Attribution modeling

An attribution model is a method of assigning credit to individual milestones in the sales funnel. While there are often multiple touchpoints along the sales funnel, milestones mark a transition from one stage of the funnel to the next. For example, when a raw lead becomes a qualified lead.

Learn how to enable cost per lead reporting in your account.


How to use attribution modeling

Attribution models allow you to distribute credit between milestones to know which marketing sources and campaigns are driving leads at what points in the sales funnel.

For example, maybe a certain Facebook campaign is where most of your First Touch milestones occur, but more customers actually pick up the phone when they see a specific banner ad. Having that information can help you tailor your content for those first touch customers and invest in only the most effective marketing sources.

Attribution models allow you to weigh milestones differently based on the portion of the sales funnel you’re looking to optimize. For example, if you want to know which ads create the most first-time engagements for leads, you’d use a First Touch Model. If you’re more interested in learning which ads create the conversion action of calling your business, you’d use a Lead Creation Model. If you’re interested in both, you can assign half credit to both the First Touch and Lead Creation milestones using the 50/50 Model.

Understanding the full customer journey gives you insight into exactly how individuals find your business, become a lead, and eventually a paying customer, so you can pinpoint how to optimize your marketing efforts and prioritize your spending by the most cost-effective campaigns.

Milestone definitions 

Milestones are the touchpoints that move a customer from one stage of the sales funnel to the next.

The First Touch milestone is the first time a customer engages with your company. For example, if they click a PPC ad that takes them to a landing page or they are called by a sales representative on your team. This is the first time a customer interacts with your company.

Important Note: First Touch milestones won’t populate in CallRail until a customer calls/texts one of your tracking numbers or submit a form and is visible to your company as a raw lead. (Outbound calls are an exception, see FAQ’s.)

The Lead Creation milestone is the last source before a customer calls, texts, or submits a form and becomes known to your business as a raw lead. Raw leads are any lead that hasn’t been qualified yet (the next stage of the sales funnel). For example, if a customer clicks on one of your Google Ads PPC ads and then calls the tracking number on your landing page, their Lead Creation milestone would be that PPC ad because it caused them to call.

The Qualified milestone is the last source before a customer becomes scored as a qualified lead. Raw leads can be scored as qualified leads using Automation Rules workflows, manually scoring a lead on your CallRail dashboard, or Keypad scoring.

In summary: 

- First Touch = a customer is aware of your company.

- Lead Creation = a customer has contacted your company.

- Qualified = a customer is qualified as potential revenue.

It’s important to note that while each milestone is distinct, there are many instances where multiple milestones can occur at the same time. For example, if a customer’s first interaction with your business is a PPC ad and they call the tracking number on that ad the first time they see it, that would be both the First Touch and the Lead Creation milestone. Another common example is if a customer is scored on their first call as a qualified lead, that would represent the Lead Creation and Qualified milestones in one event.

Attribution models 

First Touch Model: 100% credit to the first touchpoint a customer engaged with.

Lead Creation Model: 100% credit to the last touchpoint before a customer calls/texts one of your tracking numbers or submits a form and becomes known to your company as a raw lead.

50/50 Model: Split credit evenly between the First Touch milestone and the Lead Creation milestone, 50% on each.

Qualified Model: 100% credit to the last touchpoint before a customer is scored as a qualified lead. Leads can be scored manually.

W-Shaped Model: Credit is split evenly between the First Touch milestone, Lead Creation milestone, and the Qualified milestone. Each of these touchpoints receives one-third attribution credit in this model.

How we calculate cost per lead

Cost per lead is calculated with this consistent equation:

Cost of a marketing effort / Number of leads = Cost per lead 

When you use attribution models, this equation becomes distributed by the number of leads for each touchpoint. For example, if you're using the First Touch Model, you would divide the cost of an ad by the number of First Touch leads you received for that ad.

However, when you use a multi-touch model like the 50/50 Model or the W-shaped Model, you are splitting the lead totals for multiple touchpoints into half touchpoints (.5). We use the same equation to calculate cost per lead, but instead with .5 credit for each lead. For example:

If your ad costs $50 and you look at the 50/50 Model, each First Touch for that ad and each Lead Creation touch for that ad will only receive .5 credit for a lead. Let's say you received 10 first touches and 20 lead creation touches for your ad. You would divide each of those touchpoints by half since they only produced half of a lead when you're considering both touchpoints.

First Touch milestone: 10 x .5 = 5 leads.

Lead Creation milestone: 20 x .5 = 10 leads.

That's 15 total leads (at .5 credit each) for your ad. Then, you plug that total lead count into the standard cost per lead equation:

$50 / 15 leads = $3.33 cost per lead.

Learn more about our Multi-Touch Cost per Lead report.


Why is my cost per lead higher for the 50/50 Model and W-shaped Models?
When you select an attribution model with multiple touchpoints like 50/50 or W-shaped, each touchpoint only gets half-credit for a lead as opposed to 100% of the credit. Therefore, it takes at least two touchpoints (at .5) to add up to a lead, making your total cost per lead higher.

How are outbound calls attributed?
Outbound first touches (ex. Sales team reaching out to potential customers) will show as a first touch unless session data reveals when the customer calls again that they had interacted with advertising before the outbound call. The outbound call will still be recorded in the visitor timeline.

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