How to Tackle Marketing Attribution And Forecasting: A Podcast Interview with Nadim Hossain

How to Tackle Marketing Attribution And Forecasting: A Podcast Interview with Nadim Hossain

Brightfunnel CEO and Co-Founder, Nadim Hossain, recently sat down with Leadspace Radio to discuss all things data-driven marketing, multi-touch attribution, and predictive B2B analytics and reporting.

In the podcast, Nadim covers all the big (and often quite geeky) questions about marketing attribution and forcasting. Every data-driven marketer agonizes over this but it’s critical to get it right to build an effective, optimized marketing machine. Nadim dives into:

  • The pros and cons of the different types of marketing attribution (first touch, last touch, multi-touch, etc.)
  • When is a company ready for multi-touch attribution?
  • The biggest mistakes marketers make with attribution
  • How does this fit with Account-Based Marketing initiatives
  • And much, much more!

To hear the full podcast, and get up to speed on the latest in data-driven marketing strategy, listen now:

 

B2B Marketing Stack Basics: Salesforce 201— Intro To Campaign Management

B2B Marketing Stack Basics: Salesforce 201— Intro To Campaign Management

In our “B2B Marketing Stack Basics” series, we review the technology building blocks of a winning marketing stack. In our first installment, we offered an overview of CRM and Marketing Automation technologies, and how they work together. We followed that up by looking at the revenue lifecycle within Salesforce, and the primary Salesforce objects along lead conversion process.

Now that we’ve covered the basic Salesforce objects and lead conversion process, in this post we’re going to cover the most critical Salesforce objects for revenue marketers: the campaign object. Critical to tracking marketing activity, understanding how campaigns work, how to correctly track, and what you should be tracking are all critical to proper multi-touch revenue attribution.

To start, a campaign can be defined as any marketing initiative with the goal of driving leads and revenue. When a lead or contact interacts with one of your campaigns, they’re associated with a campaign in one of four ways:

  1. Manual Addition through Salesforce
  2. List Upload (e.g. a comma-separated file exported from your webinar software)
  3. Web-To-Lead (input from a web form directly through the Salesforce API)
  4. Marketing Automation Software (automatically synced) 

Let’s say, for example, you’re running multiple campaigns around a major conference. You would create a campaign within Salesforce. Next, you would set up a program within your MAS, sending an email to your desired list of recipients. Your MAS will track how recipients interacted with your campaign and sync this data with your CRM.

The Salesforce campaign record contains all associated leads and contacts, their individual member statuses (e.g. how they interacted with your campaign), and a number of other relevant fields. A few important campaign fields worth familiarizing yourself with include:

  • Type: A picklist of available values to categorize and segment campaigns by cohorts (e.g. email, webinar, social media, event, whitepaper, PR, etc.)
  • Actual Cost: Campaign investment. Actual cost is a critical value because it factors into ROI calculation.
  • Member Status: Tracks whether a user has been sent a campaign and their subsequent interaction. 

    Status values can be different based on campaign type and between companies. For example, an email campaign will ultimately map to “Sent” and “Responded” values. A user may be sent an email inviting them to sign up for a webinar. If they open the email and ultimately sign up for the webinar, they would be marked as “Responded” for the email campaign.

    Continuing with the example, while the prospect signed up for the webinar, in this scenario they were unable to attend. For the webinar (a separate campaign), they would not be marked as Attended (mapping to the “Responded” field in Salesforce) because they were ultimately a no show.

Successfully managed member statuses are more critical to successful attribution than most marketers give them credit for. Unfortunately, they can also the cause of breakdown in certain attribution models. 

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When proper association exists, you can view an individual’s campaign history from a lead or contact record:

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Taking things a step further, when contact roles are appropriately assigned on an opportunity record, the opportunity’s campaign influence related list shows you all campaigns that have influenced an opportunity: 

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We’ll dive deeper into the campaign object and use cases in subsequent blog bosts, but It can’t be stressed enough how fundamental proper campaign tracking and management is to revenue attribution. As contact roles are critical to Sales, campaigns are critical to Marketing, and the key to accurately tracking, analyzing, and reporting on marketing-generated revenue.

