When used correctly, B2B marketing attribution can help you track what touchpoints are generating the most value, make budgetary decisions based on actionable data, and more importantly, scale the profitably of your marketing campaigns.
For most B2B companies, marketing is a sizable expense and leaders want to know what they’re getting for their buck.
Company leaders are no longer satisfied by performance indicators such as clicks, conversions and downloads.
They want to know:
1. What marketing initiatives are having the biggest impact on the bottom line.
2. How you’re going to use this insight to drive more lucrative opportunities.
We’ve come a long way in terms of analytics and marketing attribution, and yet so many marketers are struggling with end-to-end tracking and consider measuring marketing ROI a challenge.
In fact, only 17% of advertisers look at the performance of their digital channels holistically.
Well, that’s about to change.
With a better grasp of B2B marketing attribution, it will become easier to identify which of your marketing activities are having the biggest impact on conversions, and more importantly, revenue.
For this article, we’ll discuss:
- An overview of B2B marketing attribution
- Most common marketing attribution models
- Challenges to B2B marketing attribution
- Tips for better marketing attribution.
Without further ado, let’s jump in.
What is B2B marketing attribution?
Marketing attribution allows you to see how well individual channels are performing, how they relate to overall marketing ROI, and, more importantly, lets you make decisions based on actionable data.
It provides you with a more sophisticated approach than simple click tracking to follow your customers’ journey and attribute credit to the marketing initiatives that played a significant part across the path-to-sale.
Types of marketing attribution models
Due to its popularity, there’s been an explosion of attribution models designed to help B2B businesses track and analyse customers throughout the sales cycle.
Attribution models can either be single-touch or multi-touch:
Single-touch attribution models allocate 100% revenue credit to a single campaign or channel. Typically, these attribution models assign conversion values to either the first or last touchpoint a visitor interacted with before making a conversion.
Multi-touch attribution allows marketers to analyse the entire conversion path with more clarity. The purpose of multi-touch attribution is to optimise the allocation of your marketing budget so that you can focus on the channels that have the most impact on conversions and revenue.
To help explain the following attribution models, we’ll refer to a sample of a buyer’s journey.
- An anonymous visitor clicks on a Google ad and downloads an eBook from your website.
Two days later, they go through an email cadence, click a link, and return to your site to learn more about your services.
- Three weeks later, they visit your website using a brand search via Google organic.
- Shortly after, they click on a retargeting ad on Facebook and convert by scheduling a meeting with your sales team.
Now, that’s out of the way, let’s take a look at some of the most common attribution models used by marketers:
100% of the value of the conversion is allocated to the user’s first interaction.
The first-click model has attributed all of the revenue from the sale to the Google ad that inspired the journey.
100% of the value of the conversion is allocated to the user’s last interaction before they converted into a sale.
The last click model has attributed all of the revenue from the sale to the retargeting ad on Facebook.
Last Non-Direct Click
For this model, we’ve slightly altered the customer journey. Similar to the last click model, although 100% credit is allocated to the second to last touchpoint the user engaged with.
The last non-direct click model has assigned 100% of the credit to the organic visit and ignored the direct touchpoint.
Linear Attribution Model
The credit for the conversion or sale is distributed evenly across each channel a buyer interacted with through the entire buying journey.
The linear attribution model has divided all of the revenue from the sale equally across the entire conversion path.
Time Decay Multi-Channel Model
The revenue from the sale is distributed to all marketing touchpoints, but the most recent touchpoints receive a higher percentage of credit.
The time decay model has attributed the credit to all of the touchpoints. However, the touchpoints nearer the conversion have received more credit than the earlier touchpoints.
Position-Based Attribution Model (U-Shaped)
The first and last touchpoints both receive 40% of the credit for a conversion and the remaining 20% is spread evenly across any touchpoints in the middle of the journey.
The position-based model has allocated 40% credit to the Google ad and Facebook ad. The remaining touchpoints share the remaining 20% credit.
Attribution isn’t just for the digital world. It can also include offline marketing efforts, traditional advertising, and non-marketing related variables.
Offline attribution is specifically beneficial for businesses that sell high-value products or operate in the service industry and use digital marketing to drive sales offline.
We have a guide dedicated to offline conversion tracking if you’re interested to learn more.
Challenges related to B2B marketing attribution
For most B2B companies, the ultimate goal is to drive brand awareness, engage and convert leads into customers, and more importantly, increase marketing ROI.
Marketers are more than capable of proving which online channels drive traffic and top-line conversions, and yet struggle to demonstrate their impact on bottom-line metrics.
Let’s take a look at why:
Long sales cycles
B2B marketers have a responsibility to connect marketing with downstream activities so that they can deliver and report an accurate ROI to senior leaders, colleagues, and clients.
While this process is easy for some marketers, it’s not as straightforward for B2B companies that undergo long and intricate sales cycles.
The modern B2B customer journey is more complicated than ever as customers can have as many as 20 touchpoints before they make a sale.
Realistically, the entire process can take months in some cases, years!
Tools like Google Analytics and Facebook are proficient at tracking clicks and conversions to your website but can only show how a user engaged with your digital channels 90-days before a conversion takes place.
