Attribution is something many marketers struggle with – especially in the modern digital age – and a challenge that can put an enormous strain on sales and marketing alignment. Most organizations can’t determine, with any real certainty, where their marketing budget is being spent and where it should be spent.
Therein lies the challenge of multi-channel attribution, henceforth referred to as MCA.
The problem with MCA in today’s digital world is that prospects will go through several digital marketing channels – email, organic search, paid ads, YouTube, social media, referral, etc – before converting to a customer. Marketers and CEOs need to know how much credit to allocate to each channel, touchpoint and lead source.
The solution? Move beyond the lead source in Salesforce.com. Instead, use the Campaigns feature to get real answers to your MCA questions.
Different MCA Models
Before we dive into the benefits of using campaigns over lead sources in Salesforce.com, let’s look at several different models for MCA that are commonly used by businesses today:
1. Last interaction / Click attribution
This is a standard model used erroneously, one that disproportionately allocates all the credit for conversion to the very last channel interaction before the prospect converts. For the modern buyer – who does much of his own research and outreach, and is certainly influenced and touched by a variety of channels – this model doesn’t make much sense, and ultimately paints an incomplete picture of how your prospects are really converting.
2. First interaction / Click attribution
Similar to the first model, this one instead rewards the first interaction, instead of the last. This is just as incomplete in helping Marketing VPs make real determinations about the efficacy of their efforts. If the first channel was so effective at converting, why did the prospect then subsequently interact with so many other channels? It may be true that the first interaction – just like the last interaction discussed above – did play a significant role in converting your prospects, but to say it played the entire role would not be fair.
3. Linear attribution
In the interest of fairness, this attribution model essentially throws up its hands in exasperation and just gives each channel the exact same credit. Which simply isn’t accurate at all. This model doesn’t really give you any answers either. You’re trying to identify the most influential campaign, so treating each channel as equals – when in reality, an eBook might have been read heavily, a blog post sparingly, and a YouTube video not watched at all – brings you back to square one.
4. Time decay attribution
The basic foundation of this model is that as time passes, and with each channel the prospect interacts with, they will be increasingly likely to convert. Therefore, the channel closest to conversion – the last one – gets the most credit, with each channel preceding it getting proportionately less credit. This isn’t a perfect model, but it does make common sense. After all, if the first one or two channels were so effective, it stands to reason that the prospect would have converted at those touchpoints. Instead, the prospect needed to interact with other campaigns to be influenced enough by your marketing efforts and convert to a customer.
The Benefits of Using Campaigns in Salesforce.com
As presently constructed in its basic instance, Salesforce users will enter the origin of each lead by using the “Lead Source” picklist. But what happens when the prospect responds to a second, third and fourth outreach from your company? If you ignore the new lead source, your data will not be accurate. If you overwrite the existing lead source, you are destroying information and still rendering your data inaccurate. If you create a duplicate lead to track the new lead source, you will cause mass confusion and further degrade your data quality. (In case you can’t tell, data hygiene and accuracy is critical when working in Salesforce.com.)
That’s why campaigns are much more effective, both in getting proper attribution and in acting as a system of checks and balances against data rot. By rolling up similar lead sources into broader umbrella campaigns – for instance, a Best Practices eBook, an Expert Webinar, or a social media campaign – you can track which leads and contacts are target participants (i.e. they were sent a marketing email), respondents (i.e. they replied to that email) and store the sequence of all these participation and response.
Marketing managers can then pull the appropriate report and get the visibility they need. They can look at the entire history – every interaction – that every prospect has attempted and completed. Follow this trail from completed deals all the way back up to first touch to pinpoint the specific impact of each campaign on each opportunity, and better calculate your ROI.
To take things a step further, you can use the SFDC Campaign Influence feature to find to track all the campaigns that had some type of influence, and measure the effectiveness of campaigns in converting opportunities and to deals. You can export that influencing data to a third-party analytics solution – like ours! – to get influencing, first-touch and last-touch reports that answer:
Which campaigns influenced the most opportunities?
Which campaigns had the highest conversion rates?
Which levers should you be pulling more, and which ones should you be pulling less?
Multi-channel attribution is a difficult challenge for marketing teams to tackle, one that is made more palatable by switching your focus from lead sources in Salesforce.com to working with campaigns. In an upcoming blog post, we’ll talk about how to set up campaigns and some best practices for campaign management in Salesforce.com.