Every sector has its Big Bad Wolf. For marketing, it’s attribution—or at least it was. These days, attribution isn’t so scary. The wolf has been declawed, and today’s marketers are expected to be able to connect their efforts and spend to revenue. But while we may better understand marketing attribution, the technology, processes, and skill sets around it aren’t always so clear.
In fact, only 25% of marketers are doing multi-touch attribution, according to the 2018 State of Pipeline Marketing Report. And nearly 30% aren’t using an attribution model at all.
So, what exactly does successful marketing attribution look like, and what can you do to build it into your marketing processes?
The ABCs of marketing attribution
To effectively connect marketing to revenue, marketers need to gather the right marketing and sales data and analyze it correctly.
Most marketers today typically capture two categories of data:
- Activity metrics: These measure how many blog posts, articles, sponsored events, and other activities marketing has been responsible for. Activity metrics are all about what marketing has done (and how much it’s spent on those activities).
- Engagement metrics: These look at how people have reacted to marketing activities. How many hits did your blog receive? How many contacts did you meet at your event? Metrics such as views, clicks, likes, and time spent on a site all help answer these questions.
Together, these metrics help define spend and provide visibility into the top of the funnel, however, they alone do not demonstrate the comprehensive impact of marketing. Attributing marketing’s role in revenue generation takes some careful analysis of sales data, too, in order to connect the dots from marketing to business outcomes.
Break down the barriers between sales and marketing
Successful attribution is nearly impossible when your sales and marketing teams operate in silos.
To break down the barriers, you need to capture all relevant customer and revenue data in a shared CRM system. Specifically, you’ll want to know:
- Deal size
- Customer engagement
- Upsell potential
- Time spent as a customer
Only by connecting marketing lead generation to opportunities created and deals closed—unifying the full funnel—will you be able to see how marketing spend contributes to revenue.
Choose your attribution model
Once you have the data, it’s time to decide how to apply revenue credit to the various marketing activities that took place across the customer journey. There are two broad approaches to attribution:
- Single-touch attribution models offer a simple approach that applies 100% of the revenue credit to a single touch point in the customer journey. While these models are easiest to implement, they’re relatively one-dimensional. Because they attribute all revenue to a single activity, they are limiting—especially if you need to account for a multichannel strategy.
- Multi-touch attribution models, on the other hand, give different revenue credit weights to a range of activities. These models are particularly important in the B2B space, where it is critical to understand how the various marketing activities impacted the customer in their long, complex journey. In journeys that can be made up of tens to hundreds to thousands of touchpoints, emphasizing certain key touchpoints that align with vital funnel stages can help marketers better understand buying journeys and close deals.
Is it really worth it?
Great attribution is tough, but it’s worth the effort. In fact, successful attribution can benefit your business in several areas:
- Intangibles: Better alignment between sales and marketing, improved communication across all teams, and change perception from cost center to revenue center
- Accountability and transparency: Simpler ways for marketing to prove its value to the C-suite and board, easier partner referral evaluations, and clearer insight into the value of guest blogging
- Reporting and forecasting: Increased ability to predict customer actions, report on account-based marketing activities, forecast department goals accurately, and record granular metrics
- Optimization: Improved paid media ROI and more optimized budget allocation for campaigns and channels
- Decision making: Comprehensive evaluation based on pipeline and revenue, not clicks and leads, and more accurate cost-per-lead and cost-per-opp metrics
CMOs, marketing ops, and practitioners: take note
Beyond overall organizational benefits, successful attribution can also directly impact different stakeholders within marketing.
For CMOs, attribution means greater job security. In fact, 43% of CMOs say marketing now leads more company activities. And by definitively proving the value of marketing activities, CMOs stand to broaden that position further. Additionally, marketing departments that can demonstrate value tend to enjoy higher budgets.
Marketing operations and analytics teams are the ones in the trenches getting their hands dirty with the systems and data that marketing relies on. As attribution becomes more important, these roles are becoming more valuable. These teams hold the keys to the data castle, and marketing ops and analytics experts will lead the charge to drive more effective campaigns through attribution, data, and analytics.
Marketing practitioners—the ones handling demand gen and individual campaigns—can also benefit from attribution. When they demonstrate the value of their activities, higher budgets are bound to follow. More importantly, by tying activities to revenue, practitioners have even better metrics to assess the success of their campaigns and improve performance over time.
Great attribution starts with you
With successful marketing attribution in place, there’s a long list of benefits for many people in your business across a host of different roles. But someone has to take the initial steps to implement processes and select the right attribution model for your business.
Check out part two of this blog post to see how you can be the one to do it.