By Alexis Getscher, Pipeline Marketing
In its most basic role, good marketing attribution connects sales and marketing data so companies can see which marketing efforts are having the most impact on sales. It tracks all of a visitor’s touchpoints through the funnel on its way to becoming a customer and attributes revenue back to the marketing efforts that led to the sale.
Marketing attribution is an important and necessary part of the B2B marketing tech stack, here’s why.
Why B2B marketing attribution
B2B marketing attribution is all about measurement, but some of its benefits include things that cannot be monetarily measured.
Attribution makes it possible to see which marketing pieces have the most impact on the bottom line. To do this, it connects sales and marketing data which comes with a common side effect of sales and marketing alignment. The 2015 State of Pipeline Marketing Report showed that 86.7% of marketers with a multi-touch attribution model in place said that they have a well-aligned relationship with their sales team.
This means that the sales and marketing teams can work together to develop and distribute the most impactful content. For example, when the sales team wants to pass content from a certain topic along to a prospect, the marketing department can send over the content that, based on actual revenue numbers, has the most value.
It’s more beneficial than ever that marketing and sales work together to jointly move leads through the funnel toward opportunities and then customers.
Along the same lines as alignment, is communication between teams. Attribution makes it possible for everyone to speak the same language. Instead of the marketing team reporting on page views and social shares, they can now report on revenue numbers, just like the sales team.
The better communication is within teams and across departments, the better the company will operate as a whole.
Now that teams and departments are speaking the same language, it’s possible to hold everyone accountable to revenue goals.
3. Proving Value
No longer can marketing simply report on activity metrics or lead goals. Lead numbers are irrelevant if they aren’t strong leads that turn into customers. With attribution everything connects to revenue, which means that each department can be held to a revenue goal. This may be terrifying to some marketers, but fear not, revenue numbers are the best way to prove value.
Instead of saying, “this month 500 people filled out forms our website,” which doesn’t mean much, the marketing team can now say, “this month we contributed to 20 new customers, which accounts for $10,000 in monthly revenue.” It’s a much stronger statement.
4. Referral Sources
Through the use of utm parameters, B2B marketing attribution can track where your leads are coming from. This is an extremely valuable tool when working with partners or placing display ads on other websites. For example, you sign an agreement with a partner to send leads to one another and you’re wondering if the partnership is mutually beneficial. With attribution, you’re easily able to tell how many referrals the partner is sending, along with the referral quality (do they convert to customers?). That’s important information to know when deciding to continue a partnership or not.
5. Guest Blogging
Similar to the benefits of referral sources, is guest blogging. Blogging on other websites is a great way to get your company’s name in front of a new audience. Web analytics can tell you how many of the people who see your post on that site click the link to your website, but how many of those who click eventually turn into customers? If the answer to that is anything other than “quite a few,” then it may not be worth the effort to write for other sites. If you don’t have attribution in place, the value from guest blogging would be a guessing game.
Reporting & Forecasting
With B2B marketing attribution, companies can confidently report on various aspects of the funnel, including conversion rates and pipeline, and make accurate predictions about the future.
6. Team Goals
Historical data obtained from marketing attribution can be used to forecast and create departmental goals. When you can track how prospects have historically flowed through the funnel with accuracy and granularity, it’s easier to predict how future ones will, too. With this information, you can create monthly goals that will place the company on track to hit its yearly goals.
Start from the end-of-year revenue you want to achieve and work backward up to leads. It goes like this. You know how many customers you need to close to achieve your revenue goal. Based on historical conversion rates, how many opportunities do you need to have, to hit your customer goal? How many leads do you need to bring in, to hit that opportunity goal?
Revenue → Customers → Opportunities → Leads
7. Conversion Rates
Good B2B marketing attribution tracks all touchpoints from the anonymous first touch, through to revenue. Companies can use this data to see which marketing channels push prospects through the funnel and which days are best for converting leads, among other things.
How long does it take a lead to convert to an opportunity and then to a customer? What is the average number of touchpoints a lead has before they become an opportunity? Which retargeting efforts lead to the most conversions? All of these questions can be answered with marketing attribution.
8. Account-Based Reporting
Through attribution, companies are able to do account-based marketing and reporting. The B2B buying process is long and typically includes research and decisions by a number of stakeholders. If we looked at each of them individually, we’d be missing the big picture and it would throw off our numbers.
With account-based reporting, instead of saying five people visited our website and only one went on to be a customer, you can see that all five of those people were from the same company and contributed to single conversion touchpoints for the account as a whole.
It’s also beneficial because you can see which personas have a hand in the decision making process and the flow of the purchase process for the company. For example, attribution could show you CMOs are typically the lead creation touch, the marketing operations manager is the opportunity creation and the CEO is the one who makes the purchase. This information can then be used with future accounts to target the right stakeholders who have a hand in the purchase decisions.
Attribution connects everything back to revenue, which means it’s easy to see what areas are performing and which need more work.
9. Paid Media
Paid media includes promoted social posts, display advertising and pay-per-click campaigns. These areas tend to have a strong top-of-the-funnel impact so this is where it’s even more important that your attribution solution is able to track anonymous first touch.
Say a prospect comes to your site through a paid social post, reads an article or two and then leaves without filling out a form. They later come back through a display ad and sign up for your upcoming webinar. Without anonymous first touch tracking, the display ad would get the credit, but really it was the paid social post that initially brought the prospect to your website.
With this information, you can see which paid media is driving the most leads and track those leads to see which are converting to customers. Invest in the outlets that are working and reduce spending in the ones that aren’t.
10, 11. Campaigns & Channels
More broadly, the same can be done for campaigns and channels. Growing a business includes taking chances and the only way to tell if those chances paid off, is through attribution.
If you’re investing in new channels and want to see what works best for your company, attribution is the solution. Or if you have an outbound calling campaign, direct mail campaign, or have recently increased spending on LinkedIn, marketing attribution can show you the ROI. It shows which campaigns and channels are working best to drive the most revenue.
Now that you know which channels and campaigns are working, you can use attribution data to make informed budget decisions.
Event attendees may scan their badge at your booth, or enter their email address into an iPad or on a paper sign up sheet during the event. They then get uploaded to your Salesforce system after the event and if/when they come back to your website, attribution recognizes that and assigns the event as a touchpoint. Whether the event touchpoint occurred top of funnel, middle funnel, or bottom of funnel for the lead, it will be attributed the proper revenue credit once that lead converts to a customer.
Which events give you the best return on spend? Paying $15,000 to sponsor an event seems like a lot of money, but if you gain three customers that create $30,000 in revenue, then the event was worth the spend. The only way to know the ROI, is through the tracking of event leads through offline attribution.
13. Cost Per Lead (CPL)
Attribution tells you the channels that provide the highest quality leads, which also tells you what the CPL limit should be for those channels. Most marketers set a single CPL limit, but leads from certain channels convert at a higher rate and therefore should have a higher limit. Using a single limit for all channels, means that you lose out on both sides by spending too much money on low quality leads and not spending enough money in areas with high revenue potential.