First Click Attribution: Definition, Example, and More! 
Sep 08, 2023 | 8 min read | Leave a comment
If you want to get the most out of your marketing and advertising efforts, you need to know which channels and ads are bringing you the best results. But how do you know which ads are convincing your customers to buy your products or services?
This is where one of the most common attribution models comes in handy: First click attribution. This model gives all the credit to the first touchpoint that introduced the customer to your brand. In this blog, we’ll talk about:
- Definition of first-click attribution with an example
- The difference between first click attribution and last click attribution
- Google Analytics attribution model
- The difference between first touch and first click
and many more!
What Is First Click Attribution?
First click attribution is an approach that attributes all of the credit for a sale to the customer’s initial point of interaction. It disregards all subsequent interactions and only gives the first touchpoint credit for a conversion.
This can be a useful tool for tracking the success of your marketing initiatives and figuring out where the majority of your customers are finding you initially.
Although it is a simple and efficient method for figuring out what first attracts customers to your business, it doesn’t fully explain what ultimately motivates a customer to convert. That’s why it is recommended to mix other attribution models with this one to illustrate a more thorough picture of your customer buying journey.
Specifically, the last click attribution model (which focuses on the final touchpoint before the customer purchase) or the linear model (a multi-touch attribution model that distributes credit evenly across all touchpoints) can both be used in conjunction with the first click attribution model.
First-Click Attribution Example
Let’s use an actual case to illustrate this concept.
Think about a little startup that operates a website and sells handcrafted scarves. To draw customers, they implement a variety of marketing techniques, such as:
- Social media promotion
- Email newsletters
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
One day, Sam, a new customer, learns about the company from a Facebook advertisement. Sam clicks the advertisement, which takes him to the company’s website. Sam’s first encounter with the company has been via Facebook . He subscribes to a newsletter but doesn’t make any purchases.
Sam receives an email from the company a few days later. He scrolls through the email newsletter and finds the scarf promotion, although he has the urge to buy, but still hesitates .
Finally, he saw a Google Ad for the scarf and decided to make the purchase .
According to the first-click attribution model, the Facebook advertisement  receives all of the credit for Sam’s purchase because it was the initial touchpoint to direct Sam to the company’s website.
Although the email initiated the purchase, the Facebook advertisement is credited with introducing Sam to the company. Therefore, according to first click attribution, Facebook would receive full credit for Sam’s scarf purchase.
First-Click vs Last-Click Attribution
Attribution models are ways of measuring the impact of different marketing channels and ads on conversions. There are many types of attribution models, but two of the most popular ones are first click attribution and last click attribution.
First click attribution gives all the credit to the first touchpoint that introduced the customer to your brand, while last click attribution gives all the credit to the last touchpoint that convinced the customer to buy. Both of these models have their advantages and disadvantages.
First click attribution helps you identify which channels, campaigns, and content are effective at generating awareness and interest for your brand. It shows you what attracts new customers to your eCommerce store.
Last click attribution helps you identify which channels, campaigns, and content are effective at closing sales and generating revenue. It shows you what persuades customers to buy your products or services.
However, both first click and last click attribution have a major flaw: they ignore all the other touchpoints that contribute to the customer journey. They assume that only one touchpoint is responsible for the conversion, which is not realistic. Most customers interact with multiple ads across different channels before they make a purchase.
Therefore, neither first click nor last click attribution can give you a complete picture of how customers interact with your eCommerce store over time. They can only give you a partial insight into a specific aspect of your campaign. If you want to get a more accurate and holistic view of your marketing performance, you need to use a more advanced attribution model that takes into account multiple touchpoints.
Here is a comparison table, for better assessment:
|Gives the most credit to the first touchpoint
|Gives the most credit to the last touchpoint
|Exposes which channels, campaigns, and content work to start new customer journeys
|Reveals what closes new customer journeys
|Is helpful if you want to track the first impression of your campaign
|Is helpful if you want to track the final action of your campaign
|Single–touch attribution models, does not accurately represent the average conversion process, which includes interacting with numerous advertising across various channels
- Use the first-touch approach to determine which channels are most successful at generating new leads and increasing brand recognition.
- The last click is a preferable choice if you want to determine which channels are most effective at converting buyers and generating sales.
Overall, it comes down to your marketing objectives and the kind of campaign you’re seeking to measure to determine whether first-click or last-click attribution models are preferable. The first click might be a better option in some circumstances, while the last click might be a better decision in others.
Remember that before selecting an attribution model, it is crucial to thoroughly analyze the facts and context at hand.
Is Google Analytics First or Last Click Attribution?
If you use Google Analytics to measure your marketing performance, you might be curious about how it assigns credit to different ads and clicks that lead to conversions. Does it use the first click or the last click attribution model?
And the truth is …
Google Analytics does not use the first click attribution model or the last click attribution model. Instead, GA uses a variety of attribution models that you can choose from depending on your goals and preferences. It is known as the last non-direct click attribution model.
The last non-direct click model, which Google Analytics has established as the default for non-Multi Channel Funnels reports, specifically assigns the value of a conversion to the last touchpoint as long as it comes from a non-direct traffic source.
Here, the analytics ignores direct traffic (users who access your website directly) and focuses exclusively on the channels that prospects used before converting, such as email or social media.
This approach can help you analyze conversions from various channels by reducing the size of your data set by removing potential customers who have previously seen your marketing efforts and are familiar with the website’s domain name.
What Is The Difference Between First Touch and First Click?
First touch and first click attributions are not precisely the same, even though many marketing materials may assume so. For touch attribution versus click attribution, the attribution model examines several actions. Following is a breakdown:
- First-touch: The initial marketing touchpoint (the channel or activity that generated the contact) receives complete credit under the first touch attribution model.
- First-click: In this model, the “first click” is given full credit.
In this article, we have explained what first click attribution is and how it works with a real-life example. We have also shown you how to use it to optimize your marketing campaigns and budget.
But first click attribution is not the only attribution model out there. There are many other models that can give you different insights into your marketing performance. For example, last click attribution, linear attribution, and data-driven attribution. Depending on your goals and preferences, you might want to use different models for different purposes.
So, don’t limit yourself to just one attribution model! Explore and experiment with different models and see how they affect your conversion reports and insights. By doing so, you can improve your marketing strategy and increase your sales.
One last piece of advice: Use marketing attribution software to connect the dots between your website, your CRM, and your analytics if you want to stay ahead of the curve. Those tools will give you convenience and 100% trustworthy results!
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