Lift-Off! A New Study on Attribution and Revenue

lift-offAccording to Forrester Research, B2B companies are seeing an average of 15 to 18 percent lift in revenue as a result of implementing a closed-loop attribution system and then optimizing marketing programs based on the more sophisticated analysis.

Whoa! Think about that for a minute…a 15 percent lift in your company’s total revenue!

So what is this “closed-loop attribution system” and how do you get there? First, closing-the-loop means tying front-end marketing activity to revenue. The column “4 Steps to Close the Loop” lays out the main elements to do this.

Second, an attribution system can be defined in simple terms as a means to understand how much credit to give to each customer interaction that eventually leads to a sale. A lot easier said than done! This can be especially tough for B2B marketers given the long and complex sales cycles with multiple decision-makers interacting across multiple channels.

I recently led a panel on this topic that included Tina Moffett, Forrester Research’s lead analyst on attribution analytics and Rob Cataford, BusinessOnline’s VP of customer intelligence. Here are the key takeaways…

  1. “Don’t let great get in the way of good.” Tina stressed that if you can’t close-the-loop all the way to a sale, then at least try to integrate data from your marketing automation system to optimize based on qualified leads. (And if you can’t do this, then starting with leads data from your web analytics system is still better than nothing.)
  2. “It depends.” Selecting the best attribution model depends on the specific situation and can vary between product lines or campaigns. For example, one product line might have a short, single-touch funnel (which would favor a last-click model) and another might have a long, multi-touch funnel (which would favor a rules-based or algorithmic model).
  3. “Let data be your guide.” Let the data help you identify the correct attribution model(s). Look at the full data picture to see behavior patterns such as the number of touch points in a funnel. An effective tactic is to apply different models and see if there is any difference in the results. For example, if you extend the time horizon and don’t see any difference in conversion rates, then you’ve learned that you have a short, single-touch funnel and you can apply a last-click model.
  4. “Your customers are companies (not individuals).” Rob made the key point that company-level attribution is far more effective since a typical B2B customer has many decision-makers but usually only one or two ever register and become “known.” So, you need to stop tracking anonymous visitors and start tracking known companies. Using an IP lookup service can help you identify the company that anonymous visitors are likely from and then you can combine them together to get an aggregate view of a company’s total activity and engagement.

Overall, the primary benefit of a closed-loop attribution system is that it lets you see the full paths of conversions and abandons. This makes it much easier for you to see opportunities for improvement – especially in your digital marketing channel mix and your content strategy.

And that’s how you drive that 15 to 18 percent lift in revenue.

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