B2B Marketing Stack Basics: CRMs, Marketing Automation Systems (MAS) & The B2B Lead Lifecycle

B2B Marketing Stack Basics: CRMs, Marketing Automation Systems (MAS) & The B2B Lead Lifecycle

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Marketing Automation Systems (MAS) are among the most commonly used technologies by B2B marketing leaders. Without a CRM and marketing automation platform, tracking ROI is impossible. The two technologies exist at the core of proper revenue attribution and, when used effectively, both can be extremely powerful, with great impact on revenue. On the other hand, when not used exactly as prescribed by vendors—as is usually the case—CRM and MAS can also be very dangerous, leading to misguided marketing decisions that wreak havoc on your bottom line.

In our new “B2B Marketing Stack Basics” series, we’ll examine the technology building blocks of a winning marketing stack—the strengths and weaknesses of leading platforms, best practices for campaign tracking, and tips to achieve true multi-touch revenue attribution. In our first installment we’ll cover the fundamentals, offering an overview of CRM and MAS technologies and taking a look at how they work together along the B2B lead lifecycle.


Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Overview

Many companies use their CRM as the system of record for nearly all business functions, but a CRM is primarily a sales and services tool, used to store data about existing customers and manage sales opportunities. It contains a database of all relevant information about clients and prospective clients and uses technology to organize, automate, and synchronize sales pursuits.

Examples: Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, Oracle SiebelSAP, SugarCRM 

Benefits of CRMs

  • 74% of CRM users said their CRM system offered improved access to customer data. (source)
  • CRMs can increase sales productivity by up to 34% and forecast accuracy by up to 42%. (source)
  • Using a CRM has been proven to increase sales by up to 29%. (source)


Marketing Automation Systems (MAS) Overview

The MAS is the marketing counterpart to the CRM platform—focused on moving inquiries from the top of the marketing funnel through to sales-ready leads at the bottom of the funnel. Marketing automation provides a single solution that marketers can use for all aspects of campaign design—including email and landing page development, lead management and scoring, and automation and reporting.

Today’s B2B marketers would be crippled without marketing automation. Essential functions such as communicating with and tracking prospects become impossible or at best extremely difficult without it. In order to track revenue, you must first track campaigns and leads. 

Examples: Marketo, Eloqua, Hubspot, Pardot 

Benefits of CRMs

  • B2B marketers who implement marketing automation increase their sales-pipeline contribution by 10%. (source)
  • 63% of companies that are outgrowing their competitors use marketing automation. (source)
  • 8% of successful marketers say marketing automation systems are most responsible for improving revenue contribution. (source)


The B2B Lead Lifecycle: How CRM and MAS Work Together

Marketing automation systems measure prospect engagement from the first time they interact with your company. Upon their first website visit, they’ll receive a cookie from your MAS, after which all interactions are tracked. A prospect is no longer anonymous once they provide their contact information (e.g. downloading an eBook, signing up for a webinar) and a lead is created within the MAS. From there, the lead is typically synced to the CRM. 

Salesforce and Marketo FlowOne of the core functions of marketing automation is the ability to score prospects based on engagement. A prospect’s lead score will accumulate over time based on their interactions with marketing activity. Many companies develop nurture programs or a series of automated communications designed to help prospects self-educate. As a prospect interacts with marketing activity—triggered by nurturing or done organically—they’ll continue to accumulate points until they reach an agreed-upon threshold that deems them sales-ready.

While lead cycle processes vary between organizations, there is usually some threshold that determines the lead has reached a gating stage and is passed to a sales rep. Sales can either accept a lead, and convert it (more on that in the following section), or reject a lead, in which case, they often re-enter a new nurture queue. Alternatively, a lead may be disqualified altogether, in order to prevent any future engagement (e.g. competitors or bad records).

Much has been written about lead management and the various stages leads can pass through. Much of that discussion is beyond the scope of this series, but we recommend familiarizing yourself with this process if you haven’t already.


Have you been able to track multi-touch revenue attribution with your CRM and MAS alone? Stay tuned for the next installment of our “B2B Marketing Stack Basics” series, where we’ll go deeper on CRM best practices to make sure your leads, contacts, accounts, and opportunities are properly set up for multi-touch revenue attribution.

To learn how to get started with multi-touch revenue attribution, download our free eBook today.