By then, it’s pretty much impossible to determine what touchpoints impacted the sale and report an accurate marketing ROI.
Customer journeys are complex
35% of eCommerce professionals surveyed across the globe attributed ‘complex touchpoints’ as their top barrier for understanding the customer journey.
Consumers have more channels to engage with, online and offline, before contacting a salesperson or completing a purchase.
In fact, 57% of the purchase decisions are completed before a customer enquires.
Understanding the influence of touchpoints across digital and traditional channels is a challenge that spans across many industries. As a result, marketers are struggling to report on accurate and actionable results.
Data locked away in CRM
Most marketers can track clicks to a lead with confidence, but once that lead goes into the CRM, they lose complete visibility.
Marketing knows which efforts are driving the most traffic and conversions, and sales know which leads converted into revenue.
But neither know what marketing activities lead to a sale.
The issue is that data at the top of the funnel is typically locked away in your analytics and reporting tools, whereas bottom of the funnel data, such as opportunities and revenue, is confined to your CRM.
Even if you were to provide your marketing team access to your CRM, there’s still no way to identify which touchpoints started your customers down the path-to-sale.
That’s not all.
Budgets are getting scrutinised, which has left buyers more fearful of making bad decisions.
That said, there are now more decision-makers involved in the buying process to ensure that services and products are the right fit for their businesses.
For example, let’s say you have a SaaS product which you sell to marketing teams. An executive might come across your services and book a demo. They invite their Head of Marketing, who is interested, and takes over the point of contact, which adds another layer of complexity when it comes to connecting your leads with revenue data in your CRM.
Techniques to improve your B2B marketing attribution
How you attribute credit will depend on your industry and sales cycle.
For us, and many other businesses, the following stages are considered the most crucial touchpoints in a customer journey:
- First marketing interaction: The very first engagement a user has with your business, such as a click on one of your ads or social posts.
- Last marketing interaction: This is the touchpoint a user engaged with before filling out a form on your website or contacting a sales representative via live chat or phone to become a known lead.
- Opportunity Created: The transition stage between a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) and Sales Qualified Lead (SQL). Your sales team are satisfied that the lead is a good fit, and they move them down the funnel.
- Closed/Won: This is when the opportunity closes and becomes a customer.
We’re not saying that you can’t focus on other touchpoints, again this depends on your unique circumstances. Although, for most companies, it’s these stages that have the most impact on the customer journey.
Now let’s take a look at some techniques to help you track these touchpoints and improve your overall B2B marketing attribution.
Measure the full path-to-purchase
If you want to see the link between marketing and CRM revenue, then you could consider using the Closed-Loop Framework.
It lets you see how all of your channels, both online and offline, are performing, and how well they can be attributed to conversions and sales.
Let’s take a look at how the closed-loop framework works:
Track anonymous visitors over multiple sessions and traffic sources
Firstly, you’ll need to track your anonymous visitors over multiple sessions and traffic sources for the closed-loop framework to work. This is so you can see the user’s first and last touch interactions.
Match user to marketing touchpoints
Whenever a user converts into a lead, whether that be a phone call, live chat or form enquiry, Ruler captures all of that data and matches their contact details with any marketing touchpoints to create a customer journey.
Send data to your CRM
Next, an integration loop is created to pass your conversion and marketing data from Ruler to your CRM, including your first and last-click variables. It’s worth mentioning that Ruler can send up 60 marketing data variables to your CRM. When a lead is qualified as an SQL, your sales team can see where and how it originated.
Send sales revenue back to Analytics
Once closed into a sale, the revenue data from your CRM is sent back to Analytics, where it gets attributed to the channel, campaign, or keyword it originated.
After a quick setup, you’ll have access to all of the information you need to attribute your efforts to revenue and can go into your next marketing meeting with confidence.
For more information, please download the eBook on Closed-Loop Marketing Attribution. Alternatively, book a demo to speak with one of our analytics experts.
Consolidate your offline data
Traditional offline marketing channels can have a significant influence on the B2B sales cycle, and should not be ignored.
Typically, marketing activities such as conferences, in-store purchases and phone calls are not acknowledged when it comes to measuring revenue-focused metrics.
But this ignorance can lead you to the wrong conclusions about your marketing performance.
Where possible, merge your offline campaigns with online touchpoints.
We have added some links below, on more information on how to connect your online and offline marketing activities.
Create a better alignment between marketing and sales
For your B2B marketing attribution to run smoothly requires full cooperation from the entire company, specifically your sales department.
Traditionally, sales and marketing track ROI metrics separately, which often leads to unreliable calculations.
When marketing and sales teams are aligned, it’s easier to analyse results and make better budgetary decisions to drive more opportunities.
Test, test, test!
What works for one business might not work for yours.
Also, attribution isn’t something you can set up once. As your business develops, so will your objectives.
You must adjust your attribution to reflect your updates and stay ahead of the curve.
B2B Marketers are under tremendous amounts of pressure to demonstrate measurable results.
Although, when you implement a solution that can help you collect and filter your performance data, you can move forward to improve your campaign performance, reduce waste, and prove how your efforts are building revenue for your businesses.
Want to learn more about marketing attribution? Book a call with one of our sales representatives and start focusing on the revenue impact of your marketing initiatives.