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.

Marketo Analytics Reviews Roundup: Revenue Cycle Analytics (RCA)

Marketo Analytics Reviews Roundup: Revenue Cycle Analytics (RCA)

Today’s marketing technology landscape lists nearly 2,000 vendors across 40+ categories—twice as many companies compared to just last year. What’s more, all of these technologies are producing massive amounts of data at a rapid clip. While many technologies offer built-in analytics, deriving insights from this data can be a harrowing process. Beyond determining which technology is right for their needs, CMOs must consider whether a technology’s analytics will answer the questions that matter to their business. But how can you possibly know before using a product? Before it’s too late?

We’re here to help. In our new “Analytics Reviews Roundup” series, we’ll examine the analytics and reporting functionality of leading marketing technology platforms. We do the heavy lifting for you—scouring reviews from across the web—and summarize what users most often loved (and hated) about a technology’s analytics package.

In our first installment, we’ll focus on one of the building blocks of any B2B stack—marketing automation—and review Marketo’s Revenue Cycle Analytics (RCA).

Marketo Analytics Overview

Marketo is a powerful B2B marketing automation solution that helps Marketing and Sales professionals drive revenue and improve marketing accountability. It comes standard with basic analytics features, and customers have the ability to purchase the Marketo Revenue Cycle Analytics (RCA) module at additional cost.  In this roundup, we’ll focus on Marketo’s Revenue Cycle Analytics product.

Pros of Marketo Analytics

Extremely powerful:

“We were an early adopter of Revenue Cycle Analytics. It is a very powerful tool but you have to be prepared to invest significant time in setting it up. In particular, you’ll need to blueprint out a “workflow” for your marketing processes. This was a pretty involved undertaking but it was well worth it for us – after a couple of months our sales team dropped a lot less leads (a problem for many companies). Once you get it humming, the ROI is almost immediate. However be aware that you’ll need an expert on board to maintain it. Even small rule changes can result in leads getting stuck somewhere in your pipeline stages. The good news though is that these are almost always easy to debug – as long as you’re paying attention. In short, it’s a great investment as long as you’re serious about adopting it!” Rich S.

“RCA contains almost every slice and view of data you could want. However, it takes a lot of little steps and alignment with the rest of the Marketo program to take full advantage of its capabilites. There are many out of the box reports, but it will take time to get it the way you want.” Mike B.

Exceptional training and support:

“Of all the marketing automation tools that I have used – Marketo is the easiest to use. With the best support that I have seen. Something inevitably will always go wrong, the important thing is partnering with a vendor that responds quickly to your inquiries and goes above and beyond to help resolve the problem.” Sharla E.

“We use these numbers multiple times a week in order to accurately determine sales cycle time and accurate flow numbers. This is intergral in how we assess and value what we are doing and how effective our sales team is doing. Without these numbers we would be hard pressed to accurately determine how efficient our sales process is and how to make changes in order to sell better to our potential clients. While the tool does take some time to set up and can be convoluted at times, the value of it and the training/support from Marketo makes everything incredibly easy to use after it is all said and done. Like I said, this is a pertinent part of reporting our sales efficiency and we would not be bale to do without it as a sales team here at my company.” – Courtney G.

Ideal for understanding individual lead and campaign performance: 

“When it comes to looking at a single lead and understanding their behavior, Marketo does a great job; Same with a single campaign. They provide interesting insights into current performance of campaigns and emails, but it’s hard to get an idea of Month over Month / Year over Year performance. You really have to dig into the data and pull it out to get a good feel for what’s going on long term.” Andy C.

Cons of Marketo Analytics

Not all reports are user/executive friendly:

“The built in analytics have some good reports, but if you want something in a different structure than they offer, you have to be really creative pulling it together. I’m usually able to get the reports I want from a combination of smart lists, Marketo reports and SFDC reports, but I would love to have added functionality in Marketo for reporting.”Anna B.

“Don’t like that you can’t send direct links to reports created within RCA and it is not easily sharable with executives. Although there is a great deal of information that you can obtain, the UI is not user friendly.” Leah G.

May need to be supplemented with CRM reporting:

“There are restrictions on how you can report — for example, you can’t report on both program members/success and program ROI in the same report. It seems very logical to want to view a program’s cost, number of members, opportunities created, number closed-won, and revenue all in one report. You also need to be using programs costs to actually be able to even report on a program. If you’re not already using this functionality, it’s quite time consuming to go through each program and add it in.”Ashley C.

“I often times need to continue to build my reports in my CRM, despite all of the data existing in Marketo as well.” ­Marcie P.

In Conclusion

Many marketers agree that Marketo’s core automation capabilities are unmatched and their analytics package has a growing fanbase. Those willing to invest the time upfront will benefit most from RCA because, once set up, it can be an extremely powerful tool for gauging marketing performance. Thankfully, Marketo offers exceptional training and support to help customize integration and is known for going above and beyond to help users resolve issues as they arise. In the right hands, Marketo’s RCA is a strong reporting option for Sales and Marketing professionals seeking to better understand individual lead or campaign performance.

Despite RCA being an incredible tool, marketers who wish to report on how all campaigns (or cohorts) are influencing all pipeline may need to look elsewhere at this time.  While RCA is fairly customizable, reviewers agree that pulling reports beyond what’s available out-of-the-box may require in-house expertise or manual merging of reports with your CRM. Those seeking a truly self-service attribution and forecasting solution—suited for executives and a range of marketing users—should consider seeking out specialized reporting solutions that cater to their specific needs.

