Attribution has been a hot topic for a long time in the Business-to-Consumer (B2C) world. It’s fair to say that Business-to-Business (B2B) brands have been slower catching on to the world of marketing attribution.
That is until now. In a world where an increasing number of CMOs are results-oriented and under increasing pressure to account financially for each area of individual spend, marketers have been looking specifically at B2B marketing attribution.
For those who haven’t come across it before, marketing attribution is a way of giving credit to campaigns that convert. In a simple model, you could think of a Pay-Per-Click (PPC) campaign. If a user clicks on a link and then goes on to fill in a sales form and buy some services from you, then it would be attributing the value towards the PPC campaign.
There are a large number of different models, from simple models like the one outlined above to complex multi-touch attribution models that give equal weight to each of a customer’s multiple touch-points that led them to the sale.
Because B2B organisations haven’t been doing it for so long, there’s not as much guidance for brands looking to introduce attribution modelling into their marketing stack. With that in mind, here are our top 5 tips on marketing attribution for B2B organisations.
Put data in, get intelligence out
There are some really nice BI dashboard tools and visualization suites. Products like Qlik and Tableau can produce cool looking reports that are gold dust when it comes to looking at data in a way that helps to identify trends.
Many marketers are under the illusion that they only need a BI dashboard to be able to model attribution within B2B. BI dashboards are only as good as the data. They need to be connected to something.
Some organisations will connect to CRM, and that’s cool. But if you connect your BI dashboard tool to a data warehouse – the insights come with loads of additional dimensions. The level of insight you’ll get when it is a single source of data that integrates purchase history, web visits, ad campaigns, event tracking and more in a single place – it enables you to build a powerful way of building the B2B marketing attribution models that are right for your business.
Use a specific B2B marketing attribution model
There are tonnes of attribution models. The fact of the matter is, attribution modelling as a concept has its past firmly rooted in large B2C space, particularly retail. In the main, they’ve been doing it far longer than B2B organisations have.
It’s easy to see why many B2B brands look at what these retail giants have done and seek to emulate it.
They’ve got 10 years plus of learning about which model and methods are optimum, they’ve tweaked and optimised their approach based on thousands of tests and subsequent improvements and they shout from the rooftops about their wins at conferences and in CMO interviews.
Hold it right there! Don’t get drawn into the honey trap! B2B has completely different marketing tactics, lead gen strategies and sales methods. Why in the world would you have the same attribution technique?
One of the few B2B marketing attribution models that have made it into the public domain is the W-shaped model of attribution. It’s ideal for B2B, because the W-shaped model is based on the Buyer’s’ Journey. That is, the three top points of the ‘W’ map neatly to the Awareness, Consideration and Decision stages of the Buyer’s’ Journey.
In practical terms, this is assigning equal attribution weighting to:
- The first anonymous website visit (the first time a website cookie is dropped onto the user’s device)
- The first time the contact became identifiable and their web and event tracking history became visible on a named contact record
- When the opportunity is created within CRM
In a world where the majority of B2B organisations should be practising inbound marketing techniques, then the W-shaped attribution model maps exactly the process they will be going through in their endeavours to accelerate lead generation and business development.
Engage the C Suite
There’s no better way for senior marketing professionals to build better relationships with the rest of the executive team than proving their worth. It’s fair to say that marketing has always suffered from a negative perception in the eyes of many. By shifting the focus of reporting onto the actual financial outcomes of activity across all channels and all campaigns manages to move the focus away from the meaningless activity-based metrics (e.g. emails sent, ad impressions) that have plagued board rooms for decades.
With reports that focus on the revenue and profitability derived from marketing, encompassing granular ROI insights from each channel, you can accommodate the true complexity of the B2B sales process.
More budget sign off
As a CMO, you can clearly show a return from the budget you secured for this year. It only follows with this greater degree of transparency, you’ll make better decisions and make constant tactical tweaks to your campaign execution. The result at the end of the year? Extremely positive multiple returns on the marketing investment you made. It certainly makes it a hell of a lot nicer environment when you go in and make your budget presentation a few months later.
Lower cost per acquisition
As you’re able to see real time information that assigns attribution to the areas that are delivering the most value, there’s an obvious benefit. Real-time information allows for real-time decisions. With this level of insight, you can take action on your website, on your landing pages and forms, or perhaps with training your sales teams. The gaps in your approach are clear for everyone to see and when they’re addressed quicker and more consistently, ultimately you generate more leads and close more customers. Voila! A lower cost per acquisition for the business.
Take an account-based view
As a B2B marketer well versed in marketing automation techniques you live your world mainly in the contact view. That said, in B2B, the decision-making unit (DMU) and the sales process that occurs is usually more diverse than a single contact engaging with content, registering as a lead and then making a purchase. There’s almost always a DMU. This will comprise of potentially dozens of people involved in the assessment of suppliers and the validity of their offering.
It’s important to think about this when you are designing a B2B marketing attribution model. There may be a junior procurement assistant tasked with generating a long list of suppliers, so the web tracking would land with them. It may be that to develop a short list, someone else within the team then engaged with content offers or joins a webinar. This may then result in a website hit on a heavily weighted product page or case study page when the decision becomes closer and the organisation’s decision maker becomes engaged.
Looking at attribution in the content of accounts rather than contacts can end up being a missing piece to many B2B organisation’s approaches to measurement and analysis. Viva account-based marketing!
Move beyond CRM
Traditionally, marketing attribution within B2B organisations was about getting the right multi-touch model and plugging it into the data within CRM.
That’s all well and good if your CRM is all neatly integrated and synchronized with your marketing automation system, social systems and other SaaS apps. Chances are though, if you’re using different systems then there’ll be at least one that’s not all in sync.
The future really lies in plugging the multi-touch attribution model into a single unified data warehouse. This will pool together all of the CRM data, with data from the rest of the cloud services into the same place. This provides a rich, central source of data on which to conduct your B2B marketing attribution modelling.