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Marketing Without Attribution is Like Taking a Road Trip Without a Map

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Srikrishna Swaminathan (Sri) and Praveen Das are two of the three co-founders of Factors.AI, an automated system that measures marketing and sales activity. They see marketing attribution as a way to understand where marketing is getting traction, who is paying attention and what they are doing about it when it is integrated into a company’s CRM system.

Road trip! I call shotgun!

You’ve loaded up on beef jerky, Bang Energy and trail mix, but you wind up in the middle of nowhere and you can’t get any service on your phone, let alone a map.

And damn if it doesn’t all start to feel a little too much like a bad, bad scene from Deliverance.

You creep along roads hoping to find signs that point to a highway or a town nearby and you really start wishing you’d kept that ancient paper map book instead of tossing it to make room for the inflatable pillow.

This trip from hell is a similar experience to doing marketing activity without using an attribution tool to determine what’s working and what isn’t.

Sure, you kind of know where you’re going and if you’re lucky, there may be a few data points surfaced by your sales team that give insights along the way. Maybe one of your posts goes viral, or one of your ads / landing pages brings in enough qualified leads to hold you over. But without a map, the speedometer and your gas gauge are the only guides.

“There is definitely art and science involved,” says Praveen Das, one of the three co-founders of Factors.AI, a tool that automates marketing attribution and essentially delivers the road map you need to know where you’re headed, and where to run next.

He says that analytics and attribution platforms serve two purposes. One is a combination of speedometer, compass and gas gauge. They tell you which direction you’re going, if you’ll make it on time and how long you can go before you need gas. The other is the real time feedback on activities. This is that map that gives you the ability to change the route on the fly, or next quarter based on the information that would otherwise have been buried in your tech stack.

A road map doesn’t cut into the spontaneity of your trip. It gives you options.

The best thing about road trips is that you can stop when you see a giant metal sculpture of a wooly mammoth (there’s one in a field outside of McMinnville, Oregon) or a winery with a sleepy dog in the driveway or a restaurant you’re pretty sure was featured on Dinners, Drive-ins and Dives. You have options to take a back road or try a road that looks interesting.

This ability to stop, change course, or do something different isn’t prevented by the map, it’s actually ENHANCED by it.

“B2B marketing attribution is the ability to pull together data from all the data silos, which are marketing channels. Stitch together the data from the channels all the way up to the CRM and be able to attribute which are the touchpoints, which are the channels, which are the user touchpoints that eventually contributed to revenue,” says Sri.

It’s also the ability to see in the CRM which touchpoints are preferred by various types of customers, which ones drive the most revenue and why.

Now you’re looking at a roadmap that shows where each route takes you, how long it will take to get to the next landmark, what you’ll encounter along the way and if you’re on-track to hit your destination.

Who’s in the car with you?

As much as marketers are generally social types, they don’t always love the people in the car with them. You know, the “grown-up” types that want you to stay on the highway, stop at the NICE rest stop, make sure there’s enough gas in the car.

Where’s their sense of adventure?

These are the CFOs, CTOs and others who want to see ROI, system security and, you know, ACCOUNTABILITY (so boring!) from the marketing budget.

Praveen says, marketers need not have their road trip van painted over in monochromatic hues instead of the 70s pastel daisies. There’s room for everyone’s tastes.

“There are certain things in marketing that you would do because it feels right. It’s the right thing to do,” he says. “It’s good for the brand and so forth and you wouldn’t worry as much about measurement or trying to figure out if it’s working.”

But, when it comes to pleasing the various stakeholders involved in a B2B purchase, marketing attribution shines like the Vegas strip as you drive through the desert at dusk.

“I look at marketing as a portfolio of investments,” he adds. “There are a bunch of other activities that you do which have very short or medium-term sort of targets.”

Get them to buy into your directions with a common destination

This leads us to how you win over those fellow road-trippers. Any marketing activity involving viewing, accessing, downloading, submitting, attending an event, clicking, etc. can be tracked, integrated into the CRM and return information on the types of activities that are working at different stages in the pipeline for certain personas that your team wants to reach, educate, and convert.

“You have multiple touchpoints,” says Praveen. “And the touchpoints that really matter for each of the stakeholders would be very different. You want to define a start point and an endpoint to say, ‘what did we do to convert these accounts from being completely anonymous users to becoming a marketing qualified lead?”

Marketing attribution allows you to build a framework that slices and dices data to see what is working for various industries, organization sizes and roles within the purchasing process for those organizations. You can see what types of messaging a VP of finance is responding to more favorably than what a CTO is responding to.

“What you’re trying to answer is, ‘how can I get better? What am I doing that is working? What are the things that I’m doing that are not working?’”

Without a relatively advanced marketing attribution system you’re essentially driving blind – the campaigns believed to be at the top may actually not be generating the results you think. There may be a lot of click throughs and requests from a webinar, but the conversion rates could be dramatically low.

“Marketing activity impacted the sales activity,” says Sri of what attribution combined with the CRM can show. “How much time did it take for the deal to get close to a sale? It gives a complete picture of the whole customer journey and the upcoming journey. Hence, CRM integration is very, very important.”

Make room for more seats in the van

Not only does this information allow the marketing team to put their foot on the gas of one campaign and hit the brakes on another, it gives them insight into what stages specific activities are reaching certain people in the desired way. If LinkedIn conversation ads are showing promise in the prospecting stage, it makes the case for new team members, like someone who specializes in LinkedIn engagement.

You don’t need to stop at every point on the map

Praveen says, it is possible to get “obsessive” over the volume of detail. It’s important to sit back and enjoy the ride too.

“Not all decisions need to be driven by data. I’d want to modify it into data-informed decisions,” he says. “You want to keep 30 to 40% of your marketing not driven by analytics attribution. For the rest, I want to see that looking in the right direction.”

Feel free to reach out to Srikrishna and Praveen in the RevOps Co-op Slack community for all of your marketing analytics and attribution questions and connect with them on LinkedIn.


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