The Truth About Marketo RCA and Multi-Touch Attribution

The Truth About Marketo RCA and Multi-Touch Attribution

There’s no doubt that revenue attribution is a hot topic these days. Countless blog posts and articles discussing the value of multi-touch attribution can be found on the websites of all the major players in marketing tech—especially those selling marketing automation. Most MAS systems have built in analytics, and promise a lot. We’ve found that while they are useful in some scenarios, they often fall short when it comes to tying spend to revenue. In this post, we’ll examine how Marketo approaches attribution in detail.

How Marketo Approaches Attribution

Marketo customers have the ability to purchase the Marketo Revenue Cycle Analytics (RCA) module at additional cost. RCA does, indeed, purport to provide ROI analysis for marketing programs, and includes views dedicated to multi-touch attribution. Unfortunately, architectural limitations leave Marketo unable to tie ROI reporting and campaign influence patterns together.

Marketo RCA and Multi-Touch AttributionMarketo’s Program Analyzer is their tool for reporting on ROI. While the graphics are more attractive than what Salesforce offers in their Campaign ROI reports, the insights are only slightly better. The axes are selectable with the drop downs on the right.

For a deep dive into Marketo RCA and Multi-Touch Attribution, check out our eBook.

It’s a good start, at describing ROI, but the data offered here is fairly limited and doesn’t provide insight into velocity. Like Salesforce, Marketo RCA is dependent on properly associated contact roles, a challenge for many organizations. Most sales reps will attach a single contact (if any) to an opportunity and move on. In reality, there are usually numerous stakeholders influencing any considerable B2B purchase decision. Given the complexity of most enterprise sales, there may be influencers engaging with your content who are completely unknown to the account rep. On average, we see 4-5 people involved in a B2B buying cycle, with only 1 contact role is attached to the opportunity. This means that more than 80% of marketing influencers are not being attributed to a sale. Without properly associated contact roles,  your chances of full attribution are minimal.

Furthermore, while it’s certainly valuable to understand how past campaigns have performed, Marketo is not able to report beyond historical data or predict how campaigns will continue to perform over time.

Marketo RCA and Multi-Touch AttributionTo more carefully analyze the buyers’ journey, Marketo offers their Opportunity Influence Analyzer, allowing users to see individual campaigns that have touched an opportunity. Sadly, it’s little more than a prettier visualization of Salesforce’s Campaign Influence report. While you can overlay several opportunities to help you eyeball patterns, there is no aggregate reporting available. For example, you would not be able to pull all the closed/won reports for EMEA mid-market business. Opportunity Influence Analyzer offers only a one-opportunity-at-a-time view and does not include ROI measurements.

The ability to report on how all campaigns (or cohorts) are influencing all pipeline is the critical missing component from Marketo’s RCA. Because of its dependency on properly associated contact roles, RCA is unable to show marketer how collective campaigns are influencing revenue, and therefore cannot guide decisions.

“In an environment where the focus for companies is mostly on driving growth, the ultimate criterion for marketing effectiveness is how your marketing programs are influencing pipeline and revenue. Paradoxically, many Marketo users don’t set themselves up initially to be able to report on this.”

— Kashmira Bakshi, Principal at ROI Targets and Former Sr. Manager, Professional Services at Marketo

For a deep dive into Marketo RCA and Multi-Touch Attribution, check out our eBook.

The Importance of Multi-Touch Revenue Attribution for B2B

The Importance of Multi-Touch Revenue Attribution for B2B

If you’re reading this, you’re likely well aware of Marketing’s increased responsibility for today’s B2B sales cycle. As marketers, we know that our prospects prefer to research and evaluate on their own terms, waiting as long as possible to engage with Sales. (I am certainly guilty of that too!) With that in mind, the modern B2B CMO invests heavily in content creation and channels designed to help prospects self-educate until the very end—the point at which they’re ready to discuss pricing. While it wasn’t so long ago that Marketing was primarily a creative function and Sales owned the bottom line, as Marketing’s ownership of the buyers’ journey increases, so does our responsibility to attribute marketing activity to organization-wide objectives.

The Definitive Guide to Multi-Touch Revenue Attribution

This shift in accountability has also meant that we’re dealing with larger budgets than ever. If
Marketing is to own more than 75% of the sales cycle
, then it makes sense to shift focus (and spend) higher in the funnel. Increased investments, the dominance of trackable, digital marketing tools, and the reliance on marketing to convert pipeline, means CMOs are experiencing more Board-level accountability than ever before.

In 2014/2015, almost 70% of enterprise organizations anticipate an increase in marketing budgets above the rate of inflation, with a predicted average increase of 14%.
Kapost

Data-driven marketing is becoming imperative. No longer simply a theory discussed by bloggers and analysts, this new approach is defined by its focus on employing data to deliver greater value to the business. Accountability, however, is not the only factor driving its adoption. According to Forbes, data-driven marketing leaders are almost three times more likely to have increased revenues. For the data-driven organization, tying campaign spend to revenue becomes a critical requirement.

While marketers are collecting more data, the problem is that most are still unable to use that data to surface visibility into Marketing’s impact on sales. Many marketing technologies (e.g. customer relationship management, marketing automation systems, content curation tools, etc.) offer plenty of TOFu (Top Of Funnel) reporting, yet still provide only simple campaign influence metrics. The status quo is no longer sufficient. Even if CMOs know something about the first touch or last, the majority are blind when it comes to 80% of their sales cycle.

The key to shedding light on this dark spot is multi-touch revenue attribution—the ability to measure and evaluate performance across every touch point in the buying process. Multi-touch attribution is necessary for marketers to calculate true ROI and, in turn, identify what’s working, effectively plan and forecast revenue, and take control of Marketing.

To learn more about attribution, download

The Definitive Guide to Revenue Attribution.