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Revenue Attribution Basics: Common Multi-Touch Attribution Models (Part II)

Revenue Attribution Basics: Common Multi-Touch Attribution Models (Part II)

Getting started with multi-touch revenue attribution requires an understanding of the various approaches. There are several commonly accepted models, and your choice depends largely on your business needs and data set. At BrightFunnel, we recommend experimenting with a variety of models to determine which attribution model is the best fit for your organization. 

In our last series installment, we looked at the most common single-touch approaches to attribution, the starting point for most marketers seeking get started with attribution. In this post, we’ll focus on a range of common multi-touch models—offering the pros, cons, and example scenarios for each of the various approaches.

Before we get started, consider the following scenario*, which will be referenced throughout the “Revenue Attribution Basics” series as we examine the pros and cons of each model: 

Jane Smith from ABC Company visited your company’s booth at a conference and was scanned by your booth staff, which was then used to create a lead in your CRM. Wanting to learn more about your company, she watched a video on your website, signed up for a webinar, and ultimately downloaded an eBook before an opportunity was created for ABC Company with Jane as the Primary Contact. Eventually, after engaging with sales, ABC Company signed a deal for $20K. 

* While the average B2B buyers’ journey spans at least thirteen different touch points, for the sake of simplicity, we’re using four touches in this example. Similarly, most purchase decisions are made by a collective group of stakeholders, rather than an individual. 

Evenly-Weighted Attribution

Evenly-Weighted AttributionRevenue is attributed equally for every marketing touch.

ALSO KNOWN AS: Linear Attribution 

ABC COMPANY SCENARIO: Revenue credit for all of Jane’s interactions are split evenly among all campaigns (4 campaigns all receive credit for $5K, totaling $20K).

THE BOTTOM LINE: An improvement from single-touch, the simplicity of linear attribution makes it the most common starting point for most marketers seeking to employ multi-touch attribution. While this approach does apply credit to all touches along the buyers’ journey, it runs the risk of overvaluing lower-impact touches, which can lead to faulty assumptions about the effectiveness of a campaign. For instance, an email click-through may receive the same credit as a demo request.

Time Decay Attribution

Time Decay AttributionMore revenue credit is given for interactions that occur closer to conversion.

ABC COMPANY SCENARIO: Jane’s interaction closest to the point of conversion—downloading your eBook—receives the most credit. All prior touches receive less and less, the farther back in history they are from the conversion event.

THE BOTTOM LINE: The core premise of the time decay model is that the closer a touch point is to conversion, the more it should receive. As respected author and Google Digital Marketing Evangelist, Avinash Kaushik, puts it: “If early touchpoints were so magnificent, why didn’t they convert?”

To learn more about the benefits of multi-touch revenue attribution, download our new eBook now.

Position-Based Attribution

Position-Based AttributionGreater revenue credit is given to specific touches in the cycle, typically the first and last touches.

ALSO KNOWN AS: U-Shaped Attribution, 40-20-40 Mode

ABC COMPANY SCENARIO: Jane’s first and last interactions receive the majority of credit ($16K total), while the remainder of credit ($4K) is divided among mid-funnel activity.

THE BOTTOM LINE: In this example, a position-based model generally attributes 40% of credit to the first and last touches, and distributes the remaining 20% evenly amongst mid-funnel interactions. These percentages, of course, can be adjusted in the process of finding the model that makes the most sense with your programming. Position-based attribution offers an interesting multi-touch option for marketers who want to emphasize lead generation and last touch events, without discounting mid-funnel nurture activity.

Interaction-Based Attribution

Interaction-Based AttributionMore emphasis is placed on touches that indicate deeper engagement.

ABC COMPANY SCENARIO: Because you’ve historically seen that prospects who’ve engaged with webinars and eBooks are more likely to convert, more revenue ($8K and $6K, respectively) is attributed to these events than a conference or video ($4K and $2K). Credit is disbursed accordingly among all of Jane’s interactions. 

THE BOTTOM LINE: A custom interaction-based attribution model relies on historical analysis to apply different weights to varying interactions. The biggest danger with interaction-based models is that they can often be subjective, and marketers must put considerable thought into which types of user behaviors are most valuable. Ideally, these decisions are informed by historical behavioral patterns and, because of this, it’s strongly recommended that you first experiment with models that don’t require gut-based inputs—first, last, linear, and time decay—in order to identify behavioral trends, before layering in other factors that are important to your business. 

