which are falling short by crediting your leads with the sales revenue they produce. This implies that you devote more efforts to enhancing the effective techniques, which enables you to generate more leads and conversions while also realizing a higher return on investment (ROI).

Let's find out how lead attribution can benefit you in the next section.

Benefits of lead attribution

Besides helping you calculate your ROI and decide how much you should invest in each marketing channel or initiative (such as an ad campaign, a social media contest, or an email drip campaign) for every individual segment of customers, here are some other benefits that lead attribution can bring to the table:

  • Capacity to maximize marketing efforts and, consequently, the ROI behind employed marketing channels and initiatives;
  • Insights into the consumer journey that help create lead nurturing tactics that push the customer through the sales process and towards purchasing;
  • Ability to identify which approach or channel generates the best-qualified leads and optimize subsequent workflows with leads from that source as necessary; and,
  • Information that enables marketers to develop and defend a marketing budget and, if required, cut costs towards ineffective marketing methodologies.

You must understand the different lead attribution models to get started with lead attribution.

What are lead attribution models?

These tried-and-tested frameworks help you track how customers and website visitors interact with your marketing channels before becoming leads or customers. You should understand what specific touchpoints (and how many) a website visitor or an app user comes in contact with before they turn into a lead.

Assigning capital can be done using a variety of models. These models are difficult to comprehend and are made up of logical algorithms. However, once you locate the correct one for your organization, they are simple to personalize and implement.

1. First-touch attribution model

This gives complete credit to the first marketing touchpoint that your lead came across, which pushed them to explore your brand further and turn into a lead.

For example, when the potential prospect searched some keywords on Google, your blog was amongst the first options to pop up. They visit the blog and, from there, explore your website before finally signing up for your newsletter. Here, your blog gets primary credit, and using a first-touch attribution model—you discover how well your content marketing effort is working to build brand awareness.

First-touch attribution model

2. Last-touch attribution model

This is the opposite of the first-touch attribution model, where complete credit goes towards the last marketing touchpoint your lead interacted with, which finally got them to jump into the sales pipeline.

Using the same example mentioned above, when the potential prospect discovers your blog with some keywords on Google, they explore your website and, in seeking social proof, read some customer case studies—before signing up on the contact form. In this scenario, your case study gets attributed to the lead and is held responsible for converting them into a qualified lead. 

Last-touch attribution model

3. Multi-touch attribution model

As the name implies, a multi-touch attribution model considers every marketing touchpoint your potential lead came in touch with before converting. Often cited as the most thorough and successful attribution model, it assists in understanding the complete route taken by your leads before filling up your lead generation form.

Multi-touch attribution models can be subdivided into these few types:

1. Linear attribution model

Here, every individual marketing touchpoint or lead interaction is given equal credit.  

Multi-touch attribution model

2. Time-decay attribution model

Here, every individual marketing touchpoint is given credit, however disproportionately. To put this into perspective, the newer marketing interactions receive a greater percentage of the attribution credit.

Time-decay attribution model

3. Position-based (or U-shaped) attribution model

Here, 40% of the credit is given to each of the first and the last marketing touchpoint, while the remaining 20% is divided evenly between the interactions in the middle. 

Thus, if there are six marketing touchpoints in total, the first and the last ones get 40% credit each, while the ones in the middle get 5% each.

Position-based (or U-shaped) attribution model

4. Full-path attribution model

This is the most technical framework. Here's how it works:

  • 22.5% of the credit is given to the first interaction; 
  • 22.5% credit is given to the touchpoint that creates the contact; 
  • 22.5% credit is given to the interaction that creates the deal; and,
  • 22.5% of the credit is given to the touchpoint that closes the sale.

The rest of the 10% is evenly distributed amongst any touchpoints otherwise involved in conversion.

Full-path attribution model

Best practices to get you started with lead attribution.

Would I even be doing my job if I didn't introduce you to these five best practices you should follow to get started with lead attribution? Absolutely not! Let's see what they are.

