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The Ultimate Guide to DIY B2B Marketing Attribution

Table of Contents

Chapter I: You’ve decided to do it yourself (DIY)

You’ve decided to unlock the power of data-driven marketing with a Do it Yourself (aka DIY) attribution solution. Whether you’re a marketing operations whiz, a revenue operations pro, a data-master charged with building an attribution model, or a decision-maker looking to improve your marketing ROI and gain deeper customer insights this guide is your roadmap to success.

What is marketing attribution? It’s a magnifying glass for your marketing efforts. By tracking every touchpoint across your customer journeys, you can finally understand which channels, campaigns, and content are truly driving conversions. Attribution gives you the data to make informed decisions and score high with your marketing ROI.

Timelines are the crux of marketing attribution. B2B buying cycles are complex. When you flatten your cycles into a clear, sequential timeline, you establish a shared story. Attribution models mathematically assess the relative influence of each touchpoint on the represented customer journey, from initial awareness to final conversion, and unlock actionable inferences.

A DIY attribution model grants you the ultimate flexibility to customize which touchpoints are included within your timeline. Many self-builds start as an attempt to answer a collection of questions about which campaigns and programs are working, and which aren’t. The answers are enlightening enough that they form the seed of a model that grows over time as the self-build attempts to handle more data to answer more questions. The seeds grow into a realization that when you tailor your analysis to your specific business needs and marketing strategies, you can ensure a more accurate and insightful understanding of customer behavior. By considering the unique interactions within your B2B buyer journey, you gain a deeper understanding of which touchpoints hold the most influence in driving conversions and optimize your marketing efforts accordingly.

Each interaction, from that first website visit to a webinar registration to a phone call with sales, is a potential data point for your timeline. By honing in on key touchpoints and analyzing their sequence and impact, a customized attribution model can quantify their contribution to the final sale. Customization empowers you to:

  • See the true ROI of individual campaigns and channels: No more guesswork! Understand what’s driving conversions and optimize your budget allocation accordingly.
  • Amplify Results: Ditch ineffective communication and empower your sales and marketing teams with a shared data story and language, boosting lead quality and maximizing growth opportunities.
  • Identify hidden influences: Uncover the subtle interactions that nudge buyers along their journey, allowing you to tailor your marketing efforts for maximum impact.
  • Make data-driven decisions, not gut calls: Move beyond intuition and rely on hard data to inform your marketing strategies.

Want to unlock the power of timelines and take your marketing attribution to the next level? We’ll walk you through every step, from choosing the right model to implementation and troubleshooting.

Chapter II: Level Up Your Game: When Built-In Models Aren’t Cutting It

Many CRMs and ABM platforms offer rudimentary, built-in attribution capabilities. It’s not unusual for many organizations to begin with the first and last-touch attribution modeling capabilities they provide. The B2B marketing attribution journey is an ongoing quest for deeper insights and optimized strategies, and even the most rudimentary built-in model is a great first step on that journey. Like any successful initiative, there may come a time when your current approach no longer serves your evolving needs. Is it time for you to entertain a more sophisticated approach? First, we’ll help you identify signs that your current built-in attribution approach is holding you back.

Five Red Flags of Stagnation:

1. Marketing in the dark: Your marketing efforts are opaque because you’re struggling to track the return on investment (ROI) of individual channels. A lack of clarity makes it difficult to optimize budgets and demonstrate the true value of marketing to stakeholders.

2. Budget battles: Remember that nagging email from finance requesting justification for your latest campaign? Without clear attribution data, justifying marketing spend can become a battle. Internal teams, especially finance, may become skeptical of campaign effectiveness. When you have difficulty demonstrating marketing’s impact on revenue, finance is reluctant to approve budgeting for new initiatives.

3. Content Impact Enigma: Your campaign managers are unsure if their content hits the mark. Without knowing how content impacts revenue and the pipeline, assessing its true value becomes impossible. Similarly, you lack the data to identify winning and losing strategies, hindering your ability to refine campaigns and maximize ROI.

4. Internal Silos: Your marketing and sales teams are operating in separate universes and your teams are strained by misaligned goals and fragmented data. The result? Attribution blind spots hinder lead nurturing and leave you – and your colleagues – wondering if your efforts truly enrich pipeline growth.