Now that we’re on the same page with Salesforce objects and how they’re used, the next step is to dig into the role of campaigns within SFDC. In the next post of our “B2B Marketing Stack Basics” series, we’ll cover campaign management best practices within Salesforce, and offer tips to ensure that you’re well set up for proper B2B Marketing Attribution.

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

B2B Marketing Stack Basics: Salesforce 101 — Leads, Contacts, Accounts, and Opportunities

B2B Marketing Stack Basics: Salesforce 101 — Leads, Contacts, Accounts, and Opportunities

While lead lifecycle processes vary between organizations, there is usually some threshold that determines whether 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 a future post), 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).

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

In our “B2B Marketing Stack Basics” series, we’ll review the technology building blocks of a winning marketing stack, and the ins and outs of leading technology. In our last installment, we offered an overview of CRM and MAS technologies, and how they work together. In this post, we’ll look specifically at the revenue lifecycle within Salesforce (though the general concepts are universal). In doing so, we’ll review how Sales reps typically interact with the primary Salesforce objects in the lead conversion process.

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Leads

Everything starts with the Lead object. A lead is essentially a digital business card that contains all relevant information about a prospect, and generally falls into one of two categories:

  • Acquired: Often acquired through blind activities such as list purchases, these leads live at the very top of the funnel. While basic contact information is provided, the person has had no engagement with your brand and may be unaware that they exist in your database.

  • Inbound: Marketing-generated; triggered by an action (e.g. requested demo, attended webinar) indicating some level of intent.

A lead can enter your CRM database directly via Salesforce’s web-to-lead form on your website, through a list upload, entered manually, or after it has been qualified and scored by your marketing automation software.

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Contacts

When Sales deems a lead qualified, it can be converted into a Contact. Contacts are the individuals associated with an Account. Upon lead conversion (a CRM process typically performed by Sales), a contact is created, the lead record is locked, and the converting rep can associate it with an account or opportunity. 

Because it is possible to create a new contact without ever converting a lead, we are left depending on the sales team to follow correct processes. Duplicates are very easy to create and wreak havoc on campaign histories, causing data loss when records are improperly merged. 

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    Accounts

    An Account is an organization that is someday qualified to do business with your company. Accounts are generally defined by type (e.g. prospect, partner, customer) and the account record contains all the organization’s information that is relevant to a sale (e.g. industry, employees, annual revenue etc.).

    When converting a lead in a CRM, a rep has two options:

    • Create a new account – Intended for cases when the lead’s associated account doesn’t currently exist in Salesforce.

    • Choose an existing account – Intended for cases when the lead belongs to an account record that already exists in Salesforce.

    Aside from the default account fields, you may add customizable fields to reflect your unique sales cycle, as well.

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    To learn more about how to optimize Salesforce for multi-touch revenue attribution, download our free eBook today.

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    Opportunities

    Opportunities track pending and closed deals. Opportunity creation is optional upon lead conversion and is generally created when the characteristics of the account (e.g. challenges, authority, budget) indicate that there is potential for a revenue-generating event. Opportunities can also be created independently of the lead conversion process.

    Opportunities contain a number of fields designed to help track pending deal status. As it relates to revenue attribution, the following fields are worth familiarizing yourself with:

    • Amount: The estimated total sale amount. Amount is critical to sales forecasting and a key component of accurately attributing pipeline to marketing.

    • Close Date: When the account owner expects they’ll close the opportunity. 

    • Primary Campaign Source: Name of the campaign responsible for generating the opportunity.

    • Stage: Stages often vary between different companies’ sales processes, but an example opportunity stage progression might be:

    Qualification > Evaluation > Benefit/Cost Analysis > Verbal Commitment > Closed/Won OR Closed/Lost

    The goal of any opportunity is ultimately to set the stage field to “Closed/Won,” indicative that an agreement has been reached and contract signed. 

    The opportunity record also tracks the contacts of all relevant influencers in a deal. The Contact Role field indicates the role an influencer plays in the evaluation process, and a single contact can be assigned as “Primary” within an opportunity record. 

