Marketing Attribution Panel Notes

Thanks to Bonnie Crater (CEO at Full Circle Insights), Charlie Liang (Director of Marketing at Engagio), and Dayna Rothman (VP of Marketing at BrightFunnel) for a lively panel discussion on January 17 around Marketing Attribution. Below are some notes and video snippets from that discussion:

James: What is Marketing Attribution and what types of companies is it good for?

Bonnie (2:00): Marketing attribution helps connect campaigns to revenue. How do campaigns contribute to sales? At the end of the day, we’re trying to make better businesses and optimize our marketing spend.

Dayna: Connects touches on buyer journey. See what’s accelerating people through the funnel. What is the journey your personas go through, so you can understand what’s working and what’s not. It’s a very data-driven way to run marketing in your organization. Marketing budgets are very large. Even a 5% optimization can move the revenue needle a big amount.

Charlie: Marketing attribution as a marketing tactic answers the questions: Are my marketing dollars driving a return to business results? Am I spending the right amount of resources on the programs that matter?

James: Do you need Salesforce to make marketing attribution work?

Bonnie (5:20): As a former 5x VP of Marketing… You want to get close as possible to sales team, by having apps living inside the sales platform, so both sales and marketing can see this data. If data is in a separate system that sales can’t access, it’s hard for them (and marketing) to have good conversations. If you have Marketing look at one set of information, and Sales looking at another set of information, then you’re not having good conversations.

Dayna:  The BrightFunnel platform is outside of Salesforce. We pull info from Salesforce, Adwords. Not every marketer has access to Salesforce or has a Salesforce login. At Marketo, half the marketing team didn’t have Salesforce logins.  It’s important to have data available to sales team, and to board members. Important to have a process about disemminating that information, whether it’s weekly meetings or dashboards or within Salesforce. It’s the communication that is key.

Charlie: Salesforce was invented over 15 years ago. The system shouldn’t drive the business results. The system doesn’t matter as long as you’re getting what you need for your business; even Excel could work.

James: What size companies need marketing attribution?

Bonnie (10:00): Startups don’t need marketing attribution. Need to be doing enough marketing to compare results. Less than $400,000 a year, you don’t need marketing attribution. Have to be doing marketing, have a team, and getting enough information to optimize your marketing budget.

Dayna: Everything at Marketo is driven by data. How am I going to track all these programs I am managing, even though we [at Everstring] are small. When you’re first building the machine, you need to know what works and doesn’t, especially if you can’t waste resources. It’s all but impossible to measure multi-touch attribution without a system; at a minimum, start thinking about and planning for attribution even when you’re small.

Charlie: Account-based metrics are different from a lead gen-based model. When I was using a lead gen-based model, I had a huge Excel spreadsheet. At Engagio, we look at a roughly 50-50 split between inbound and outbound. Are efforts to target accounts getting us in front of the right people at those accounts. We measure the Engagement minutes that lead to a marketing qualified account.

Bonnie (17:00): Response based marketing is a traditional marketing approach. Most B-to-B marketers have been working this way. The new idea is account-based marketing/ targeting strategic accounts. Marketing now focuses campaigns on these strategic accounts with the benefit of targeted systems. Companies really need both ABM and response-based marketing, as well as systems that measure marketing campaigns for strategic accounts. Response-based marketing reaches more broadly.

James: What’s your advice for a smaller company/ startup for supporting marketing attribution?

Dayna (20:00): It’s important that every program be measurable and that you understand your success metrics now; they may change in the future. KPI changes for every channel, ads vs. emails vs. events. Also, building a culture of measurement in team and organization. Make sure everyone knows what measurement is, what attribution is, what we measure, how to look at programs in a more strategic way, “eg. what is quality of these 100 leads.” Manage up: Move away from vanity number metrics (eg. leads). But train the board and train the CEO and the sales VP on how to look at right times of measurement. Be very specific about money spent, results, and buyer journey.