The Definitive Guide to Multi-Touch Revenue Attribution

Understanding B2B Buyers’ Journeys and Where Salesforce Falls Short

When we think about B2B buyers’ journeys, it’s easy to assume there is one linear path. As marketers, it would make our lives easier if our audience consumed content in a prescribed path that clearly maps to our funnel stages. I’ve even been through corporate exercises where we drew our buyers’ journey on a white board and then stuck Post-its with the titles of all of our content on the stages where we thought it belonged. While that may be a great exercise for discovering gaps, real buyers are not that predictable.

I describe the B2B buyers’ journeys as looking much more like a Chutes and Ladders game. Each player takes a different path up and down the board until they get to the end—and the fact that there are multiple players is extremely important. You can expect there to be at least four to five influencers on any B2B decision, and that increases as price tags get larger. Unlike a Chutes and Ladders game, you may not even know who they all are. Influencers who never interact with your sales reps, may be evaluating your product behind the scenes.

So now that we’ve taken away the notion of a predictable linear path to sale, how do we know what’s actually happening between the beginning and end of a deal… and why do we care?

It’s critical to know the ROI of your programs to make intelligent, data-driven decisions about your marketing spend. If you cannot map your entire funnel, you do not know the impact of mid-funnel touches; and those are often pivot points to conversions.

To calculate ROI, most of us go to our CRM because that’s where we store most of our business-critical information. Unfortunately, Salesforce leaves Marketers blind to the majority of the funnel. It can only report on the beginning or end. While Salesforce attempts to provide campaign ROI metrics, it only gives insight on first and last touch. Let’s look closely at how Salesforce handles attribution.

Salesforce has two approaches to attributing revenue. The first is through lead source and the second is through the Primary Campaign Source field (which contributes to the Campaign Influence views). Both are single-touch models, meaning all revenue or pipeline get attributed to only one activity, regardless of the number of campaigns involved in the sale. In fact, more than 75% of touches are not being attributed to sales.

The Definitive Guide to Multi-Touch Revenue Attribution

Lead Source

Many marketers rely on the Lead Source field to track a prospect’s initial interaction, which overemphasizes lead generation activity and ignores everything beyond first marketing touch. Furthermore, lead source generally only provides visibility into the broad channel from which a lead was sourced, devoid of any insights into the specifics that influenced a deal.

The lack of flexibility around using lead source to provide attribution causes companies who rely on it to jump through all kinds of hoops. Marketers begin propagating the lead views with custom fields like “lead source original,” and “lead source description” in order to map whatever paths their prospects are taking. This creates all sorts of clutter and never quite works as expected.

In addition to the standard challenges presented by first touch attribution—giving 100% credit not even to a specific campaign (e.g. “Dreamforce 2015”), but to a broad category (“Events — Live”)—attribution by lead source presents other data quality challenges including lack of insight into specific campaign/offer performance or overwriting records, destroying information in the process.

Primary Campaign Source

Primary Campaign Source tracks only a lead’s last interaction prior to conversion. Similar to lead source attribution, primary campaign source disproportionately allocates credit to the most recent pre-conversion event, ignoring all prior touches. Also similar to lead source, the primary campaign source field is editable by default, introducing potential threats to data integrity.

In the case that an opportunity is created independently of the standard lead conversion process—a lead is converted, creating a contact, an account, and an opportunity— primary campaign source is not assigned. Opportunities do not require association with contact roles and, even in the case that an opportunity owner adds a contact (or multiple contacts) after the fact, primary primary source is not assigned, putting the responsibility in the hands of a sales rep to manually assign primary campaign source.

Finally, primary campaign source can erroneously assume that because a lead is associated with a campaign, that the campaign has been influential. If a lead is a campaign member but never responded—or the campaign exists in Salesforce but has yet to start—that campaign can still be counted as primary campaign source.

In addition to using a single-touch attribution model, ignoring all touches but the last—primary campaign source leaves too much room for error. Because only one contact role is usually associated to an account (when there should be many), and only one touch for that contact gets counted (regardless of whether it’s valid), we estimate that primary campaign source is invalid 95% of the time.

Campaign Influence

Campaign influence is a standard Salesforce feature that allows users to automatically (or manually) associate multiple influential campaigns to a single opportunity. When a contact role is added to an opportunity, all of that contact’s campaign memberships are then listed under the campaign influence list within the opportunity record, including campaign that are created after the opportunity is created.

From the campaign influence list, you also have the optional ability to designate any influential campaign as the primary campaign source, which attributes 100% of the revenue from that opportunity to the designated campaign, should you win that opportunity. If you don’t win the opportunity, the relationship will still be recorded on the campaign record so you can see how many opportunities in total (won or lost) were influenced by that campaign.

Incomplete data: Missing Contacts on Opportunities

Salesforce does not require contacts on opportunities. When opportunity creation falls outside of the standard Salesforce lead conversion flow, association gaps are created that remove any hope for truly meaningful attribution. Opportunity owners (Sales) are simply not focused on data entry–nor do we want them to be! But the solution isn’t necessarily to impose more processes on your reps. That can backfire. Besides, you want your reps selling, not spending their time following draconian data capture rules.

Contact roles are often neglected.

Most sales reps will attach a single contact (if any) to an opportunity and move on. In reality, there are usually numerous stakeholders influencing any considerable B2B purchase decision. Given the complexity of most enterprise sales, there may be influencers engaging with your content who are completely unknown to the account rep. On average, we see four to five people involved in a B2B buying cycle, with only one contact role is attached to the opportunity. This is why more than 75% of marketing touches are not being attributed to a sale.

Campaign influence too often projects an incomplete picture of marketing-generated revenue that can lead to faulty assumptions, grossly incorrect reporting, and ultimately, dangerous, misguided investment decisions.

