Last-touch revenue attribution credits the most recent marketing interaction before lead or opportunity conversion.

Modern marketing organizations operate as revenue centers, not cost centers. CEOs at top-performing companies utilize revenue attribution to understand which activities produce revenue bookings. Revenue attribution models give executives a clear line of sight from the corporate strategy through customer touch-points in the company’s product, marketing, and sales strategies. Download our SBI Magazine Special Issue: Revenue Attribution.


It’s hard to execute a Marketing Strategy to grow revenue faster than your competitors. Leverage the How to Make Your Number in 2018 Workbook to access a revenue growth methodology to hit your number quarter after quarter, and year after year.


Every C-level executive cares about the return on invested capital. Measuring the efficacy of your marketing spend determines whether your team is pulling the right levers to grow revenue. But gaining consensus on a believable approach to revenue attribution is no easy task for marketing organizations.


Sales leaders say, “My team executed on the play I called. That’s why sales won the deal.” Marketing leaders counter with, “If we hadn’t pitched that ball to sales in the first place, you never would have had the chance at bat to hit a home run.” Believe me, I’ve watched this conversation transpire in the boardroom many times. The honest answer: Both sales and marketing leaders are right.


We are all looking for the same outcome: profitable revenue growth. But there are only so many sales and marketing dollars to spread around. So the allocation of that money is a paramount concern. That’s why alignment across the two functions is key.


The only way to obtain alignment is through the right measurement. at requires tools (technology), data, people, and time to accurately determine the amount or percentage of revenue that is attributable to marketing content or activities.


There are several different ways to approach revenue attribution. Some are more complex than others, and each has particular pros and cons. Last-touch attribution measures marketing’s impact on converting leads that produce quality opportunities.


Last-Touch Attribution Scenario


The last-touch revenue attribution model gives all credit to the most recent marketing action or content touch-point before lead or opportunity conversion. Let’s explore a real-world scenario demonstrating how this approach would be applied.


You are marketing enterprise software. A prospect matching your buying persona first learned about your company through a search engine that directed him to your website. He navigated to your site and downloaded a white paper.


Then he was dormant for a month or so before responding to a webinar invite. After attending the webinar, the prospect was contacted by a lead development rep who was unsuccessful in securing an appointment with a salesperson. Lastly, your buyer attended a trade show and stopped by your booth. A week later, he reached out to schedule an appointment with a salesperson. This lead was then converted to an opportunity.


The buyer had a multi-channel and multi-touch journey including your website, white paper content, webinar, and trade show booth. In reality, the webinar may have been the most influential tool in winning over the prospect. But a last-touch revenue attribution model gives the trade show all credit for the conversion because it was the most recent marketing interaction with the buyer.


That’s the downside of a last-touch attribution model. One channel, event, or piece of content may be more influential in progressing the buyer’s journey than the last interaction.But right or wrong, we lose that aspect. The beauty of the last-touch attribution model lies in its simplicity.


Business Model Considerations


A marketer’s nirvana is to accurately measure multi-touch, multi-channel revenue attribution. A multi-touch attribution model that weighs marketing activities and content appropriately across the entire buyer’s journey gives full visibility into the efficacy of your marketing spend. Ideal, but difficult to implement.


Kandace Proud, director of revenue marketing at TeleSign, is a talented and experienced demand- generation leader. “At marketing automation technology conferences, everyone shows beautiful attribution models,” she says. “But no one talks about how hard this is. I have a lean team and can’t dedicate a number of resources to do this right. So single-touch attribution gives me the insight I need without the heavy lifting of a more complicated model.”


To Proud’s point, the marketing team needs to have all the right processes, tools, and data in place to do revenue attribution right. As a sales strategy and operations leader, I know the state of data in a typical sales and marketing organization is terrible at best. This leads to incomplete or inconclusive findings.


How do you determine whether last-touch attribution is the right fit for your organization? The decision hinges on your marketing strategy and selling motions. Consider the following insights from companies that find last-touch attribution works well for their particular business models.


Complex Selling Process


Company A has a complex selling process, involving big deals with multiple stakeholders on a buying decision team. In these environments, sales enablement is typically more important than top-of-funnel activities. In other words, marketing’s contribution to the revenue engine focuses on the development of tools that increase deal size and win rate. Needless to say, this is a perfect scenario for last-touch revenue attribution.


Fast-Moving Buyer’s Journey


Company B is a software company that sells to the SMB market. is company relies on top-of-funnel activity, but also a significant amount of lead-to-opportunity conversion. Because the buying process moves pretty quickly, first-touch or last-touch revenue attribution is the best fit.


That would essentially measure what takes buyers into the funnel—or more importantly, the last thing buyers do or look at that moves them over the hump to conversion. This company gravitates toward the last-touch model because that feels most relevant to the business and provides better visibility into the return on marketing investment.


Strategic Marketing Contributions


The key in revenue attribution is being able to measure the impact your marketing dollars have on top-line growth. Dissecting your marketing strategy to understand the most important contributions will steer you toward the attribution model that best fits your company’s needs. 


Would you like a hand with revenue attribution to make marketing more scientific? Plan a workshop with the SBI team of marketing experts in Dallas at The Studio, SBI’s multimillion-dollar, one-of-a-kind, state-of-the art, executive briefing center. The immersive sessions accelerate your adoption of revenue attribution and put you on the right path with a solution and implementation plan. 


Sales Revenue Growth


May 2017 SBI Magazine Special Issue: Revenue Attribution

How top-flight CMOs prove that each new marketing dollar they invest drives organic revenue growth.


Eric Estrella

Helps clients grow by creating innovative go-to-market strategies.

Eric specializes in helping clients solve some of the most prevalent go-to-market problems in today’s complex selling world. He is an expert in many industries including software, telecommunications, ecommerce, manufacturing and technology. He helps them align strategies and develop go-to-market programs to lower the cost of customer acquisition and increase customer lifetime value.


Recently he developed corporate, product, marketing and sales strategies for an emerging telecommunications solution provider that resulted in a quadrupling of revenue and EBITA in two-year span.


Eric’s background in strategy, sales operations and enablement allows him to provide thought-leadership in emerging best practices in sales and marketing.

Read full bio >