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Marketing Attribution: How To Accurately Attribute Sales To Marketing


Listen to this podcast to learn five easy puzzle pieces of marketing attribution models that every B2B marketer needs to accurately attribute sales to one or more marketing tactics.

Tessa Burg, Chief Technology Officer
October 31, 2019

Barriers to Measuring Digital Marketing ROI

If B2B marketers want to track the ROI of digital marketing, an attribution model may be the answer. Leads shouldn’t simply be attributed to one marketing tactic. Nor should one source receive all of the credit for an eventual sale. To access the true ROI of each digital marketing tactic, B2B companies must find ways to adjust their traditional success metrics.

This podcast references the following article: B2B Marketing Attribution: 5 Steps To Build A Successful Model (originally published in Sales and Marketing Magazine).

Five Easy Puzzle Pieces of Marketing Attribution Models that Every B2B Marketer Needs to Succeed

Listen to this podcast to learn how to more accurately attribute sales to one or many digital marketing tactics.

Recorded 10/10/2019 | 20 minutes

Paul Roberts: Welcome everybody. It’s time once again for another episode of SLMA radio. Brought to you on behalf of the good folks at the Sales Lead Management Association. If it has to do with sales lead management or sales lead marketing it probably starts here with the SLMA radio show. Today, calling in from various points around the country, we have with us the man who started at all; Jim Obermeyer. Hey Jim are you there?

Jim Obermayer: Yes, I am. Paul. Thank you very much.

Paul Roberts: You’re up in the Canadian border here, keeping us safe?

Jim Obermayer: I’m two miles from the Canadian border in God’s country. I can see the farms, I can smell the cows.

Paul Roberts: The coffee’s brewing and we’re ready for a conversation today here. What are we going to talk about? It says here in my script, the five easy pieces of a marketing attribution. I’m thinking of the old Clint Eastwood movie, Five Easy Pieces, or Jack Nicholson movie.

Jim Obermayer: That’s where it all started.

Paul Roberts: I see.

Jim Obermayer: I saw this great article in Sales and Marketing Magazine and the author is Tessa Burg and at the title is The Customer Journey and the ROI of Marketing and it just rang a bell. I just loved the article, pay two pages and she gave five things that we should do.

Now she says that marketers that want to track the ROI of their digital efforts should be wise to consider an attribution model. Lead sources should no longer be simply attributed to one source and neither should the credit be given to that source for the eventual sale, because there’s a lot of sources when it comes to the digital marketing today. To access the true ROI of each marketing channel, B2B companies must find ways to adjust their traditional sales metrics.

Tessa is VP of user experience and technology at Tenlo an AMG company, specialized team of pipeline marketers. Tessa, welcome today.

Tessa Burg: Thank you for having me.

Jim Obermayer: We’re both calling in today. Paul didn’t see me on Skype, but I’m glad we’ve got a really good connection. Tell us a little bit more about your company and why you’re so interested in this subject of marketing attribution models.

Tessa Burg: Sure. Tenlo serves primarily B2B companies who sell through distributors, large sales teams and then are just now starting to get online and sell direct. But these are medical device companies, manufacturing services and then we also work with some key CPG brands who are selling through retail or grocery store chains.

When I started my career, 2001, 2002 AdWords, that was a great time to be in online marketing. I mean if you turned on a paid search campaign for a B to C brand, your sales, if you knew what you were doing, just skyrocketed. And then now, 2019, working with people who require sales and marketing alignment and in order for the primary decision makers to have everything they need, need both relationship and digital information. This idea of attribution has become even more important.

In the B2C world, it’s been alive and well and running and we started using it when I was at American Grains in 2008 but, it was honestly a lot easier. Everything was happening online, we sold a digital product. In B2B it’s more challenging, but it’s equally necessary in order serve your customers the best, but then also to make sure you get a seat at the table and that field executives see the value and the marketing that’s generating sales.

Jim Obermayer: Well directly from your article, in the second paragraph, I really like it. Purchasing decisions now involve increased touch points throughout the multiple channels, more self-driven research and less reliant on sales people. For years I’ve worked at several sales lead management companies. I’ve written two books on sales lead management. Invariably we had attribute, the initial inquiry as the one that created the sale, but as you pointed out, so clearly there are so many more touch points along the way with the advent of marketing automation 15 years ago or so and in digital marketing, there’s so many more touch points out there that you have to take a look at. You explain a little bit more about your personal philosophy on this?

Tessa Burg: Yeah, I think it’s really important to be very clear or get really clear as an organization on where your customer’s journey starts and it is not when someone comes up to your trade show booth, it’s not if someone finally takes a call from a salesperson calling them over and over again, it happens at a point when they experience a problem and the problem is gotten to a stage where they have to take an action.

There isn’t a lot of proactive behavior for the people who are most likely to convert. You have to know where that journey starts when people first experience the problem and you’ll see as you’re kind of backing out that journey, that digital research often as a first step and if you can get really clear on the questions that they’re asking to address those problems early on, you can start to lay out the other steps of that journey and where you need to be to one, answer the question and then two have the right type of followup, whether that is a phone call or whether that is an email to keep them moving down the funnel.

