Marketing Attribution Readiness
So, you’re interested in marketing attribution, but you aren’t sure if you’re ready for it. This is a very common concern for organizations that are starting to kick the tires on attribution. You don’t want to buy a tool that you aren’t ready for and potentially waste a bunch of money on a platform you can’t get value from. You’re very right to be thinking about these things. This article is designed to help you know if you are ready for marketing attribution. We’ll cover these items in detail and then also provide you with a marketing attribution readiness checklist at the end.
Get your UTMs Right
We already covered some of the best practices in this video, so you should start there. But, here’s the thing… a marketing attribution platform doesn’t really care if you use all caps, all lowercase or whatever. A marketing attribution platform cares that you’re consistent. That’s it.
So, you need to take a look at your UTM usage and see if it’s consistent. Are you using the same values in your UTM source and UTM medium parameters? Or, are you all over the place?
If you’re consistent, you’re good. If you’re all over the place, you need to get it under control. We highly recommend using a UTM builder tool for your organization. You can download ours, here. Or… if you have a large team that is creating and using UTMs, you may benefit from a tool such as UTM.io.
But without this critical piece, you’ll really struggle to get value from a marketing attribution tool. The good news is… this is a really quick and easy one to fix.
Master CRM Campaigns
This one is not quite as easy as the UTMs though. Here are the key things that you have to get right.
- Sync marketing engagement from your marketing automation platform (MAP) to a corresponding CRM Campaign
- Be diligent about your Campaign Type values
- Campaign Types will be used to categorize your touchpoints into channels and subchannels, so you have to make sure that you’re using the correct Campaign Type every time
- Be diligent about your Campaign Member statuses
- You may want to create a touchpoint when a member reaches a specific status as opposed to another status. An example would be creating a touchpoint when someone attends a webinar as opposed to just being sent an invitation. So, you need to have a standard set of Campaign Member Statuses that align to each individual Campaign Type. And you have to be consistent in how you use these.
- The “Responded” checkbox can also help
- You may also want to create a touchpoint when a member reaches the “Responded” status(es). So, have a plan for which statuses should result in the “Responded” checkbox being checked. And then stick with that plan and use it the same way every time.
If you’re doing the above four things well, then you’ll have the foundation in place to create touchpoints from your CRM Campaigns. If you aren’t, then get started creating and executing this plan.
Mirror your Databases
This one is sure to get some pushback, and it’s not 100% necessary, but it can cause issues.
Some organizations sequester records in their marketing automation platform (MAP) until they reach a certain stage (say, MQL) before syncing those records from their MAP to their CRM. This is a fairly common practice… and it can cause issues with attribution. Let’s look at an example.
You go a tradeshow, and at the tradeshow, you meet a prospect… let’s call her Hermione Ranger. After the tradeshow, you import Hermione’s record into your MAP, but because she didn’t indicate that she was ready to talk to sales, you don’t immediately sync her into your CRM. Therefore, Hermione’s record only exists in your MAP.
Three months later, Hermione fills out a Request a Demo form and then syncs from the MAP to the CRM. At that point, she also syncs into the CRM Campaign that you created for the tradeshow you met her at, which then creates the touchpoint that tracks that we met her at the tradeshow… three months after the tradeshow. What do you think the date of that touchpoint is going to be? Most likely, it’s going to be the date that synced to the CRM, and therefore became a member of that CRM Campaign. But, that’s not accurate.
If you don’t mirror your databases and Hermione doesn’t sync to the CRM immediately, you run the risk of having touchpoints that don’t have the accurate date. And this can cause a lot of operational work on your part just making sure that touchpoints have the right date. That sounds like a nightmare to us.
So, we highly highly recommend having mirrored databases so that you don’t run into this challenge.
Use Standard Objects and Fields as Much as Possible
CRMs are super customizable. They allow you to create custom fields and custom objects to help make sure that the CRM meets the needs of your organization as much as possible. And with that customization possible, it’s super tempting to use custom fields and custom objects. But, that could cause issues with marketing attribution platforms.
Marketing attribution platforms are built and designed to work with most instances of CRM. That means that they are designed to work with standard fields and objects. In some cases, they can work with custom fields… but it’s rare that they can work with custom objects.
We worked with a client that had used a custom field on the Campaign record in lieu of the standard Campaign Type field. The marketing attribution platform couldn’t work with that. So, we had to reverse engineer that so that the standard Campaign Type field was being used.
We worked with another client that was using a custom object in lieu of the Opportunity object. The marketing attribution platform can’t do that at all. So, they had to reverse engineer that whole object and make it work with the Opportunity object. That was a huge nightmare for that client.
Now, that doesn’t mean that you can’t use any custom fields. Most attribution platforms are able to reorient to a custom Amount field on the Opportunity object. So, using custom fields isn’t a complete problem… it’s just something to be aware of and steer away from as much as possible.
Opportunity Contact Roles
This one is not a mandatory thing. You don’t have to use Opportunity Contact Roles (OCRs). But, they’re certainly going to help.
First off, what are OCRs? OCRs are the standard, out of the box, methodology in CRM to create a relationship between the Opportunity and the Contacts that are involved in it. Opportunities are automatically related to Accounts… but Accounts could have 100s of Contacts, most of which have nothing to do with the Opportunity. OCRs allow us to connect only those Contacts that are involved in the Opportunity, with the Opportunity.
Now, some organizations build a custom object, or custom fields, to substitute for OCRs. But, this won’t help marketing attribution platforms… see above.
Most marketing attribution platforms will offer you the option of taking an account-based approach to attribution, or an OCR-based approach. Here’s how they’re different.
The account-based approach will allow all touchpoints, from all contacts related to the Account, to factor into the attribution story for all opportunities associated with the Account. So, if you have an Account with 100 Contacts, all 100 Contacts will have their marketing engagement count against all attribution stories for all Opportunities.
This runs the risk of overstating or mis-attributing marketing’s impact on any given Opportunity.
This approach restricts the attribution story for a given Opportunity to only those Contacts associated to the Opportunity via the OCR.
This means that only those Contacts that we know played a role in the Opportunity will have their touchpoints applied to the attribution story for that Opportunity.
This is a much more laser-focused approach to attribution.
Again… you don’t have to use Opportunity Contact Roles to use attribution. But, if you want your attribution data to be laser-focused, then it’s something you need to embrace and start getting good and consistent with.
Management and Ownership
Do you have someone in your organization with the time and energy to own and maintain your attribution platform?
Similarly to how you have someone in your organization that owns and maintains your CRM and your MAP, someone has to have their hands on the wheel of your attribution platform. It’s nowhere near the same amount of work as owning and maintaining a CRM or a MAP. But, someone has to keep an eye on the data. Someone has to add new tracking processes when you onboard a new channel or tactic. Someone has to hold people accountable for when they don’t use Campaign Types or Member Statuses properly.
Wrap it Up
Onboarding a new platform is always a risk. And it’s usually going to take a bunch of work to get it up and running and integrated with your systems. Attribution platforms are no different.
These items above are the most common things that can derail an onboarding experience or make an organization not be successful with their new attribution platform. If you can make sure that your organization has these things in place, then your onboarding experience should go well, and you should be well-positioned to start getting value from an attribution platform.
We’ve included a couple resources to help you with your prep work.