The Bottom Line

Your CRM should be a critical player in your technology stack, but too many people fall into the trap of trying to use it in ways it was not designed to function. Ultimately, Salesforce is a Sales tool—heavily reliant on people to ensure data quality. Every organization uses Salesforce differently, which presents challenges that break attribution. There are simply too many points of failure to rely on Salesforce alone when trying to attribute marketing to revenue; and moreover, trying to customize Salesforce to do attribution—through custom fields, draconian sales processes, etc.—can often backfire. Most importantly, Salesforce only provides visibility into either first or last touch.

I think the term, “the buyers’ journey,” is a misnomer, we should be talking about buyers’ journeys; as there is not just one journey but several. Like that Chutes and Ladders game, each sale involves multiple players, all following different paths to reach the end. The reason to map them is so that you can understand the impact of your programs, regardless of where they fall along the path to sale. Tools like Salesforce that can only show you single touch, and leave you blind to 75% of the influencers in any deal, are unable to tie spend back to revenue. This can only be accomplished with multi-touch revenue attribution.

Interested learning more about Salesforce attribution? Download
The Definitive Guide to Multi-Touch Revenue Attribution
.

The Definitive Guide to Multi-Touch Revenue Attribution

Beyond Vanity Metrics:  5 Key B2B Metrics You’re Getting Wrong (And How to Nail Them)

Beyond Vanity Metrics: 5 Key B2B Metrics You’re Getting Wrong (And How to Nail Them)

Reporting on vanity metrics can be very seductive for B2B marketers. By trade, we like painting pretty pictures. The reality is that if a company is growing, chart lines will naturally move up and to the right. While it’s useful to monitor trending data on things like web hits and database growth, those numbers are seldom actionable, give little insight on quality and don’t paint a real picture on the impact of your team’s efforts.

I’m calling on my fellow marketers to step up and make their KPIs actionable and tied to revenue. To help get the conversation going, I’ve provided some examples of marketing activities you’re probably measuring and ways to rethink those metrics which will allow you to fully understand your marketing ROI.

I. Social Media

Wrong: Quantity of followers and likes

I hate to break it to you, but Twitter followers and Facebook likes have absolutely no bearing on your bottom line. There, I said it! If you have any more than a handful of Twitter followers, chances are that many are bots or brands that want to sell to you, not prospects trying to “engage with your brand.” As for Facebook likes, clicking that ubiquitous thumbs-up doesn’t indicate someone is going to buy from you. Let’s all agree to give this one a rest, once and for all.

Getting Better: Conversions or engagement from social

A better way to tell if your social media tactics are successful is to measure converting traffic from social sources. How many people from Twitter clicked-thru and filled out a form, or showed significant engagement (e.g. 4 page views or more)?

Nailing It: ROI attributed to social campaigns

Use a multi-touch attribution model to learn the ROI of social campaigns and compare that to other channels.

II. Form Completions

Wrong: Net new leads from form completions

Form completions is very poor buying signal. With a few exceptions, like a demo request, someone filling out a form on your website is not saying they want to buy your product; they’re saying they’re interested in the content behind the form. Furthermore, straight-up form completions tell you nothing about the quality of the lead coming in.

Getting Better: SQLs sourced by forms

Reporting on how many SQLs came through web forms shows, that not only are you attracting qualified leads, but those people are ready to have a conversation with someone in your organization.

Nailing It: Pipeline touched by web forms

Find out how much pipeline was touched by your webforms at any stage in the funnel. This requires using multi-touch attribution to understand your demand waterfall and gives full visibility to not only how your web forms are sourcing new leads, but how they are effecting prospects already on your buyers’ journey.

III. Events

Wrong: Badges Scanned

Events have a horrible reputation for being expensive and providing poor ROI. Why? Because nearly every marketing department is measuring them by the number of badges scanned, and at best, opportunities sourced from events. If this is your metric, you’ll be disappointed when half your leads wind up being little old ladies who took the free expo pass to collect swag.

Getting Better: Prospect meetings during event

Report on how many meetings with existing prospects your sales team attends during the event.

Nailing it: Funnel progression based on event touches

Several BrightFunnel customers have proven that the real value of events is mid-funnel. Using a first-touch attribution, it’s true that events will be undervalued. I recommend measuring how many existing prospects move to the next stage in your funnel as the result of an event touch.

IV. Content Marketing

Wrong: Search engine page rank

Search rankings are a false measurement that should be banished forever. Over the past five years, Google has customized search results so much that you cannot guarantee that two people will ever see the same results. More importantly, SERPs (Search Engine Rank Page) have little impact on quantity or quality of traffic – or revenue impact for that matter. Finally, Google gives less and less keyword data in their analytics. You can no longer get a clear picture of what keywords are working.

Getting Better: Organic traffic by theme

Divide your landing pages by themes and measure which are receiving the most organic traffic. That will give you a better indication of what topics are resonating and bringing results.

Nailing it: Pipeline or revenue influenced by theme

Tag all your content and campaigns by topic. Measure these by pipeline or revenue influenced. Make decisions on what themes to invest in based on those results.

V. PPC Campaigns

Wrong: PPC campaign membership

We tend to measure the value of a PPC campaign by the number of leads it generates. By now you’re probably picking up on the theme that this tells you little about the actual ROI of that campaign.

Getting Better: Opportunities sourced by PPC

Reporting on how many opportunities were generated by your PPC campaign at least indicates quality.

Nailing It: Weighted pipeline or revenue attributed to PPC

Understand how much revenue that campaign influenced by measuring ROI using a multi-touch attribution model.

In Conclusion

While vanity metrics may make you look good at your next board meeting and may be directionally interesting, it’s time for marketers to take analytics seriously. Being data driven, not only means reporting on data, you must use the data to drive decisions that will lead to pipeline and revenue. If you don’t have visibility into marketing’s impact on sales, you’re missing a huge opportunity to truly get a handle on your campaign ROI.