Jim Obermayer: Well, I’m beginning to understand a little bit better. This is one of the first programs where we’re actually talking about attribution model and getting much more exact. Now you develop this AMG company that owns the company, developed this themselves and then you refined it with Tenlo. Now you mentioned Tenlo’s got clients like a medical device companies and others.

Paul Roberts: Today with our Tenlo clients, we are on a, I’ll call it manual journey and this is the place where I would recommend any B to B company that sells through distribution channels starts. So right now we have a, one is construction services, one is a very international brand and food services, and then we also have another physical product company that sells more through retail. Where we’re at right now with the Tenlo clients is making sure that we’re able to capture and measure digital interaction from physical behavior and then get those digital measurements into their marketing automation and CRM platforms.

The most important piece is that you are capturing the data across the funnel. Then second that you get it into a centralized location. And then the third step that we’re doing that today is on a manual basis is an equal attribution. So once we understand what the path is, we assign equal value to each step so that we’re better able to measure what the true value of that step is. And the next step is then layer on a technology with a machine learning component that can do that attribution per your configuration, but then also learn from it and make suggestions on where the span should be shifting.

Jim Obermayer: You mentioned in your article you shouldn’t gather data for data’s sake and too many companies do that. As you say in here, you need someone who can organize the data to show a fully realized customer journey across each touch point. That brings us to this attribution model and the five easy pieces of a marketing attribution model that everybody should know. Can you take us on that journey?

Tessa Burg: The very first one is the most critical one, which is identifying the touch points across the journey and to your point, it’s not about what can we measure. It’s understanding from the customer’s perspective, where are they and what questions are they asking as they’re moving from the start of the journey to a point where they are ready to talk to a salesperson and to really get clear on that journey we always work with our clients to do what we call stakeholder conversations with the sales team. The sales people know when someone’s about to close, so if you have that information on, here’s what happens when someone’s about to close and you have the early journey information of here’s where that issue or problem starts. Then it’s a matter of testing to fill in everything in between to get really clear on making sure you’re collecting the right data.

The second step is to make sure you’re able to measure the success of the messaging and what you’re putting out along that journey. This helps make sure that the engagement that you’re having with customers are in fact valuable. Some of the KPIs we use to measure if it’s valuable is if they downloaded a piece of content, if they subscribed for a newsletter, if they asked a question in a chat bot, it really depends on what technology is available to you, but don’t get hung up on whether or not you have the right tools. The KPI should be very accessible to you and your customers and the next part is assess what your spend gets. One of the best places to start with attribution or if you want to know if something’s working, where are we investing the most today and do we have all of the touch points measured along the journey from that big piece of spend.

This will start to give you an idea of maybe where you can trim unnecessary steps or as we call it the fat. You might be doing something in isolation that even after you add digital measurement you see it’s not driving any traffic. This helps bring your attribution and the reason for attribution more focused.

The fourth step, align value to your customers. Set up a scoring sheet so you know when customers are most likely to buy and you can see which paths are generating those customers that are most likely to buy. And the fifth step is to continue to refine and all five of these steps can be done without a software or technology. A lot of our clients, again, who are used to selling offline, don’t believe this is even possible and then they move from, well, I’m not sure this is possible to, well, what tool do I buy? The tool is secondary. What’s most important is that you’re getting the right data, that you’re confirming that that data is in fact valuable to you and to your target customer, that you’re organizing it and that you’re testing to find what’s working and what’s not.

Jim Obermayer: You went through those beautifully. As the article sets that out. I ask people to go to the September, October issue of sales and marketing on magazine 2019. I just got this big grin on my face when you said don’t worry about the tool, which is so interesting today because as soon as somebody talks about doing something new or measuring something, always a tool involved and you’re actually asking people to think, my God, what a concept. This is really great. Paul out of the 526 programs we’ve had so far, I think this is the first one where they’ve asked people to think and don’t worry about the tool.

We’re going to take a quick break here when we come back, if he can give us a couple of, for instances from some of your clients. Let’s talk about some real life instances that you can pull out of your memory there and tell us how it’s worked for some clients.

Paul, let’s hear from our sponsor.

Paul Roberts: Well, in 500 some shows, I don’t think we’ve ever talked about this sponsor. We’re going to talk about Tenlo today. Tenlo translates relevant awareness into high revenue customers through digital and physical experiences that respond and evolve based on performance against forecast and ROI. If that sounds like magic, it is and if you want to meet the magicians who can make it happen. Like Jim said, simply visit that’s T, E, N, L. O, just like it sounds 10 Back to Jim and his amazing magician guest here.

Jim Obermayer: Yeah, I’m not sure. Tessa really knew we were going to play that commercial for her today and sometimes we surprise them with a little commercial there, but it’s nice. I know we were talking about Tenlo a lot today, but it’s necessary to really dig into how this works.

