This article was originally published in the The BD Ladder's Future of Marketing Professional Services post-COVID report.
Marketing attribution comes into the spotlight post-covid
Similar to most industries, professional services marketing teams innovated quickly and adapted their plans to suit an all or majority online experience for their business in the face of COVID 19 restrictions in 2020. Many leaders will relate to the scramble, and massive reactive effort it took their teams. However in the midst of this execution focus, some firms were unable to properly plan and focus strategic efforts on the measurement and attribution of these digital initiatives.
Going forward in a post-covid world, B2B marketing leaders are retrospectively working on how they can capture the right data and attribute success to their marketing efforts.
But where to start? Here are key considerations when beginning marketing attribution initiatives:
Understand the buyer’s digital journey.
The exercise of mapping the customer’s digital touchpoints is critical for many reasons:
- Ensuring alignment to your customers’ learning and buying behaviour,
- Understanding how much to invest in various platforms, and
- Knowing how marketing played a part in closing a deal.
In a multi-channel world where Email, LinkedIn, Google, Digital Press and various more channels mean marketing efforts are regularly multi-touch, this exercise becomes even more important.
Another key benefit of looking at the funnel journey for different customers is to avoid the pitfall of Last-Click Attribution. Attributing all your success to the number of downloads of a particular whitepaper, for example, means all the demand driving marketing efforts – perhaps PR, or employee organic distribution, gets little credit in driving the success of the downloads.
This is more important if your KPI is a sale – how are you measuring all the activity prior to final conversion? Finding an attribution model that works for your business will be based on organisational factors, data and technology availability, and the type of service you offer, but aligning to your customer journey is a good place to start.
Align with business priorities for reporting.
When creating your reports or dashboards, rather than looking at the data you can report on, take a step back, and decide firstly what your stakeholders need to know, and why, and build reports that align to their priorities. It’s most likely that you can get more data than you need. Whether its lead numbers or lead quality, brand strength or engagement, at each level of reporting, you’ll need more or less data to support.
- A report to a CMO may cover budget performance, sales qualified leads, engagement, or segment performance.
- A report to Finance is likely focused on high-level monthly budget run-rate and performance.
- A report for your marketing team will be operationally focused – which channels or campaigns are meeting your goals, which creatives are working best etc.
Oftentimes if you start with what you can report, you’ll share data that isn’t relevant to the person, diluting the purpose of your report.
In Merkle’s recent B2B CMO Survey, the top three marketing priorities for the Professional Services industry were:
- Delivering business growth
- Developing the overall customer experience
- Understanding consumer / market trends
Accordingly, understanding those priorities and goals will translate in the metrics you need to report on. In this case, Business Growth may report on brand awareness in the market, new leads or nurturing existing leads to bring in more sales. Customer Experience may be reported using engagement rates, brand sentiment, NPS scores or website bounce rates. Understanding Consumer Trends can be delivered using social listening tools.
A word of advice: keep it simple.
There are vast amounts of data available when it comes to digital marketing. The problem isn’t getting the data, but what its purpose is for business decision-making.
Work more closely with sales to document leads – and attribute deal success with marketing efforts
One of the biggest, yet easiest, mistakes marketers make is to not follow the lead once the sales team has taken over. For example, once a webinar is complete, the regular practice is to give the attendance list to the sales team for follow up. But the practice of closing the loop on those customers is important.
A closer relationship with your sales team, and shared responsibility to nurture leads, will result in more sales. Feedback on lead quality can translate into more effective marketing, and more targeted customer segments.
At the very least, ensuring the sales team report on the leads your marketing team gave them will help marketers link a sale to the marketing effort – and give marketing the data it needs to demonstrate it’s worth to the business.
Send in the experts…
The IDC suggests that “the amount of data created over the next three years will be more than the data created over the past 30 years.”
The pace of data and attribution means many marketers don’t yet have the skillsets required to be able to work with marketing data effectively. So either hiring a data analyst or engaging a marketing attribution specialist is highly recommended. If you want to take things further, reimagining the role of data management in your team structure will set you up for future success.
It also goes without saying that having the right martech stack will help alleviate the burden on your team when capturing and analysing data to attribute your marketing efforts to the success of your business priorities.
However you choose to do it though, making attribution a priority for your team will only help to demonstrate marketing’s integral part in the success of the business overall. Start now to set yourself, and your team, up for success.
This article was written by Priyanka Nadkarni, Managing Director, Window Seat Consulting. Connect with her on LinkedIn here.