For most B2B marketers, multi-touch attribution (the process of evaluating the value and influence of every marketing interaction throughout the buyer’s journey) has always been a pipe dream — an item on their wish list, but one they recognized was unlikely to come true. In place of that full-funnel attribution, B2B marketers turn to complex, automated nurturing programs designed to educate and strengthen relationships with prospects mid-funnel (for more on that, click here read my first post in this series).
The problem? Those nurturing programs aren’t capable of precisely determining the right mix to cost-effectively advance leads through the funnel. And they certainly can’t tell you which campaigns are actually impacting the bottom line. Sure, most tools in the marketing automation stack offer some form of attribution, but that attribution is still driven by a single-touch approach.
This is the year that changes.
Why now? Frankly, B2B companies have always wanted to perform multi-touch attribution. They just haven’t had the inputs or the tools to do it. Thanks to these four trends, that will no longer be the case.
1) We finally have the data (and the tools)
When marketing automation tools came to market a decade or so ago, B2B marketers were finally able to break down the walls to data digitization and access buyer insights they’d only dreamed of. The problem with those tools, however, is that they only paint part of the analytics picture. In fact, until recently, marketers had very little visibility into the complete range of buyer interactions throughout their funnel.
Thankfully, new marketing tools (like BrightFunnel) are filling that gap and generating deeper attribution intelligence.
2) Marketers are remembering the middle of the funnel
When intent-based advertising was all the rage, B2B organizations began throwing all of their energy at first- and last-touch campaigns. In the process, they forgot about everything that happens in the middle of the funnel to influence revenue.
Today, there’s a bit of a backlash against that old-school philosophy as more marketers begin to focus on the entirety of the buyer’s journey. This, of course, has created demand for — and solutions around — mid-funnel multi-touch attribution.
3) Marketing is eating more of the sales cycle
Multiple studies have shown that more than 70 percent of a B2B buyer’s journey happens before they ever engage a sales rep. Translation: marketing is owning more of the sales cycle and, as a result, playing a more significant role in revenue generation.
Given this reality, B2B organizations are placing greater emphasis on attribution throughout the funnel — rather than just first or last touches.
4) Marketing is becoming more quantitative
The flood of talent pouring into B2B marketing is data-driven. In fact, the new generation of VPs of marketing are increasingly coming from quantitative practice areas like demand gen and marketing ops. As that trend continues, multi-touch attribution will become less of a “nice to have” and more of a “must have.” Going forward, metrics against initiatives — at all stages of the buyer’s journey — will be critical.
2015 is the Year of Multi-Touch Attribution: Now What?
Some of those trends have already happened, some are happening now, and some will reach a fever pitch in the very near future. But, collectively, they will all come to a head in 2015 to usher in the year of multi-touch attribution. I genuinely believe we’ll continue to see the value of quantitative, multi-touch marketing analysis go up.
Some organizations will try to meet those needs through brute force — by manipulating Business Intelligence tools to do unnatural things or pushing Excel to the limits with a full-time bean counter. But the real potential lies in new platforms that streamline the attribution process — through machine-learning and intelligent modeling — to tap into insight that was once viewed as a B2B marketing analytics myth.
In my final post in this series, I’ll talk about four steps senior B2B marketers need to take to embrace multi-touch attribution, and share a simple checklist CMOs can use to choose the right technology to gather full-funnel marketing revenue intelligence.
* This post originally appeared on OpenView Labs. It’s the second installment of a three-part series on multi-touch attribution for B2B Marketing. Stay tuned for the third part next week or click here to read the first post.