Attribution Modeling for B2B: Key Takeaways
- Attribution modeling for B2B companies can help tell a more complete story but is not a replacement for channel or platform level KPIs
- Gain buy-in early on: teams (both in Marketing and in other departments) must have trust in the results of the attribution model in order for the model to drive effective decision making
- Complete and accurate tracking across all touchpoints is necessary
- Testing and flexibility are key to maintaining a relevant and effective model
- As B2B companies often work with multiple contacts for a single deal, account-based tracking will help tell a more accurate story
- A tool like Bizible provides custom modeling based on the customer journey and results from comprehensive tracking
Intro to B2B Attribution Modeling
Attribution modeling is best for companies with several marketing channels and longer sales cycles. Companies can implement an attribution model to make more informed decisions about the effectiveness of marketing programs. By applying an attribution model, you can better understand the impact of key activities on marketing goals and pipeline. Further, attribution allows you to better understand the buyer’s journey.
Ultimately, attribution reflects how various touchpoints assist a lead through the sales funnel based on a model. However, there are many ways to build that model and creating alignment across teams (and departments) is the first step. It is necessary to gain buy-in from key stakeholders (such as board members and the sales team) on how Marketing is measuring and reporting on its impact. Team members must trust the model and the results it shows in order for it to be useful.
Once teams align on which model to move forward with, the models should be built, tested, and refined over time.
Note: Attribution Modeling is not a replacement for channel- and platform-specific KPIs. Attribution modeling is an additional tool that is helpful in telling a more complete story from a birds-eye view. It is still important to define the goal of each channel and platform, define what success looks like, and determine how that will be measured.
For additional training/education on attribution modeling – check out this great article for an intro to attribution.
Approach to B2B Attribution Modeling
By default, most MarTech systems use last-touch attribution. Salesforce and Google Analytics are examples. These do not provide your team with sufficient information to understand how Marketing is impacting your pipeline. The two largest factors in building and maintaining an attribution model are below
Proper tracking that is consistent and comprehensive, which includes:
- Naming conventions and standardized tagging
- Tracking all campaigns, programs, channels, platforms and assets
- Tools like Bizible make this a seamless process and help paint the whole picture of performance
CRM tool integration
- If your CRM is the single source of truth for deals and revenue, any tools being used within the marketing stack should seamlessly integrate with the platform.
If either of these components fall short, the model will be inaccurate.
Steps Toward Implementing Attribution
1 – Map Touchpoints
Map touchpoints in the Buyer’s Journey: Work with the full marketing team to map out touchpoints along the buyer’s journey. The Marketing Strategy can be used as a starting point. Consideration: Traditional attribution modeling follows a single contact or lead through their buyer’s journey and assigns a calculated weight to each marketing touchpoint or creative element throughout the journey. This is known as fractional attribution. In B2B marketing, it is common to have more than one contact for a single deal. Because of this, some companies track activity by account rather than by individual contact.
2 – Select the Attribution Model
Select an attribution model that fits with your typical buyer’s journey: Once touchpoints are mapped out, determine how much “credit” each touchpoint deserves for the win. We recommend using a model that tracks important phases in the buyer’s journey. For many B2B companies, these important touchpoints include first touch (how did we first reach this person?), lead capture (what drove them to ultimately fill out our form?), and last touch (what sealed the deal?). For a company focused on those three moments, a W-Shaped model would be ideal. If you care more about the first and last touch, consider a U-shaped model.
For all attribution models, there is one major drawback: it is difficult to measure all touchpoints, especially content viewed before someone fills out a form. Touchpoints that may fall into this category include: display, blog posts, press. Bizible does claim to have a way to track this.
Consideration: Examine what tools are currently available: Make a list of your current MarTech tools, and what attribution modeling options they already provide. Ask: Would any of the available models work for our customer journey? (For example, U, time decay, or linear).
3 – Implement & Test
Implement and test: Implement the selected attribution model for a set trial period (1-2 months). After the trial period, look at the results the attribution model is reporting and determine whether or not the model is telling an accurate story and how well it aligned with Marketing goals.
Selecting an Attribution Tool or Partner
When selecting an attribution tool partner, start by building a requirements list. At a minimum, we suggest:
- Make sure the tool looks at the conversions and channels marketing uses
- Check cadence of reporting—ensure this aligns with when you do reporting
- Ensure that the way the results are delivered are easy to understand and develop action items from
Attribution Tools & Technology
The default attribution model in the free version of Google Analytics is last-click, and this cannot be changed. However, different models can temporarily be applied. Google Analytics 360 does offer users the ability to apply different attribution models. Because Google Analytics is only reporting on traffic and Google Analytics goals (such as form fills, webinar sign-ups, and event sign-ups), this will not provide the full picture of how marketing is impacting pipeline.
A B2B-specific attribution tool, Bizibles offers account-based measurement, which could help you understand how various decision-makers are moving through the buyer’s journey and what touchpoints they interact with. Given Bizible’s specialty in the B2B space, they would be a great partner for attribution modeling moving forward.
By default, Marketo uses a first-touch attribution model, however, it can be configured to account for a multi-touch model in conjunction with Salesforce. Within the multi-touch model, Marketo attributes revenue evenly across all channels a lead/contact interacted with. This linear attribution may not always tell the most accurate story. When setting up attribution modeling in Marketo, this guide may be helpful.
By default, Salesforce uses last-touch attribution. It gives complete credit (revenue) to the most recent campaign a lead interacted with. The ‘campaign influence’ property in Salesforce can be adjusted to give credit to any campaign that an opportunity interacted with. However, when applying this setting, Salesforce will give 100% credit to any campaign selected.
Visual IQ is an alternative to Bizible. Recently acquired by Nielsen, Visual IQ collects performance and cost data from marketing channels in real-time. Once collected, they apply their algorithmic model (TrueAttribution) to measure the influence of every addressable channel and tactic on multiple success metrics by audience segment.