Have you seen success with multi-touch attribution? Stay tuned for the next installment of our “Revenue Attribution Basics” series to learn more about how machine-learning algorithms use scientific and proprietary algorithms to statistically determine appropriate credit.

To learn how to get started with multi-touch revenue attribution, download our free eBook today.

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Introducing Revenue Waterfall™: Full-Funnel Analytics for B2B Demand Generation

Introducing Revenue Waterfall™: Full-Funnel Analytics for B2B Demand Generation

Today marks another exciting milestone for BrightFunnel as we were pleased to announce the launch of Revenue Waterfall™ at The Marketo Marketing Nation Summit. The new offering automates the tracking of stage progression across demand generation efforts, extending the core BrightFunnel platform—multi-touch revenue attribution and campaign performance insights—and furthers the company’s mission to connect marketing spend to revenue results.

Revenue Waterfall is available immediately in North America, and is designed for B2B organizations who want to better align sales and marketing efforts, and who have implemented a multi-stage lead-to-revenue process, such as the SiriusDecisions Demand Waterfall. Unlike alternative approaches to rigorous funnel analysis, such as using BI solutions, Revenue Waterfall is seamless to set up and configure, offering value in days, not months, and leverages existing investments in CRM (such as Salesforce.com) and Marketing Automation (such as Marketo, Eloqua, Hubspot and Pardot).

Features of the new product include:

  • Unified Sales and Marketing Funnel
  • Automated Cohort Analysis
  • Dynamic Filters
  • Real-time Alerts

If you’re attending the Marketo Summit, visit us at Booth #318 to see the new tool in action. Otherwise, to learn more about the Revenue Waterfall and all of its features, read the full announcement or request a demo today!

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The Year In Review: A Quick Start Guide to Data-Driven B2B Marketing in 2015

The Year In Review: A Quick Start Guide to Data-Driven B2B Marketing in 2015

2014 was an exciting year to be a marketer. The ever-increasing volume and availability of data gave way to substantial changes in the way B2B marketers analyze and optimize their marketing activity. Marketing leaders embraced the data at their fingertips, using it to understand what’s working, prove ROI, and get a grip on marketing-generated revenue.

We’ve tracked the pivotal advancements over the past year, adding our own commentary and tips along the way. To help you get a jumpstart on the coming year, we’re pleased to recap of the top B2B marketing trends (and related reading) from 2015. For a great starting point, check out the six strategic themes that B2B CMOs must address in 2015, and use the following guide for more comprehensive coverage of the leading trends in data-driven marketing. In 2015…

Marketers embraced a data-driven culture.

In 2014, marketers truly embraced big data, implementing new roles (Marketing Operations) and processes to help make smarter, data-backed decisions. Suggested reading:

This culture shift was largely supported by new technologies.

2014 saw the introduction of many new marketing analytics tools and the rise of the “marketing cloud.” Still, we quickly realized that not all marketing analytics and BI tools are created equal. Suggested reading: 

Free eBook: The Analytics Cloud Review: A Primer For B2B Marketers

Multi-touch attribution became a reality.

Supported by new technology, many marketers stopped relying on single-touch attribution—crediting a deal to only first or last touch—and adopted more thorough models, able to assign appropriate credit to every touch leading up to a sale. Suggested reading.

Proper attribution gave marketers complete visibility into their buyers’ journey and revenue waterfall.

Technology and attribution helped marketers track progress along the entire B2B buyers’ journey to prove marketing ROI, plan more intelligently, and tie marketing activity directly to revenue. Suggested reading:

Free eBook: The New B2B Buyers’ Journey: A Guide for Data-Driven Marketers

Marketing got predictive—allowing marketers to more intelligently plan, forecast, and take control of marketing.

With visibility into activity across the revenue waterfall, marketers can now accurately predict the future revenue outcomes of their activity. In doing so, CMOs can forecast exactly how much marketing-generated revenue will be generated in the coming quarter (or year), building respect and accountability throughout the entire organization. Suggested reading:

As B2B marketers ourselves, at BrightFunnel, we’re excited about the massive adoption of data-driven marketing tactics and have built our own predictive analytics platform exclusively with B2B marketers in mind. We hope that the above resources will both inform and inspire your plans for the coming year.

We invite you to reach out, should you have any questions about how you should be thinking about data-driven marketing in 2015, or if you’d like to schedule a demo of our platform. Until then, Happy New Year from everyone at BrightFunnel. Wishing you a prosperous (and data-driven) 2015!

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