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What is last click attribution?

Article originally published in July 2023 by Stuart Brameld. Most recent update in February 2024.

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Definition of last click attribution

Last click attribution is a popular method used in marketing to determine the value of different marketing touchpoints. It’s a model that gives all the credit for a conversion (like a sale or a sign-up) to the last interaction a customer had before they completed the desired action. This could be clicking on an ad, opening an email, or visiting a website.

For marketers, understanding last click attribution is crucial. It helps them identify which marketing channels or campaigns are driving conversions. However, it’s important to remember that this model doesn’t consider other interactions a customer may have had before the final click. So, while it’s useful, it doesn’t provide a complete picture of a customer’s journey.

An example of last click attribution

Here is an example of how it works:

Growth Method, a SaaS company, runs multiple marketing campaigns across various channels like social media, email, and search engine marketing. A potential customer, John, first learns about Growth Method through a Facebook ad. He clicks on the ad but doesn’t make a purchase. A few days later, he receives an email from Growth Method and clicks on the link, but again, he doesn’t make a purchase. Finally, he sees a Google search ad for Growth Method, clicks on it, and this time, he signs up for a free trial. In this scenario, using last click attribution, the credit for John’s sign-up would go entirely to the Google search ad because it was the last touchpoint before he made the conversion.

How does last click attribution work?

Last click attribution works by assigning the entire credit for a conversion to the final touchpoint in the customer journey. For marketers, this means that the last ad or link a customer clicked on before making a purchase or completing a desired action is considered the sole driver of that conversion. This model is often used in digital marketing to evaluate the effectiveness of specific campaigns or channels, as it provides a clear, albeit simplified, view of what led to the final conversion.

Expert opinions and perspectives

Here are how some of the world’s best marketing and growth professionals, and companies, think about last click attribution.

  • Last-click attribution is a simplistic and outdated way to measure marketing effectiveness. It gives all the credit to the last touchpoint in the customer journey, even though many other touchpoints may have contributed to the conversion.” – Avinash Kaushik, “Last-Click Attribution Is Dead. Long Live Attribution!” (2012)
  • “Last-click attribution is like giving a marathon runner a medal for only crossing the finish line. It ignores all the hard work that went into getting there.” – Chris Goward, “The Death of Last-Click Attribution” (2014)
  • “Last-click attribution is a blunt instrument that doesn’t give you a true picture of how your marketing is performing. If you want to make informed decisions about your marketing, you need to use a more sophisticated attribution model.” – “The Limitations of Last-Click Attribution” (2023)

Questions to ask yourself

As a modern growth marketing or agile marketing professional, ask yourself the following questions with regard to last click attribution:

  1. Is the last click attribution model providing a comprehensive view of my marketing efforts?
  2. Am I potentially overlooking other touchpoints that contribute to conversions by focusing solely on the last click?
  3. How can I adjust my marketing strategy to better reflect the insights gained from last click attribution data?
  4. Are there any patterns or trends in the last click data that can inform my future marketing campaigns?
  5. How can I effectively combine last click attribution with other models to gain a more holistic understanding of my marketing performance?

Here are some related articles and further reading you may find helpful.

Additional reading

Here are some related articles and further reading around last click attribution that you may find helpful.

  1. “What is last click attribution and why is it important?” – Econsultancy
  2. “Which Attribution Models Should You Use?” – Smart Insights
  3. “Why marketers are failing to target consumers in the moment” – Marketing Week
  4. “Last click attribution is killing your PPC performance. Here’s why.” – ClickZ
  5. “A Comprehensive Guide to Last-Click Attribution” – Search Engine Journal

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