Why SFDC Add-On Tools are a Poor Solution for Marketing Reporting

Why SFDC Add-On Tools are a Poor Solution for Marketing Reporting

One of the great features of Salesforce.com is that it has dashboards that a lot of Marketing automation platforms lack. One of the drawbacks is that Salesforce.com dashboards aren’t really made for Marketing reporting. First, there’s the problem of getting leads and contacts into the same report. Then there’s the problem that Salesforce.com was built, like the name says, for Sales. It’s not exactly focused on the needs of the marketer.

The solutions that try to get around this are the numerous add-on products that use Salesforce to track marketing activity, and use custom objects, campaigns, and other round-about ways to cobble together something for Marketing.

The truth is, neither of these options is particularly effective, but there are some important weaknesses among the add-on tools.

1. CRM Ownership

Add-on products frequently require changes to Salesforce.com in order to be functional. Most often, Marketing doesn’t actually own Salesforce.com. The result is that marketers have to request fields, objects, and other changes from whomever manages Sales Operations, wait for those to be built – never a high priority – and then see if they’re actually able to report what they want. As a friend of mine in operations, whose company uses one of these solutions, said, “Kill me now. They tried to solve one of our issues by creating yet another custom object and another custom report type!” It’s not a solution if the answer to every question is another custom object, which will only annoy (at best…) your Sales Ops team and slow down your SFDC instance. Too many custom objects will make your Salesforce harder to navigate, and disrupt agility across the board by making it more difficult to remediate data and move quickly as a team and a company.

2. Sales Processes

A lot of those same point solutions require changes to the sales process in order to do the tracking to create reports. For a lot of organizations, that’s a non-starter. Sales has its own methods, and changing those is hard in some organizations and impossible in others. The CEO of a consulting agency recently told me about a client they had: “The product they looked at needed the sales process to change. At a large multi-national, that just wasn’t ever going to be possible. They couldn’t even consider that solution for their reporting.”

3. Data Bloat

These add-on products store the data in Salesforce.com. That’s a lot of data, considering all the multi-touches, number of leads, and the way Salesforce.com stores custom objects and campaign data. And storing data costs money. One organization recently told my colleague that fully half of all the data they paid for in Salesforce was simply to have marketing reporting through an add-on. Over time, that gets even more costly as more information is added.

4. Partial Visibility

While using one of these products, you only get a few of your touches in your Salesforce.com. You can’t add in data sources such as offline and web activity in an effective way and, in some cases, have to throttle back the sources you have. Because you’re storing so much data, you have to be selective about how many touches you store — first and last before conversion? Three? Five? What about after the opportunity is created? If you’re being selective, and you have a maximum, you’re not seeing the true path of the lead and you’re making business decisions based on a fraction of the true data, which is being collected, but — because of the throttling to save data space — not received.


Ever since I first implemented marketing automation, I’ve needed easy-to-get reports that didn’t require excess labor or reconfiguration, that were in a format I could share with my executives, from CEO to VP Finance to VP Marketing, and that were real-time. Reports and metrics we could use to make good decisions — quickly — about the marketing investments and campaigns that would create the most pipeline in the shortest amount of time. That’s not so much to ask for, is it? A dashboard that uses marketing data that Marketing controls, has on-demand reports, includes all the information from web, marketing automation, and sales, and doesn’t require changes to the CRM or the sales process?

Turns out it’s not a lot to ask if you ask the right people. Which is why I’ve now got my own BrightFunnel dashboards to report on Marketing’s effectiveness.

The Scary Truth About Salesforce Reporting for Marketers

The Scary Truth About Salesforce Reporting for Marketers

It’s a terrifying thought for data-driven marketers: You do the market research, define the personas, create the right content to distribute via the right channels, and execute with precision and care. But then, when all is said and done, reporting gaps and inaccurate data mean you don’t get the credit that’s due for all of that time and effort.

As its name implies, Salesforce is a tool that was developed primarily for the benefit of sales teams. The CRM was never meant to help marketers do their jobs better or accurately report on their program successes, and it wasn’t created to help the two teams work better in tandem.

But why does this matter? Well, when we talk about the B2B buyer’s journey, what we’re really talking about is the B2B buyers’ journey, since a business’ purchasing decisions usually involve multiple stakeholders across an organization.

This makes each individual account’s journey incredibly complex and unique — it is by no means a straightforward, linear affair.

