The Power of Influence: Last Touch Attribution Model

The Power of Influence: Last Touch Attribution Model

Think back to the last time you converted from a passive shopper into a paying buyer. Was your decision shaped by the last point of contact with the business? Chances are the final interaction with a company’s sales material or online footprint unrelated to sales at least partially contributed to your decision to fork over your hard-earned cash.

Crediting the last interaction with a business’s marketing material is referred to as the last touch attribution model. Here’s a quick look at what the last touch attribution model entails, why it is used, and its potential fallibility.

An Explanation of the Last Touch Attribution Model

The last touch is often considered the “tipping point” that prompts interested parties to pivot away from an interested party into an actual buyer. Though other touchpoints build momentum toward the point of conversion, it is the last interaction with the business that determines whether one pays for a value offering.

As an example, if a paid search ad presented on Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs) is the final point of contact with the business before prospect conversion into a customer, that interaction is credited for the entirety of the sale.

Most business owners and managers readily admit that the final point of interaction does not tell the entire story of the buyer journey. However, the last interaction likely made more of a difference in conversion than other touchpoints.

The Merits of the Last Touch Attribution Model

The primary advantage of the last touch attribution model is the fact that it is simple. Tracking all touchpoints and crediting each requires time and effort. Use the last touch approach and you’ll have a clear understanding of the final touchpoint prior to the point of conversion.

The last touch attribution model ultimately makes it that much easier to analyze marketing campaign performance. The model also facilitates the identification of the most effective marketing channels and strategies for catalyzing conversions.

Certain marketing channels work better than others. However, it is the final marketing channel that often matters most as it convinces prospects to pay. The overarching sales funnel certainly matters yet there is an argument to be made that it merely builds momentum to the crescendo point that is the last touch with the business’s marketing material or online/offline presence.

Last Touch Attribution Tells Part of the Buyer’s Story

If there is a valid criticism of the last touch attribution model approach, it is the fact that it does not credit other channels for contributing to the ensuing sale. Oftentimes, several touchpoints or even double-digit touchpoints contribute to conversion. Business owners who desire a comprehensive picture of the efficacy of marketing campaigns are willing to expand their marketing analysis horizons beyond the final touchpoint to consider how other touchpoints played a role in shaping the decision to buy.

Critics of the last touch attribution model also argue that it is an oversimplification. As an example, consider an ad presented to a web surfer on a social media platform such as Meta, X, or Instagram. The web surfer might not click the ad at that moment yet the presentation of the ad heightens awareness of the brand. The presentation of the ad that shaped the prospect’s perception of the business also deserves credit for conversion though it might not have played an integral role in the sale.

Last touch attribution is also slightly flawed in that it myopically credits a single device for the ensuing sale. The final touch prior to the point of conversion is important yet the truth of the matter is most customers interact with other company touchpoints on multiple devices. From tablets to smartphones, laptops, TVs, and beyond, the average consumer explores brands through multiple avenues before converting into a paying customer.

Why Businesses Will Continue to Use the Last Touch Attribution Model

Though the last touch attribution model has its flaws, it will likely be used far into the future both in a silo and also in unison with other attribution models. As an example, businesses conducting direct response campaigns such as e-commerce sales and lead generation often use the model to gauge the channel that directly caused the conversion.

As long as the advertising and sales cycles are relatively short, it is logical to continue using the last-touch attribution model. However, businesses that have longer advertising and sales cycles in which customers feel the need to analyze products find the last touch attribution model is less valuable.

Last touch attribution is also highly effective when businesses have scant data available for analysis. Highlighting the final touchpoint serves as a rapid and direct means of tracking conversions. The last touch attribution approach ultimately provides a timely overview of the channel that catalyzes what matters most: prospect conversions.

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