    Unfortunately, Salesforce does not require that opportunities have associated contact records. As a result, contact role assignment is a manual process that often breaks down within organizations. Correct contact role assignment is critical to using Salesforce’s default attribution methods, and incomplete records are one of the top hurdles preventing marketers from attribution success. The reason? Opportunity records contain revenue (sales) data and contact records contain campaign (marketing) data. When contacts are not properly associated to an opportunity, it’s impossible to make direct links between marketing and revenue using Salesforce alone.

    Many organizations attempt to address this gap by mandating that their reps associate contacts in order to create opportunities. While this ensures that at least one contact exists, it does not address the issue that there are usually 4-5 influencers on every deal—and some of these players may not even be known to account exec. If the AE only associates one out of every four contact records, 75% of your touches become invisible.

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    Now that we’re on the same page with Salesforce objects and how they’re used, the next step is to dig into the role of campaigns within SFDC. In the next post of our “B2B Marketing Stack Basics” series, we’ll cover campaign management best practices within Salesforce, and offer tips to ensure that you’re well set up for proper B2B Marketing Attribution.

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

    Oracle Eloqua Analytics Reviews Roundup: Reporting Overview

    Oracle Eloqua Analytics Reviews Roundup: Reporting Overview

    The Marketing technology landscape is vast and varied. While marketers today benefit from this endless array of choices, evaluating why one solution may be superior to another is a commonly faced challenge. With our “Analytics Reviews Round-Up” series, we’re here to help—scouring the web to understand what real customers have to say about leading technologies’ analytics offerings to help you determine whether they’re right for you.

    Marketing automation sits at the foundation of any B2B marketer’s stack. In our last series post, we covered Marketo’s Revenue Cycle Analytics (RCA) solution. We reviewed what users loved, hated, and wanted to see from the marketing automation solution’s (MAS) reporting functionality. In today’s installment, we’ll take a look at another leading MAS, going deep on Oracle Eloqua’s analytics and reporting functionality.

    Eloqua Analytics Overview

    Eloqua is a leading provider of marketing automation and revenue performance management software that helps ensure every component of marketing works harder and more efficiently to drive revenue. Companies across a wide range of industries rely on Eloqua’s cloud-based software, professional services and education programs to help them automate marketing across channels, target and nurture prospects, and deliver highly qualified leads. Purchased by Oracle, in 2013, Eloqua’s software is now the centerpiece of the Oracle Marketing Cloud. 

    In this roundup, we’ll focus specifically on the reporting and analytics functionality offered by Eloqua. As it relates to other components of the solution—campaign management, email design and creation, and nurture/lead scoring—we invite you to investigate for yourself, as Eloqua has amassed legions of loyal fans.

    Pros of Eloqua Analytics

    Great for basic reporting:

    “With Eloqua 10 you have a very good reporting tool covering all activities within Eloqua. With the add-on can you even customize your own reports and adapt it to your needs.Verified Reviewer

    “Hierarchy of information for a campaign [is a pro of Eloqua’s]. The way you can see in the campaign the different emails, landing pages, forms, etc. and the basics of how they are performing is really great. It’s also easy to keep organized and make sure everything is being linked to the correct campaign.” Verified Reviewer

    “The reporting is straight forward and can be exported to Excel very easily which makes manipulating and working with the data simple.” Verified Reviewer

    Exceptional support and user community:

    “The Eloqua user community is strong and supportive. For me this is just as important as the features and functionality. Each of our roles and businesses face unique challenges; learning best practices, connecting with users and Eloqua support and staff makes doing my job significantly easier and my campaigns more successful.” Brandi S.

    “Eloqua is a strong product that can dramatically assist you with your marketing. It is supported by an extensive community of marketeers who are happy to help you and a strong partner network who will help you achieve the smallest challenge or build super advanced CRM programmes. Eloqua also have a wealth of expertise that they will happily share to support your success. The combination of these this is extremely powerful.” Mark E.

    “E10 interface, the campaign canvass and advanced lead scoring module plus the wealth of apps on the Eloqua App Cloud make Eloqua a modern marketers best weapon to score and nurture leads and deliver topline revenue to their organization. I also love the online community Topliners where other users can connect and solve problems without calling support and share new ideas to improve efforts!” Kurt W.