Salesforce doesn’t even come close to telling the complex and unique story of how Marketing’s efforts have influenced all of the decision-makers on an account. As we published in our Q3 ABM Benchmark Insights Report, most accounts have 13 influential buyers, but only one of those buyers is associated with the opportunity in Salesforce. On average, 8.1 orphan leads and 4.5 contacts-on-account are never recorded on the opportunity that they helped to influence, which means the marketer never gets credit for those touches (BrightFunnel, 2016). Each individual account’s journey is by no means a straightforward or linear affair. But with Salesforce — since, again, the tool was not developed to make the marketer’s job easier — you’re only able to capture and report on the first (lead source) and last (Primary Campaign Source) marketing touch points where a prospect has interacted with your brand or product. This effectively knocks all of those other influencers out of the equation — and out of your reporting capabilities.

That discrepancy between what actually occurred and what you’re able to report on should scare any data-driven marketer.

With Salesforce, you can report on Marketing’s campaign successes in just two ways, and neither is all that helpful:

  • You can rely on the Primary Campaign on the Opportunity — This requires the contact to be converted to an Opportunity, and it only looks at that one contact’s activity. It also doesn’t consider campaign success vs. campaign touch — say, emails sent versus those that are actually responded to — which is misleading for both reporting and planning purposes.
  • You can rely on Campaign Influence Reports — This ends up multiplying the amount attributed to an opportunity by two, four, ten, or even more when the associated contact has interacted with multiple campaigns. For most marketers, this only results in nonsensical data that can’t be used to align with Sales, make better allocation decisions, or even make themselves look good when reporting up to the Board.

Let’s say Sally was the first person at ACME Corp. to fill out a form and download a white paper, and Jake watched the ‘How To’ webinar, after which the opportunity was created. But what about Dan, who signed up for your email newsletter and regularly visits the blog, or Sophie, who clicked through a LinkedIn ad to download last summer’s benchmark report? Neither of them were ever associated with the account on Salesforce, which begs the question: If a contact isn’t recorded on the account, did they even really exist? In terms of what you’re able to report on to your manager or the Board, the answer is simple and frightening for marketers: Nope.

Now, let’s pause for a minute to be clear about something: It’s not Sales’ fault that Dan and Sophie weren’t ever recorded as contacts on the account. Why would it be? It’s the salesperson’s job to sell, not slow himself down with data entry. Besides, the sales rep may not even know everyone who is on the buying committee that’s researching your product in the first place!

It’s on the marketer to ensure that every single campaign success is recorded, and she simply cannot do that in a full-picture way on her own or with her team by relying on Salesforce. If she’s only capturing a single contact at the beginning and the end, leaving out everything and everyone in the middle, she can’t accurately report, intelligently allocate spend, or make informed predictions about what will succeed in the future.

Marketers sometimes bend over backwards to make Salesforce reporting work for them, but this only ends up creating an insane amount of clutter in the form of custom fields, and taking up too much valuable time. On top of that, inconsistent processes can mean the data becomes too vague to offer any real insights into Marketing’s performance. And there may also be external data missing from your CRM — Salesforce is not designed to be a data warehouse, so it’s not the place to pipe in your web activity or Google Adwords data.

Reporting needs to be about more than just a single contact on an opportunity — it should encompass all the contacts and leads that have actually interacted with your campaigns. With Salesforce, you only see a tiny sliver of an account’s very complex, multi-player story. In order to see the entire picture of what has influenced every opportunity throughout the entire buyers’ journey, you need to adopt an account-based view and link all of an account’s leads and contacts together so that you can see how every single campaign has impacted the business.

Without this more robust and complete perspective of Marketing’s influence, you and your team will be left in the dark — and find yourself in a truly scary place.

Learn more about how to more fully measure your efforts and better understand Marketing’s true impact by reading our informative ebook, The Definitive Guide to Multi-Touch Revenue Attribution.

BrightFunnel Salesforce App Now Available

BrightFunnel Salesforce App Now Available

I’m excited to announce that the same BrightFunnel experience that you know and love is now also available directly in Salesforce.com.

As many of you know, we started BrightFunnel to solve some really hairy analytical problems related to attribution and forecasting. The right way to solve these problems is to build a world-class analytical platform outside of Salesforce. A dedicated source of truth, unconstrained by CRM data models, for marketers who didn’t want to (or couldn’t) add hundreds of custom fields and make a mess out of their CRM. We delivered that, and it’s used by the most cutting edge data-driven marketers, such as Cloudera, New Relic and Nimble Storage.

