COVID-19 Update

Rise In Multi-Touch Attribution Fueled By ABM, Data Convergence

Featured Rise In Multi-Touch Attribution Fueled By ABM, Data Convergence

For many of today’s B2B marketers, success is no longer measured by generating leads at the top of the funnel. Increasingly, marketing execs are responsible for creating campaigns that lead directly to revenue — a shift being propelled by advances in multi-touch attribution technology.

While research shows that many B2B marketing organizations still employ a single-touch attribution method, there are numerous signs that multi-touch models are catching on. According to B2B marketing attribution provider Bizible’s 2015 State of Pipeline Marketing report, just over half of B2B marketers (52%) use a single-touch attribution model — but 30% planned to change their attribution method in the next six months.

The next report is due out later this year, but Dave Rigotti, Head of Marketing at Bizible, said, “We've certainly noticed a maturing of attribution knowledge among B2B companies. More and more companies are asking specifically for multi-touch. It also used to be almost exclusively the demand team asking for it; now we're seeing more interest from marketing operations, marketing leaders and other roles across the team.”

Host Analytics and Act-On Software are two examples of companies using a multi-touch attribution strategy to track demand gen efforts.

Anecdotally, multi-touch attribution solution vendors such as BrightFunnel and Full Circle Insights also report a greater understanding and interest from across the marketing team, as measurement metrics continue to shift away from lead generation and toward revenue.

“Most marketers measure their performance based on top-of-the-funnel metrics — the number of leads that they generate, and the number of clicks they get on something,” explained Bonnie Crater, CEO of Full Circle Insights, an analytics and attribution provider. “Those are really valid metrics to measure the uptake of various types of messages they’re putting together for their audiences, but particularly in B2B marketing, you really want to know not only what generated the leads and interest, but also what impacted revenue.”

In a single-touch attribution model, marketers frequently attribute the revenue generated by a campaign to when a lead first engages with the company (first touch), when it becomes an MQL (mid touch) or to the moment that inspired a lead to make a purchase (last touch). The problem with these methods, Crater explained, is, “If you close a $50,000 deal, all of the revenue goes to that one touch point — but in B2B marketing, we know there are five to 10 touches, not just one.”

Full-Funnel Attribution Tied To ABM

Tracing the buyer’s journey — and determining which touches were most influential on landing a sale and generating revenue — is particularly important for marketers who practice account-based marketing (ABM). As ABM continues its rapid rise, experts expect interest in multi-touch attribution to continue to climb.

For marketers who use ABM, “There are multiple people in an account, with a multi-touch buyer’s journey,” said BrightFunnel CEO Nadim Hossain. “When you combine five people, each of whom has four touches, then you’ve got 20 touches. The idea of giving credit to only one touch is laughable; you’re ignoring 95% of the marketing touches.”

Nick Ezzo, VP of Demand at financial analytics provider Host Analytics, began employing multi-touch attribution last year, in efforts to tie the company’s marketing efforts to actual opportunities. “We practice ABM for our largest target accounts, and attribution helps us understand both the depth (how many touches per person) and breadth (how many people per account) of our demand gen efforts,” he said.

By tying campaigns to revenue with attribution, using Bizible, Ezzo and his team were able to look at the results of previous efforts and answer crucial questions for target accounts, such as: “Now, how do we drive engagement with them? How do we get them to interact with more content? How do we get them to engage with enough content that we can set up a phone call with one of our sales reps?”

One of the biggest marketing expenses for Host Analytics was paid search, so it was also important for Ezzo to determine if the paid search campaigns were having an impact on the company’s current pipeline.

“Without attribution, and without visible attribution, I had no idea which of my paid ad campaigns were performing. We had Salesforce data and [Google] AdWords data, and if they didn’t match up, we couldn’t tell what was working. Imagine being the pilot of a plane, and all of your instruments are dead and you can’t see out the window,” he said.

Data Convergence Is Crucial To Multi-Touch Efforts

In fact, that deluge of data is another driving factor in the emergence of full-funnel attribution. There’s no doubt that B2B buyers are engaging with brands through more channels than ever before. From online ads to offline trade shows, there are numerous ways for marketers to gather information on prospects.

That data has historically lived in siloes. But with the rise of the CRM as a centralized source of data that integrates with other solutions, particularly multi-touch attribution models, companies are beginning to see a clearer view of the campaigns and content that help drive sales.

“Combined with response management, [multi-touch attribution] has become a cornerstone of our entire marketing and sales operations,” said George Verey, Marketing Operations Manager at Act-On Software, which uses Full Circle Insights. It’s also helped marketing and sales to have an even more “symbiotic” relationship, he added.

“When I put together the analytical reports, I report to the executives on 16 different divisions of sales,” he explained. “We can very quickly identify any deficiencies from a monetary perspective and a lead perspective. If there is a deficiency, we use the attribution to go in and fill in the holes. For example, if there’s a section of sales that’s having trouble, we’ll go into the attribution [software] and see what works and what doesn’t work. And we can react to things very quickly.”

Attribution Means Marketers Tasked With Greater Revenue Responsibility

Verey at Act-On isn’t the only marketing manager reporting to company execs on a broad range of marketing metrics. As the growth of attribution continues to enable marketers to identify campaigns that impacted the company’s bottom line, many report greater oversight and participation from company leaders.

In fact, Marketo CEO Phil Fernandez said in his keynote speech at the Marketo Marketing Nation Summit that marketing has gone “from a support function to a seat at the table,” with dense collaboration between the CEO, the CMO and the CIO.

Allison Snow, Senior Analyst for B2B Marketing at Forrester, cautions that marketers should be careful in how they present the results from multi-touch attribution to decision makers. Even in models that distribute a portion of revenue across multiple touches, marketers must still determine, for instance, how much weight to give those touches. In other words, the results of a multi-touch attribution effort — while likely more insightful than single-touch model — are still subjective.

“The fundamental takeaway is that the data revealed by multi-touch attribution models is more valuable when audiences that consume the data — often to draw conclusions around channel effectiveness — understand how models are built,” she summarized.