    Ideal for understanding performance at the lead level: 

    “Eloqua provides amazing insights into user’s online behavior. Once a prospect registers you can gain amazing insights into what content they access. You can see what emails they open; what links they click through and who forwards the messages. You can see what website pages they visit; what content they download and how often they return. Your sales team can use these insights to make smarter calls. And your marketing team can use the insights to build intelligence nurturing programs.” Steve K. 

    Cons of Eloqua Analytics

    May be too basic for some users…

    “I think Insights could be a little more intuitive as it it just a basic reporting tool.”David B.

    Reporting – The standard reporting insight is limited and lacks performance.” Frank G.

    “The insights gained from Eloqua’s reporting I find to be very 20th century. Eloqua has a tremendous opportunity to offer insights based upon analyzing the massive data it collects across multiple tenants. Why can’t it tell what time of day a particular user is most likely to open an email? Or what type of subject lines work best? Why can’t it recommend what content I should use next in a lead nurturing campaign (think Amazon product recommendations)? Shouldn’t Eloqua know that 50% of users that downloaded white paper A also watched webinar B?”Steve K.

    …without the added functionality provided by an Analyzer license.

    “Good Reporting – but the functionality of the Analyzer license should be standard.” Dan A. 

    “In order to pull reports specific to what you want outside of their canned reports you need to have an extra reporting license and training for it. The contact fields are also limited, so if you need to have hundreds of data fields recorded per contact you need to use “DataCards” and have some JavaScript experience.” Verified Reviewer

    May require an expensive training/support package:

    “I would definitely recommend Eloqua to a colleague or peer. It is very important to ensure that you have a success package that provides training and support as you get started. Additionally, I would recommend that they dive deep into the reporting to make sure they can track what they need to and that the system will provide the metrics and ROI that they will need to show for such a large investment… Reporting is difficult to use. Usually need help from Support to pull the exact information you are looking for. – Sonya H.

    “ Have dedicated resources (both time and money) for post-launch. A healthy system requires at least one full-time admin, and I would suggest a few training licenses for power-users.” Robert P.

    Doesn’t easily support multiple users:

    “Reporting engine (Insights) can be slow and cumbersome to use. Some reports that seem simple in concept are difficult to create. Also doesn’t easily support multiple report administrators.” Ryan S.

    In Conclusion

    Looking holistically at reviews of Eloqua, most marketers agree that the automation platform’s core capabilities are best-of-breed and an indispensable part of their marketing tech quiver. With top-notch support and an engaged user community, issues are quickly resolved and collaboration is key part of why customers love the platform so much. When it comes to reporting, Eloqua does a great job at the basics to help keep users organized and understand how individual campaign elements are performing (e.g. emails, landing pages, forms, etc.). Eloqua also provides valuable insight into the behavior of individuals (or leads) along the path to sale. 

    For users requiring a more advanced reporting solution, Eloqua’s reporting may leave something to be desired. While the basic analytics offering can be manually manipulated with spreadsheets, most users recommend an Analyzer license and/or dedicated resources to allow for report customization beyond the out-of-the-box offering. Some users noted the ability to have multiple report administrators as a limitation, as well.

    Eloqua has been proven in the market to be a powerful automation tool and amassed legions of loyal fans in the process. Data-driven marketers who require enterprise-level customization and a system that’s usable by all demand gen users—entire marketing org, sales management, sales operations—may find that Eloqua’s reporting comes up short. Marketers satisfied with basic reporting, primarily concerned with launching a proven demand generation machine, will be very pleased with the Oracle Eloqua platform.

    Business Intelligence (BI) & Multi-Touch Attribution Explained: A Guide For B2B Marketers

    Business Intelligence (BI) & Multi-Touch Attribution Explained: A Guide For B2B Marketers

    There are two predominant technology categories able to accurately report on revenue attribution; Marketing Revenue Intelligence (MRI) and Business Intelligence (BI). Both solutions mine big data and are able to help get past the limitations presented by CRMs (e.g. Salesforce) and Marketing Automation Systems (e.g. Marketo, Oracle Eloqua, Pardot). 

    Velocity and conversion rates of leads across time are critical factors in quantifying the B2B buyers’ journey, and something that Intelligence technologies can help solve. While Salesforce can show you how many net new leads and opportunities were acquired in a given month, it cannot report on lead progression through the funnel. Because of the way that Salesforce tracks data—not recording snapshots of lead data over time—it does not report on lead progress, or show marketers which touches influenced stage-by-stage conversions.

