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What Is Revenue Attribution & How To Get Started With It

Himani Trivedi
Published:
July 13, 2023
Updated:
February 27, 2024
Table of Contents

Here we go again. 

Steve from sales is beaming at the office party. And why wouldn’t he be? The team can’t get enough of the star performer who closed ANOTHER high-value deal. 

Everybody seems to be missing out on the fine print, however. When asked “How did you hear about us?” the prospect promptly replied-” Oh! I registered for your webinar through LinkedIn and quite enjoyed it” 

What they fail to mention is that they also compared their current solution to your product with blogs from your website. In fact, the final demo booking came through a click from a search ad. 

Your team isn’t the only one suffering from salesman Steve syndrome. B2B marketing teams often struggle to quantify their impact on pipeline. The following article explores what revenue attribution is and how it can help with the same.  

What is revenue attribution?

Revenue attribution is the process of identifying and assigning value to marketing touchpoints based on their relative influence on conversions, pipeline, and revenue.

With revenue attribution, marketing teams can gain valuable insights into which strategies and activities are most effective in driving bottom-line impact. 

This information enables businesses to make data-driven decisions, optimize their marketing budgets, and improve overall marketing performance. Ultimately, revenue attribution empowers organizations to better understand their return on investment (ROI) make informed decisions to drive growth and profitability.

So if Steve’s team had conducted a comprehensive revenue attribution analysis, they’d assign “credit” to all the channels involved in the deal: paid and organic marketing channels, offline events, AND sales. 

And how much “credit” would each channel get for the sale? That is based on the revenue attribution model they choose to use. 

How do you measure revenue attribution?

Revenue attribution can be leveraged with a wide range attribution models, each with different use-cases based on the industry, length of sales cycle, number of touchpoints, and so on. 

For example, a B2C company with a short sales cycle and single decision-makers can rely on simplistic single-touch models. Whereas B2B companies with long customer journeys and multiple decision-makers must use multi-touch revenue attribution models — especially if they’re interested in figuring out how multiple channels contribute to revenue. 

A certain attribution model will help discover the best TOFU channels while another may help understand what channels convert the most customers. 

To understand the different attribution models, let us take the example of a customer: Bart. Bart is a mid-level manager for an e-commerce business. He stumbles upon a checklist on LinkedIn that helps identify customers with high CLV. He starts the limited trial version of the product and then follows the company’s page on Linkedin, which announces a webinar on customer loyalty. He signs up and finds the session very helpful. He decides to search for the company and look into the full product, complete with all of its capabilities and features. In the next quarter, when his boss gives him a higher sales target, he looks into the pricing page. Soon after, he books a demo with the sales team.

Now if we were using attribution models to assign credit in this scenario- 

Single Touch Attribution

  • First Touch Attribution: Attributes revenue or credit solely to the first touchpoint that initiated the customer's journey. It is ideal for businesses looking to understand what channels get them the most new customers. In Bart’s case the channel is LinkedIn 
  • Last touch attribution: Attributes revenue solely to the last touchpoint in the customer’s journey. It is beneficial for companies looking to understand what channels drive the most conversions. In this case, that channel is the demo page.

Multi-touch Attribution

Attributes revenue to multiple touchpoints in the customer journey. 

Rule-Based Attribution

  • Linear Attribution: Distributes revenue or credit evenly across all marketing touchpoints in the customer's journey. It does not take into account the impact of individual channels in the customer journey. In Bart’s case, all the channels – organic, inbound and sales would get equal credit.
  • Time Decay Attribution: Assigns more revenue or credit to touchpoints as they near conversion i.e. the touchpoint right before the conversion will be assigned the highest credit. It helps understand the bottom-of-funnel and conversion channels effectively. In Bart’s case, the channel with the highest attribution is direct. 
  • U-Shaped Attribution: Gives more weight to the first and last touchpoints while allocating a smaller portion to the intermediate touchpoints.  This attribution model helps separate the channels which provide leads and the ones that provide conversions. In Bart’s example, the LinkedIn post and the demo page are touchpoints with highest attribution. 
  • W-Shaped Attribution: Emphasizes the first touchpoint,the touchpoint responsible for opportunity creation, and the last touchpoint.  In Bart’s case, LinkedIn, visit to the pricing page and the demo are the three touchpoints with highest attribution. 

That said, there’s a lot that needs to be taken into consideration when picking an attribution model. Each has its advantages and use cases which you should take into account based on your requirements. 

Are marketing attribution and revenue attribution the same thing?

Marketing attribution focuses specifically on attributing the value or impact of marketing touchpoints or activities in driving customer conversions or sales. It aims to identify which marketing channels, campaigns, or tactics are responsible for generating leads or influencing purchasing decisions.

On the other hand, revenue attribution goes beyond marketing and takes a more comprehensive approach. Revenue attribution considers the contributions of various departments or functions within an organization, such as marketing, sales, customer success, and other operational activities, in generating revenue.

Revenue attribution helps analyze multiple touchpoints and interactions across different functions can influence customer behavior and contribute to revenue generation. Different revenue attribution models can be used to assign value to these touchpoints and activities, whether they are marketing-related or not, to gain a holistic understanding of the revenue-generating process.

