What is last click attribution (beginner’s guide)

What is last click attribution? A beginner’s guide


Imagine you just finished a successful marketing campaign. You reached new highs in campaign revenue. Your conversion was higher than ever. And you did it without dramatically increasing your marketing budget.

So, you start planning your next campaign with a bigger budget.

But what do you do? Where do you invest the extra money?

You used several marketing tactics and channels in the last campaign. To solve this problem, you need to track marketing attribution — where you give conversion credit to a channel (or channels) that acted as a touchpoint along the buyer’s journey.

One of the most popular attribution models is last click attribution.

In this article, we’ll break down what last click attribution is, its advantages and disadvantages, and examples of how you can use it to gain insights into the marketing strategies driving your growth.

What is last click attribution?

Last click, or last interaction, is a marketing attribution model that seeks to give all credit for a conversion to the final touchpoint in the buyer’s journey. It assumes the customer’s last interaction with your brand (before the sale) was the most influential marketing channel for the conversion decision.

What is last click attribution?

Example of last click attribution

Let’s say a woman named Jill stumbles across a fitness equipment website through an Instagram ad. She explores the website, looking at a few fitness bands and equipment, but she doesn’t buy anything.

A few days later, Jill was doing a workout but wished she had equipment to use.

So, she Googles the name of the company she checked out earlier to take a look at the fitness bands it offers. She’s not sure which one to get, but she signs up for a 10% discount by entering her email.

A few days later, she sees an ad on Facebook and visits the site but exits before purchasing. 

The next day, Jill gets an email from the store stating that her discount code is expiring. She clicks on the link, plugs in the discount code, and buys a fitness band for $49.99.

Under the last click attribution model, the fitness company would attribute full credit for the sale to their email campaign while ignoring all other touchpoints (the Instagram ad, Jill’s organic Google search, and the Facebook ad).

3 advantages of last click attribution

Last click attribution is one of the most popular methods to credit a conversion. Here are the primary advantages of using it to measure your marketing efforts:

Advantages of Last Click Attribution

1. Easiest attribution method for beginners

If something’s too complicated, many people simply won’t touch it.

So, when you start diving into attribution, you might want to keep it simple. Fortunately, last click attribution is a wonderful method for beginner marketers to try out. And when you first begin tracking your marketing efforts, it’s one of the easiest methods to grasp. 

2. It can have more impact on revenue

Attribution and conversions go hand in hand. But conversions aren’t just about making a sale or generating more revenue. We often need to track the conversions that take place before a sale.

This could include gaining a new follower on Instagram or capturing an email subscriber with a new lead magnet.

If you’re trying to attribute why someone converted into a follower or lead, you may want to ditch last click for something else.

But when you’re looking strictly at revenue-generating conversions, last click can be one of the most impactful methods for giving credit to a conversion.

3. It helps you understand bottom-of-funnel conversions

If SEO is your focus, chances are pretty good that you aren’t looking for a direct sale right out of the gate. You likely want to build your authority, inform and educate your audience, and then maybe turn them into a lead.

However, when your primary focus isn’t generating traffic or leads but turning your leads into customers, then you’re focused on the bottom of your sales funnel.

Last click can be helpful to use in bottom-of-funnel (BoFu) conversions since it often means following a paid ad or sales email that allows you to convert your warm audience member.

If you’re strictly after revenue, you may not need to pay as much attention to the person who reads your latest blog post. After they read the article, they may have seen a social media post. And then, maybe they saw your email with a discount to buy now — which converted them into a paying customer.

3 challenges of last click attribution

Last click attribution is a simple way to start analysing the channels that impact your conversions. But it’s not perfect.

Here are a few challenges of last click attribution you should keep in mind:

Challenges of last click attribution.

1. It ignores all other touchpoints

Last click attribution is a single-touch attribution model. This type of model declares that a single channel gets 100% of the credit for a sale.

But this can overlook impactful contributions from other channels.

Multi-touch attribution seeks to give credit to multiple channels for each conversion. This is a more holistic approach.

2. It fragments the customer journey

Most customers need a few touchpoints before they’ll make a purchase.

Maybe it’s reading a blog post via Google, checking out a social media post on Instagram, and receiving a nurture email.

