Solving the Riddle of Marketing Attribution

January 8, 2016 Mark Emmons


This is a story that begins at the end. An important deal has closed. The gong has been rung. The celebration completed.

Then, in that afterglow comes one of the most difficult — and crucial — tasks for a B2B marketer: trying to solve the attribution riddle. Just how much influence did the marketing team have on that successful deal?

“Marketing attribution is all about trying to figure out the answer to one question,” said Adam New-Waterson, the chief marketing officer at LeanData. “How did we get here?”

The modern buyer’s journey in B2B can be a rugged, winding path that takes months to traverse. Marketers scour the terrain for small bits of information that paint a more complete picture of what exactly happened during the sales lifecycle. That essentially means following a breadcrumb trail of marketing touches to determine what was — and was not — relevant to the process.

Those reporting insights can help you create smarter marketing programs as you pursue future business. It’s an age-old philosophy. You cannot know where you’re going unless you truly understand where you’ve been.

But the challenge is most attribution models leave much to be desired when it comes to providing actionable intelligence. Some breadcrumbs get overlooked. Others are given exaggerated importance.

“The core, underlying idea of reporting is that you are only as good as your data.”

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“The core, underlying idea of reporting is that you are only as good as your data,” New-Waterson said. “If that is flawed, then you’re going to be making the wrong decisions for your business. And if nobody is helping you fill in the gaps and holes in your data, you simply can’t do good reporting.”

LeanData takes the mystery out of attribution by pulling together the entire story of the buyer’s journey. This means fully understanding both your quality and quantity metrics. Each side tells only part of the tale. LeanData strikes a balance that will generate the greatest reporting insights. That’s done by capturing all of the relevant touches and then showing which interactions had the greatest impact.

This solves the most common reporting issues.

Under Reporting: You’re missing touches that were influential. The result is you lacking complete visibility. But that doesn’t happen with LeanData because the Lead2Account algorithm automatically matches leads to corresponding accounts. You know everyone involved in a potential deal. It draws connections that might otherwise be lost in a complex sales process. Marketing interactions that help activate accounts will never slip through the cracks.

In other words, you see all of those breadcrumbs.

“The current paradigm of reporting systems require contacts and contacts with role,” New-Waterson said. “So any reporting method will be missing leads — period. Those will not be tracked, which means you could be missing a big piece of the picture. That’s why to understand the full impact of marketing campaigns, it’s important to match leads to accounts.”

Over Reporting: Matching leads to accounts ensures that you will have a record of everyone inside a target company who has shown interest. But all of them won’t play relevant roles in a deal. For example, if a target account is an enterprise-sized company, you easily might have dozens or even hundreds of contacts. Only some of those people will have played a part is pushing the deal forward.

You run the risk of overstating influence when everyone gets thrown into the same bucket.

LeanData’s Account-Based Reporting product solves that problem by giving businesses the flexibility to remove people from the reporting process based on certain lead statuses. You’re sorting through those breadcrumbs and discarding the ones that don’t matter.

“Let’s say there has been a disqualifying moment in your sales process,” New-Waterson said. “For instance, a sales development rep has decided that somebody is a junk lead. Then that person can be removed from your reporting. You can narrow it down to only the people who had an impact. We make sure that you don’t over-report the activities that have no importance on a deal.”

Not All Touches Are Equal: It’s not a level playing field. A dinner with an executive sponsor means more than a junior employee opening an email. But without giving an appropriate value to an activity, your reporting will be hopelessly skewed.

LeanData gets around that by providing easy-to-configure weighting that tailors attribution models to your business. You are applying the controls that rate the importance of activities during your sales process.

“This forms the basis of the most accurate reporting I’ve ever seen,” New-Waterson said. “When you consider the flexibility, the quality of the data and the ease of the implementation, this really sets the new standard for attribution.”

There’s only one, indisputable number in any deal: the amount of revenue at the close. Everything else can be open to debate. But LeanData shines a bright light on what can be a murky buyer’s journey.

“We all have the goal of being data-driven marketers,” New-Waterson said. “But you need the right data to make decisions that benefit your business. We’re helping you understand the things that are and aren’t important to closing deals.”

Cracking the Attribution Code

Marketing teams are under more pressure than ever to quantify their influence and justify budgets. At a time when marketers are expected to prove Return on Investment, LeanData is exploring the challenges they face and how it is possible to improve account reporting.


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