Hello, 2021! A year full of new plans, potential, and with any luck, less general chaos. Many marketers have already moved from the budgeting phase and into the implementation of their 2021 marketing campaigns. Others may still be iterating on their marketing channel strategies based on upcoming readouts on annual performance. Wherever you may be, you’re likely finding yourself needing to make investment decisions that will give you the most bang for your buck. To help B2B marketers understand and optimize customer journeys, we’ve developed a content series dedicated to breaking down each of the components. This blog is our first piece of content in that series designed to help B2B marketers understand the types of attribution models that will help them improve ROI.
There can be many challenges that plague your analytics and make it difficult to understand the B2B customer lifecycle. These challenges include:
- Dirty Data – Garbage in, garbage out. No matter how well we think a campaign performed, if the proper engagement and attribution data weren’t captured, we’re left with subjective evaluations at best.
- Process Breakdowns – B2B sales cycles are lengthy and have multiple stakeholders on the client-side, not to mention all the marketing and sales resources dedicated by your teams. To gain a better understanding of the customer lifecycle, there needs to be a crystal-clear understanding of your company’s customer lifecycle, including who owns what stages and the rules that should be followed when engaging with a prospect.
- Lack of a Shared Vision of Success – Without a clear vision of success and cross-departmental agreement regarding what metrics will be used to evaluate that success, there won’t be trust regarding the integrity of the analytics. This issue has been proliferated by the vast increase in self-serving vendor-specific metrics, with the notable OG being Google Analytics. The complex stakeholder landscape makes it more difficult for marketers to convey to sales and executives the impact of their marketing spend.
Identifying an approach to ROI reporting requires a keen understanding of your organizational and departmental goals. Navigating the options and selecting the methodology that’s right for you can be further complicated when it’s not just your channels available but also your partner channels. So, where do you turn when you need to understand ROI on your channels and partner channels to crush your campaigns? We’ve compiled a diversified list of the different attribution models to get started with ROI reporting.
First-touch analytics, when backed by clean and reliable data, will tell you where to invest when it comes to generating the leads most likely to turn into an opportunity or closed-won deal.
So how do you analyze first-touch attribution? That will depend upon how you define first-touch. In this case, let’s assume you’re looking for how the new name was acquired, common among B2B marketers whose products and services carry a lengthy sales process with multiple stakeholders. In this case, it all starts with consistently populated source data. To make the translation from analytics to investment less cryptic, your source values should align with your channels. You’ll also need integration between your marketing automation and CRM systems to ensure you can connect that source data (on the lead or the contact) with opportunity information. Analyzing sources related to opportunities and new customers is where you’ll find the most value, hence the integration.
To understand revenue driven by partners on first-touch attribution, be sure to capture the referral source, including the partner org and rep name. Doing so will help you to understand which partners are driving lead gen. You’ll also have the data to understand which partners are your strongest advocates and where you’ll need to invest more time to build trust with others.
Last-touch analytics, when aligned to agreed-upon lifecycle stages, will tell you where to invest to best ‘nudge’ leads into your highest value stages in the customer journey. Use this attribution methodology when you’re trying to unclog your funnel and increase your conversion rate from one stage to the next.
Consider using this approach on stages such as ‘Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) and Opportunity.
So how do you analyze last-touch attribution for your marketing efforts? Once again, this will vary based on how your team defines the last touch. Many B2B marketers, however, use the last touch to describe the last trackable and successful interaction, online or offline, that occurred prior to the lead reaching the stage for which last-touch attribution is being tracked. This methodology requires a defined ‘success’ or ‘response’ within each channel in your marketing automation platform. You’ll also need to make sure the marketing team is well aligned with your sales team on your lifecycle stage definitions to make sure everyone is speaking the same language.
By tracking last-touch attribution, you’ll generate the insights needed to become more successful in converting other leads stuck in the previous funnel stage. Apply this same methodology to your partner channels to understand if a partner communication, event, or campaign led to an increase in conversions.
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Multi-touch attribution reporting is the holy grail of attribution reporting for B2B marketers. There are many different weighting methodologies out there. Seriously, think of a letter in the alphabet, and there’s probably a weighting methodology named after it. The principle, however, remains the same. Multi-touch attribution allows you to identify the channels and campaigns most closely associated with open opportunities and closed-won deals. Using an unweighted approach, you can divide the value of the opportunity or closed-won deal by the channels and campaigns that generated successful interactions.
Take your multi-touch attribution model to the next level by using this methodology for partner channels as well. This will help you to understand if events are driving ROI across the board or if there’s a higher degree of success when you pair up with a partner.
Multi-touch attribution requires operational excellence and builds upon many of the prerequisites we reviewed in relation to first-touch and last-touch attribution reports. While a lifecycle isn’t a direct dependency, you’ll want to be integrated with your CRM and properly identifying the statuses that indicate a response so that this attribution credit can be distributed accurately.
There are many ways to identify your best bets for channel investment. Each methodology answers a different question in your click attribution and plays a key role in solidifying your marketing mix. By combining methodologies such as these three, you’ll be able to answer all those questions about what worked, what didn’t, and what your 2021 investment strategy looks like.
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