Charlie: Don’t start with what’s the ROI of marketing. Start with a problem set. What are you trying to do? Get meetings? Accelerate the deal cycle? The marketing mix will be different for a specific program set.

Bad data is worse than no data. How do we give credit to what? How do you know which of the 5 models is the best model? Charlie likes “Engagement Minutes” – for example, some account got 5 engagement minutes because they read this white paper. It’s more accurate than assigning lead scores.

James: What are some examples where marketing attribution has worked well, and a company has figured out a more optimal marketing mix?

Bonnie (25:00): I like the first Sirius Decisions Model. It provides a simple way to measure volume, velocity and conversion through the funnel. It helps identify trends and problem areas (e.g., marketing to sales handoff). It also helps with budgeting, and knowing what the sales volume was.

Marketing attribution is for optimizing the marketing budget, and for improving campaigns that are driving revenue. First touch, last touch, and multi-touch metrics are all important. First Touch is very important for a start-up. If you’re a bigger company, last touch can be more important. With Marketing Attribution, Sales and marketing are one line on the P&L, so this helps with collaboration.

Jobvite was a great smaller customer, when they were looking for their Series C. They decided to align across the marketing funnel. They identified processes and prioritized marketing budget. Jobvite doubled their productivity from same budget; they doubled leads and doubled revenue by analyzing the impact across the marketing mix.

Audience Q+A (30:00): What is an Engagement Minute?

Charlie: Lead scoring is arbitrary. Engagement minutes are less arbitrary. For example, a demo at our booth at Dreamforce could take 30 minutes. A Webinar could take 60 minutes. An Engagement Minute measures how long a person or an account spends with your brand. When they exceed a certain number of Engagement Minutes, then they are tagged as a Marketing Qualified Account (MQA).

Measure their activity. If 20 people consume 5 campaigns, how do you give credit to sales for all these different touches?

Audience Q+A (32:40): What evidence do you have that Engagement Minutes are a good measurement, as some people make quicker decisions than others?

Charlie: We ask our sales team: “If a marketing manager from a 250-person watched our webinar, would you want to follow up with that person? If the answer is Yes, then that is a MQA. By definition, a MQA is someone Sales wants to follow up with.

Audience Q+A (36:00): Sales Reps typically do not show too much discipline within Salesforce. If Sales Reps aren’t notating the account or campaign information in the right way, how can you accurately measure Marketing Attribution?

Dayna: We combine sales and marketing, which is unusual. We’ve done a lot of training with sales reps to get them to use Salesforce to get them to attribute different things. We did assign different % in model that were more brand focused vs. closed revenue and opportunities.  Do you have web tracking, to track those first touches, when you’re thinking about what’s brand and what’s directly related to revenue.

Bonnie: I want to get back to this Engagement Minute thing… What’s the difference between a “score” and a “minute”?

Audience Member: With minutes, I can isolate it: minutes only for trade show, for this email. Don’t need an attribution program to know how we accumulate these numbers.

Charlie: Engagement minutes is measured at the account level. Engagement Minutes measure attention span, whereas lead scoring is a black box.

Bonnie (41:30): Lead score and Engagement Minutes seem to be effectively the same thing – they’re both just numbers that are assigned.

Audience Q+A (42:30): How do you account for overlap between a tradeshow, Facebook, PR?

Dayna: You can create different attribution models depending on the weighting you choose. Some clients use equal weighting, or “toggle” weights based on what they know. Some do 40-20-40 weighting (first – middle – last touch). At Brightfunnel, we’re thinking about using machine learning for these models in the future. It could look historically at what programs have worked best to drive revenue.

Bonnie (46:00): You should select a model for a reason. For example, you can make a top-of-the-funnel weighting if that’s important to you. You’re often discovering how your business actually works with marketing attribution. Machine Learning will not be a panacea because everything is changing; history cannot predict what will work this year.

Thanks to Lisa LaMagna for sharing notes, and to our sponsors for this great panel!