5. Outdated Models & Hidden Influences: Clinging to simplistic single-touch attribution ignores the intricate B2B customer journey. You feel like you’re missing valuable insights, misattributing credit, and remaining blind to the subtle touchpoints that nudge buyers toward conversion. Think about a customer reading your blog post before attending a webinar, and then downloading a white paper before scheduling a demo. Single-touch attribution gives all the credit to the demo, rendering the rest of the journey – and your efforts – invisible.

Seeing Red? Take Control of Your Attribution Game

Cheers! Spotting these red flags shows your organization is scoring on a higher level. As your organization scales, the complexities of your marketing efforts increase, and a one-size-fits-all approach to attribution may no longer serve you. Taking control of your attribution with a DIY strategy will allow you to tailor it to your specific needs and mine valuable data to:

Tackle Higher Level C-Suite Questions: Imagine presenting clear, data-backed insights to the C-suite, proving the impact of your marketing and securing their trust. When you can pinpoint what’s truly driving results, you can ditch the – queasy – gut feeling and allocate your resources with confidence.

Own Your Customer Journey: Gain control over your marketing data and unlock deeper real-time insights into your customers and their journeys. See how individual touchpoints influence their decisions, allowing you to personalize your approach and nurture leads more effectively. It’s like having a real-time map of your customer journey, guiding your marketing efforts with precision.

Break Down Silos, Build Bridges: It’s possible for marketing and sales to be a united force with data-driven insights. Eliminate the communication gap between your teams by sharing a common data language. You’ll understand what resonates with your customers and collaborate seamlessly to nurture leads and close deals.

Refine Campaigns with Laser Focus: When you can identify your winning and losing strategies with laser-sharp precision, you can optimize your campaigns based on data, not speculation, and watch your ROI soar.

Build a Foundation for Continuous Growth: DIY attribution isn’t a one-time fix; it’s an ongoing journey of data-driven discovery. As your organization matures and evolves, a solid DIY attribution foundation allows you to follow and deepen your understanding of your customers and their journeys and continuously refine and optimize your efforts for long-term success.

Remember, DIY attribution is about taking charge and unlocking the full potential of your B2B marketing to sharpen your strategies. You know growth can trigger new challenges, and we have the upgrades to make sure your attribution game matches your play.

Now that you know when and why you might be ready to go DIY, move on to Chapters III and IV to see how to set yourself up for successful customization.

Chapter III. Unlock Your DIY Strategy

Before you can wield the power of data insights, you need to outline your goals and identify the crucial tools you need to collect. Let’s take four steps to prepare for your data-driven adventure:

1. The Power of “Why”

We need attribution! When you hear this cry, start by asking, “Why?” This critical question helps you understand the specific needs and challenges driving the desire for attribution. Here are some key questions to ask:

  • What specific questions do we want attribution to solve?
  • How will this information empower us to improve our marketing and sales efforts?
  • What are the current challenges and blindspots we see in understanding the customer journey?
  • What are the potential risks and limitations of implementing attribution?

By digging into the “why” and engaging in open communication, you ensure that your DIY attribution strategy caters to your organization’s core needs and avoids common pitfalls, setting you on a path to success.

2. Identify Your Team Members and Their Data Needs

  • Marketing: Campaign managers, analysts, and marketing leaders seeking intel on campaign performance to optimize their strategies.
  • Sales: Sales reps and leadership craving insights into which marketing channels yield qualified leads and how their efforts align with the customer journey.
  • The C-Suite: Executives seeking to assess marketing investments and their impact on revenue and growth.

3. Set Your Mission Objectives

A clear mission objective is crucial for any successful quest. Translate each team’s desired outcomes into measurable objectives for your DIY attribution strategy to track your progress, such as:

  • Maximizing Marketing ROI: Quantify the impact of marketing campaigns on revenue and optimize budget allocation for greater efficiency.
  • Optimize campaign performance: Identify which channels and tactics are driving the most conversions and refine campaigns for maximum impact.
  • Align marketing and sales: Foster a data-driven collaboration between marketing and sales by providing shared insights into the customer journey.
  • Unveil the Customer’s Journey: Gain deeper insights into how different touchpoints influence buyer behavior, enabling you to personalize the customer experience and forge stronger connections.