Post originally published on the Radius Blog and republished with permission.

4 Marketing KPIs You’re Probably Not Tracking (But Should Be)

4 Marketing KPIs You’re Probably Not Tracking (But Should Be)

Over the past year, B2B Marketers have given a lot of lip service to the Buyers’ Journey. Armed with the insight that prospects wait as long as possible to connect with sales, we have taken up the gauntlet to create better richer, more engaging pre-sales experiences. That said, it seems surprising that so many of us are more-or-less in the dark about what’s happening mid-funnel. An understanding of your buyers’ journey is impossible to achieve if you only look at marketing influence through a single-touch lens. What’s more, without that understanding, you cannot make informed decisions and allocate spend, intelligently.

For the data-driven marketer, it’s critical that your KPIs measure the ROI of your efforts, and do so using multi-touch attribution. If you’re not sure where to start, this guide should help, by outlining four KPIs that you need to track.

I. Amount of revenue influenced by marketing.

If a sales person touches a lead, you can bet they’ll get credit for their part in closing the deal. Is your marketing team getting credit for their work? Even after sales converts a lead, we continue to help shepherd prospects along the path to sale.

We have found that on average, marketing’s influence is 3-5 times higher than what Salesforce reports using first-touch only attribution. Knowing the actual amount of marketing-influenced revenue is critical to helping you secure and protect budget.

II. Lead to Deal Lifecycle

While analysts like Forrester and Sirius have reported that Marketing is responsible for anywhere from 67-90% of the B2B buyers’ journey, every company’s sales cycle is a little different. You need to know the average amount of time and touches it takes for your leads to convert to opportunities, and for opportunities to become sales. Tracking this over time will help you learn what efforts shorten the sales cycle and where the tipping points are, so that you give your prospects the most direct path to sale possible.

III. Top Campaigns by Influence

If a friend described their month-long road trip to you by only telling you where they started or ended up, you’d be missing most of the story. Likewise, measuring campaign effectiveness by single-touch is short-sided. Mid-funnel experiences become under-valued, while others get too much credit.

Janelle Donovan, Sr. Director of Marketing for ServiceMax, reports that by measuring campaigns by influence (rather than source), they learned that in the past two years, virtually every deal won, involved 2-3 live events some time before closing. They would have never known the importance of events for warming existing leads, had they only weighted campaigns on a single-touch model. In fact, since events weren’t great at creating net-new leads, ServiceMax was considering cutting budget. Knowing your top campaigns by influence will help surface those critical mid-funnel touches, and allow you prioritize appropriately.

IV. Predicted Revenue/Pipeline

Based on past performance, can you predict how much revenue or pipeline Marketing will bring in next quarter? What will you have to spend and how will you allocate that money to ensure that you hit your targets? If you’re in danger of missing goals, can you quickly course-correct? Having a reliable prediction algorithm allows you to make informed decisions and remove the guesswork when planning out your next quarter and even year.

Conclusion

Being data-driven doesn’t just mean collecting data, it means using that data to make informed decisions. This requires reporting ROI holistically and measuring the entire buyers’ journey. Know how much revenue your team is actually responsible for. (Hint: it’s more than you think!) Know the amount of steps along the way by measuring your lead lifecycle. Know what campaigns influence the most deals, regardless of where those campaigns lie in the funnel. Have a trusted prediction model to help you plan and invest for coming quarters. Now you can identify what’s working, plan and forecast confidently, and finally take control of marketing.

This content was originally posted on Invoca’s blog and has been reposted with permission.

BrightFunnel Case Study: ServiceMax Gains Total Visibility to Marketing’s Impact on Sales

BrightFunnel Case Study: ServiceMax Gains Total Visibility to Marketing’s Impact on Sales

“Salesforce was only telling us a small portion of Marketing’s impact on sales. With BrightFunnel, we get the complete picture.”Janelle Donovan
—Janelle Donovan, Sr. Director of Marketing

The Challenge

ServiceMax helps companies like Coca Cola Enterprises and Tyco transform their field service organization to deliver fast and effective service that increases customer satisfaction and ultimately drives service revenue. As a B2B company, their marketing organization needed to be able to tie spend to revenue, but the team faced key challenges:

  • Having deeper visibility than could be provided by Salesforce.com alone.
  • Getting a complete view of marketing’s impact at every stage of the funnel;
  • Measuring campaign spends, direct impact on pipeline and revenue;

The Solution

ServiceMax turned to BrightFunnel to uncover what was happening throughout the lead lifecycle.

By connecting BrightFunnel to their CRM, ServiceMax could easily tie marketing spend to revenue and pipeline. Now actionable insights, by region or segment, were available instantly without having to run time-consuming reports and manipulate data in excel. “We relied on endless manual calculations and spreadsheets to derive campaign attribution,” said Janelle Donovan, Sr. Director of Marketing at ServiceMax, “and understanding the velocity of lead to sale was impossible to do before.”

BrightFunnel’s multi-touch campaign attribution was a big win which ultimately drove more awareness in sales on the impact of key marketing campaigns. Donovan explains that the volume of campaigns being run often creates noise within the sales organization, resulting in too many factors to push to a prospect or account at any given time. In order to break through the noise, she needed to surface specific data on the most valuable campaign types. Using BrightFunnel, Donovan’s team revealed that every closed/won deal has included at least two live touches—such as roadshows or conferences—during the buyers’ journey.

The ROI for live events was clear and the spend, justified. Not only has Donovan captured sales’ attention, the sales team is now highly motivated to get their prospects to attend, knowing that there’s a direct correlation between events attended and the likelihood to a closed deal.

