What You Can Learn from Marketing Attribution Reports

01/05/2023 5 min read Written by Corie Stark

“We need more conversions.”
At some point in their careers, every marketer has heard this. The more conversions you get, the more deals you can close, so it makes sense that this is high on managers’ minds.

But the path to conversion isn’t simple. It involves a series of actions your lead takes as they travel along your buyer journey — and understanding which of your marketing efforts are the most successful in this journey is key to reaching conversion goals.

The question now is: “How do I learn what’s having the most impact?” With marketing attribution reporting, you can analyze how effective your marketing teams’ various campaigns and assets are.

What is Marketing Attribution?

Marketing attribution refers to all the different interactions a contact took that assisted in creating your desired outcome, such as a conversion, with an assignment of value to each engagement. The goal of marketing attribution is to help your marketing department see how their campaigns — paid ads, email, website visits, content, referrals, search — impact a sale.

TLDR: Marketing attribution determines which of your marketing tactics contribute to sales and conversions. It gives credit where credit is due.

Types of Attribution Reports

HubSpot attribution models attribute credit to interactions that create Contacts, Deals, and Revenue. Here’s what that breakdown looks like: 

Contact Create attribution reports use key conversions for first and last interaction or first touch, last touch. First interaction is the first recorded interaction in HubSpot and last interaction is the interaction before they converted to a contact. 

Deal and Revenue attribution reports measure key conversions around first interaction, lead creation, deal creation, and closed-won. First interaction refers to the first recorded interaction in HubSpot. Lead creation shows the last interaction a contact had before becoming a lead or converting to a contact. Deal creation is the last interaction before a contact was associated with a deal and closed-won shows the last interaction before the deal associated with them was moved to the closed-won deal stage.

An Attribution Model Breakdown

When it comes to reporting on marketing attribution, there are different models you can follow:

First Touch – First touch or first interaction marketing attribution tracks the first step a user takes to convert. For example, they searched for “creative services” on Google and found your site. The first touch is crucial because it begins the buyers’ journey for your potential customers.

Last Touch – Last touch or last interaction marketing attribution tracks the last step a contact takes before converting. An example might be someone filling out their payment information on a sign-up form. The final touch is also critical because it shows the ultimate factor that resulted in that person converting.

Linear - Linear marketing attribution splits conversion credit equally among all interactions. An example of this might be a conversion path with multiple touch points such as social interactions, a form submission, a website page view, a click from a marketing email, etc. While this type of report gives you a holistic picture of all marketing channels and performance, it will not identify which assets are most effective.U-Shaped - U-shaped marketing attribution gives higher credit (40%) to the first and last touchpoints in your conversion path. There’s less emphasis on the middle interactions or the steps a contact takes after it is created,so each middle interaction splits the remaining 20% attribution credit evenly. This type of report is helpful if you’re focused on qualifying contacts at the top of your funnel.

W-Shaped - W-shaped marketing attribution gives higher credit (30%) to the first, last, and the interaction that creates a deal in the buyer’s journey. The remaining credit (10%) is evenly distributed between the remaining interactions. This type of report helps identify which touchpoints lead to conversion and those that help move a contact through the buyer’s journey.

Time Decay - Time decay marketing attribution weighs recent interactions before converting more heavily using a 7-day timeline. Interactions occurring eight days prior to a conversion receive half as much credit as those occurring during the 7-day measurement. Interaction credit decays the longer it takes to close a deal.

Full Path - Full path marketing attribution gives equal credit or deal revenue (22.5%) to first touch, lead creation, deal creation, and last touch interactions. The remaining interactions split the 10% credit equally. Similar to the metrics of the W-shape model, the full path model takes it one step further to include when a contact becomes a qualified lead. It’s worth noting full path reporting is only available in revenue attribution reports.

J-shaped - J-shaped marketing attribution gives more credit to the first interaction (60%) and the interaction prior to that conversion (20%). The remaining 20% is split equally among the other interactions. This type of reporting gives more credit to interactions that resulted in a closed conversion and is often referred to as a more “balanced approach.”

Inverse J-shaped - Inverse J-shaped marketing attribution gives 60% credit to the first touch, 20% to the last touch, then divides the remaining 20 % credit equally amongst the additional interactions. Also considered a more “balanced” approach, the Inverse J model gives more credit to the interactions that initiated a conversion with more weight on the first interaction.

Why Use Marketing Attribution Reports?

Reporting of any kind can help you better understand what’s working and what’s not in your marketing strategy. Attribution reports specifically allow marketers to see their impact on the sales process and, ultimately, their influence on a person’s purchasing decision. More specifically, it can reveal:

  • Insights into what your users like and don’t like in terms of digital marketing
  • The most common pathways to conversion and how you can replicate them for other leads
  • How many touches, interactions, or points it takes on average to convert a user
  • Your strongest and weakest content, particularly your best TOFU and BOFU material
  • What platforms or channels generate the most first and last touches
  • What you need to do to improve your buyers’ journey

Ultimately, different kinds of marketing attribution reports help marketing teams focus on driving more conversions by revealing what content, platforms, and mediums have the most significant effect on leads.

Get Help Building Marketing Attribution Reports

Now that you know why it’s essential to understand the actions someone takes on their journey to becoming customers, it’s time to build these reports! For HubSpot users, you can make these in your portal by navigating to the “Reports” dropdown and choosing “Create Report” and “Attribution.”

However, if you find yourself having trouble building these reports — or understanding marketing attribution — feel free to reach out! We’re here to help, so you never have to feel nervous when someone asks for more conversions.

By: Corie Stark

After spending many years as a sports journalist, Corie switched to marketing in 2013. Her love of writing, talking to people, and keeping up with the industry enables her to use her skills for anything from social media to long-form blogging. Outside of work, she enjoys hiking with her dogs and making her cats chase the ever elusive red dot.

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