By setting clear and measurable goals, you ensure your DIY attribution strategy has a defined purpose and direction.

4. Form Your Alliance

Securing allies and support is crucial for success. Here’s how to create a united front within your organization:

  • Educate your marketing, sales, and C-suite allies about the benefits and limitations of DIY attribution to ascertain everyone understands the power and potential challenges.
  • Define clear roles and responsibilities for data collection, analysis, and reporting. Assign each team member their specialized tasks and responsibilities.
  • Establish a communication plan to share relevant updates and foster collaboration. Maintain open communication channels so everyone stays informed and aligned throughout the process.

By taking the time to build a strong collaboration and set clear expectations, you create a unified foundation for building and implementing your DIY attribution strategy. Your alliance-building efforts will unlock a synergy of cross-functional investments and expertise. This powerful combination maximizes your chances of achieving data-driven marketing mastery.

Chapter IV: Gear Up

You’ve assembled your team and charted your course. Now it’s time to take inventory and acquire the essential gear to customize an attribution engine that will help you conquer the marketing landscape. You’ll need to evaluate your data sources, dig into your historical data, define touchpoint values, and choose an attribution model. Here’s your five-step guide to building a strategic toolbox:

1. Know Your Data Landscape: The foundation of a robust DIY attribution model lies in your data. Before embarking on your journey, gain a comprehensive understanding of your existing data landscape. Here’s what you need to consider:

  • Get a Lay of the Land: Take inventory of your marketing tools and platforms, evaluating their data collection capabilities for attribution modeling, including customer interactions across channels, website behavior, and lead activity.
  • Assess Your Data’s Fitness: The accuracy, completeness, and consistency of your data are paramount. Inaccurate data leads to misleading results. Assess your current data and explore data hygiene practices to ensure its integrity.
  • Chart Your Course for Growth: Consider the need to extend your data infrastructure sources and capabilities to meet your growing needs.
    • Integrate External Signals: Leverage third-party demographics and behavioral data to enrich your understanding of your target audience and customer journey. For seamless integration, ensure your data infrastructure has the capacity to handle increased data from additional sources.
    • Build Your Data Capacity: As your attribution efforts evolve and your data volume grows – including data from third parties – a data warehouse can be a pivotal asset. It centralizes data from various sources to track customer interactions across all channels and establish a unified timeline of their journey. It also standardizes how data is captured and stored across different platforms for more accurate analysis.

2. Delve into the Archives:

Building a robust attribution model requires thorough research. Embark on a journey into your past marketing data and analyze historical performance to identify key touchpoints that consistently influence conversions. This data becomes the foundation for understanding how various interactions guide your customers toward scoring a conversion.

3. Connect the Dots for Your Attribution Timeline

Attribution models rely on a clear understanding of customer journeys across various touchpoints. Here’s how to establish your attribution timeline:

  • Integrate Your Marketing Ecosystem: Connect your CRM, website analytics platform, email marketing software, and any other relevant marketing tools. When you can track customer interactions across all channels, you can establish a unified timeline of their journey.
  • Standardize Data Formats: Ensure consistency in how data is captured and stored across your different platforms. It’s essential to maintain data consistency to streamline the integration process and facilitate accurate attribution analysis.
  • Identify Key Touchpoints: Map out the key touchpoints in your B2B customer journey. It will help you determine the data points you need to capture and integrate into your attribution model. Remember, learning which touchpoints to prioritize is an iterative process that will change with your needs. 

4. Define Touchpoint Value:

Imagine your touchpoints as valuable loot collected throughout your B2B customer journey. Now, it’s time to assign strategic weight to each one based on their contribution to your goals. Consider factors like:

  • Understanding the Customer Journey: The path a customer takes from initial awareness to final decision (and beyond) is the customer journey. Touchpoints, those interactions customers have with your brand, play a crucial role at each stage. Assigning appropriate weightage to these touchpoints based on their influence is key to accurate attribution.
  • Signal Strength Matters: Not all interactions are created equal. Stronger signals, like a request for a demo or deep website exploration, likely hold more sway in the customer’s decision-making process compared to a simple social media “like.” Prioritize these stronger signals when assigning value to touchpoints.
  • Data Source Significance: The origin of your data plays a crucial role. First-party data, collected directly through your own channels, often holds more weight than insights gleaned from third-party sources. This is because first-party data provides a more accurate picture of your specific audience and their interactions with your brand.

