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Shelby Calhoun | 04 April, 2022

Solving A Tricky Revenue Attribution Problem in HubSpot Pro

As smart devices get smarter, the specifics of client attribution become more complicated. A normal retail customer journey now includes an average of 56 retail consumer touchpoints from the first introduction to closed sales across platforms and devices.


But no matter how many touchpoints are included, most companies find attribution essential to evaluating marketing efficacy and tracking revenue streams. That’s why platforms like HubSpot offer multi-touch attribution as part of their Enterprise tier.

And that’s how our story begins, with a client looking for an attribution report. This was tricky.


Our HubSpot representative was helping a client who had an unusual request – they needed a highly specific attribution report. Traditionally to get this report, they would have two choices. They could use an expensive middleware program on a monthly, ongoing basis. Or they would have to upgrade their license level to the highest HubSpot tier available – Enterprise Tier – and pay a much higher fee. 

Enterprise is a powerful program meant for HubSpot’s largest clients. This particular client was a small business and didn’t need all of the Enterprise features, just this very specific, essential attribution report. 


This client was testing out HubSpot Professional and as a condition of purchase, they needed to know where revenue should be attributed by source and close date. They told the HubSpot direct rep that they would purchase HubSpot Professional if they could get this report. The rep wasn’t sure it could be done in HubSpot Pro but, before he ruled it out, he sent them to us to investigate. Our rep told the client:

“I’m not sure if it can be done, but if there’s a company that can find out, it would be Unlimited Tech Solutions.”

So we enlisted our CTO, Corne van Driel, to take a look. 


Initially, the client was under the impression they couldn't access source and close date attribution at all. In HubSpot Pro, they could only get first touch attribution - where the contact originated.


Our first workaround was to attribute by close date property on the contact. This gave us attribution for the deal close dates. But these values shifted over time. Every instance this client closed a new deal, all the past revenue from the same client would shift to the latest close date. So September 2021 revenue would be added to October 2021 revenue, and so on. 

“If you sold something to a customer back in 2017 and you closed a new deal today, all of that customer’s previous revenue gets shifted forward and it looks like you did it all now,” explains Corne. “So this is not a true reflection of what's actually happening. It is valuable for determining lifetime revenue for a customer. It's not valuable for figuring out how you're doing month-to-month.”

This was a problem. The client needed to see the actual values in the month that was closed. They needed to figure out where revenues should be attributed by the deal close date.

“I thought it was an impossible problem based on what I’d been told and that bothered me a little bit,” explains Corne. “It made sense that it was behind the paywall, but it didn't make sense that we could export the information out of HubSpot and use it in our own reports offline, but we couldn't get at it in HubSpot. So that's where my curiosity came from. I decided to go in and look at this.”

Luckily, the client had been putting customer information into HubSpot through a tracking code for nearly a year. So they’d built a really solid base of base information for us to work with. 


Corne was able to configure a custom report in HubSpot that included original and close date attribution that does not shift. Using the custom report builder, he was able to access attribution information that is normally hidden behind the paywall. 

“It gives the client what they asked for and what we were told was effectively impossible. It's not complete multi-touch attribution because it provides only original and latest attribution, but it’s the information the client needs,” explains Corne. “So I can't tell you every touchpoint for this client. But we now have a very good step towards multi-touch because we have the latest and original attribution.”

With this custom report and dashboard, our client can now see that customers are returning, through what channel they are returning, and how much they are spending each month. It can help track return on investment for ad spending or marketing campaigns. With this information, they can theorize on whether it is valuable to continue spending money on paid search and whether their outreach efforts work. 


The client came through on their promise to sign up for HubSpot Pro and is utilizing all the features and benefits – including Corne’s attribution report and dashboard.


Do you have a “tricky” project for us? We’d love to hear about it.

Shelby Calhoun

Shelby Calhoun

Shelby Calhoun, our in-house PM & HubSpot Specialist, holds a degree in Economics and boasts a diversified background. With experience in industries from Government to Start-Up, she keeps the Unlimited machine running, our content produced and published, and helps our clients get the best out of HubSpot.

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