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Jamie Kirmess

Marketing Attribution – How It’s Done in Marketo: Part II of III

Jamie Kirmess / September 20, 2017 / 0 Comments

If you’re reading this, I hope you also read my post earlier this week about how to handle marketing attribution in Salesforce.

This is the second part of this series, and it’s also one of my favorites because I’ll be walking you through attributions in Marketo. If you’ve delayed confronting the perennial elephant in the room (a.k.a. attribution), I’m here to encourage you to face it… today. Until you do, your marketing efforts are going to be stifled and stale or – worse yet – might end up being completely ineffective and useless.

So on that happy note, I’m here to give you some insight into marketing attribution within Marketo so you can get busy winning. And in a couple days, I’ll be showing you the steps to attribute your efforts in Bizible, so keep an eye out for that. Onto Marketo for now…

Reporting on Marketing Attribution in Marketo

Attribution is how Marketo gives credit to the programs that help create pipeline and revenue. Marketo has two attribution models: First Touch Attribution and Multi-Touch Attribution. Its first touch attribution model answers, “What programs and channels are good at acquiring profitable new names?” Its multi-touch model answers, “Which programs and channels are most influential in moving people forward in the sales cycle?”

In both the first touch and the multi-touch models, the following must be true:

  1. Your sales team must use opportunity contact roles. If they don’t, Marketo cannot see opportunities.
  2. Opportunities must have a dollar amount.
  3. Marketo programs must be set up using the correct channel.
  4. Leads that engage with your programs must be members of that program.

There are dependencies specific to each model, too, which I will cover later.

How to Perform First Touch Attribution in Marketo

If you are taking the four steps I recommend within Salesforce, there’s only one additional dependency for first touch attribution reports in Marketo: capturing “acquisition program.” Acquisition program is the program that first acquired a new name in your database. For example, if you host a webinar and acquire new leads, the webinar program should be the acquisition program for all new names it acquired.

Let’s go through an example.

Your webinar is called “Digital Marketing Basics.” This webinar has a program in Marketo that uses the channel “webinar.” The program name is “WEBNR-Q42017-Digital-Marketing-Basics.”

Five people find this webinar on your website, fill out your form and are new to your database. Their acquisition program is set as “WEBNR-Q42017-Digital-Marketing-Basics” (the name of the program in Marketo).

After the webinar, two out of the five leads acquired by your webinar have an opportunity associated to them.

The first person with an opportunity is Stacy Martinez. Stacy is a Marketing Specialist at Fun Company. After the webinar, she engaged with several of your other marketing initiatives. Stacy’s contact role on the opportunity is “influencer.” Stacy’s CMO, Drew Ness, also has a role on the opportunity. His contact role is “decision maker.” Drew has never engaged with a marketing initiative. The opportunity is valued at $100k.

In this example, we have one opportunity valued at $100k and two people associated with the opportunity via opportunity contact roles. Marketo looks at those two people and sees if they have an acquisition program. In our example, only Stacy has an acquisition program. Therefore, Marketo will assign 100 percent of the revenue to Stacy’s acquisition program, WEBNR-Q42017-Digital-Marketing-Basics.

If Drew were to have an acquisition program, Marketo would split the won revenue between Stacy’s acquisition program and Drew’s acquisition program. Each acquisition would get $50k in revenue credit.

If there were four people associated to the opportunity and each person had an acquisition program, Marketo would give each acquisition program $25k in first touch credit. If one program was responsible for acquiring all four leads, it would receive $100k in credit.

Hopefully that helps, but if you need a few more examples to highlight how this works, Marketo’s documentation is a good place to start.

How to Perform Multi-Touch Attribution in Marketo

You just learned that capturing an acquisition program is necessary for first touch attribution. In Marketo’s multi-touch attribution model, capturing program “success” is required. “Success” is similar to “responded” in a Salesforce campaign (see “Part I” to revisit this).

Success is marked when a person reaches the status that achieves that goal. In our webinar example, success would be reached when a lead attends the webinar. This is controlled in the channel settings in “Admin.”

Continuing on from our webinar example, let’s say we invite 100 existing people from our database to attend our webinar. Ten of those people attend, all of whom are then marked as achieving “success.”

