4 Common Marketing and Sales Revenue Attribution Models

Listen to the reading of this post

Evaluating proof of impact as a marketer is hard. Now more than ever, higher-ups and stakeholders want an informed view of how marketing and sales efforts impact pipeline. If your team executes a healthy mixture of tactics, tracking success of each campaign is no easy feat. At the end of the day, results matter, and once you’ve closed out a marketing initiative, it’s time to ask the all-important question:

“Has my work created a meaningful impact?”

We ask ourselves that after every site is launched and piece of content is shipped. Measuring the success of a marketing and sales campaign is just as essential as planning and execution. While many marketers track web traffic impressions, content engagements, and click-through-rates to measure impact, sales teams are evaluated based on revenue targets. Marketing and sales teams really work to accomplish the same goal of increasing market share and pipeline. But if it’s unclear how success is being measured, it can be a challenge to determine where to allocate resources and how to improve the overall outreach strategy. 

Revenue attribution models can be used to align the goals of marketing and sales teams by planning upfront how to measure an initiative’s impact.

What is a revenue attribution model?

Revenue attribution models help CFOs determine which sales and marketing efforts actually generate leads, and ultimately, dollars. But when someone interacts with multiple ads, content types, and people throughout the sales process, how can a team figure out what impacted a prospect and turned them into a customer? The answer lies in the never black and white, always grayscale landscape of revenue attribution.

Revenue attribution models isolate one or a mixture of key moments in a buyer’s journey. Some of the most common moments evaluated are: initial discovery, lead capture, and opportunity creation.

Initial discovery is the first moment your lead becomes aware of your brand.

Lead capture is the moment when your lead first makes contact with your brand.

Opportunity creation is the moment when your lead begins engaging in sales conversations.

And finally, deal close is the final stage when a lead becomes a customer.

Four popular types of revenue attribution models

Last-touch revenue attribution model

Last-touch revenue attribution models look at the last interaction a lead had with your brand before becoming a customer. In this attribution model, 100% of the revenue is assigned to the moment when an opportunity is created and your lead initiates a sales-focused conversation. 


First-touch revenue attribution model

Conversely, the first-touch revenue attribution model looks at the first interaction a customer had with your brand. This attribution model prioritizes how your customers discover your brand, and 100% of generated revenue is assigned to that initial moment. It’s important to note that this doesn’t necessarily mean the first moment when your contact engages with your brand – it’s when your contact is first made aware of your brand. 


W-shaped attribution model

The w-shaped attribution model looks at three key moments in a customer’s buying journey: the first touch, lead capture, and last touch. Some experts weigh each of these points differently, but typically, equal weight is assigned to each of these moments.


Linear revenue attribution model

Linear attribution models assign equal weight to each interaction a lead has with your brand from initial discovery through opportunity creation. Linear attribution models can be particularly helpful as a first attempt at tracking efforts, and as you start amassing more data, you can zero in on which moments are more significant based on your sales cycle.

Things to consider when you’re establishing a revenue attribution model:

If your team wants to advance its campaign tracking and marketing impact measurement efforts there are a few things to keep in mind before implementing a new attribution model.

  1. Model selection: Consider if one model will meet all your needs. Depending on what you’re trying to uncover, or even who your team reports to, you may need to experiment with a variety of revenue attribution models.
  2. Customer insights: Consider asking your customers why they went with your brand. Data is hugely valuable – but numbers don’t talk. Your customers do, and if you’ve built a great relationship with your existing customers, you may be able to conduct research interviews with them to glean valuable insights into their buying behavior. Read our guide to interviewing customers for how we approach buyer research. 
  3. Data trends: Consider all the other information that comes from establishing a revenue attribution model. Over time, you may be able to identify other data trends. Are particular tactics affiliated with higher dollar deals? Are certain touch points key indicators for future conversions?

So, which attribution model do we use?

At 434 Marketing, we craft custom websites that address your buyers’ unique needs and drive revenue. Our Total Website Overhaul includes customer research, competitor analysis, UX research, full-service SEO, and a content development strategy.

Each 434 client is totally unique with different sales cycles. In order to structure an effective revenue model, we need to understand our clients’ sales cycles. We like to meet with our clients, recommend objective key results, finalize tracked metrics, and build a proprietary revenue attribution dashboard (or even multiple dashboards!) based on each client’s unique sales cycle.

Learn More about our Processes