Tough Talks Made Easy: Attribution – Your Value, in Black and White
“I heard there’s this tech that can get us better ROI like magic!”
Among the many misconceptions surrounding marketing automation, there is none quite as pervasive—or annoying—as the belief that automation does our jobs for us, with the wave of a magic wand. When it comes to Tough Talks Made Easy, a lot of topics have touched on the need to dispel this ‘set it and forget it’ assumption, in order to explain what’s really going on behind the scenes.
Enough magic; let’s get real. Discussing attribution with your CMO or CFO isn’t a talk you should dread: it’s a talk you can turn to your advantage. That’s because attribution isn’t only the process by which your organization assigns credit for MQLs and sales—it’s also concrete evidence of your precise value to your organization as a marketer.
So let’s talk about how you can explain your attribution maturity in a way that emphasizes your expertise and earns you the recognition you deserve (and perhaps an increased budget, down the line).
Explaining Attribution Data Decisions
The challenge you’re facing in this particular Tough Talk is clear: you need to communicate the function and value of attribution modeling, without effacing the importance of how you analyze and react to the data you have available.
For starters: attribution assigns credit to how much revenue a specific marketing tactic produces, letting you calculate the ROI on each and every dollar you spend. Attribution arms you with the data you need to optimize your programs and spend over time—and to clearly report your results in a way that lets your organization buy into your vision.
But it isn’t quite so simple as spending more on what’s working and less on what isn’t! Having the data at your fingertips is only part of the battle. Finding the balance of your spending and assessing your company’s tipping point for any given channel is both an art and a science. Let’s walk through an example:
Let’s say you’re spending $100K on a channel with 5 to 1 ROI; if you instead allocate $200K, you should make a million! But not so fast: ROI isn’t constant and every channel can have diminishing returns. where a certain amount of spend changes 5 to 1 ROI into 4 to 1, or less.
If your 5 to 1 ROI only holds true to $150K before dropping to 4 to 1, you have a choice on your hands. 4 to 1 could still be your best bet—but that’s a decision that automation can’t make for you. It’s your expertise that allows you to find the tipping point and determine your next course of action accordingly.
The Complex Buyer’s Journey
That example covers the ROI balancing act, but attribution itself is rarely so simple or cut and dry. While it’s great to attribute a sale to a particular tactic, customers can have hundreds of interactions with a brand before deciding to buy. Sure, when the time came to pull the trigger, they may have visited your website. but they could’ve been persuaded by an excellent white paper you offered last quarter… which came to their attention thanks to a CRM email… which they signed up for thanks to a social lead gen ad over a year ago.
That’s why attribution platforms offer increasingly complex models, accounting for Member Statuses in many campaigns at different points in the buyer’s journey. It takes multiple programs across multiple channels to make a deal happen; complex attribution modeling can reveal the marketing history of every touchpoint but it’s up to you to determine the impact of each status and channel on the final deal itself.
That determination is a sign of your Attribution Maturity.
Know Thy Company
If attribution provides the data, Attribution Maturity is your outlook on that data. Attribution platforms provide high-end data-rich attribution but that’s only as valuable as how you parse and leverage that data—and if all we’re using it for is explanation and description, we’ve definitely got some maturing to do.
Fortunately, many of these platforms scale with you as your attribution outlook matures. Do you want to track a program for everyone who registers for a webinar, or one to track only those who actually attend? Your specific needs and interests can be fine-tuned to arm you with the data that’s most pertinent to your future goals. So how do you know what programs to implement? You need to know your own company.
Different attribution models answer different questions—so what questions are you asking? Wondering which campaigns are sparking initial interest? You’ll want a First Touch attribution model. How about which campaigns are taking leads from awareness to opportunity? A W-Shaped model can scratch that itch. Or maybe you’d like an overall holistic approach, to give the CMO a full update on all stages of the lifecycle? Then Full Path is the way to go.
Whatever questions you are asking, attribution modeling gives you the ability to target accordingly. From there, it’s a matter of time, testing, and analysis to arrive at the answers your company needs.
Be the One with the Plan
No matter how you’re targeting your attribution, you require a Data Utilization Plan to go from description to determination. Timelines, key data points, what you’re measuring, why you’re measuring—clarifying a plan based on your team’s needs and using attribution to get it done makes you an immediate MVP.
These sorts of plans take time; build in benchmarks from month to month and year to year, to measure where you plan to be and the spend you’re going to make to get there. And if your higher-ups bristle at the long-game, simply explain that they will never truly know the value of any spend without attribution… and without a savvy marketer such as yourself handling their modeling, along the way.
Hopefully, this helped you get out of your own head and out of the weeds when it comes to communicating attribution to those who need to know. Remember: when it comes to making the most of your modeling or progressing on the Attribution Maturity Curve, Revenue Pulse’s experts are here for ideas, guidance, and support.