To achieve top results when you’re a B2B organization, you need to understand how the whole sales process is working and which marketing activity is most likely to help you achieve your company goals.
The journey each lead takes on their way to making a sale will vary, so when the perfect lead walks through the door and goes on to become a valued customer, you need to know what made it happen.
Where did they come from? What was the journey they followed? What were the ‘touchpoints’ (the times they came into contact with you) that they experienced along the way?
Being able to accurately trace back an individual sale to the marketing activity that led to it, is a key part of the process. Not just for increasing future success but for marketers to justify what they’re doing and the investment it requires.
That’s where marketing attribution comes in. It’s about being able to prove how different marketing activity has impacted on the company’s bottom line.
What do we mean by marketing attribution?
Marketing has always had to fight its corner when it comes to proving its worth and often in times of crisis marketing budgets will be the first thing to face the axe.
But demonstrating an accurate return on investment has never been straightforward. That’s because B2B campaigns don’t work in isolation. They are multi-prong, multi-channel and in the case of inbound marketing tactics such as content marketing, increasingly about playing the long game.
No company can just run one ad campaign and expect to sit back and watch the sales roll in. Buyers are complex beings. It will often take multiple ‘touchpoints’ with a potential customer before they are likely to make a move.
In fact, there’s a widely-held belief in marketing that it takes an average seven touches before someone finally acts on a call to action. But this figure could be even higher, especially if the price tag is substantial.
So how can marketing ensure it gets the recognition it deserves and convince the powers that be to invest more, or sign off on budget for another campaign?
Marketing attribution can be the secret here – showing how marketing activities have led directly to revenue. Being able to attribute a sale to the marketing activity that got a lead’s attention, converted them and finally resulted in them becoming a paying customer.
The main point to remember about attribution is that we’re not talking about day-to-day stats here, such as how many people clicked on a blog or visited the website. They are valid numbers to look at and keep tabs on, but attribution is about showing how marketing has impacted on the company’s financial success.
Being able to say that 1000 visitors were driven to the website through an ad is one thing, but where’s the proof that any of that traffic went on to result in a sale?
You need to be able to show how marketing impacted on key company figures, such as:
- Volume of sales
- Customer retention
There continues to be debate in the industry around the best way to solve the marketing attribution conundrum. The most common models that teams are currently turning to are:
This model attributes the revenue generated to the last thing that a lead clicked on – the last touchpoint. The main problem here, as we’ve already pointed out, is that it takes far more than one great piece of activity to persuade a lead to go ahead and buy. As a model, this one is likely to be highly inaccurate and not much help to you.
Last non-direct click
If the last touchpoint was a direct visit (suggesting a lead has made up their mind to buy) then sometimes teams prefer to attribute the sale to the last non-direct click. The theory being that this was indeed the final touch that led them to decide to buy.
Same principle as last click, just that this model focuses on the first touchpoint a customer has with a company. The whole sale being attributed to that one point.
This model takes into account every touchpoint the lead experienced and attributes the sale to them all equally. So, if there were 4 touches, they would each be attributed 20% of the sale.
Similar to linear, except that touchpoints are weighted in this model, based on their position within the buyer journey. The first and last being most highly weighted, with the rest in the middle splitting the remaining percentage equally.
Finally, one of the most complicated models out there. The thinking behind this one being that the touchpoints nearest to a conversion will have had the most influence, so they should be given a greater percentage.
The secret to accurate attribution
But these models won’t tell the true story.
The first step towards accurate attribution is to invest in the right tools. One of the key advantages that marketing teams operating today have is that digital innovations mean data and analysis is now easier than ever. You have access to real-time information and can set up all sorts of tracking and monitoring, which will help you make your case.
Just remember, tools like Google Analytics may be great at providing top level figures (such as increases in website visitor numbers) but what you’re aiming for is evidence of the impact you’ve had on the business.
The ability to track a prospect through their computer connection has been a gamechanger for the industry and accurate attribution.
Why? Because you are now able to see the steps that an individual lead has taken and importantly can monitor their behavior after being exposed to different marketing activities.
The best part is that this can all be done from the comfort of your desk, without ever having to contact a lead, or violate their privacy.
IP tracking is what makes this possible (and is what our own Lead Forensics software is created around). Whenever someone using a company computer accesses the internet, they will do so with an individual number – a bit like someone driving around with a car license plate.
This IP number will be unique to them and so can be tracked and monitored, allowing a profile to be created.
For example, you can use it to see when they visited your website, the original source that sent them to the site, what they looked at when there and for how long, etc.
At Lead Forensics, as we have one of the most comprehensive databases around, so we are able to reveal the identity of the company behind the IP number and the key decision maker’s therein, so they are no-longer just an anonymous website visitor. Read our short Introduction to Lead Forensics to find out how this works.
When 98% of website visitors don’t enquire and make themselves known, this type of system is crucial for helping you identify both who is ready to buy and to track a sale back to the specific campaign that generated it.
As a simple example, imagine you have posted something on LinkedIn and you want to know if it contributed to any sales. With our software, you’ll be able to see which businesses clicked on the link and what they then went on to view on your website. You can tie these leads back to the specific social media campaign that generated them and accurately attributing revenue if they convert.
The key thing to remember when it comes to attribution is that using a model that oversimplifies the whole process won’t help you as it won’t tell a genuine story. B2B marketing is about taking a holistic, cross-channel approach and any methods you use need to take that into account.
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