In this article, we’ll discuss a few primary challenges faced by B2B marketers when dealing with revenue attribution. We delve into why the B2B market’s unique characteristics demand an attribution system that’s tuned specifically for the same. This post also covers tips on how to deal with each of these challenges — as well as a few suggestions for marketers to keep in mind while planning their attribution strategy!
The B2B marketing landscape has evolved immensely since niche magazines in the 1800s started generating content for businesses rather than individuals. While traditional B2B marketing channels like catalogues and conventions continue to exist, they are heavily limited by their lack of scalability, accessibility, and dynamism. Most importantly, offline marketing mediums are unable to capture the attention of the larger market beyond finite, local B2B communities.
As we know, the (not so) recent explosion in technology, specifically around internet platforms, has brought along an invaluable set of tools and models to unlock unlimited reach, measure marketing performance, and connect customer journeys directly with revenue metrics.
At the vanguard of this data-driven marketing movement is Multi-touch Revenue Attribution. The entirety of marketing — from shaping a strategy, to executing the plan, to measuring and reporting performance, to evaluating and budgeting for the next strategy — depends on making sense of the data and attributing value to every single marketing effort.
That being said, revenue attribution is not without its flaws. There exist a few common challenges and pitfalls associated with the current state of B2B multi-touch attribution. Addressing these obstacles will only help marketers contextualize their insights and optimise their efforts.
As a concept, attribution is pretty straightforward: you map the various touchpoints that a potential customer visits (ads, website, forms, etc) in her journey from awareness of the product to purchase. Then you assign credit to each touchpoint based on how much it contributed to the decision of the customer to make that purchase.
However, there are several technical parts of this process that can get complicated. Many marketers may lack the skills necessary for such mapping of customer experience. And this is even more difficult when marketers have to manually track leads as customer journeys have several parts that need appropriate skill and coordination for proper attribution tracking.
Further, marketers also need strong data analysis skills to be able to dissect the information at various touch-points and fit it into the larger picture. Analysing campaign effectiveness and budgetary planning depend on such analysis. Skill is also required to make judgement calls on what metrics to focus on and connect them to conversations.
Tip: The first thing that your marketing team can do as volumes start increasing is to shift from manual tracking to an automated attribution tool to save the time spent on lead tracking. These tools automate processes like lead tracking, breaking down data at various touch-points and mapping customer journeys. Now the team can spend more time on focussing on improving the actual strategies and implementing better processes based on insights from the data. Analytics data, mapping of customer journeys, traffic and conversion metrics, ad clicks, etc can be derived without any manual grunt work.
In the previous point, we touched upon finding tools to save time and reduce manual tasks required to derive insights from marketing data. Finding the right tools can become even more difficult with the ever-growing landscape of mar-tech innovations and the abundance of tools available. Further, common B2C tools like Google Analytics are not always appropriate for B2B marketing needs. For B2B marketing, the metrics being tracked need to be in line with the unique features of the industry like:
Moreover, depending on your product and your industry, there might be various differences in the price points, contracts, etc. Keeping this in mind, attribution tools allowing customization to account for the unique needs of the organisation help marketing teams to track distinctive customer journeys across campaigns and platforms you use to reach your users. Moreover, these metrics should be able to connect the impact of your campaign’s touch-points to revenue for efficient budgeting. Because B2B companies have particularly long and complicated sales cycles, the attribution windows for the tool needs to be long enough to be able to assign credit across all your channels.
Tip: A good attribution tool is one that is able to collect data from all your various marketing applications, platforms and your website and provides a detailed, full story picture of your customer journey. A good way to find the right attribution tool is to see the integrations supported by the platform and if it integrates with your existing and planned marketing tools like online ad platforms, your CRM and your SEO tools. The second thing to do is to ensure that it suits your budget. Other things to consider are device compatibility of the software, how secure the platform is and if the attribution model is compatible with your business model.
A third challenge that B2B marketers face while attribution tracking is with mapping customer journeys across all the various channels. As mentioned, customer journeys in B2B tend to be more complicated due to higher price points of B2B products, the generally long-term nature of contracts, multiple stakeholders in the purchase decision and longer sales cycles.
Marketers use various channels to lead the customers through the funnel until they are taken up by sales or SDRs for conversions. Therefore successfully attributing conversions not only requires the right tools but also implementing the right strategy. There are certain limitations with tracking the offline channels that may come in the way of the attribution strategy. Even though digital channels have taken over communications, B2B continues to involve facet-to-face interactions depending on consumer types like demo calls, telephone conversations, sales calls, etc. Phone call enquiries still make a huge part of marketing. However, call tracking and efficiency of phone call strategies are still difficult to measure. Measurement of this tracking is important in getting the correct insights and thereby, the correct strategy.
Tip: If phone calls are integral to your customer journey or your demand generation, it is a good idea to have a system in place not only to link your offline sales to conversations from calls and demos but also to link your offline marketing efforts with your online conversions. Connecting offline data with website usage, form fills, etc can help understand the impact of offline marketing on online conversions. You can do this by assigning weightage to the offline parts of a customer’s journey. Essentially find ways to make offline channels attributable within the larger digital-offline customer journey.
The last challenge for B2B marketers during attribution tracking relates to the collaboration between the sales and marketing teams. Unlike B2C, a B2B customer’s journey may start with the marketing team but it definitely ends with the sales team. Once consumers have been led down the funnel, they are picked up by SDRs for the final purchase. Unlike in B2C, the consumers can stop their purchase at this stage as well. So in order to know the true efficiency of your campaign and touchpoints, there needs to be collaboration between the two departments. Marketing cannot just generate leads and send them down to sales and ignore the data on final conversions. To know the true impact of your B2B marketing team’s impact on conversion, you need to solicit data from sales.
Tip: Prevent data silos between sales and marketing. Since many high-touch relationships exist within sales, one needs to get SDRs to collect data for marketing. This data can give insights also into what worked and did not work at other touch-points in the campaign. It becomes feedback to improve the campaign. Sales teams also tend to get a lot of product specific data like what feature they like best (which can be used to promote the feature by marketing), what needs improvement, webinars that are informative, if they decide not to buy at the last minute due to concerns with pricing etc.
In conclusion, attribution is a great tool for B2B marketing which yields high results and can have a positive impact on profits. It is data-driven in nature that takes a lot of the guesswork out of the way if the system is effective. Everyday there are a lot of new tools with integrations and increasing good UI that makes it easier for marketers to track leads and map journeys, break down and digest information at each touchpoint with ease. We suggest you check out Factor.ai’s attribution tool to see if it fits with your marketing team’s tracking needs!
Get the latest best practices in Marketing Analytics
delivered to your inbox. You don't want to miss this!!