Last Click Attribution

Posted at Sep 19, 2019 1:37:00 PM by THAT Agency | Share

Is last click attribution over-valued? Data driven attribution models tell you how someone clicked onto your website. Perhaps they've visited a dozen times before and regularly read your website content. Is the last time they visited your site really the route that closed them on a sale? That doesn't give credit to all the other interest they've shown. It means a last click model could be misleading you.

Last Click Attribution | Data Driven Attributon Model | THAT Agency of West Palm Beach, Florida

Realistic Paths to Purchase

Many visitors will visit your site many times before finally adding items or services to their cart and checking out. The first click that brought them there could be from social media. It could be from a search that encouraged them to click on SEO content. It could be from a link on another site, or a video from an influencer who advertises for you. That first click gives you a lot of information.

What if they visit a dozen times? Chances are good that they're talking themselves into a purchase over this time. That means they may click through from a review site or from content they feel helps educate them about the brand or product. Re-marketing may encourage them back. Perhaps they've already decided on a purchase, and are considering whether they should add other products or services. This habit is often overlooked, and they may not purchase during these visits.

In this case, a last click model completely overlooks that they may have already decided to buy. It gives no value to the routes that produce these visits in the middle of their process, even though these visits may be encouraging them to add items to a purchase they've already decided on.

Some Information isn't Valuable

The overwhelming majority of last click attribution points to searches for brand names. Yet this means they've already decided to make a purchase. They're visiting you to make that purchase. How did they learn your name? How did they become convinced to value your brand? A last click model doesn't tell you that.

In most cases, a last click model tells you customers purchased because they searched directly for your brand. That tells you nothing about how they learned about your brand or came to a decision on whether to make that purchase, which is the whole point of a data driven attribution model.

Measuring Community Engagement Built Around Brands

This is especially true of younger customers. Millennials and Gen Z will study, comparison shop, look for reviews, bookmark pages, leave tabs open for days. Repeat customers are about 18 times more valuable than one-time customers. For them, last click modeling means even less – they've probably visited your site and engaged with your content dozens of times.

As advertising turns more toward sharing and creating communities around brands, last click modeling tells you very little about how that community engages with your content. That community is regularly visiting, sharing, and getting others to visit. 

Successful marketing today orients itself around producing communities that are regularly engaged. If they're regularly engaged, and they're regularly engaging others on your behalf, the last route someone took to visit your site before making a purchase fails to tell you anything about the behavior of that community's regular engagement.

How Last Click Misses the Obvious

If someone visits because they do an online search, and clicks on SEO content, that's their first click. Maybe they don't buy, but they're interested. Now, they follow you on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or other social media. They visit the site a few times from there.

In the meantime, they're looking up reviews for the product they're interested in. They watch a video from an influencer that features your advertising. You remarket them and they visit the site again. They're still clicking on content you share on social media.

Finally, they decide to get that product that's been on their mind the whole time. They know you well enough that the last few visits, they simply type your site's URL in and auto-fill completes it for them. The last time they do this before purchasing is the only value that last click attribution values.

In this example, as a data driven attribution model, last click tells you nothing about the SEO content's performance, about social media clicks, about that influencer's effectiveness, about the remarketing, or about clicking through to content on social media.

All it tells you is that a direct link they typed in sent them your way. What value is that? It gives you virtually no information about your marketing's effectiveness.

Other Models

There are many other models that are more useful. You can break down links by type. This means you can measure the last non-direct link, or the last AdWords link. To gauge how people are learning about your brand in the first place, First Click modeling is ideal. Just like Last Click, it is unlikely to give you the full picture of what closes someone on a sale.

Linear modeling values all routes taken to visit your site equally – this is great for measuring the value of content creation and remarketing.

Time Decay values all of them, but gives the most recent ones greater value than older ones.

Position Based values first and last click, and gives midpoints lesser values.

Of course, you can weight the values however you want. Perhaps you want that last click to be important, but not the only thing that's valued. Perhaps you want Time Decay modeling but with added weight to non-direct links. You can combine models and approaches, or run a few different useful models at once if you know what specific question you want each to answer.

One approach should obviously take priority over others, but the beauty of data driven attribution models is that each one can tell you a piece of the story that fits with the others. Each one gives you a chunk of useful information. Within that is a best approach that tells you the greatest piece of the story all at once. It just means finding which model and which weighting give that to your organization.

Which Model Should I Use?

A lot of this relies on the kind of marketing you use – whether you lean heavily toward inbound marketing, remarketing, influencer marketing, social media ads, email engagement... the list goes on. There are endless combinations, and chances are you lean more toward a few select methods that have proved useful for you. There's a model and approach to weighting engagement within it that will fit your marketing priorities and show you what's effective and what might need work.

All of this can be overwhelming to figure out on your own. Marketing companies do this for dozens or hundreds of organizations at a time, so they've already figured out which combination of marketing priorities, what size of business, what industry, and what type of customer base are best described by which kind of model. They've done all that narrowing down to get the most useful model, so they'll be able to jump-start you on the one that's most helpful for making your marketing more effective.


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