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Get the Most Out of Marketing Attribution

Posted June 23, 2021
Anna Leary Podcast

What You Gain With Attribution

A lot of marketers have been burned by (and lost faith in) attribution.
But some people have successfully implemented attribution and the benefits that come with it: Common Attribution Benefits “I have seen companies implement attribution successfully. They have organized processes, and they have defined data structures. They’ve already thought through and implemented a defined UTM structure, a CRM campaign structure, and have the required metadata fields that have to be populated on every campaign to build out reports.” Marketers spend an average of one week per month dealing with spreadsheets. They’re cleaning up data, sourcing contacts, trying to deduplicate records, and then tie the systems together for reporting. With an automated reporting system and data hygiene tool in place, all of the time is freed up to make existing campaigns better and plan future campaigns. Key benefits include:
  • Duplicates are eliminated
  • No more data split between leads and contacts
  • Metadata collection is automated or simplified
  • Systems are integrated – which means full visibility
  • Creating segmented lists is simplified
A lot of groundwork has to be done to leverage an attribution tool to its full potential. If your system is currently in a state of disarray, you’re not alone, and it’s far from impossible to fix. “I’m a big proponent of centers of excellence and process-oriented teams. Marketing leaders have to prioritize structuring their data now so they can leverage it in the long run. It’s the only way you can leverage attribution and understand how you’re generating revenue. “If you have messy data, take the time to sit down and think about baby steps to organize that data because it will save so much time and help you run more efficiently in the long run.”

The First Key to Success: Proper Staffing

“When it comes to implementing an attribution tool, the most significant point of failure is a lack of resourcing. “I’ve seen a lot of companies get really excited about the prospect of what attribution is and what it can do for them. They move forward with purchasing a tool that costs them a lot of money, but then it sits there, and the project gets delayed. They put it on the highest shelf in the room, and it just collects dust. They don’t have the resources on their team to support the tool. I think that has led to attribution having a negative connotation—they didn’t plan for the proper resources to implement and manage their systems.” Dont forget resourcing Before anyone purchases an attribution tool, they should plan on devoting a team member to analytics and data management. There isn’t a replacement for a solid analyst who can sell the rest of the business on attribution and articulate marketing’s contribution to the business. “Attribution is something that can consistently be optimized. If you don’t have a resource diving into the tool every week, you’re losing out on crucial data. That loss accumulates over time. After a year goes by, you’ll be asked to prove that the project achieved something. People lose out on the tremendous time savings attribution offers because of a lack of resources.”

The Second Key to Success: Preparation

Anna would like people to know that they can see positive results immediately from a data cleanup project. “Putting a better data structure in place doesn’t have to be a long, drawn-out process.” Easier items to put in place include (for details on each of these items and how they make up your campaign structure, click here):
  • Identify and define your basic programs
  • Standardize and define your channels
  • Use and standardize UTM parameters – start with channels if this seems like a big job
  • Standardize campaign names
  • Templatize marketing automation workflows for campaigns
  • Standardize state, country, and title fields
Pick one or two items to start with and build out from there. Some vendors (like CaliberMind) even have data hygiene rules that can help clean up your historical data and put systems in place to protect your data going forward. Most vendors can at least advise you on best practices. The great thing about putting processes in place is that you don’t need to worry about the shape of your data in the future. This is exactly why marketers shouldn’t wait to put processes in place—the longer you wait, the more records you will need to clean. The ops improvement cycle No matter which tool you select, at a minimum, you’ll need to take the time to define what you want. “Setting up your marketing automation platform as a scalable center of excellence is a great way to avoid common reporting pain points. Your marketing automation platform is where a lot of your marketing engagements flow through. Having scalable template programs that you run all of your assets through, defining your channels and programs, and having consistent data formats are all great ways to scale and avoid a lot of pain down the road. “Anything marketing-related should have a campaign tied to it and fed to your CRM. If you do that, your attribution tool will be much more effective.”

What to Look For in a Marketing Attribution Tool

Anna recommends that before you start meeting with vendors, take the time to define your MarTech stack. She recommends you determine:
  • Where is the data flowing?
  • What isn’t integrated?
  • What kind of metrics are you being asked for by leadership?
  • What’s the main problem you want to solve?
“If you need to prove certain things, think about whether or not you have the right data in your system. Are you going to need to add in an enrichment tool, validation rules, or hire someone to get the information in the system? Think through your data structure, the data migration, and system connectivity before you buy.” To get the most out of attribution, you want as many marketing data sources as possible connected to your attribution tool. You’ll want weblogger data, digital advertising sources, offline events, and more to capture the full scope of your marketing activity. To see more requirements ideas, go here. As great as attribution is, it doesn’t solve every problem. The data underneath has to be clean, systems need to be connected, and processes need to be in place. “B2B marketers need to move away from thinking attribution is some magical solution that’s going to solve all of marketing’s problems. It’s almost reached unicorn status. People say, ‘Oh, you’ve got multi-touch attribution. Wow. You must really have it together.’ “B2B marketers give attribution a negative connotation because they’ve tried it with an outside tool or they’ve tried a homegrown solution, and it hasn’t worked how they wanted. Most likely, there were issues with data or missing data sources that caused these frustrations. It’s a difficult concept to implement and do well. “People give up on it too quickly. My advice is don’t give up on attribution because it’s definitely here to stay. There’s nothing else out there that can give the same level of insight into how marketing impacts revenue. ”
For more on how to get help with attribution and why marketers should use more than one attribution model, listen to the full Revenue Marketing Report episode at the top of the article or anywhere you podcast.

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