In a previous post, I talked about the concept of attribution. The whole point of attribution is to understand the value of each marketing channel and how multiple channels work together to drive conversions. You can then use this knowledge to better understand your customer journey and allocate your marketing budget accordingly.

In this follow-up post, we’ll use a fake Ecommerce website to 1) better understand how attribution works in Google Analytics, and 2) create a Goal to enable Attribution reports in Google Analytics.

Attribution feature requires Goals

If you see this message in your Attribution Reports, you most likely have to create a Goal.

How Google Analytics Sees Attribution

You can check whether your Attribution Reports are enabled by clicking Conversions>Attribution>Model Comparison Tool from the left sidebar. If you have a message like the one shown in the above image, Attribution Reports are not enabled.

The simplest definition of attribution is assigning credit for conversions. The keyword in this definition is conversion. Let’s look at an example to understand why.

Every website has a goal. For example, the goal of my Ecommerce site is to sell products. Every time a visitor completes a purchase, they become a customer—they’ve *converted*. Every conversion of a visitor to a customer is another instance that I’ve reached my goal. So, you have to tell Google Analytics your goal in order to use the Attribution reports.

Create a Goal

It just so happens that Google Analytics has a feature they’ve aptly named “Goals”. When I use the word “Goal(s)” with a capital “G”, I’m specifically referring to the Goals feature in Google Analytics. Remember, we’re talking about Attribution Reports in Google Analytics—we want to understand how our marketing channels work together to generate sales and conversions. To enable Attribution Reports, we’re going to create a Goal that fires whenever someone visits my /testimonials page. This isn’t an actual goal of my website—I’m simply using it as an example here because it’s easy to create this type of Goal in GA.

Step 1 Enable Attribution Reporting in GA


Step 4 Enable Attribution Reporting in GA

Step 5 Enable Attribution reporting in Google Analytics

Test your Goal

It’s imperative to test your Goals immediately after you create them. Nothing is worse than thinking your Goal fires as you expect it to only to discover days later that it’s not working. To do this, follow the screenshot below:

Real-Time Reporting-Conversions

Click Reporting from the top navigation, then Real-Time from the left sidebar and then Conversions. In a new tab, navigate to your website’s Testimonials page. Now, return to the tab open to GA’s Real-Time Conversions report. You should see your newly created Testimonials Goal with a value of “1”. There may be a delay of a few minutes. If you don’t see a value of “1” in five minutes, go back and check your Goal configuration—you probably made a simple error like a typo.

Otherwise, you’re good to go now. You can view your Attribution reports under the Conversions tab in the left sidebar.


Attribution Reporting is not an out-of-the-box configuration in Google Analytics. You have to tell GA what your website’s goal is. You can create Goals from GA’s Admin tab. Once you’ve created a Goal and validated it, your Attribution Reports will show you how your marketing channels work together to generate sales and conversions.