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Marketing Attribution – How It’s Done in Salesforce: Part I of III

Marketing attribution is like going to the gym. You scroll through social media and see everyone else talking about it. You’ve read a million blog posts about it. You think, “If I could commit to this, my life would be so much better!”

Like consistent exercise, marketing attribution is a lifestyle change, and quite frankly, it’s not easy. Maybe you don’t have the time. Maybe you don’t have the money to invest in the tools you need. Maybe you don’t know how to get started.

If your excuse is time or money, you need to reevaluate your priorities. How can you tell if that time and money you’re already investing is paying off? Understanding return on marketing investment (ROMI) via attribution should come before you spend any more money on campaigns.

If your excuse is that you don’t know how to get started, then keep reading. By the end of this three-part series, you should have the basics you need to start. You’ll probably have a few questions along the way, so email me or tweet at me and we can talk through it together.

I’ve written this series through the lens of the systems I know best – Salesforce (SFDC), Marketo and Bizible. Today, I’ll be zeroing in on Salesforce specifically. Keep an eye on the blog over the next few days for parts two and three that will be focused on Marketo and Bizible respectively. Ready to dive in?

Reporting on Marketing Attribution in Salesforce.com

If you don’t have marketing automation or a third-party tool, you can get away with creating some good-ish reports with standard Salesforce functionality. Simply follow the four steps below and you’ll be on your way.

Step One: Ensure you’re using these Three Ingredients for Marketing Attribution in Salesforce

Campaigns

It starts with creating a Salesforce campaign, which essentially is a marketing initiative that you want to track. Remember to use the following three fields on the campaign:

  • Campaign Type: Think of this as the channel you’re investing in. For example, this could be direct mail, tradeshow, referral program, etc.
  • Actual Cost: This is the amount of money spent to run the campaign. After all, how can you understand the “R” in ROI without the “I?” Be sure to include all direct and indirect costs associated with the campaign.
  • Responded: Okay, this part can be handled by the campaign member object (this is an object in SFDC that connects people to campaigns…check with Google if you need more info). The important thing is that all the members of your campaign get marked as “responded” when they take whatever action you wanted them to take for your campaign. For example, if you’re hosting an event, a lead would be marked “responded” if they registered or attended.

Opportunities

If you’re not tracking opportunities (deals) in SFDC, you can’t get accurate return ratios on your marketing investments. Make sure sales is following a structured, operationalized sales process using opportunities and their stages, contact roles, and amounts.

Primary Campaign Source

Primary Campaign Source is a field on an opportunity that tracks the – wait for it – primary campaign that influenced the opportunity. One hundred percent of the revenue from an opportunity is assigned to the primary campaign source. There can only be one primary campaign on an opportunity.

The Primary Campaign Source field gets populated in a couple of different ways. It will populate with the last associated campaign on a lead record if an opportunity is created upon converting that lead. Or if an opportunity gets created from a contact, it’s the last associated campaign on a contact. You can also set or adjust the primary campaign source manually.

Step Two: Put it all Together

Once you can check the boxes of all the above steps properly, you’re in good shape. At this point, you have an opportunity with a dollar amount, which is associated to a campaign via the primary campaign source field. That campaign has a cost associated to it (actual cost) and it has people in it (campaign members) who responded to the campaign. That FEELS like enough data to do attribution, right? At the very least, you can say something like, “We spent $5,000 on a tradeshow and one of our leads from that tradeshow is now associated with an opportunity for $20,000.”

To do this, you’ll create a Campaign ROI Analysis Report. This will show you all campaigns, their type, their value in “won opportunities” (This contains only opportunities where the campaign is the primary campaign source), the actual cost of the campaign and, finally, the ROI of that campaign.

It will look something like this:

Att 1

Step Three: Question The Report

At this point, you’re probably thinking, “That seems okay, but it’s not quite right…”

You, my friend, would be on to something. The biggest downside to this report is that only one campaign gets credit for an opportunity. Let’s say you acquire a lead through a white paper campaign. Later on, you email that person and he/she responds. That person is now connected to an opportunity for $100k. Since the email campaign is the last associated campaign on the contact, it is going to get 100 percent credit for that $100k deal. Your white paper gets no credit! You don’t need me to tell you that’s no good.

So, what’s the solution?

Step Four: Get More Sophisticated with Campaign Influence

Campaign influence is a setting in SFDC that enables you to calculate the influence of multiple campaigns on an opportunity. It helps eliminates the “one campaign gets all the credit even though we spent a bunch of money to engage with this person on multiple channels” problem.

When a contact role is added to an opportunity (for example, a contact gets marked as the “decision maker” or “influencer” on an opportunity) automatic campaign association will add that contact’s campaigns to the campaign influence related list on the opportunity.

Important Note: If you don’t know what a contact role is, you should. If you plan on using Marketo for attribution, you won’t be able to see opportunities without contact roles. See this help article for more details.

Campaign influence is easily configured by a system admin. It also allows you to put constraints on what campaigns should count on an opportunity. For example, you can set a timeframe for which a campaign can influence an opportunity. You don’t want to give the campaign from 2010 credit for an opportunity that closes in 2017 unless you have a very long (like, seven-years-long) sales cycle. You can also configure campaign influence to only look at campaigns where responded = true.

Here’s what our settings look like in LeadMD’s Salesforce instance:

Att 2

I recommend doing this – you don’t want to give credit to campaigns where the lead didn’t even engage.

Once you enable campaign influence, you’ll be able to create a standard “Campaigns with Influenced Opportunities” report.

It will look something like this:

Att 3

Awesome? Sort of. The unfortunate downside of this report is that every campaign gets credit for the full opportunity amount. In the white paper example above, both the white paper and the email would get $100k credit. Check out the highlighted rows above. You’ll see that both campaigns are getting $39,600 credit – the full opportunity amount. You’d have to do some manual Excel work so you’re not totally inflating your numbers.

A possible solution for this is to enable customizable campaign influence reporting, which is Salesforce’s newest attribution functionality. This model provides flexible attribution across multiple campaigns. Rather than just 100 percent of the credit given to the primary campaign on an opportunity, you can do first touch, last touch or anything else in between.

Here is the frustrating part about SFDC customizable campaign influence: The models don’t “just work.” Meaning, if I created a First Touch model, Salesforce doesn’t automatically calculate campaign attribution using that model. You’d have to work with your SFDC developer to populate data into that model using process builder, triggers, and/or workflow.

Verdict: How Good is SFDC’s Attribution Reporting?

Not great. Even the simplest methods for handling attribution are a bit clunky and don’t account for a variety of likely scenarios. There are a lot of ways that you might need or want to attribute your marketing efforts, and Salesforce’s capabilities are limited. But, it can still help you churn out some basic attribution, which is always better than no attribution.

Stay tuned for my next post in this series, in which I’ll take you through Marketo’s attribution models. Spoiler alert: Things are about to get a whole lot easier!

In the meantime, come give our free Attribution Audit a try and see where you stack up right now.

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