How Sendlane Attributes Revenue to Email and SMS


Attribution is the process of determining which email or SMS message most likely led a Contact to complete a transaction, making attribution a valuable insight into which marketing strategies motivate customers to purchase. Sendlane allows you to adjust attribution settings so that you can match previous platforms’ settings or use more or less aggressive attribution windows and settings than Sendlane’s default!

Read on to learn more about Sendlane's take on attribution.

In This Guide

How Sendlane Determines Which Message to Attribute

Sendlane’s default attribution settings in the screenshot below represent the latest industry research and Sendlane’s deliverability experts’ experience, which indicate that emails and SMS messages are rarely revisited after 5 days.

Purchases that meet any channel’s qualifications will be attributed to each message individually, even if multiple messages contributed to the same purchase. This means that if a Contact’s purchase meets the qualifications of more than one message’s attribution settings, such as an email Campaign and an SMS message sent from an Automation, the purchase will be attributed to both the email Campaign and SMS message.

Email Attribution Options

  • Opened or clicked emails - Attribution will be applied to purchases based on the latest email open or click in the specified window, whichever is later
  • Opened or clicked emails (excluding Apple Privacy opens) - Attribution will be applied to purchases based on the latest email open or click in the specified window, whichever is later, unless the latest open was recorded as an Apple Privacy open. When Contacts have Apple Privacy settings turned on, all emails delivered to their inboxes are automatically considered opened. Because the email has not actually been confirmed opened, this metric is inherently inflated.
  • Clicked emails only - Attribution will be applied to purchases based on the latest email click only in the specified window

The specified window for email opens and clicks can be between 1 and 30 days. Sendlane’s default window is 5 days.

SMS Attribution Options

  • Sent or clicked SMS - Attribution will be applied to purchases based on the latest SMS message the Contact was sent or the last SMS message the Contact clicked in the specified window, whichever is later
  • Clicked SMS - Attribution will be applied to purchases based on the latest SMS click only in the specified window

The specified window for sent SMS messages and SMS clicks can be between 1 and 30 days. Sendlane’s default sent window is 1 day, and the default clicked window is 5 days.

Sendlane’s default attribution windows for email and SMS are as follows, and can be adjusted to fit your marketing strategy’s needs. If you came to Sendlane from another provider, we highly recommend adjusting your attribution settings to match your previous provider for continuity.

Let’s look at some examples of how to apply the above logic to real-world scenarios:

  • Contact receives an email on day 1, opens the email but does not click a link on day 2, opens the email and clicks a link and completes a purchase on day 3. Purchase is attributed to the email click because it is the last action the Contact took before completing the purchase.
  • Contact receives an email on day 1, opens and clicks the email on day 1, but does not make a purchase until day 6. Purchase is not attributed to the email because the purchase occurred outside of the default 5 day click window.
  • Contact is sent an SMS message on day 1 and clicks the message’s tracking link. The Contact makes a purchase on day 4 and the purchase is attributed to the SMS message.
  • Contact receives an SMS message on day 1 and an email on day 2. The Contact opens and clicks on the email on day 2, then clicks SMS message’s tracking link on day 3, and completes a purchase later on day 3 after going back to the website by typing the URL into a new window. Purchase is attributed to the SMS message and email message because the Contact met the attribution setting requirements for both channels.

🙋 Why is there no open metric for SMS?

Open metrics are made possible for email by the tracking pixel included in all emails sent from Sendlane. There is no way to embed a tracking pixel or any other tracker in an SMS message that can determine whether someone has opened the message or not.

SMS messages tend to have a relatively high open rate compared with email, which is why some SMS providers display SMS “open rates,” but in reality, it is only possible to know that the SMS has been sent, which is why at Sendlane we display sent rates for SMS messages instead of opens.

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Timing and Timezones

Campaign and Automation email and SMS reports will show attribution for purchases made within the set window, even if the purchases occurred days after the message was sent. This means that a purchase tied to an email opened on the Monday it was sent will be recorded as attributed on that Monday, even if the purchase was made on the following Thursday.

Attribution windows are based on the UTC day. Attribution windows set to 1 or more days will attribute all purchases made until UTC+00:00 of the following day.

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View Attribution Data in Third Party Analytics Platforms

We highly recommend that you use third party analytics for outside confirmation of your marketing attribution data. If you’re just getting started with third party analytics, check out Understanding UTM Tracking Options to learn more. When you’re ready to get started, follow the instructions outlined in How to Set Up Global UTM Tracking to learn how to turn on global UTM tracking and adjust UTM tracking for individual messages.

🚨 Third party analytics may not always match Sendlane

We highly encourage all Sendlane users to integrate with a third party data analytics platform for the most comprehensive and customizable view of your marketing data, and it is important to understand that there may be discrepancies between Sendlane and third party analytics’ attribution calculations.

Conversion tracking for Google Analytics and many other third party analytics providers rely on click tracking to attribute conversions. This means that GA can’t record a conversion if a Contact doesn’t complete their purchase in the same session that began when they clicked a tracking link in one of your messages. Examples of customer journeys that won’t be tracked with GA and other click based attribution models include but are not limited to:

  • Contact clicks a tracking link in an email, navigates away from your website, and returns to complete their purchase later
  • Contact receives an SMS message, does not click the tracking link, but goes to your website on their own to complete a purchase

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⏭️ Next Steps

If you’d like to change your attribution window settings from Sendlane’s defaults, check out our guide to adjusting attribution settings!

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