Of the people that reach success, one person is tied to an opportunity via an opportunity contact role: Chelsea Smith.

Chelsea Smith was acquired by a Facebook ad a couple of months ago. She reached “success” in that Facebook ad program, and she was also successful in two email campaigns. Chelsea has four successes in four different programs (one Facebook ad, two emails, and one webinar). She is now associated with a $100k opportunity via an opportunity contact role of “influencer.” Her CMO, Natasha Wright, also engaged with an email campaign a couple of weeks ago. Natasha has an opportunity contact role of “decision maker” on the opportunity.

Instead of looking at the acquisition programs that were responsible for acquiring the people on this opportunity, Marketo’s multi-touch model looks at the number of programs where the person on the opportunity (contact roles) reached success. Chelsea reached success in four programs and Natasha reached success in one program. Therefore, there are five programs that will split revenue credit. Each program receives $20k in revenue credit.

Important notes about Marketo’s Attribution Model

There are three rules of attribution:

  1. Credit is split evenly
    1. Whether it’s the first or multi-touch model, Marketo takes the entire opportunity amount and divides it evenly across the acquisition programs (in the FT model) and programs where leads reached success (in the MT model).
  2. You can’t give more credit than you earned
    1. This is pretty obvious. A program can’t get credit for more than the opportunity it influenced. If the program influenced multiple opportunities, it can get up to the sum of their opportunity amounts.
  3. You can’t give credit for something that happened in the past
    1. If a contact engages with a marketing campaign after an opportunity closes, it can’t get credit for the closed opportunity.

Building the Reports in Marketo

Marketo’s Revenue Cycle Explorer offers some pretty wicked first and multi-touch reports out of the box. One thing to keep in mind with RCE is that you must use period costs in your programs for the programs to be available in RCE. Check out our blog post on best practices for assigning period costs for more details.

The program opportunity analysis report is a great place to start for understanding FT and MT attribution.

You can build reports that show you how much revenue a program or channel has helped generate.

Or what the revenue to investment ratio is for a given program or channel.

And you can do a whole lot more! RCE is an awesome tool. It also allows you to slice and dice the data in ways that standard Marketo functionality doesn’t allow.

Verdict: How Good is Marketo’s Attribution Reporting?

Marketo’s attribution reporting does a far better job than SFDC in giving the appropriate credit to each program and channel. And with RCE, you can parse out the data to look at the numbers of FT and MT opportunities created, pipeline generated and revenue won or lost.

There are, however, a few limitations. The first is that the attribution models are flat. A success in a program one year ago will get the same amount of credit as a more recent success. More advanced attribution models (like Bizible) have the flexibility of creating attributions models that place more emphasis on certain touchpoints, like the touchpoint right before opportunity creation.

Scalability is another challenge. To get any sort of attribution credit, there must be a program assigning acquisition or success in Marketo. This becomes unrealistic for tracking engagement with channels like social media, SEO or online advertising. A person could engage with you on Twitter five times in one week, but if you only have one program assigning “success” then Twitter is only getting credit for one engagement. It becomes extremely challenging (more like impossible) to build a program for every online interaction leads have with your company.

The final limitation is in the way most marketers track lead sources and referral sources in Marketo, which is through URL parameters. These aren’t reliable. If a lead navigates away from your page, the parameter is lost.

And beyond lost parameters, this method just isn’t comprehensive. You cannot put URL parameters on every link directing people to your website or landing pages. Let’s say you get a ton of traffic from the Wall Street Journal. No journalist is going to take the time to add URL parameters to their link for you! Marketo won’t be able to give your PR team credit for this type of stuff, and the same goes for SEO. Tools like Bizible are known for capturing and categorizing this anonymous Web traffic into meaningful data and touchpoints, giving your entire channel portfolio more credit.

Has this stirred up any questions for you? If so, email me or tweet at me and we can talk more in-depth.

Remember: The third and final part of this series specifically centered on marketing attribution in Bizible, will be coming your way in a couple days. Watch out for it! And in the meantime, come give our free Attribution Audit a try and see where you stack up right now.



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