So the five easy pieces of a marketing attribution model you said is create the model itself, measure the success in every step, access what you spend, what your spend gets you, and be able to get rid of those things that aren’t giving you a return on investment, assign value to the customers, then set up of scoring model for the leads generated and then continue refining. Can you give us some for instances that you might be able to dig out how long it takes to get a model like this going? Tell us some stories about some successes and the surprises that came about because of those.

Tessa Burg: I love telling stories. And this first one is one I think a lot of people can relate to and we’ve seen it in three different clients in one where we’ve done a successful attribution model is a client that spends a lot on trade shows. So again, easy first step when you’re getting to attribution is just say, where am I spending my most money right now? So we looked at the sponsorship package, we looked at everything that was happening at the trade show and then what was the media surrounding it. So it broke down to paying for the booth, paying for display banners, trade shows, website, paying for display and other digital ads on industry pub, paying for the marketing automation platform in the emails that went out. And then, and then doing print ads also in some industry pubs. A really great strategy; trade shows are a great way to engage your audience, directly, give sales people a chance to talk to perspective customers.

But how do you measure that? How do we know how well all this digital media is doing with the trade show? And when we put in the measurement points we created pages for these different types of media. We configured the Google analytics to make sure that we were able to capture the path, capture the referring resources accurately, and then we put content on the pages that we knew that if you were at the show or if you had seen one of these ads that you might be interested in, we didn’t change anything, so before you start testing or making changes, you really first again have to make sure you have those digital measurements in place. So that gives you your baseline. Now the next trade show, which for this client was pretty much every month, sometimes two a month. We did something a little bit different.

We took out a lot of the digital aspects and really focused on targeting who we thought were going to be the customers who were most likely going to come to the booth and convert and use different types of media that are a little bit farther down the funnel. With their trade show investment, early print ads, display ads, emails from other pubs. Those are all very top of funnel. There wasn’t a lot happening down below and they also weren’t very targeted other than anyone going to that trade show.

We use tools to find what we call relevant awareness and that’s knowing where people’s problems starts, finding evidence of people experiencing an issue or problem through their search keywords and then targeting those specific questions with content and other forms of advertising that pulls them down the funnel such as paid search and paid social. So we paired a few different tactics together, measured that and then looked at the list and the content downloads and then ultimately in the leads and opportunity created in the CRM from doing those two different approaches.

And what that does for attribution is one allows you to see and confirm which tactics are in fact high up the funnel two, just like an easy peasy steps; assess are those tactics adding value to the customer. Is having all habit funnel strategies, really giving your customer an answer when they’re experience a problem? And then three to see if you close the loop by adding some texts to the bottom of the funnel. How much more valuable than is your trade show?

That’s an example how long it takes really. So we do everything in two week increments. Our approach is not set and forget. We do very small basis for about three to 5,000 max in spend. We’ll rapidly test a bunch of different messages until we hit messages at different steps that we see working and then we scale the ones that are successful, which is what we did in that for the trade show case.

Jim Obermayer: That’s really interesting, I’ve got a lot of experience in the trade show industry as well as medical. I’ve been a speaker for 30 years at the exhibitor’s show off and on. And one of the things I learned very early on was a majority of the people walking into trade show booths, not the ones pulled off the aisle, but walking to the booths were sent there for a reason by someone in a company or they decided to go themselves because of a problem. And they’ve already done some searching and the company may not know why they’re coming into the booth, but when we ask them why they’re in the booth, they are very often say, well, this is my problem. I’ve seen you guys on your website. I’ve seen this, I’ve seen that, and you’re confirming that very much by saying you don’t really know.

If we confirmed that the sale came from the trade show, we’d be wrong because the reality is it came from or something else or a combination of other things. Really interesting. Unfortunately, we’ve run out of time. Tessa, how can someone reach you over at Tenlo if they’d like to talk a little bit more about this,

Tessa Burg: They can reach me via email at it’s T E S S a at tenlo, T E N L or just search Tessa Burg at tenlo and our site will pop up.

Jim Obermayer: Great. Tessa, you’ve been very helpful today. I’m excited about what you’re doing here. I think you’re on track for marketing in the future to accurately measure where their sales are coming from and how you can create follow on programs to increase sales. Certainly think Tenlo is a standout company doing that. You’re invited back to come on SMLA radio anytime you’d like to. Thank you very much for coming in today and sharing the attribution model, the five easy pieces of our marketing attribution model. Paul over to you.

Paul Roberts: You’ve been listening to another episode of S L M A radio brought to you on behalf of the thousands and thousands of members of the sales lead management association. It has to do with sales lead management or sales lead marketing. It probably starts here with the S L M a radio shop, part of the funnel radio network for at-work listeners; like you.

In her previous role as Vice President of Technology, Tessa helped clients execute engaging, multi-platform experiences and products to bring their brands to life. Moving into her role as CTO, Tessa oversees Mod Op’s technology stack to ensure the agency is leveraging the right platforms to deliver valuable and measurable marketing communications, entertainment and experiences.

Tessa Burg, Chief Technology Officer

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