Remember, you’re not going for a one-size-fits-all approach. Experiment with different weighting strategies and analyze their impact on your model’s effectiveness to optimize your insights.

5. Equip Your Mission:

The B2B sales cycle often involves extended timelines and intricate buyer groups. To navigate these complexities, it’s crucial to simplify your customer journey into a clear timeline for effective attribution. The timeline is the crux of attribution because it becomes the foundation of your attribution model, where different models assess the relative influence of each touchpoint.

If a DIY attribution model is in your future, equip yourself with a data modeling tool or platform that enables customization. Starting with an agile platform allows you to focus on the touchpoints most relevant to your organization and build a model that accurately reflects the unique landscape of your B2B journey.

Different attribution models offer various approaches to crediting conversions, each with its strengths and weaknesses. Understanding these models will help you choose the one that best aligns with your specific needs and data availability.

As you review the following models, keep your teams’ core questions and resources in mind. For example, your teams may want to know what the last touch is before the deal is sealed, but if you suspect the last touch is perfunctory, you probably need a model that digs deeper into the pipeline. Here are the pros and cons for each attribution model:

Last Touch Attribution: Credits the last touchpoint for a conversion.

  • Strengths:
    • Simple to implement and understand.
    • Commonly used, making it easy to compare results with industry benchmarks.
  • Weaknesses:
    • Neglects the multi-touch nature of B2B customer journeys, attributing all credit to the final touchpoint before conversion and overlooking how all earlier interactions influenced and nurtured leads toward conversion.
    • Can lead to inaccurate insights, and potentially overvaluing channels that happen to be present at the final touchpoint, regardless of their actual contribution.

First Touch Attribution:
Credits the first touchpoint for a conversion.

  • Strengths:
    • Good for understanding the effectiveness of top-of-funnel marketing activities that generate initial awareness.
    • Can help identify the most effective channels for attracting new leads.
  • Weaknesses:
    • Ignores the influence of later touchpoints that may have played a crucial role in nurturing leads and driving conversions.
    • Does not provide a complete picture of the customer journey, potentially underestimating the value of channels that engage leads further down the funnel.

Time Decay Attribution:
Distributes credit based on proximity to conversion.

  • Strengths:
    • Attempts to balance the influence of earlier and later touchpoints by assigning more weight to interactions closer to the conversion.
    • Offers a more nuanced view of the customer journey compared to last-touch or first-touch models.
  • Weaknesses:
    • Can be complex to implement and requires careful configuration of the decay curve to accurately reflect the relative value of touchpoints at different points in time.
    • May not be suitable for all businesses, especially those with simple customer journeys or limited data.

Position-Based Attribution:
Allocates credit based on pre-defined positions (e.g., first, last, middle).

  • Strengths:
    • Easy to implement and understand, assigning equal credit to all touchpoints in the customer journey, regardless of their timing or interaction type.
    • Can help understand the overall contribution of different channels to the conversion process.
  • Weaknesses:
    • Lacks flexibility and may not accurately reflect the reality of B2B customer journeys, which often involve varying levels of influence from different touchpoints.
    • Can downplay the influence of critical touchpoints that occur closer to conversion, potentially leading to inaccurate attribution of credit.

Custom Model Attribution:
Tailors credit allocation based on customizable factors.

  • Strengths:
    • Most accurate and flexible approach, allowing you to tailor the model to your specific business needs, data availability, and customer journey.
    • Enables you to incorporate various factors beyond just touchpoint timing, such as interaction type, content consumed, and lead source.
    • Provides the most granular insights into the true contribution of each touchpoint, empowering you to optimize marketing efforts for maximum impact.
  • Weaknesses:
    • Compared to pre-built models, it requires more effort and expertise to develop and implement.
    • Needs constant attention to optimize and evolve with your organization.
    • May necessitate additional data sources and data analysis capabilities.

