Marketing Attribution: The Path to Impactful B2B Marketing
A few decades ago, marketing was straightforward—a simple TV or radio commercial, a newspaper advertorial, and a large billboard sign. Marketing channels were limited.
Today, things are different. Search engine marketing. One-to-many social media platforms. Emails. Search Engine Optimization. Mobile Apps. Marketers need to work across all these channels to maximize brand awareness and generate leads. And all this requires a sizable budget and proper attribution channels to justify the spending. At a time when 55% of marketers say that they are responsible for increasing ROI, vanity metrics like click-through rates or downloads are not enough.
Today, stakeholders want to see:
- which marketing initiatives have the biggest impact on the bottom line.
- how the data and insights are being used to create more lucrative campaigns.
Answering these questions requires an entire picture of your marketing efforts through attribution. But marketing attribution is no easy feat. How do you use it? Which model is the best for you? Here’s a detailed guide on marketing attribution, which includes:
- Definition of marketing attribution
- Different types of marketing attribution models
- Top 5 B2B Challenges of marketing attribution
- Tips for better marketing attribution
Understanding B2B Marketing Attribution
B2B marketing attribution is a specific rule that gives credit to different marketing touchpoints based on how they relate to the overall marketing ROI. In simplest terms, B2B marketing attribution is a framework that provides marketing decision-makers an understanding of the most effective activities that push the customer further into the marketing funnel.
Most B2B companies use one of the 11 attribution models to measure performance. While you can use anyone to measure your marketing performance, none of them provides the absolute truth. Let us have a look at these models:
1. First Click Attribution Model:
A user sees a Facebook post, clicks on it, and lands on your website. The same user views your website five times more before converting a few months later. The credit in the first click attribution model will go to your first touch: the Facebook organic post.
2. Last Click Attribution Model:
The user visits your blog for six months, sees your LinkedIn ad with an exclusive discount, and avails it to become a customer. In this case, the credit will go to the last touch: the LinkedIn ad.
3. Last Non-Direct Click Attribution Model:
The user frequents your website from a different source and one day clicks on a Google retargeting ad. The user decided to purchase the product but couldn't buy it due to some technical snag. The next day, the user directly visits your website and purchases it. Under this attribution model, the credits will go to the Google retargeting ad.
4. Linear Attribution Model:
This model gives equal credit percentages to each touchpoint. That means no matter how many touchpoints the user interacts with before converting; they will all get equal credit percentages.
5. Position-Based Attribution Model:
Under this attribution model, the first and last touchpoints each have 40% of the credit percentage, while the remaining 20% is equally distributed among the rest of the touchpoints.
6. W-Shaped Attribution Model:
90% of the credit percentage is equally divided among conversion, first touch, and lead creation. The remaining percentage is given to other channels within the buyer's journey.
7. Time Decay Attribution Model:
A user visits your website through a blog. After some time, the same user visits your website through social media. And months later, the user converts from a Google ad. In this model, the Google ad will get the maximum credit, followed by social and organic.
8. Last Google Ads Click Attribution Model:
The user visits your website several times. A few days later, the user sees your Google ad and lands on your website. After that, the same user visits your website from various sources except for Google Ads and converts directly from there. The entire credit will still go to the ad in this case.
9. Lead Conversion Touch Attribution Model:
The user discovers your blog from Google organic, subscribes, and becomes a lead. You then nurture the lead until it buys your product. In this case, the credit will go to Google organic.
10. Full-Path Attribution Model:
90% of the credit percentage is equally divided into four main channels: lead generation (22.5%); first touch (22.5%); opportunity creation (22.5%); customer conversion (22.5%). The remaining 10% is divided among other channels.
11. Data-Driven Attribution Model:
The attribution model conducts an in-depth analysis of the buyer's journey to identify the most effective marketing channels and assigns credits accordingly. This is the most accurate and advanced attribution model.
Top 5 Challenges of B2B Marketing Attribution
If you are facing problems proving marketing ROI, you are not alone. While there are different marketing attribution models that you can use, it is still challenging to see which channels are effective and which are not. That is because marketing attribution involves different people, teams, and devices. The customer journey is not linear, making it hard to predict all the interactions and even harder to measure their impact. Here are the top five challenges of B2B marketing attribution.
1. Lack of Knowledge and Skill Set
Successful lead tracking is complex. It involves several moving parts. Tracking the buyer’s journey manually from start to finish requires different skills, knowledge, and coordination, which most marketing and sales teams do not possess.
2. Limited Access to Applications and Tools
Manually tracking leads is difficult. Without the right tools and applications, it is overwhelming. The existing database of users and offline marketing efforts are often not added while attributing, which makes ROI prediction a bit inaccurate. Also, manual data entry is prone to errors, slow, and extremely tedious.
