Three Methods For Achieving Accurate Marketing Attribution

Published: June 30, 2015

Don Otvos DatahugAccurately attributing ROI to campaigns is the holy grail for marketing. It is important to build marketing programs with attribution in mind not just because of the validation it gives to the marketing department, but because it points to the activities that will have the biggest impact on revenue going forward.

The three tactics below can help marketers accurately evaluate the success of their lead-generation activities and track them through the sales funnel.

Tracking By Lead Source

Creating simple reports that show how each marketing channel contributes to pipeline and revenue is an easy first step on the journey to comprehensive revenue tracking. It can be done quickly in Salesforce using the lead source function. A lead represents a person (not a company) and every lead has a lead source that you can set manually or automatically. Examples of lead sources include inbound sources, such as social, blog or search, as well as outbound sources such email marketing campaigns and paid media.

When your sales team qualifies a lead as a potential customer, they convert the lead to a contact, creating an account and an opportunity. The account function stores information about the lead’s company; the contact feature stores contact details for the lead; and the opportunity feature stores the dollar amount of the potential deal. Because the opportunity inherits the lead source of the lead, you can run a simple report in Salesforce showing a breakdown of opportunities (won, lost and open) by lead source. This will reveal how much revenue and pipeline is being created by each of your marketing channels.

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Tracking By Campaign

Marketing analytics and ROI attribution become more difficult when there are multiple marketing touches before a prospect engages with your sales team. While a multi-touch qualification process lets a sales team concentrate their efforts on only the best prospects, it becomes more difficult to understand the specific contribution of each marketing campaign.

Depending on how the CRM is set up, every new interaction can create a duplicate lead, so when the leads are de-duplicated, at least one of the lead sources is lost. And if the sales team creates their own leads from that company, the lead that is eventually converted is most likely to be categorized as an outbound sales-prospected lead rather than your inbound marketing lead. To get around this challenge, you can track by campaign.

When tracking by campaign, every marketing event which typically creates a lead also makes that lead a member of a campaign. When leads or contacts are associated with opportunities, all relevant campaigns are linked to the opportunity. This allows you to associate all relevant marketing campaigns with an opportunity, so you don’t lose this information when leads are de-duplicated or converted. It also allows you to report by both high level initiatives, like a product launch, or low level touches, like a webinar. The most recent marketing touch becomes the primary campaign source of the opportunity. This is known as last-touch attribution.

Tracking With Marketing Automation

While most companies use marketing automation tools to run lead generation programs, these solutions can also provide reporting capabilities beyond what’s achievable in Salesforce and other CRMs. They enable what’s known as multi-touch attribution, in which all marketing touches and all people involved in a deal are given credit and a portion of marketing ROI.

To accurately report multi-touch attribution, the marketing and sales departments must work together to ensure that every opportunity has accurate contact role data. A contact role is a decision-maker, influencer or evaluator on a deal. Companies that sell products that require sign-off by multiple individuals at a customer company will want to understand how their marketing programs impact each individual.

The challenge marketers face is that while most of their opportunities have one contact role, the sales team does not add every contact role. This can be overcome either by automating contact role data entry through additional software tools or by instituting a culture of diligent manual data entry across the company.

Sales and marketing automation are powerful tools that often go underused. Take control of the tools at your disposal to create marketing campaigns that not only get credit for what they create, but point the way forward to even greater success in the future.

Don Otvos is the VP of Inside Sales and Operations at Datahug, a predictive sales acceleration software company. Otvos has over two decades of experience in sales operations and management, having run sales operations at App Annie and Yammer before Datahug.

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