Google Analytics - Part 3: Conversion & Conversion Attribution


Articles in this series:

A website conversion occurs when a user takes an action that you as the website owner desire them to take. This could be purchasing a product, signing up for a newsletter, completing an enquiry form or something else of value to your business. Understanding the different types of conversion and how you should attribute credit for them is a fundamental skill in analysing your website data and will help you when allocating future marketing budgets.


There are two principle types of conversion:

Macro conversions occur when the primary goal you set for the website is met e.g. a completed purchase.

Micro conversions occur when the user takes a measurable step towards your primary goal, but not all the way there. An example of this could be signing up to receive your newsletter and hear about special offers before they actually make a purchase. Analysing Micro Conversions helps to better understand where users are on the journey towards a Macro Conversion.

Conversion Attribution

Attribution involves assigning credit for a conversion and understanding what marketing activity has led up to the event. Credit can be awarded to marketing channels (e.g. a Facebook account) or initiatives (e.g. an email campaign) that are responsible for the conversion. Attributing appropriate credit to these channels/initiatives can help to better understand your customer’s journey and allocate and adjust future marketing budgets appropriately (e.g. you could decide to increase your spending into channels/initiatives that are providing the best quality conversions).

There are three principle types of attribution:

Last-click attribution means that all the value associated with the conversion is assigned to the last marketing activity that preceded it (e.g. clicking on a paid ad, or a special offer banner etc.). This used to be the main method of attribution in digital marketing because it was the best measurement analytics tools could provide at the time. However, it's now possible to look further back and not just at the last-click, because the reality is that typically a customer will interact with a brand/website many times before a conversion occurs. To understand the true value of each marketing channel you need to know what role it’s played in the customer's journey to conversion.

First-click attribution means assigning all the value for a conversion to the first marketing channel that initiated the customer journey. 

Linear attribution means assigning a degree of attribution to each marketing channel that contributed and played a part in a conversion. This is often seen as the most comprehensive form of attribution.


Attribution can help the website owner to understand and assign value to marketing channels and initiatives that are contributing to the desired outcomes you have for your website. There are different models of attribution that can be useful when evaluating your online marketing strategy and determining what is contributing to your conversions and what is not.

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