If you look only at the last touchpoint before a sale, then you ignore the impact of the other channels. This leads to a fragmented customer journey. 

Imagine this: You tell your marketing leaders that Facebook ads are responsible for your success because they were the last touch for 65% of conversions. So, you pour your entire budget into Facebook ads.

What happens?

Your sales drop by 60% in one month. This happens because you ignored the traffic you were generating from SEO blog posts that led to that conversion — the nurturing that took place in email marketing.

3. Say goodbye to brand awareness marketing

Without a brand, you can’t have a sustainable business.

Some marketing activities, like brand awareness campaigns, are meant to fuel brand awareness to build a business that lasts for years.

But if you’re going to use last click attribution to measure the effectiveness of your marketing efforts, then you’re going to diminish the impact of brand awareness.

Your brand, as a whole, has the ability to generate multiples of your current revenue by simply reaching more people and creating unique brand experiences with new audiences.

Last click attribution can’t easily measure brand awareness activities, which means their importance is often ignored.

Last click attribution vs. other attribution models

Last click attribution is just one type of attribution model. Here are five other common marketing attribution models you might want to consider:

Image of six different attribution models

First interaction

We’ve already touched on last click interaction as a marketing attribution model. But one of the most common models does the opposite.

First interaction, or first touch, gives full credit to the first channel that brought a lead in. 

First interaction is best used for top-of-funnel (ToFU) conversions, like user acquisition.

Last non-direct interaction

A similar model to last click attribution is one called last non-direct interaction. But one major difference is that it excludes all direct traffic from the calculation. Instead, it assigns full conversion credit to the channel that precedes it.

For instance, let’s say you see someone comes to your website via a Facebook ad but doesn’t purchase. Then one week later, they go directly to your website through a bookmark they saved and they complete a purchase. Instead of giving attribution to the direct traffic touchpoint (entering your site through a saved bookmark), you attribute the conversion to the previous channel.

In this case, the Facebook ad gets the credit.

Last non-direct attribution is best used for BoFu conversions.


Another common attribution model is called linear attribution. Here, you split the credit for a conversion equally across every single touchpoint.

This means if someone clicks on your blog post in Google, TikTok post, email, and a Facebook ad, then the credit for the conversion is equally split between each of these channels.

This model is helpful for looking at both BoFu and ToFu activities.

Time decay

Time decay is an attribution model that more accurately credits conversions across different touchpoints. This means the closer a channel is to a conversion, the more weight is given to it.

The time decay model assumes that the closer a channel is to a conversion, the greater that channel’s impact is on a sale.

Position based

Position-based, also called U-shaped attribution, is an interesting model that gives multiple channels credit for a conversion.

But it doesn’t give equal credit to channels or weighted credit to the channels closest to the conversion.

Instead, it gives the most credit to the first and last interactions.

In other words, it emphasises the conversion of someone to a lead and, eventually, a customer.

It gives the first and last interaction 40% of the credit for a conversion and then splits the remaining 20% across the other touchpoints in the customer journey.

If you’re ever unsure about which attribution model to use, with Matomo, you can compare them to determine the one that best aligns with your goals and accurately reflects conversion paths. 

Matomo comparing linear, first click, and last click attribution models in the marketing attribution dashboard

In the above screenshot from Matomo, you can see how last-click compares to first-click and linear models to understand their respective impacts on conversions.

Try Matomo for Free

Get the web insights you need, without compromising data accuracy.

No credit card required

Use Matomo to track last click attribution

If you want to improve your marketing, you need to start tracking your efforts. Without marketing attribution, you will never be certain which marketing activities are pushing your business forward.

Last click attribution is one of the most popular ways to get started with attribution since it, very simply, gives full credit to the last interaction for a conversion.

If you want to start tracking last click attribution (or any other previously mentioned attribution model), sign up for Matomo’s 21-day free trial today. No credit card required.

Enjoyed this post?
Join the 160,000+ subscribers who receive the Matomo Newsletter straight to their inbox every month
Get started with Matomo

A powerful web analytics platform that gives you and your business 100% data ownership and user privacy protection.

No credit card required.

Free forever.

Get started with Matomo

A powerful web analytics platform that gives you and your business 100% data ownership and user privacy protection.

No credit card required.

Free forever.