What is First Touch Attribution?

First touch attribution is a model of assigning credit for a conversion to the first touchpoint or marketing channel that initially directed a user to the website.

This form of attribution model emphasizes the importance of awareness and initial engagement in the conversion process.

An example of first touch attribution

To illustrate how first touch attribution works in practice, let's take a look at the following example.

A user opens up their web browser and types “how to get more leads” into Google. Since you're an authority on the subject and your blog post ranks at the top of Google, the user clicks on your blog post.

After reading your post, the user likes what they see and signs up for your email list.

A few days later, the user reads one of your onboarding emails and books a call for a coaching consultation. On the consultation call, they end up converting and purchasing your services.

In this case, even though the user went through multiple steps throughout the sales funnel, first touch attribution would assign all of the credit for this conversion to Google search and the very first blog post that the user read.

First touch vs. last touch attribution

In contrast to first touch attribution which credits a user's initial interaction, last touch attribution credits the final interaction before converting, highlighting the decisive action that led to the conversion.

While first touch provides valuable insights into which channels are most effective at generating awareness, it may overlook the significance of subsequent interactions in the conversion process.

On the other hand, last touch offers clarity on the immediate drivers of conversion but can undervalue the cumulative effect of earlier touchpoints.

The primary advantage of first touch is identifying top-of-funnel activities that attract customers, but it risks ignoring the journey's complexity. Last touch is useful for optimizing conversion-centric activities but can lead to underinvestment in awareness and consideration stages if not balanced appropriately.