Ultimately, the optimal choice depends on your specific needs and data availability.
Consider the questions you want your model to answer, along with factors like ease of use, cost, data source integrations, and custom model capabilities.

While built-in attribution models offer a starting point, much can be gained by crafting a custom solution. A DIY approach empowers you to tailor the model to your organization’s unique B2B customer journey, focusing on the touchpoints that resonate most. The result? A customized attribution model will produce a more accurate and insightful understanding of what drives conversions, ultimately leading to optimized marketing efforts and maximized impact on ROI.

Building a successful DIY attribution engine is an ongoing process. As your data and marketing strategies mature, prioritize ongoing experimentation, refinement, and adaptation to keep your custom model calibrated. Now that you are armed with your attribution model and the data sources that fuel it, you’re prepared to embark on the last critical phase: optimizing your custom model. Chapter V delves into the practical steps involved, unlocking the valuable insights you need to fuel effective B2B marketing strategies and drive impactful results. It’s a big lift, but we have you covered!

Chapter V: Your DIY Attribution Journey: Optimizing and Avoiding the Pitfalls

Congratulations! You’ve built your personalized attribution engine, a powerful tool for B2B marketing success. But, harnessing the power of DIY attribution isn’t just about choosing a model and hitting go.

Here we’ll keep you supercharged with essential strategies for continuous optimization and vigilance. By staying proactive, you’ll ensure your DIY model fuels impactful marketing initiatives, maximizing the return on your marketing investment.

Optimizing Your Attribution Engine for Peak Performance:

  • Data Quality: The Bedrock of Success: As the saying goes, “garbage in, garbage out.” Inaccurate or inconsistent data leads to skewed results and misleading insights. Regularly clean and validate your data to maintain its integrity. Implement data hygiene practices like deduplication, normalization, and error correction.
  • Start Simple, Scale Wisely: Don’t get bogged down in complexity. Begin with a basic attribution model that aligns with your current needs and data capabilities. A more basic but well-defined model can be just as effective as an overly complex one, especially when you’re starting out. As your data expertise and volume grow, you can gradually add complexity to your model.
  • Test and Refine: Don’t set it and forget it! Monitor its performance regularly, compare results with other models, and adjust weightings or even choose a new model as needed based on your evolving marketing strategy and the insights you gain.
  • Go Beyond the Last Click: Move past the limitations of last-touch attribution. Consider models that capture the multi-touch nature of the B2B customer journey and give credit to all touchpoints influencing conversions. This holistic approach provides a more accurate picture of how your marketing efforts collectively drive results.
  • Embrace Experimentation: Don’t be afraid to experiment with different approaches and tools. The best solution for you will evolve as your needs, data capabilities, and the marketing landscape change. Test different models and configurations to find the one that delivers the most valuable insights for your unique business needs.

Pitfalls to Avoid on Your DIY Attribution Journey:

  • Unrealistic Expectations: Remember, attribution models are powerful tools for informed decision-making, not crystal balls. Set realistic expectations for model performance based on the limitations inherent to any modeling approach. Focus on using attribution insights to understand trends and optimize your marketing efforts, rather than expecting perfect accuracy.
  • Data Silos: Inconsistent data identification and tracking across different marketing channels can lead to fragmented and inaccurate attribution. Ensure consistent data definitions and tracking mechanisms are implemented across all channels and understood by all teams. Invest in data integration solutions if necessary to create a unified view of customer interactions.
  • Ignoring Offline Touchpoints: The B2B customer journey doesn’t just exist online. The offline world matters, too. Don’t neglect offline interactions like trade shows, networking events, or print marketing materials. Consider how to capture data from these touchpoints and incorporate them into your model if relevant. Utilize surveys or marketing automation tools to track these interactions and their impact on the customer journey.
  • Miscommunication and Confusion: Clear communication and transparency is key. Communicate the limitations and assumptions of your chosen attribution model to all stakeholders, including marketing teams, executives, and sales teams. This helps avoid misinterpretations, misuse of data, and unrealistic expectations about model performance.
  • Security and Privacy: Data privacy regulations are constantly evolving. Ensure your data collection and attribution practices comply with relevant regulations, such as GDPR and CCPA. Implement appropriate security measures to protect sensitive customer data.
  • Flexing: Building a complex model might seem impressive, but it’s not always the best approach. Start simple and scale slowly in line with your needs, infrastructure, and skill capabilities.

