What is First-touch Attribution?

Ruben Buijs

Founder & Digital Consultant

Written on Aug 1, 2023

2 minutes

Lead generation

First-touch attribution is a method used in lead generation to determine the first interaction or touchpoint that led to a lead or conversion. It is a crucial concept in marketing analytics as it helps businesses understand the effectiveness of their marketing efforts in generating initial interest and capturing potential leads.


Let's say a potential customer comes across a social media advertisement for a new product. Intrigued, they click on the ad and visit the company's website to learn more. They explore the website, sign up for a newsletter, and eventually make a purchase. In this scenario, the first-touch attribution would credit the social media ad as the initial touchpoint that led to the conversion.

Another example could be a customer who receives an email newsletter from a company and clicks on a link within the email to visit the website. They browse through various product pages, eventually request a demo, and later become a paying customer. Here, the first-touch attribution would attribute the email newsletter as the first touchpoint that initiated the customer's interest.


Understanding first-touch attribution is vital for businesses to evaluate the effectiveness of their marketing channels and campaigns. By identifying the touchpoints that initiate lead generation, companies can allocate resources more efficiently. This attribution model helps businesses identify the most successful marketing channels, enabling them to focus their efforts and budget on the strategies that generate the highest number of leads.

How to Use First-touch Attribution

To implement first-touch attribution effectively, follow these steps:

  1. Track and collect data: Start by tracking and collecting data on the various touchpoints a lead encounters before conversion. This may include sources like social media ads, email campaigns, search engine results, or referrals.

  2. Assign credit: Determine the first touchpoint that initiated the lead generation process. Assign credit to that specific channel or campaign.

  3. Analyze and optimize: Analyze the data collected to identify trends and patterns. Optimize your marketing strategies based on the insights gained. This may involve investing more resources in successful channels or adjusting underperforming campaigns.

Useful Tips

  • Consistent tracking: Ensure that you have a reliable tracking system in place to accurately capture the first touchpoint. This could involve using tracking pixels, UTM parameters, or unique referral codes.

  • Consider the buyer's journey: Understand the buyer's journey and the touchpoints that are most influential in generating interest. This will help you identify the appropriate channels for assigning first-touch attribution.

  • Combine with other attribution models: While first-touch attribution provides valuable insights, it is essential to consider other attribution models to gain a comprehensive understanding of the customer's journey. Combining first-touch attribution with multi-touch or last-touch attribution models can provide a more holistic view of your lead generation efforts.


First-touch attribution is a marketing measurement model that assigns full credit for a conversion or lead generation to the first touchpoint a customer had with a company.
First-touch attribution tracks and attributes the initial marketing channel or campaign that brought a customer to a company's website or landing page, regardless of subsequent interactions.
First-touch attribution helps marketers understand which marketing channels or campaigns are most effective in attracting new customers and generating leads, allowing them to optimize their strategies and allocate resources accordingly.
Using first-touch attribution allows businesses to accurately assess the performance of their marketing efforts in terms of lead generation, identify successful channels, and make data-driven decisions to improve marketing ROI.
Some common first-touch attribution models include first-click attribution, first-referrer attribution, and first-landing attribution. Each model focuses on the initial touchpoint of the customer journey.
Yes, first-touch attribution only considers the first touchpoint and may overlook the influence of subsequent interactions or touchpoints that contribute to a conversion or lead generation.
To implement first-touch attribution, you can use various marketing analytics tools and platforms that track customer journeys and attribute conversions to the initial touchpoint. These tools often integrate with CRM systems for comprehensive data analysis.
Yes, first-touch attribution can be applied to offline marketing channels as well. By tracking the first touchpoint offline, such as a television ad or direct mail, businesses can assess the effectiveness of their offline campaigns in generating leads.
First-touch attribution can be beneficial for most industries, particularly those with longer customer journeys and multiple touchpoints. However, industries with shorter sales cycles and fewer touchpoints may find other attribution models more suitable.
Some challenges of first-touch attribution include the potential for oversimplification of the customer journey, the exclusion of touchpoints after the first, and the difficulty in accurately assigning credit to specific marketing channels in complex attribution scenarios.

Article by

Ruben Buijs

Ruben, the founder of Boei, leverages over a decade of consultancy experience at Ernst & Young to optimize lead generation. Boei specializes in converting website visitors into qualified leads. Outside of work, Ruben is passionate about crossfit and enjoys gaming occasionally.

Table of contents

  1. Examples
  2. Importance
  3. How to Use First-touch Attribution
  4. Useful Tips
  5. Related Terms

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