3. Complex Buyer Journey
Marketers today have multiple channels for generating leads. While this has changed the marketing department for good, it has also made lead tracking more difficult. Think with Google claims that users can have up to 20 touchpoints before converting into a customer. Cross-channel journeys are much harder to track since most marketers use Google Analytics, which is excellent in providing insights into the start and end of a buyer’s journey but not so great when it comes to the middle section. Plus, it only has a lookback window of three months.
4. Organizational Alignment
Aside from the technicalities, another biggest issue of marketing attribution is organizational alignment between sales and marketing. Sales have been known to bring revenue through their network. But that has changed in recent years, with 65% of customers saying that they spend as much time as they'd expected to need for the entire purchase when getting ready to speak with a sales rep.
In other words, customers do a lot of research before talking to a sales rep. This means that marketers need to understand their buyers’ online behavior and align with sales to increase their chances of closing the deal. But that rarely happens in reality, and the two departments are always blaming each other over issues such as lead quality and sales calling percentage.
5. Data Silos
In most B2B organizations, attribution becomes difficult due to data silos. The form filed by buyers is just as important as their other online activities.
Unfortunately, these journeys are not aligned and connected. The problem of data silos and different ownerships makes it challenging to attribute marketing efforts.
Different KPIs for Different Teams
Speaking of data silos, when teams track their data, they have their own KPIs to measure it, making the conversions unrealistic (as they do not have actual lead quality and pipeline contribution). They compromise the conversion numbers of other team members.
Ideally, the entire customer journey should be interconnected, and each team should get a part of the credit for converting the lead. But in most cases, this is an alignment issue that negatively impacts marketing attribution.
Tips to Improve Marketing Attribution
Now that you know the challenges of marketing attribution, it is easy to fix them. For instance, if you feel that your data is in silos, you can encourage teams to share the information. Similarly, if there are alignment issues, you can work toward creating processes that overcome them and make a seamless flow of data a possibility. Other ways to improve marketing attribution are:
1. Tag Every Impactful Link
Well, it might not be possible to track every link in general, but there are some parts of your funnel that have a greater impact and are more controllable than others. Broadly speaking, the marketing funnel can be divided into acquisition, lead generation, lead nurturing, and product usage. Wherever possible, use different UTM parameters like “utm_source=”, utm_term=, or “utm_campaign=” into links that you share online to track your users’ online behavior. Similarly, you can track how users interact with you before and after the form fills using Google Analytics and your CRM.
2. Create Closed-Loop Marketing
Closed-loop marketing needs the marketing and sales teams to come together and act as one team. Traditionally, these two teams are always at loggerheads over lead quality or lack of commitment from the sales side. To break this barrier between marketing and sales, you can offer intelligence into how, when, and where marketing influenced a lead or revenue. And that is how closed-loop marketing works.
It creates a cycle of data between different teams and lets you identify the least and most effective lead generation activities. This brings the sales and marketing teams together and forces them towards the common revenue generation goal.
3. Get an Attribution Software
Several attribution modeling providers can help solve your problems. Yet most target large companies and enterprises, making them ridiculously expensive. If you have the budget, you can identify your needs and read reviews on online websites like G2 and Capterra before buying. So, look around. And if you want us to help you with it, you can drop us an email at email@example.com.
B2B marketing attribution is critical. But it is not something that you can set up once. Your goals will develop and evolve as your company grows. You must adjust and reflect these changes to stay ahead of the curve. When you implement marketing attribution, you can identify your best-performing activities, improve campaign performance and ultimately drive revenue. And, if you are looking at ways to get started, we are here to help. Contact us to focus more on the impact of your marketing activities on your business' bottom line.
Frequently Asked Questions
Marketing attribution is the process of assigning credit to touchpoints in a buyer’s journey. In B2B, it’s vital for understanding and optimizing marketing strategies by identifying what channels and efforts contribute to conversion.
Marketing attribution provides insights into the customer journey, enabling B2B marketers to allocate resources effectively, optimize campaigns, and enhance ROI.
Challenges include data complexity, multiple touchpoints, and the need for accurate tracking. Overcoming these hurdles requires robust analytics tools and a well-defined attribution model.
Linear, time decay, and custom attribution models are often used in B2B marketing. The choice depends on the business model and the specific touchpoints that influence conversions.
Yes, effective marketing attribution considers both online and offline touchpoints to provide a comprehensive view of the customer journey, especially in complex B2B sales cycles.
Implement proper tracking mechanisms, maintain data quality, and regularly audit and validate data sources to ensure accuracy in marketing attribution.
Marketing automation tools streamline data collection, analysis, and reporting, making it easier for B2B marketers to implement and optimize marketing attribution strategies.
Marketing attribution is an ongoing process. Regularly review and adjust attribution models to adapt to changing customer behavior, marketing channels, and business goals for sustained impact.