By following these optimization strategies and remaining vigilant against common pitfalls, you can ensure your DIY attribution engine continues to deliver valuable insights that fuel effective B2B marketing initiatives and drive results.

Conclusion: You’ve Stepped Up Your Attribution Game! Now, Unleash Its Power

Well done! You’ve embarked on a journey through the world of DIY B2B attribution. You’ve learned the essential concepts, explored various attribution models, and gained the knowledge to build a custom model tailored to your unique needs. You’re following in the footsteps of many marketing ops professionals, from spreadsheets to built-in to DIY to Marketing Decision Engines.

However, the true power of attribution lies in its practical application. If you need a boost, this is where the CaliberMind Marketing Decision Engine steps in, empowering you to seamlessly implement your model and unlock insights that drive real business growth.

CaliberMind: Your Comprehensive Attribution Solution

CaliberMind offers a comprehensive suite of tools and resources designed to simplify and streamline your attribution journey, taking you beyond the foundation you’ve built:

  • Advanced Attribution Models at Your Fingertips: Ditch single-touch and delve into the world of multi-touch, time decay, and other models with CaliberMind. Imagine seeing the intricate web of interactions that lead to conversions, empowering you to optimize every touchpoint and maximize impact.
  • Effortless Data Integration & Enrichment: CaliberMind breaks down data silos, seamlessly connecting your CRM, website analytics, and other sources to create a unified view of your marketing efforts, effectively building a bridge between your data islands and allowing you to flow freely between them.
  • Actionable Insights Delivered Through Automated Reporting: Say goodbye to manual data crunching and hello to automated reports that deliver CaliberMind’s actionable insights in real time. Imagine having a dedicated analyst whispering key findings in your ear, guiding your strategic decisions, and helping you stay ahead of the curve.
  • Data Hygiene Made Easy & Optimization at Every Turn: CaliberMind tackles data inconsistencies and cleanses your sources on your behalf, ensuring the integrity of your results. CaliberMind’s advanced features further empower you to test and refine your custom model for continuous optimization.
  • Expert Guidance & Support: You don’t have to go it alone on your attribution journey. CaliberMind fosters a thriving community and provides ongoing support from our team of B2B attribution veterans. We answer your questions, address challenges, and ensure your journey to data-driven marketing success is smooth and rewarding.

Don’t Wait – Unleash the Power of Attribution Today!

Now is the time to take action and harness the power of attribution. Visit CaliberMind’s website today to learn more about our solutions and discover how we can help you optimize your marketing efforts and achieve breakthrough results.

Together, let’s turn attribution into a competitive advantage for your B2B business!

Want More Content Like This?

We hope you’ve enjoyed this short eBook and have discovered ways to improve how your
organization views and uses funnels. We’ve seen firsthand how transformative these exercises can be for marketing, inside sales, and full-cycle sellers. Stay tuned for more eBooks like this that highlight ways to align your entire go-to-market team better and present new ways to gain efficiency in your organization.
To stay current on the latest B2B go-to-market landscape trends, subscribe to The Revenue Marketing Report. We have an entire resource library dedicated to best practices for marketers looking to supercharge their contribution to pipeline and revenue. Revenue operations professionals can also learn more about optimizing for scale through our Playbooks. And for those of you looking for more in-depth help transforming insights into faster growth, contact us at calibermind.com.

About CaliberMind

You need actionable marketing insights that the other marketing leaders and the C-Suite trust. Old marketing attribution systems just bolt onto your CRM or marketing automation platform and analyze the data in your database as-is. The unspoken assumption is that your CRM is in great shape. But is it?
CaliberMind connects to all your key marketing systems and works with you to identify your data’s weak points. Our 5-Star customer success team will suggest best practices to clean your data and keep it pristine so you can focus on what matters—producing more pipeline and revenue faster.