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data attribution
Sep 20, 2023

Why data attribution matters

Dayna Lang
Author Dayna Lang

Data attribution is critical for marketers looking to understand the full impact of their campaigns. With that being said, what is data attribution and how does it help marketers make informed decisions? 

What is data attribution? 

Data attribution, also commonly referred to as marketing attribution, is the association of data points with specific marketing activities. This can mean attributing landing page views with specific social posts, demo requests with paid ads, and organic traffic with blog posts. 

This association is critical for not only giving team members credit where credit is due, but for understanding which strategies are successful and where improvements need to be made.

The product team at Hubspot described attribution as surfacing “which interactions a person or group of people took along their journey toward a desired outcome or ‘conversion’ point.” 

Lead attribution is also an important aspect of data attribution. This means associating sales leads back to any and all marketing activities and touch points that brought them into the fold. 

Why does data attribution matter to marketers? 

Data attribution matters because without proper attribution, marketers are flying blind. By bringing to light meaningful interactions and successful strategies, marketers can understand how their campaigns impact their brand, where they need to change, and where they need to stay the course. 

There are several essential pieces of information that are derived from data attribution: 

  • The most influential channels and the sales cycle phases in which they are the most impactful.
  • The most common sequences of online and offline customer interactions and lead behaviors prior to becoming a customer.
  • The content formats that are successful in driving traffic and sales enablement efforts. 
  • The campaigns with the highest return on investment (ROI).

Essentially, by utilizing attribution data, marketers can assess which activities are responsible for revenue generation.  

Attribution gives marketers necessary insight so that they can drive their campaigns with clarity. Attributions lets marketers make informed decisions about their campaigns in order to reduce wasted ad-spend and increase their ROI (return on investment). 

Data attribution for cross-channel marketing management 

Data attribution is also critical for successful cross-channel marketing. When marketers have assets across several platforms, it can be difficult to know which activities, on which platforms are successful. 

By properly attributing leads and conversions to various channels, marketers can alter their strategies in order to get the very best value for their ad-spend. Without proper marketing attribution, cross-channel marketers are unable to properly decide which channels to focus on. 

Data attribution tools 

Since the purpose of measuring attribution is to give credit in order to understand which activities are successful, it is important to choose a tool for measuring attribution that tells as full a story as possible.  

There are dozens of reputable tools on the market and choosing which tool to use is the first step in taking advantage of accurate data attribution. 

Some of these tools curry favor to early touch-points, highlighting awareness and consideration stages in the customer journey. Others tend to assign credit largely near the conversion stage of the funnel. 

It’s important to find balance, so that marketers who’ve contributed at each stage of the journey receive the credit they are due and can make informed decisions going forward. 

Which model of attribution is right for your brand is going to differ from other organizations and that’s okay. There is no one uniform way to collect and measure attribution data, what’s important is that thought and consideration is given to every stage of the customer journey when deciding on a data attribution tool. 

Some of the most popular data attribution tools include: 

  • Google Analytics: Google Analytics is perhaps the most popular web analytics tool. It provides free information about website traffic, user behavior, and conversions. It also lets marketers set goals, enabling easy attribution. 
  • Google Tag Manager: Google Tag Manager works alongside Google Analytics and other marketing tools letting marketers manage and deploy tracking tags and codes without needing to access a website’s code directly; this simplifies data attribution setup and management.
  •  UTM Parameters: UTM parameters, while not a standalone tool, are essential for tracking the performance of specific marketing campaigns and links. These parameters let marketers append tracking parameters to URLs, helping them identify the source, medium, and campaign associated with traffic and conversions.
  • Meta Attribution Tool: The Meta Attribution Tool is a valuable resource for advertising on any Meta platform (including Facebook, Instagram, and Threads). It provides insights into how social ads contribute to conversions so that marketers can optimize campaigns.  
  • HubSpot Attribution Report (Free CRM users): HubSpot offers free attribution reports within its CRM platform. This lets marketers understand which channels and activities are driving leads and is an excellent choice for small businesses and startups.

Data attribution models

There are four major models for data attribution, each with their own drawbacks and benefits. 

​​First-click attribution

First-click attribution assigns credit to the first channel a new customer or lead interacts with and favors awareness activities at the top of the marketing funnel.

Last-click attribution

Last-click attribution, in contrast, assigns credit to the last channel a new customer or lead interacts with and favors late funnel activities, focussing on conversion. This is also the default model used by Google Analytics. 

Multi-touch attribution

Unlike the previous models, multi-touch attribution focuses on assigning credit to multiple touchpoints throughout the customer journey. This model is ideal for marketers looking for a holistic perspective on the full funnel 

Customized attribution 

Similar to multi-touch attribution, customized attribution lets you focus on multiple stages of the funnel – the difference being that this model lets marketers customize how much weight they assign each channel or touchpoint. This can be helpful for organizations trying to highlight specific activities or reach specific goals. 


Data attribution is critical for giving marketers much-needed perspective and direction. By taking the time to attribute clicks, leads, and purchases with marketing activities, organizations are able to take the necessary steps to grow and succeed.

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