The Results

BrightFunnel has allowed ServiceMax to fully understand how their marketing efforts translate to pipeline.

Understanding the velocity of lead to sale was impossible to do before.”Janelle Donovan
—Janelle Donovan, Sr. Director of Marketing
  • Every dollar spent can be mapped to campaign investments along the buyers’ journey.
  • With an understanding of which campaigns drive pipeline, they can identify revenue levers and optimize accordingly.
  • They have clarity into the middle of their funnel, including rich insights which were not possible with Salesforce alone.

“Insights from BrightFunnel will have a huge impact on our planning and budget for 2015,” says Donovan. With a lot of the guesswork taken out of creating next year’s roadmap, the ServiceMax marketing team can focus on optimizing campaigns that they know drive revenue.

To learn more, watch our video interview where ServiceMax’s Janelle Donovan discusses how BrightFunnel saved her team time and helped surface the value of live events for mid-funnel prospects.

How BrightFunnel Speaks To Marketers: 3 Must-Have Insights For B2B

How BrightFunnel Speaks To Marketers: 3 Must-Have Insights For B2B

Reporting on the actual value of marketing efforts can often be so time consuming that it doesn’t leave resources for analysis and, most importantly, the time to act on findings. Teams can spend days or weeks gathering data and building reports with heavy implications, such as determining next quarter’s MQL or pipeline goals. This effort can take time away from other high value reporting tasks—modeling multiple goal scenarios or forecasting the production of a marketing team’s current efforts. Any team spending a lot of time on reports will eventually realize that their bandwidth is restricting them from not only reaching the conclusions that matter most, but actually acting on these insights to improve marketing.

We know that reporting—particularly for B2B—can be a long and arduous task… but it doesn’t need to be. BrightFunnel was built with the goal of improving the availability of B2B marketing insights through the automation of valuable reports that may either be taking too much time to build, or may not have been built at all.

But compiling data into relevant reports is only half of the battle. Actually distilling reports into insights that marketers can understand takes more time and utilizes additional expertise (i.e. data analysts)  that often isn’t readily available as a part of in-house marketing teams. BrightFunnel helps solve this problem by automatically building the reports that help marketers connect their efforts to revenue, making it easy for teams to visualize their data, derive valuable insights, and get the answers they need to improve marketing. Simply put: BrightFunnel speaks to marketers.

The following are just a few of examples the fundamental questions that BrightFunnel answers for B2B marketers:

How active were my campaigns last quarter?

chart2

Marketing efforts can span across dozens of channels, from one-off events and promotions to ongoing ad campaigns and webinars that may run for years. But for many marketers, simply knowing their activity during a specific time period isn’t an easy report to build, as SFDC has a really tough time filtering campaigns across activity dates.

For marketers, knowing when campaigns are sourcing and touching leads shouldn’t be as large of an ask as it often is. BrightFunnel reports can be easily filtered by the attributes that matter to marketers, without using pivot tables of time-consuming manual processes.

How quickly are my leads converting to opportunities?

chart3

Understanding how quickly leads convert is crucial. When your sales team realizes how much pipeline they need to work with next quarter, knowing your historic velocity can give you insight into how much lead time you realistically need to create the pipeline necessary to meet company growth and revenue goals.

BrightFunnel allows marketers to easily view, sort, and drill into historic velocity on their own terms. Viewing how fast your leads have converted is now as simple as clicking a button.

How do my marketing channels attribute to revenue?

chart1

Gathering accurate campaign attribution data from Salesforce is tough. SFDC provides a “Primary Campaign Source” field to help alleviate some of its own attribution issues, though this field is often limited to a single-touch attribution model, which doesn’t give credit to most of the marketing efforts a team is executing on. As a result, most B2B marketers are blind for up to 80% of the buyers’ journey because single-touch attribution models are limiting them from obtaining true insight into the effectiveness of their efforts across the entire funnel.

Through BrightFunnel, marketers can compare various attribution models (including complex, multi-touch scenarios), and understand how their campaign ROI has changed over time. In the example above, a user can clearly see their team’s quarter-over-quarter contribution to revenue, broken down by channel.

B2B Marketing Insights: Past, Present, Future

B2B marketing efforts naturally bring up questions that, while seemingly simple to answer, often require complex algorithms to derive any real insights. Building, visualizing, exploring, and distilling insights from reports doesn’t have to be a daunting task, however, and at BrightFunnel, we aim to help marketers answer these fundamental questions through reports that are easy to build and understand, but allow the opportunity for further exploration into the who, what, why, when, and how of marketing.

In this series, we’ll continue to explore some of the fundamental questions that BrightFunnel helps marketers answers, and offer tips to help you make the most of your marketing reports and analytics. In turn, we’ll show you how having a strong grasp on historical performance can not only help you improve marketing ROI in the present, but predict future outcomes and, once and for all, accurately forecast marketing-generated revenue.

What are some of the “simple” marketing questions that you struggle with answering?

The Analytic Organization: 4 Steps to A Data-Driven Marketing Culture

The Analytic Organization: 4 Steps to A Data-Driven Marketing Culture

Making marketing more data-driven seems to be the “it” topic these days.  Only recently have marketers had tools available to quantify our efforts. Used correctly, data helps us tighten conversion rates, shorten sales cycles, defend our budgets and ultimately drive more revenue.  On the other hand, collecting too much data can cause us to drown in a sea of spreadsheets.   Whereas ten years ago we relied on alchemy and hunches, marketing has evolved into a quantifiable science.  In fact, it’s often tempting for us to get lost in the data.  Being data-driven doesn’t just mean you’re collecting metrics.

It means those metrics should roll up to business goals, support strategies with measurable outcomes, be actionable and be based around trusted sources and definitions.

