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

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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.


About The Author

Ginny Marvin is Third Door Media’s Associate Editor, assisting with the day to day editorial operations across all publications and overseeing paid media coverage. Ginny Marvin writes about paid online marketing topics including paid search, paid social, display and retargeting for Search Engine Land and Marketing Land. With more than 15 years of marketing experience, Ginny has held both in-house and agency management positions. She can be found on Twitter as @ginnymarvin.

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