We also realized that sometimes our Marketing customers (and their Sales counterparts) want quick access to an insight within Salesforce. That’s why, today, I’m excited to announce that we now offer the the same powerful marketing attribution and forecasting functionality directly in Salesforce.com. Don’t worry, we kept our good looks. Take a peek:




Interested? Email us at sales@brightfunnel.com. We’re happy to chat and tell you a little bit more about how leading marketing teams are using the platform. Oh, and by the way…  new customers get up and running in weeks—not months.

Salesforce Campaign Best Practices for B2B Marketing Hackers

Salesforce Campaign Best Practices for B2B Marketing Hackers


A campaign can be defined as a marketing initiative with the goal of driving awareness, leads, and ultimately revenue. It is common for modern B2B marketers to leverage multiple channels, tactics, offers, and promotions to achieve this end. If Marketing wants to show their impact on pipeline, measuring the impact of their initiatives is critical to success.

This is where Salesforce campaigns come in.

Campaigns, if properly structured, provide a foundational layer to measure the impact of your marketing investments – and answer both strategic and tactical questions that help steer the course of your marketing efforts. When analyzing the results of your campaigns you should be able to answer:

  • Where should we invest marketing budget this quarter?

  • How much revenue and pipeline did past campaigns source vs influence?

  • Which asset performs best in which channel?

  • Which asset converts most leads?

While BrightFunnel helps with answer these types of critical questions, without proper campaign tracking in Salesforce.com, you may be missing the complete picture. Your marketing team should consider how to work within existing campaign capabilities of Salesforce.com and your marketing automation system to build a campaign structure that scales with your team’s process and allows you to answer critical questions to growing your business.

Campaign Components

The campaign should inform the marketer (and anyone else in the organization) at minimum four things:

  • which product (or business unit) it is supporting

  • the offer (i.e. ebook or webinar)

  • what channel you are using to advertise the offer (i.e email or content syndication)

  • when (i.e. Q2 2015)

Campaign Naming Conventions

The entire marketing team should stick to one naming convention and not deviate. Thankfully you can easily change past campaigns / programs so they adhere to the correct naming convention.  Using BrightFunnel, regardless of your naming convention, you can segment and search by name to easily find and analyze campaign performance.


Campaign names should include the Business Unit, Category / Channel, Topic, and lastly Timing. The end result will look like BU_Category/Channel_Topic_Timing.  


  • EMEA Webinar Facilities Management 2015.09.12

  • NA Tradeshow Marketo Summit 2015.04.12

If you don’t have business units, then don’t include or replace with product types.

Evergreen Campaigns

For programs that don’t have a real start and stop date, such as Google Adwords campaigns or a white paper on your website, you can leave the date off and let the campaign run a full year.  We call these evergreen campaigns.


  • Google Adwords – Free Trial

  • Google Adwords – Guide to Marketing Attribution

  • Website – Marketing Forecasting eBook

Example of Evergreen Google Adwords Campaigns in BrightFunnel

Channels, Assets and SFDC Custom Fields

Campaigns can be broken into “channels” (name used by Marketo) or campaign type (name used in Salesforce). A channel represents the avenue a lead took to come to your company.  Examples of Channels:

  • PPC (SEM, Paid Search)

  • Content Syndication

  • Display/Banner Ads

  • Paid Social

  • Webinars

  • Tradeshow

  • Hosted Events

In Salesforce channels are broken out by the field “campaign type.”  This will allow BrightFunnel to easily group your marketing efforts into campaign groups (see image).

Assets represent what the lead interacted with in the process of learning about the company. Examples of Assets:

  • White Paper
  • Case Study
  • Free Trial
  • Blog Post
  • Demo

The asset is used in channels as part of the promotion/offer. For example the “Free Trial” is promoted through Google Adwords. Or the webinar is promoted on Twitter. The asset name should at minimum be in the name of the campaign.

Custom Fields

To get deeper reporting, you can create a custom field on the campaign object to select which asset is being promoted.  

In this example a client created custom fields for the Offer type “eBook” and Offer Detail “Incentivized Demo – PFL Program #1.”  This will allow for reporting to answer questions on “which asset brings in the most leads?”  or “which asset converts the most leads?”

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. 

Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 2.04.54 AM

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

Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 2.05.22 AM

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: 

Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 2.05.36 AM

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.



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.



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. 



    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.


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



    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.


    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.