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3 Steps to Prepare for Marketing Attribution

Maybe you’ve heard stats like this one, about how handling marketing attribution well can boost your business’ efficiency by 15 to 30 percent, or maybe you’ve gotten pressure from your CEO to start connecting the dots between your marketing activities and revenue. Whatever the case may be, it’s always a good idea to invest in marketing attribution. After all, until you do, you have no concrete idea about what you’re doing that’s working vs. what isn’t working.

But, marketing attribution can seem overwhelming. With all the hats you already wear, it might feel like an insurmountable hill to climb to get to the point where you’re not only doing marketing attribution but doing it well and meaningfully. Let me tell you – it doesn’t have to be that hard. Here are three steps you can follow to start the journey toward elevating your efficiency, maximizing your marketing and revving up your revenue.


1. Understand the Nuts and Bolts of Marketing Attribution

First, you’ve got to grasp the different nuances of marketing attribution. First-touch attribution, unsurprisingly, is supposed to tell you the very first time a lead has come into contact with your company. Then multi-touch attribution should reveal every single touchpoint your marketing has with the lead across the entire buyer journey.

Second, keep in mind the endgame of marketing attribution. You’re trying to piece together the puzzle of what marketing activities are most effective in converting customers and creating revenue. Once you have attribution in place, you can answer your most pressing business questions. At the very beginning of the process, define what questions you want your marketing attribution data to answer. Questions like, “Which of my social media platforms are the best at generating leads?” or, “Which of my paid media efforts are generating the most pipeline?” are good to have in mind from the get-go, so you can later run the right types of reports to answer them. Having a goal of, “I want one report to tell me everything,” however, is not attainable. We have to be more specific than that.

“Understanding the goal of attribution and making sure all stakeholders are on the same page is critical in the early stages. Going from no or poor attribution to good attribution is a big—but necessary—change for the marketing org because they’ll finally get visibility into their true revenue impact. Plus, if stakeholders are involved from the get-go, they’ll be more invested in acting on the insights later.” – Vic Davis, VP of Customer Success, Bizible


Marketing Attribution

2. Redefine your Acquisition and Influence Strategies

Most companies don’t have an actual strategy set around attribution. Before you launch into setting one, first figure out what the process has been used previously. For example, if your company uses Marketo, how have you used the Acquisition Program field – if at all? Has your team been using the Opportunity Contact Role in Salesforce and, if so, were they using it properly? Do you have an influence strategy in place to guide a uniform use of Success in a program in Marketo?

Don’t feel bad if your answers to these questions aren’t very impressive. In fact, most companies don’t have these strategies set and aren’t using these tools the way they should be. But you can change that. Let’s look at each of these three scenarios, since they’re all critical to attribution, and what you need to do differently to set yourself up for success.

Marketo’s Acquisition Program Field

If you thought that filling out ‘Lead Source’ was enough for attribution, you’re not alone. But first touch attribution reporting actually pulls from the Acquisition Program field, so you’ve got to train yourself and your team to use it. Lead Source will help you understand the categories in which you’re acquiring leads, but the Acquisition Program field will get you the granular insight that’s so necessary in attribution.

Salesforce.com’s Opportunity Contact Role

If you use Salesforce, you’re probably aware that any new opportunity created is automatically associated to the account – but not to an individual. This can become problematic in terms of attribution.

Think about it this way: You have an Account that has an Opportunity. This Account has 50 Contacts associated to it in Salesforce, but you are only actively talking with 5 of those Contacts as it relates to the Opportunity. (This is your Buying Committee.) If you are using Contact Roles on the Opportunity, you can isolate the marketing efforts that have reached those 5 Contacts within the Buying Committee. If you are not using Contact Roles, your marketing attribution will include marketing efforts that have reached all 50 contact, no matter if they are engaged in the Buying Committee or not.

This will make your attribution incredibly misleading, bordering on useless. You can fix this issue of implicit reporting by training your team to get into the habit of filling out the Opportunity Contact Role field whenever a new opportunity is created. Since creating new habits can be hard, we recommend creating a validation rule in SFDC that forces Contact Roles on Opportunities. This will tie opportunities to specific individuals and will make your attribution reporting immensely more accurate.

Recommended Resource: Marketing Attribution – How It’s Done in Salesforce

Marketo’s Success in a Program

This piece of Marketo is basically how the software determines whether or not a program has influenced someone. It’s not only crucial to actually use this tool, but it’s also equally important to have user unity around what constitutes success. Think of a tradeshow as an example. Let’s say your goal is to get leads to come to the booth and have a meaningful conversation with a company rep in which they express interest and can then be handed off to sales. Your Success fields might include: “Invited,” “Attended,” “Visited Booth” and “Engaged.” In this scenario, “Engaged” should be the only one designated as Success of the program, because it’s the only action taken that shows influence toward your goal. You simply can’t do attribution unless you understand which activities are influencing people and are tracking that on a consistent basis.

Recommended Resource: Marketing Attribution – How It’s Done in Marketo


3. Recover Historical Data

Once your strategies for acquisition and influence are in place, get started recovering as much historical data as you possibly can. There should be at least some data available, from which you can determine which programs have been previously successful. This can be an intricate and delicate process, and there comes a point when you’ve gone far back enough so you’re only working with the most recent and useful data. If you’re familiar with the law of diminishing returns, you’ll understand that there comes a point where the amount of effort required to recover historical data outweighs the value that data provides. So, find that point, and don’t worry about any data prior to that. For some clients, that can be many years back… for others, that may only be a few months.

At this stage, you also must evaluate how dirty your data is. If you’re like most of the companies I’ve worked with, it’s probably pretty dirty – and one of the biggest culprits is likely duplicate records. Duplicate records can create major problems with attribution and with determining ROI, so one of your highest priorities should be to plug that hole. Find out why duplicate records are being created in the first place, and talk to your team about fixing these broken processes so no further duplicate records are made. Then, use a software tool to merge existing duplicate records.


Once you’ve taken these three steps, you’re well on your way toward meaningful marketing attribution. The groundwork is laid, and the fun can now begin.

If you are struggling with how to get started, don’t get frustrated, LeadMD has helped 1,000’s of organizations understand how to measure attribution – no matter what tool you prefer. If you need a hand, please get in touch with us and we’ll connect you with one of the marketing attribution experts on our team.

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