- May 30, 2018
- By Jeff Keenan
When it comes to different attribution models, last touch attribution has had a questionable reputation resulting in many marketers avoiding it altogether. But the model is more potent than its reputation would have you believe, and in some cases, it’s actually your best option. Read on to learn when and where to use last touch attribution for the best insights.
Chances are you’re familiar with last touch attribution without even knowing it. It has been the most commonly used model because it was the only model offered by Google Analytics for years and became a starting point for many marketers exploring attribution in general.
Although the last touch attribution model is very popular, some dismiss it as unreliable. But when you look a little deeper, you can find some good reasons to choose this model, and in fact, there are circumstances where it’s the most appropriate model out there.
In this article, we’ll teach you…
- What it is (definition)
- When to use it (marketing activity)
- Where to use it (industry)
- Its pros and cons
What it is: Definition of “last touch attribution”
Getting to grips with the industry specific terms of attribution isn’t always easy. But for last touch attribution, it’s pretty self-explanatory.
In last touch attribution, all credit for the conversion is assigned to the final touchpoint a visitor encountered. See our Marketing Attribution Terminology overview for more about touchpoints in general, but consider this quick example where a visitor first clicks on a Facebook ad to arrive at your website, goes away, then comes back later after doing an organic search. In this case, the last touch is the organic search.
Just like First Touch Attribution, the last touch model is a single-touch model. This means no other touch points are taken into consideration and that full credit for a conversion is given to just the last touchpoint a visitor interacted with.
When to use it: Type of marketing activity
Our clients use last touch attribution for measuring the performance of “Direct Response Marketing“, often just called DR campaigns. Broadly speaking, there are two different types of marketing strategies; branding, and direct response. Branding takes quite a long time to have its effect on customer behavior as if often difficult to measure using analytic tools like attribution. Direct response marketing is at the opposite end of the spectrum. It compels consumers to take action right away… to convert quickly.
Last touch attribution is appropriate when you want to measure the effectiveness of DR campaigns. When you just want to measure the last stage of the buying cycle at the bottom of your funnel, last touch should be your first choice.
Last touch doesn’t tell you anything about how your customer got attracted to the brand, or why he/she initially decided to engage with it. It does not give any insight about prospect activity higher up the funnel. In contrast, it’s ideal for measuring which touchpoint directly precedes a purchase.
If you want to know how well your call to action is doing, or if you want to measure which touchpoint closes a deal without having to brush up your technical knowledge? Go with last touch atttribution.
Where to use it: Type of industry
Last touch attribution can work well for companies with shorter sales cycles. Mostly, these are B2C companies with an inside sales team or none at all. It can also work for B2B companies who simply want to know which call to action made the their customer decide to purchase or fill out a form.
Using a last touch attribution model can be a good choice when you’re running an online store or ecommerce business. When shoppers are looking around your online store to buy a jacket, they may not pull out their wallet right away. At some point they leave, without purchasing.
To try and “close the deal”, you might use retargeting ads that remind the site visitor about the item they looked at but haven’t yet purchased, hoping to lure them back to the site to actually spend money this time around.
You might try a variety of different ads on various mediums to see which one triggers you to return to the online store and make the purchase. Last touch attribution is very appropriate in this case. It will tell the marketer which of the retargeting ads worked the best.
Pros and cons of the last touch attribution model
Here is a quick overview of the advantages and disadvantages of this popular attribution model.
- Best model to use for direct response campaigns and quick calls-to-action
- No complicated weighted calculations needed, so heated discussions are avoided and everyone “gets it”
- Measures activity at the bottom of the funnel to see what triggers buyer purchases
- Ignores any mid-funnel and top-of-funnel activity
- Useless for observing longer (B2B) buying cycles
- Doesn’t give insight into which early touchpoints lead to revenue, so ROI calculations are impossible
How to get the best of both worlds
As should be clear by now, you shouldn’t throw last touch attribution out. Instead, realize it’s an important tool when used in appropriate situations. The real key here is that you want to be able to choose the attribution model most appropriate for the job at hand.
The pros and cons listed above might give you the impression that marketing attribution is a zero sum game: when you want a more insight, you’ll need to invest a lot more time and effort. Luckily, this isn’t the case.
Imagine being able to switch between different attribution models in real time, choosing more versatile models when the situation requires it… but without losing the ease of use of last touch?
Look for flexibility in your attribution tools and don’t get locked into a single model. Real time attribution systems like LeadsRx give you everything you need to switch between modeling techniques to get the best insights for the type of marketing you want to measure.