1. Set revenue goals and choose the attribution model best suited to your business

Setting your objectives with lead attribution is very important starting out. Once you set your objectives, you may notice that most (if not all) are geared towards greater revenue generation. 

But here's the thing. Every lead may not be qualified and may not convert, bringing you sought-after revenue. Therefore, KPIs that simply accounts for lead generation is not ideal for your business in the long run.

The questions you should rather be concerned with are:

  • about customer lifetime value;
  • about which marketing initiatives are bringing the high-balling offers to the table; and,
  • Whether the marketing efforts are boosting the company's growth and revenue.

In a nutshell, before you start on lead attribution, you must stop concentrating on lead generation efforts and instead focus them on revenue generation efforts. Once that is done, you should decide which attribution model best suits your revenue generation strategy. 

If social media brings you the most qualified leads, then double down on that. Similarly, if the resources on your website are compelling your visitors to convert into leads, you should invest in building the best possible version.

2. Map out your customer journey

How will you know which touchpoints you can attribute your leads to unless you don't know all of your marketing touchpoints by heart? It is, therefore, advisable to map out your customer journey. This means creating a visual blueprint of customers' processes, from initial exposure to purchase, loyalty, and retention.

Map out your customer journey

The first step toward lead and revenue alignment is mapping the customer journey, which enables marketing, sales, and customer care teams to ensure that potential customers aren't slipping through the gaps. If your marketing leads and revenue inflows do not correlate, you may end up wasting a lot of resources on the wrong things.  

To achieve synergy, you must start at the top of the sales funnel and create a roadmap to the loyalty and retention stages. Monitoring a prospect through the full customer journey means everything needs to be integrated into a single experience. It can be difficult to set up, but once done, you can expect a lot of productivity within your workflows.

3. Utilize lead attribution tools

With lead attribution turning out to be an important part of successfully marketing your brand, many companies have come out with their own lead attribution software. 

The primary reason you should invest in one is that it will give you valuable insights into how, where, and when your marketing efforts influenced a lead, enabling you to bridge the gap between marketing and sales and, consequently, achieve your revenue targets. 

It will also make your life easier, considering you don't have to manually track and monitor every marketing touchpoint and trace every qualified lead back to the right one.

4. Employ Google Analytics to get the hang of things first

Analyzing the effectiveness of the sources of your leads can be overwhelming when starting out. This is why taking a little help from Google Analytics can make a huge difference if you are initially stressed about your lead attribution method. 

Google Analytics has a number of effective features that enable you to determine whether your efforts are improving the bottom line of your business, even while it isn't a perfect solution for attributing money back to your marketing leads.

If you set up everything properly, you should get a breakdown of each marketing channel's revenue generated over a given period of time.

One of the most efficient features is the acquisition tab, which allows advertisers to see exactly where their revenue originates and may be used to determine which marketing channels are the most successful. There is only one catch: leads can get redirected, which means that Google doesn't know how they visited your website. This can occur if a user types a URL into their browser directly or clicks on a link that can't be immediately linked to a particular source for any reason. 

Overall still, a smart solution to start your lead attribution journey with!

5. Measure revenue from individual leads and optimize lead generation strategies accordingly

Now that you have started with lead attribution, it is a game of careful calculation, patience, and continuous optimization. Setting up a revenue management system that integrates with your lead attribution software can be a stroke of genius. It can allow you to conveniently access all the data relevant to the sales process and utilize it to improve lead generation.

You could employ revenue management software that can provide you with a comprehensive array of data to assist you in maximizing revenue by precision-pointing the marketing campaigns that generated the biggest number of sales.

Once you identify which strategies and channels are generating the highest revenue, you should focus on optimizing your lead generation processes next. 

Measure revenue from individual leads and optimize lead generation strategies accordingly

If most of your high-value qualified leads come off social media, you must publish on every relevant platform where your target audience can be found. And you should do it frequently to keep up the hype about your product or service. 

Similarly, suppose your website visitors sign up for the contact form, seeing your previous clients' testimonials and case studies. In that case, you should work on gathering and publishing more of them.

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