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B2B Marketing Attribution: Simple Steps to Get Started

Posted March 4, 2019
alex stanton
Attribution is on everybody’s mind. How much is too little? When is it too much? And if you’re new to it all — where do you start? Listen to the report, or read on to learn about: 1. Setting Yourself Up For Attribution Success 2. The Attribution You Really Need 3. The Double Funnel Dilemma: Measuring Demand and ABM Side-By-Side

Setting Yourself Up For Attribution Success

Attribution can prove to the rest of the company — to the executive team — that marketing isn’t the arts and crafts department. When you can demonstrate definitively that the mega-bucks being spent on marketing technology are being spent wisely and moving the needle, you justify that cost and pave the way for additional opportunities for your teams. But to get to a point where you can proudly put your attribution glory on display, you must. start. Small. Emphasis on small. When you first “plug in” attribution, you’ll see your instabilities. You’ll see loads of work you need to tackle. Here’s where you breathe deep and remember: It’s important to first, start simple; start small. We’ll get into that in a moment. Second, set your expectations. For example, do not expect that within one month, you’ll have historic and current data and everything in between. It’s not gonna happen.

Starting Smart: What Attribution Do You Really Need?

Between first touch and last are a host of complexities when it comes to attribution. We all know the path to a sale isn’t linear. On any given account, a variety of individuals, each a part of the buying decision, come into play at various points along the buyer’s journey. For a while, the general consensus has been that it takes 6-8 touches to “get the lead” (it’s actually probably a lot more). Multiply that by the number of people involved in a buying decision and you potentially have a huge mountain of touches to attribute and analyze. Don’t make it that hard. Start from the foundation work. Let’s say you are in a situation where you’re not even capturing lead source. That’s the first place you should probably start. You’re not capturing UTMs? That’s another easy, low-hanging fruit. Maybe you’re using marketing automation but you’re not using, say, programs, or success steps in those programs (for you Marketo folks). Next, you need to look at your data. Are there holes? Is the data coming in correctly? Maybe you find that you need to segment by country, but hey, you’re not capturing that information. All of these are small starts that can net you small wins. Begin by showing progress with these, and then iterate on your success. I know. It can grind a savvy marketer’s gears when a report is not 100% precise, or isn’t accounting for every single lead. But trying to capture and account for everything is often detrimental and unproductive. Some things you just won’t be able to measure. Some things simply aren’t worth the effort.
Understand this: In the large numbers, there’s a lot of truth. Start by collecting a large volume of attribution data on one or two things. Once you’re looking at that, you begin to see a piece of truth coming through about your efforts and your buyers.
As MarTech-ers, that’s our aim — to get closer to the truth.

The Double Funnel Dilemma: Measuring Demand and ABM Side-By-Side

How do we approach the double funnel as we look to measure attribution? Across the board, if you’re doing both ABM and traditional demand gen, this is a pain point. Why? Because these two styles require different measurement tactics. In ABM it starts from your list of accounts and your ideal customer profile. You’re naming who your prospects are and going after them directly, rather than waiting for them to come to you.
How you measure your success in the ABM world is more customer-centric. Your efforts are lined up against an account, versus those efforts being the centerpiece of your reporting (with individual people lined up against them).
Most of the marketing technology stack is not set up to report in these incongruous ways. Flipping your reporting method upside down to accommodate opposing measurement approaches is a lot of work, so few companies are successfully doing it — for now. — Attribution is important. It tells you if what you’re doing is working or not. But you need to go after it step by step. Remember:
  • Start small, start simple. Is it with lead sources? Is it UTMs?
  • Iterate on your success. As you start seeing that you have more data available, add that to your reporting.
  • Know that it will never be as scientifically perfect as you want it to be. Give room for gray area.
  • Set expectations with your stakeholders so they understand that there’s some set up that needs to be done and that it’s going to take time. Emphasize that it’s going to be a journey that allows you to see what is performing and what is not, and an opportunity to be able to align your spend, resources, and talent against that. That is a ton of value.
  • Invest in talent to drive your technology. Commenting on this poignant piece by Digital Pi CSO Tom Grubb, MarTech royalty Scott Brinker noted that “the greatest asset of most #MarTech platforms is the talent that knows how to wield them. Every race car needs a skillful driver and a skillful pit crew to win. Credit due is probably 80% talent and 20% tool.
It’s an exciting time to be a marketer. We’re learning as we go. Where we end up depends on how we, the practitioners, are able to learn the tools we’re developing, and set them up in a way that works.