Advanced Attribution Models Emerge For B2B Marketers

Published: October 14, 2015

Marketing attribution models and tools are emerging that enable B2B marketers to tie sales to specific marketing campaigns and initiatives that contributed to revenue, experts note. And while most companies are not there yet due to the complexity of full-funnel attribution, those who are doing so are seeing a significant payoff.

B2B marketing attribution enables marketers to closely track ROI and optimize campaigns based on actual full-funnel performance data. Revenue accountability and full-funnel transparency results in more efficient marketing content, audience targeting, channel decisions and budget allocation.

According to preliminary findings in Bizible‘s 2015 State of Pipeline Marketing report, which surveyed 370 marketers (85% B2B), 24% of marketers do not have any attribution marketing model in place, and 55% are using a single-touch attribution system: first-touch, last-touch or lead-conversion touch.

A concern with single-touch models for B2B is that the sales cycle is often fairly long and involves multiple decision-makers, according to Dave Rigotti, Head of Marketing at Bizible.

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“By measuring and optimizing performance for just one person and one time, marketers are likely facing model bias,” Rigotti noted. “Optimizing for the model they happen to be using is not necessarily what’s driving the biggest impact to deals.”

While marketing automation can help marketers identify first touch, and sales automation tools such as Salesforce can track the last touch, most B2B deals require multiple touches over time. The revenue potential and efficiencies gained by some B2B marketers who are doing full attribution, or pipeline, marketing are beginning to gain attention.

Matt Heinz, President and Founder of Heinz Marketing, told Demand Gen Report that marketing attribution “is a huge competitive differentiator.”

Doubling Efficiency With Attribution Modeling

Jobvite, which markets job recruitment and tracking software, doubled its efficiency by employing marketing attribution modeling, according to Bonnie Crater, CEO of Full Circle Insights.

“They had the same marketing budget [this year] as they did last year, but they doubled the number of leads and doubled the number of sales,” Crater said.

Lattice Engines has also been able to optimize their marketing using Full Circle’s attribution solution. Lattice began working on the process in September 2014 and went live this past January, according to Jenna Keegan, Demand Generation and Marketing Operations Manager at Lattice Engines.

“We wanted better, truer reporting on both marketing and sales impact on revenue,” Keegan said.

Lattice began by setting up the response management portion that affects sales and reporting. Keegan said the people and process pieces of adding this layer to the marketing stack took some time, but indicated the Full Circle tool plays well within existing systems, especially Salesforce. “A lot can happen without a ton of change management.”

Keegan and the marketing team at Lattice were able to work within the tool to weigh various attributes that go into the modeling tool. She also noted that several models can run simultaneously. “That is the value of it. It makes reporting and metrics so much easier.”

Keegan uses Marketo for marketing automation day-to-day, but she also uses reporting tools in Salesforce. The attribution models are built into Salesforce so that the data is accessible to both sales and marketing teams. “It gives everyone one view of the truth,” Keegan said.

The results to date have sold her on automated marketing attribution’s value.

“A lot of people who were already in our pipeline were responding to specific campaigns or events according to this new model. Without [the tool], it would have seemed like these [events] were underperforming. It’s not impossible to get that information without Full Circle, but it is a lot easier and more efficient using the technology, and we’re refreshing it every day, not quarterly.”

The tool’s reporting capabilities helped Lattice make more informed decisions about which events to attend. “There are events we’re not going to participate in again, and it has helped us keep certain [events],” Keegan said. She said it also gives Lattice insight into “knowing when to send someone a piece of content or who to invite to a specific event.”

Automating the process is certainly more efficient, but that doesn’t mean marketers can’t attempt attribution on their own, observers noted

Carrie Wadlington, Director of Online Marketing at Bomgar, a provider of remote support and privileged access management solutions, is mapping marketing attribution to the buyer’s journey using a combination of existing tools in Bomgar’s stack and dropping those into Excel to analyze.

“It started with a leadership change. Sales and marketing reported to one leader,” Wadlington said. She explained that the top-down buy-in helped bring sales and marketing together and that the biggest change in the people and culture has been greater collaboration among inbound and outbound teams.

Wadlington agreed that her homegrown approach helps with budgeting, but said that aligning marketing to the customer journey and facilitating that journey for them has made a big difference for Bomgar. Her company has seen what she calls “significant growth year over year in a highly competitive market.” She added that “it’s largely attributable to our marketing attribution work.”

Heinz said that “the more marketers are held responsible for not just campaigns but sales pipeline contribution,” the faster marketing attribution will spread.

Marketing Attribution Becomes Scalable

“Influence tracking is so important across content and campaigns.” Heinz said companies such as Bright Funnel, Full Circle and Bizible are finally tackling the answers to the question of what influences buyers at each stage of the lifecycle in a way that is scalable.

More recently, other companies have begun to offer some piece of the attribution pie. HubSpot announced in September it has added a number of new features to its marketing platform, including what it described as enhanced attribution and revenue reporting.

Jon Russo, Founder of the B2B Fusion Group, said marketers are more closely scrutinized than ever before in terms of marketing budget. “That pressure has ticked up in the last few years,” he said, which may another reason attribution is gaining in popularity.

Russo said the pressure to prove what is working would only intensify over time.

“If they can’t articulate attribution, then the ‘ice cube’ melts further,” he said. “No one is getting more marketing budget. They’re either maintaining or losing. Everyone is asking what the return is.”

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