In this post, we’ll provide four steps towards creating a data-driven marketing culture.

1. Set clear business goals and agree on KPIs that align to them

It seems obvious, but every single metric you track should tie directly to a tangible business goal.  Marketing’s business goals should roll directly up to corporate goals.  For instance, if the corporate goal is to sign forty new clients in the next two quarters, what does marketing have to do to support that?  Start at the small end of the funnel and work your way backwards.  How many opportunities will you need?  How many leads will you need to get that many opportunities?  How much web traffic do you need to bring in the leads?

While it’s tempting to just commit that marketing will increase leads xx% over last year, you should be certain that the percentage you are committing to will be in line with sales goals.

A less obvious example could be around hiring.  If there’s a corporate goal to grow the engineering department, marketing may need to improve the reach of their LinkedIn pages and website’s jobs section.  Your conversion metric here would not be leads generated but résumés submitted.  What metrics should you be tracking to ensure you support HR in attracting talent?

2. Set strategies with measurable outcomes

Gone are the days when marketing’s influence was anyone’s guess.  Campaign attribution tools, web analytics, and marketing automation platforms have given us the ability to tie outcomes to our efforts.  Understanding marketing ROI is a reality and no longer has to be a manual process.

Just as your business goals should be quantifiable, your strategies to accomplish them should be too.  For instance, rather than committing to building out a customer portal, commit to the measurable outcome of that.  The goal could be:  Marketing will support increased upsells and renewals of existing customers by creating a customer portal that will empower our users to realize better value from our platform.  We commit to an adoption rate of xx% among existing customers, ultimately reducing churn xx%.

If you are spending time and resources on a project that isn’t netting results, you need to understand that quickly so that you can change strategy or pull out completely.  By measuring outcomes, you ensure that your efforts have value.

3. Avoid Analysis Paralysis and track fewer but more actionable metrics

Now that we have so much data, it’s so tempting to track everything.  If I go back and look at some of the spreadsheets I’ve used in past jobs for my “weekly dashboard,” I get a headache.  They have ten or twenty tabs, each with dozens of columns, filled with clever formulas and, oh so many numbers!  Sometimes, I think marketing is so desperate to prove that we do more than quibble about fonts and button colors, that we feel we need to report on more than can we can ever make actionable, just to show there’s science behind our jobs.

Every metric marketing tracks should not only align to a business goal, but have an actionable outcome associated with it.  If you cannot use that number to help you make a decision to improve performance, then don’t track it.  Now my dashboards are brief and easy to read at-a-glance.  Every number is there for a reason.  Simplicity is powerful.

I like to think of the numbers I track in two categories.  The first are short-term numbers.  These are things we look at every day.  If suddenly, the lead flow on a popular campaign goes to zero, we know something is wrong.  We can quickly assess the situation and get on top of it.  We use these numbers for troubleshooting, adjusting spend, optimizing conversion rates and making all kinds of day-to-day decisions.

The second category involves benchmarking.  These are historical and trending stats.  They tell us how we’re doing on longer-term goals.  For instance, if I want to know if we’re increasing awareness, I may look at branded search and direct web hits over the past three quarters.  These numbers show overall health of the organization.  While they still need to be actionable to be effective, the actions tied to them may require longer term planning.

4. Agree on one version of the truth

Everyone in the organization needs to agree on your data sources, the numbers that matter and what they all mean.  It is well worth the time spent to agree on what data sources will be authoritative.  Write down definitions for all your lead and opportunity stages (or other critical indicators).  Get everyone’s buy-in on what they mean and why.  Revisit these agreements regularly.  They may change as your business changes.

Don’t forget that you’ll likely have to bring in cross-functional input on this.  Minor calculation differences may arise because Marketing is polling the marketing automation solution, while Sales gathers data from the CRM.  Those sorts of little mismatches can lead to big frustrations.  Make sure that everybody is speaking the same language and reading the same Bible.

Conclusion

The rise of data-driven marketing is exciting.  I rarely find myself getting into a difference of opinion about how a marketing program should be executed, anymore.  We can go to the stats to see what works, and if we don’t know we can run tests.  Marketing has evolved from an art to a science in a very quick period of time.  While we’re suddenly flooded in numbers, with some forethought and planning, deciding on what numbers to use can lead to very powerful results.

When thinking about becoming more data-driven, be sure that your KPIs roll straight up to larger business goals.  Commit to strategies with clear, measurable outcomes.  Measure only what you can act on.  Agree on the details around data sources and definitions.  Once everyone is marching to the same beat, the rewards will be well worth the work.

Are Your Boring Thank You Pages Selling You Short?

Are Your Boring Thank You Pages Selling You Short?

As B2B Marketers, we are hyper focused on generating leads. We fine-tune and A/B test every last detail of our landing pages in order to squeeze out even a half a percent improvement in conversion rates. However, once we get that coveted contact info into our CRM, we seem to forget all about the experience that comes next. Rather than thinking through next steps, we send users to bare-bones confirmation pages that have nothing more than a link to a download, and the words, “Thank You for Registering.” What a missed opportunity.

We forget that filling out a form isn’t necessarily a sign that the end user cares about your brand. It just means that they were interested in you, or the content of the asset you were offering, enough to share their contact info. If they came to your landing page via paid or long-tail search, they may not have the foggiest idea who you are or what your company can offer them.

Confirmation pages present an opportunity to warm the lead immediately. Once you take their information, you have a chance to draw them in and engage them by providing rich content, next steps, and avenues to explore your website, all alongside the download link. Since they’ve already filled out your form, you don’t need to hard sell them on more lead gen. Instead, you can direct them to interesting blog posts, product pages and other context-appropriate areas of your site.