Revenue Attribution Marketing Attribution
 Definition Analysis of customer journey and touchpoints to determine revenue contribution of different channels  Analysis of marketing channels and campaigns to evaluate performance and effectiveness 
 Focus  Tracking revenue generated and attributing it to specific marketing efforts Analyzing marketing channels and campaigns to understand their impact and effectiveness 
 Purpose  Identifying the most effective touchpoints and optimizing spending based on revenue generation  Refining marketing strategies, targeting, and allocation of resources based on performance data
Key Metrics   Revenue generated, customer lifetime value Click-through rates, conversion rates, engagement metrics, customer acquisition cost 


Who should be concerned with revenue attribution?

The customer journey and buying process for B2B products are long and complex, and revenue attribution can help bridge the gap between different departments/teams. Unfortunately in most b2b companies, only revenue teams are concerned with revenue attribution, keeping all revenue efforts siloed. 

By understanding the contributions of different teams, channels, and campaigns in revenue generation, teams can allocate resources more effectively. They can identify areas that require increased investment or support based on their revenue-generating potential and ensure that the organization's financial resources are allocated strategically for maximum impact. 

For marketing teams, revenue attribution helps identify effective tactics and channels and refine targeting. According to Alex Sofronas- “it almost acts as a GPS”, helping teams navigate where they are headed by aligning data and insights with organizational goals. Similarly, it helps customer support teams to personalize interactions and make data-driven decisions to drive revenue. 

Why is attributing revenue so important for businesses? 

Revenue attribution opens various growth avenues. Teams can leverage the added insights to accelerate the purchase decision and optimize spending. For businesses at the beginning of their growth curve, it can help develop templatize marketing plans or create iterative action plans. Here are some of the other benefits of revenue attribution: 

Understanding the customer journey

Revenue attribution helps businesses gain a better understanding of the customer journey. B2B sales cycles are often 6-9 months long. Analyzing individual sessions or website traffic through analytics tools only provides a partial view. Ad platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter may focus on the current month's Return on Advertising Spend (ROAS) without considering the long customer journey. If the impact of an ad is realized 6 months later, when a customer moves down the funnel and books a demo or makes a purchase, revenue attribution will help figure this out. By accounting for the entire journey through detailed revenue attribution businesses can make more informed decisions.

Shining a light on effective strategies and touchpoints

Analytics tools track individual sessions or devices, not account-based activities. With revenue attribution businesses can identify the most effective touchpoints for individual customers and plan their spending accordingly. It can also help avoid premature assumptions about campaign success or failure.  

Promoting sales and marketing alignment

By following the account from the first touch, attributing leads to their sources. Unlike CRMs which only provide the original source of the lead, revenue attribution tracks previous interactions and helps understand the conversion process. it allows businesses to foster alignment between sales and marketing teams. This qualitative approach helps marketers improve lead quality and understand customer intent, resulting in better targeting.

Facilitating better forecasting and planning

Revenue attribution helps businesses with forecasting by understanding the decision-making process of buyers. Maybe the efforts you put in today will yield results in 6 months. It also allows for the evaluation of the effectiveness of revenue-generating activities and provides benchmarks for results, enabling more accurate forecasting and strategic planning.

Identifying high-value customers

Revenue attribution enables businesses to identify segments that contribute the most revenue. By understanding the specific characteristics and behaviors of high-value customers within each segment, businesses can tailor their marketing and sales efforts to attract and retain similar customers, leading to increased revenue.

Getting Started with Revenue Attribution

No matter what attribution model you choose to follow, or the goals you set out to achieve, data plays a vital role in successful revenue attribution. So the first order of business for revenue attribution is to collect and consolidate all historical data. Whether it is a sale registered in a CRM or the number of customers reading your newsletter. 

But with so many channels and teams involved, doing so can mean getting buried in a pile of datasheets and reports.

 

A robust revenue attribution tool will help you unify data across multiple channels, set-up relevant, custom conversion goals, and breakdown the analysis with granular filters and segmentations. 

Factors.ai is a revenue attribution tool that helps monitor and optimize GTM performance across campaigns, content, and events. 

With Factors.ai, businesses can choose and compare various attribution models tailored to their unique buyer journeys, ensuring effective resource allocation and reducing marketing leakage.

It is best suited for companies that want a deeper understanding of their customer journey and revenue pipeline

Revenue attribution is the link between data, analytics and your organizational goals. Create a roadmap to sustainable growth and higher revenue with our new revenue attribution tool. Click here to get started! 

FAQ: 

What is an example of revenue attribution?

During a B2B purchase cycle, a customer interacts with various channels such as customer service representatives, marketing campaigns, and salespersons. Revenue attribution is the process of allocating monetary value to each of these events.

Why is revenue attribution important?

Revenue attribution is crucial for businesses to help understand the effectiveness of marketing, sales, and customer support efforts in driving revenue. It helps optimize spends, identify effective strategies and refine budget allocation for each function. 

How do you calculate attributed revenue?

Attributed revenue is calculated by assigning credit to different touchpoints based on their contribution to a sale, using single-touch or multi-touch attribution models such as the w-shaped model or linear attribution model.

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