    For example, suppose a webinar generated 250 leads in January 2015 and of those, 150 were MQLs. When analyzing this campaign in January, it would accurately report the 150 MQLs you had. In the months that follow, let’s say that 80 of the 150 MQLs become SQLs. Now, when you run January’s report on the same webinar, it would list 70 influenced MQLs, neglecting the 80 that moved forward

    Because of these limitations, storing historical snapshots of lead status across all stages is critical. Without this historical information, attribution becomes impossible; undoubtedly why so few technology companies are attempting to solve for it. 

    Intro to Business Intelligence Platform Attribution

    biscreenshot2Business Intelligence or BI describes broad category of applications and tools, designed to transform raw data into useful information. Early BI systems emerged in the 1960s and their development and adoption grew exponentially until the 1980s. Today there are dozens of solutions on the market, ranging from large, in-house enterprise installations, to lightweight cloud-based tools. Modern tools boast sexier UIs and better visualizations, but their underlying architectures have changed very little in the past thirty years. 

    BI technologies are capable of processing large amounts of data and the goal of BI is to allow for the easy interpretation of these large volumes. BI can be used to support a wide range of business decisions ranging from operational to strategic, and is most effectively used cross-departmentally. 

    When used correctly, a BI tool pulls all critical company metrics into a data warehouse (or DWH). The DWH is a literally a store that contains all line items, large and small, from across the organization. This data is crunched and analyzed to report on every aspect of business health. 

    WHAT IS A DATA WAREHOUSE?  A data warehouse (DW or DWH), also known as an enterprise data warehouse (EDW), is a system used for reporting and data analysis. DWs are central repositories of integrated data from one or more disparate sources. 

    To learn more about multi-touch revenue attribution, download our new eBook today.

    BI tools integrate with finance, ERP, CRM, marketing automation, help desk tools and literally any business critical silo. Most solutions use an ETL layer to extract the data. ETL (Extract, Transform and Load) is a series of processes that pulls the data in from each source, standardizes it and pushes it into the data warehouse. 

    genericbi3Once the data is in the DWH, creating reports is a manual and highly technical process. While vendors typically provide some templates to get you started, due to the cumbersome, IT-heavy nature of traditional BI platforms, building out revenue attribution typically requires an analyst to create custom dashboards. Most companies hire dedicated IT employees and data analysts to oversee BI modeling, and reporting. 

    Today, a new school of BI tools has emerged, characterized by elegant UIs that are making the tools increasingly accessible. While it’s certainly possible for organizations to derive function-specific insights with modern BI, this level of custom modeling still generally needs to be built from the ground up.

    Benefits of Business Intelligence for Attribution

    If you work for an enterprise looking to solve a bigger business analytics problem, using BI for your metrics may make sense. For example, if you are a large manufacturing company with a complex supply chain, inventory controls, an RMA department and thin margins, BI is critical to pulling data out of silos and making it actionable. 

    This may also be the case if you already have a BI solution in place and your only additional cost is that of customizing and maintaining that solution to maintain your needs as a marketer. If the data warehouse is in place already, you have the ability to rely on “one source of the truth” that everyone in your company can align around. 

    When paired with the right dedicated team and modeling, BI software can provide data-savvy enterprises with a competitive market advantage and long-term stability.

    Drawbacks of Business Intelligence for Attribution

    Using BI for revenue attribution is a long way from being turn-key. BI implementations can take months or even years. BI systems require heavy overhead which tends to be overkill for marketers who already have CRM and marketing automation in place.

    If your organization is already using BI, you will still need to dedicate a resource to building your reports. If you do have someone in house to do it, chances are slim that they are marketing experts, and it’s unlikely that they’ll be able to provide guidance on how to approach marketing attribution. Alternately, consultants and agencies exist that specialize in this, but engagements are pricey and often start with painful data-cleansing initiatives.

    While revenue attribution is possible through BI, we recommend against applying a one-size-fits-all-business-needs patch. Instead, it’s imperative that marketers seek a solution tailored to the unique needs of our pain points.

    Have you had success using BI for multi-touch attribution? Let us know in the comments.

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

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