With a little tuning and testing, I have been able to drop the bounce rate on confirmation pages from 85% down to 30%. Think about all that work you are putting into emailed lead nurture campaigns that begin a week or more after the download, when you could have engaged these brand new leads right from the start, when you’re fresh in their minds.

What Is Multi-Channel Attribution?

What Is Multi-Channel Attribution?

Explaining the differences between B2B and B2C applications

Marketers are seizing the opportunity to remake their identity from being a cost center to a revenue driver. While their efforts to prove influence on revenue can vary greatly between consumer and business-to-business organizations, both types of organizations can use multi-channel attribution to better tie their efforts to revenue. Over the past few years, B2C marketing teams have been adopting and benefiting from better attribution techniques, but differences in the B2B revenue cycle have made attribution tougher for B2B organizations to adopt. With the right tools, B2B companies can solve this challenge and start benefiting from full visibility and control over their effect on revenue.

B2B vs. B2C Revenue Cycles

Revenue cycles for B2B companies are much different than that of consumers businesses. B2C businesses have a shorter revenue cycle with a generally high volume of interactions across many different channels, including TV ads, billboards, and in-store displays. Additionally, consumer businesses are almost always selling to one decision maker. B2B companies deal with much longer revenue cycles, with only the biggest organizations, like FedEx and IBM, spending any money on TV ads. B2B companies also have to navigate their marketing and sales efforts to and through multiple decision makers and evaluators. Proving marketing’s influence on revenue for either type of organization is difficult, but because of their differences, consumer marketers have been quicker to solve attribution for their efforts than B2B marketers.

Multi-Channel Attribution

For B2C companies, shorter revenue cycles means that marketers are affecting revenue more immediately. This makes attribution a more urgent problem for consumer marketers to solve, hence their early adoption of multi-channel attribution when compared to B2B marketers. The shorter revenue cycle also makes attribution a somewhat different challenge for B2C marketers. To effectively use multi-channel attribution, consumer marketers have been focusing much of their efforts on being able attribute conversions across digital channels. With this issue already being solved, B2B marketers are teed up toward taking the next step to make multi-channel attribution work for themselves.

The Definitive Guide to Multi-Touch Revenue Attribution

For B2B marketers, longer revenue cycles means that their influence on revenue won’t be realized for months or quarters out. This can make attribution a lower priority for some B2B teams, since it may seem like evaluating today’s results would only provide insights on actions that were taken many months or quarters prior. In actuality, multi-channel attribution can be used to evaluate more than just the effect of historic marketing efforts on today’s revenue. With proper attribution, marketing forecasts can give marketers more accurate insights into how today’s efforts will affect revenue in the coming quarters. Marketing automation (e.g., Marketo, Eloqua, Pardot) and CRM tools (e.g., Salesforce, SugarCRM) can help marketers gather most of the data they need to tie campaigns through pipeline and to revenue. This information is crucial as it contains much of the raw data needed to attribute efforts across long revenue cycles. Marketing teams can then rely on internal marketing operations/analysts, home-brewed solutions, business intelligence packages, or 3rd party SaaS marketing analytics solutions to make sense out of the raw data and attribute revenue influence to their efforts.

While consumer and business marketers may have the similar goal to measure their impact on revenue, both types of organizations face different challenges in doing this. For consumer marketers, tackling attribution can provide lots of immediate value over shorter revenue cycles. For B2B marketers, attribution allows marketers to not only evaluate previous efforts, but also predict pipeline and revenue changes throughout much longer revenue cycles. Through attribution, both types of organizations can gather the insights needed to prove marketing’s deep influence on revenue.

Marketing Forecasting: The B2B Marketer’s New Responsibility

Marketing Forecasting: The B2B Marketer’s New Responsibility

Marketers’ Growing Ownership Of The Revenue Cycle

Sales teams are traditionally recognized as the revenue driver for B2B organizations. While marketing teams have generally been seen as a cost-center for supporting sales with lead gen and brand recognition, sales has always been known as a revenue-center due to its efforts prospecting, educating, and closing business. This traditional mindset is still very common, but it is quickly dating itself as more marketing teams focus on automated sales enablement and education through content marketing, giving them more ownership of the revenue cycle.

Good B2B marketers are claiming more ownership of this revenue cycle, especially at the earlier stages of the cycle; they focus increasing efforts on content marketing, which syndicates education to prospective customers through well designed websites, white papers and webinars, which are promoted through, ads, email campaigns and and social media. Because all of these programs are now tracked digitally — and thus produce data that can be analyzed — marketing efforts can finally be directly related to a company’s bottom line. However, with this new status also comes a new responsibility: marketing teams must now forecast their future pipeline and revenue results.

Marketing Forecasting Provides Visibility Earlier in the Revenue Cycle

As marketers grow ownership of the revenue cycle and build performance data on various channels and tactics, they have the ability to make forecasts that provide accurate long-term visibility. Sales forecasts can be highly accurate for the coming month or quarter, but marketing forecasts can be used to plan efforts 6 to 12 months further than sales efforts. This ultimately allows marketing execs to:

  • Give boards and executives full visibility into how much revenue marketing has driven and will generate.
  • Have full control over the marketing levers that drive revenue.
  • Encourage better collaboration between marketing and sales teams due to joint ownership over the revenue cycle.
  • Foster an organizational-wide paradigm shift as marketing moves from being a cost center toward being a revenue-driver; align all teammates — creatives and quants alike — toward the same overarching goal.

Tying Marketing Efforts to Revenue Results

Marketers are owning more of the revenue cycle, and are therefore more responsible and accountable for revenue generation. While sales forecasts provide accurate visibility into the coming month or quarter, marketing forecasts can provide execs and boards with visibility into the coming 12+ months. Ultimately, forecasting allows organizations to better tie marketing efforts with revenue generation.