You Have the Data, Now What?
Navigating the intricacies of bridging the gap between raw data and actionable insights is an intriguing enigma. Enter marketing attribution, a key pillar of revenue-driven marketing. Attribution enables marketing teams to track the effectiveness of their initiatives and showcase their impact on the business. It involves comprehending the customer journey and ascribing conversions to their rightful interactions—a process often referred to as attribution. Attribution serves as the critical codebreaker that unveils invaluable insights, empowering us to make well-informed decisions and refine marketing strategies. In this blog, we will briefly explore the five steps of attribution.
Step 1: Identify knowledge gaps
The inaugural step in the attribution odyssey is pinpointing the questions that remain unanswered. These knowledge gaps represent the fertile ground where attribution can sow its seeds of transformation.
To provide some perspective, we will use paid advertising as a channel that is questioned a lot. Marketing teams spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on advertising. Why are we doing advertising if it is not contributing to the pipeline? Paid channels are likely first touch or impact top of the funnel but are not necessarily a great channel for lead generation. Paid advertising channels influenced roughly 23% of New Biz deals, and influence by paid channels doubled on increasing the lookback time-frame from 6 months to 2-years. Paid channels drive engagement earlier in the lifecycle of a deal. It was this kind of questioning and evaluation that would or should lead you to look into attribution tools.
Step 2: Evaluation Process for Tools
In the quest for the ideal attribution tool, it is necessary to align the tool with your business’s unique needs. Is it one of the big dogs in the market? Is it the new kid on the block? Rather than chasing fleeting trends, it is crucial to remain focused on your organization’s requirements. Look within your existing arsenal for potential solutions and only embark on the quest for new tools when an actual need arises. Don’t be afraid to seek insights from peers and explore internal resources, such as data engineering or data science teams, if available.
Step 3: Implementation of the Attribution Engine
With the chosen tool in your arsenal, the next phase is implementation. A seamless implementation hinges on aligning it with your identified knowledge gaps and business requirements. This ensures that your attribution engine serves its intended purpose with precision.
The important thing here is that you take your time. More than likely you will bounce between this step and step four a couple of times and that’s totally okay. It’s much better than spitting out reporting that no one can trust.
- Conduct internal interviews focused on the user’s requirements for outputs. What are they wanting to get out of this new shiny toy you just purchased? Let the business determine the required results. Expect a couple month time frame here.
- As you interview stakeholders, understand their goals and as you do, gather requirements, and build out implementation milestones.
- Do out of box reports answer your questions? If yes, go with them. If there is customization required, start with simple steps. Can I do this in Excel? Do I really need to implement a custom solution?
Another thing that we recommend is that with some of the data, you are better off implementing it as soon as possible. With web tracking, you can only start creating reports for web traffic or touch points from online advertising channels if you are capturing that data.
Step 4: Quality Assurance & Control
The implementation of an attribution engine marks just the beginning of the journey. To ensure reliability, quality assurance and control are indispensable. Vigilantly monitoring the engine’s performance and data accuracy is paramount to instill trust in the insights it provides. This is the fun part of attribution – data validation. Regardless of enjoyment level the goal here is to validate everything that was put together from the previous steps. There are a couple of ways to do this:
- The first one being the line by line reviews. Definitely tedious, but extremely important. These types of reviews help you identify issues or misconfigurations that a dashboard or overall look won’t provide. Is that most recent campaign missing entirely? Did you accidentally track and give credit for anytime you sent an email? Expect to find errors. Most likely something will have been missed during implementation and that is okay. It is better to catch it now than find it in front of your CMO.
- Do a spot check for touchpoints created via different channels and also do QA on some key campaigns. Pay special attention to events that take up 20-30% of your marketing budget, such as money spent on digital channels like LinkedIn.
- The second option is the dashboard. This helps give an overall picture of channels, total opportunities, pipeline, etc. Using both of these methods in tandem will help you identify and resolve issues.
- Create a dashboard to track your online and offline touchpoints. Are they aligning with the data that you are seeing in your MAP and CRM? Look at this dashboard at least on a weekly basis.
Step 5: Reporting and InsightsZ
Ultimately, the reason to implement an attribution engine is to glean actionable insights. Reporting should harmonize with your business objectives, and this is where key conversion points come into play and you are putting your hard work to use. Before we dive into the attribution reporting, we want to share a some advice:
- Find out which team members are “reporting” for the sake of their jobs. There’s usually one in every organization. These people don’t report to improve, they report to prove and the numbers speak for themselves – they suck. Learn to balance these requests with the actual requests.
- Ask questions before you start building anything. If you have an analytics mindset, then you know there is nothing more frustrating than ambiguity like “How did opportunities perform this month?”. What does that even mean? Answering questions with questions isn’t considered polite, but with analytics it is highly recommended. This will save you hours of headache and redoing work.
Now for the attribution part. After taking all the time and effort getting to this point, we recommend starting off with a couple of quick wins. Knock out a KPI dashboard as they are the most used dashboards by all levels within an organization. They tend to always impress and are some of the more simple builds.
Next, we want everyone to not forget why we did this in the first place – those unanswered questions. Getting answers to these questions is a huge win and proves value in all of the hard work done to date.
- What should your end user do differently now that they know this? Start with what is out of the box. Does that answer your question? Can you do a one-time export of data and run it in Excel? Can you create custom report types in your CRM? Can you do analysis and visualization in Google Looker Studio, Tableau or the like?
- How do you scale your reporting? Create a reporting framework? What are standard reports? What is most requested?
- Who, what and when – who was the person, what they engaged with and when did they engage?
- Campaign responses: Registered, Attended, No show
- What is the persona of people who attend?
- Are attendees from our target account list?
- What channels drove registrations for this webinar?
- Add report charts to the campaign page layout so that you don’t have to run campaign level reports again.
We have explored the five pivotal steps of attribution, ranging from identifying knowledge gaps to implementing an attribution engine and generating insightful reports. The key takeaways are:
- Uncover the questions you cannot answer to reveal your knowledge gaps.
- Evaluate attribution tools based on your business’s specific needs, rather than blindly following trends.
- Implement the attribution engine with a sharp focus on addressing identified gaps
- Prioritize quality assurance and control to uphold data accuracy.
- Carefully select meaningful conversion points to extract actionable insights.
By diligently following these steps you can harness the immense potential of attribution and marketing reporting to steer your marketing operations towards unparalleled success. Remember, attribution isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution; it’s a strategic voyage meticulously tailored to your organization’s distinctive requirements. Embrace the power of data-driven decision-making and watch your marketing efforts soar to new heights.
Have a question? Contact us and let’s talk about attribution.