First Touch: In 9 Of 10 Industries Search Tops Lead Generation, Social Shortens Marketing Cycles

In a new paper, Bizible analyzed data from the more than 480,000 leads that have been tracked through its Salesforce marketing analytics platform to provide insights on how marketers should be thinking about attribution modeling and why the traditional last-click model is broken.

When looking at last touch only, Bizible found that search accounted for 41 percent of the leads generated. Yet, when considered by first touch, search, in fact, drove 56 percent of the leads.

Furthermore, the combination of search first touch and search last touch was the most productive sequence for lead generation, accounting for 37 percent of all leads from first/last touch combinations.

First Touch vs Last Touch Attribution by Channel

Lead Generation by First/Last Touch Combinations. Source: Bizible

Search was the leading channel for 9 out of 10 of the industries measured for generating leads by first touch. Software/SaaS was the only sector in which search did not drive the bulk of first touch leads. At the high end of the spectrum, the retail sector received 85 percent of first touch leads from search.

Lead generation by first touch attribution by industry

First Touch Lead Generation By Industry. Source: Bizible

Going beyond the lead capture, Bizible looked at the percentage of closed deals that were won by first touch in each channel. Looking at the percentage of deals won gives insight into the quality of leads generated in that first touch. Not surprisingly, direct yielded the highest win rate at 56 percent. Search came in second with a 40 percent win rate by first touch. Also not too surprising, display came in last in first touch with a 12 percent win rate.

Closed Deals Won by First Touch Attribution

Closed Deals Won Source: Bizible

Social, though it drove just 5 percent of leads, came in third with a 30 percent win rate. Social leads were concentrated among two industries — education and finance.

When Bizible looked at the effect each channel had on the length of the marketing cycle, social (along with search) came in well below the average 25.88 day cycle.  In fact, when social was the first touch, the marketing cycle was 30 percent shorter than average.

Marketing Cycle By First Touch Attribution - Bizible

Source: Bizible

When it comes to measuring normalized revenue, however, social performed below all other channels, including display. Referral yielded the highest normalized revenue by first touch.

Referral and social led to the highest percentage of closed deals won when they were the middle touch after a first touch from search. Display had by far the lowest win rate when the middle touch after a first touch from search.

Middle Touch Attribution Win Rates

Source: Bizible

A few items to note: In this initial analysis, paid and organic sources are combined under search and social. Additionally, leads generated from brand and non-brand searches are combined under search. Bizible CEO, Aaron Bird, tells me they’ll be “exploring this data more in the future,” so we can look forward to more attribution insights from the data derived from nearly half million leads.

The full paper “Multi-touch Attribution for Companies with Sales Teams” is available for download here.

Related Topics: Analytics | Channel: Analytics | Top News


About The Author: writes about paid online marketing topics including paid search, paid social, display and retargeting. Beyond Search Engine Land, Ginny provides search marketing and demand generation advice for ecommerce companies. She can be found on Twitter as @ginnymarvin.

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  • Gene Eugenio

    This bodes well for ad retargeting.

  • Martin Walsh

    Great data and insights but I’m sorry to say that it appears slightly flawed (in relation to display advertising).

    My peers and I stopped using CTR as the performance indicator for banner ads years ago. There’s been many studies now showing importance of display advertising influence on lead generation / purchasing but CTR is not attributing that influence and therefore is the wrong KPI.

    If Bizible is simply using CTR on banner ads to determine first or last touch then the report is flawed and significantly understating influence/performance of display advertising.

  • Pat Grady

    Glad to see more and more discussion on Multi-Touch Attribution, these
    conversations are long overdue. Also like your ending comments about
    certain buckets being combined, it’s important! Google Analytics needs
    to make a better effort to separate branded and unbranded into separate
    buckets, as it is now, it corrupts analysis, and removing keyword data
    has only made it worse. The Assist / Closes ratios, in Analytics MCF
    module for example, are nearly meaningless because of branded and
    unbranded being mixed. But oh boy, for any particular store, you’ve got
    to know some details to separate these two buckets. I think GA should
    have an interview process, by keyword, to complete the branded vs
    unbranded profile. Fire a 30 keywords at me, let me tag them as branded
    or not, then Algo takes it from there. Give me data to review now and
    then, where I can nudge the B-vs-UnB algo with more clues (for specific

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