B2B Marketing Blog

Measure ROI on "Hardest to Track" B2B Marketing Channels [Using Attribution]

By Lauren Frye
Oct 25, 2016
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In a recent 2016 article, MarketingProfs highlighted an interesting fact about senior marketers’ positions regarding which marketing channels are easiest to track. The information was garnered from a Millward Brown report and surveyed over 300 senior-level marketers.

Based on these survey responses, the report found that marketers place various marketing channels on a “easy-to-track” continuum. Some channels are considered “easy” to track, and other channels are deemed “harder” to track.

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However, should marketing channels be more or less difficult to track? Any area of marketing that is worth any monetary investment should also be associated with proper methods of measuring the profitability of that investment. Traditional tracking methods might be insufficient to track “harder” channels, such as direct mail, mobile, traditional media, social, content marketing, events, and webinars. But is this a reasonable conclusion given today’s martech environment?

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The martech industry has advanced to the point that B2B marketers no longer need to be limited by these types of tracking conundrums.

If this is true, how do marketers track these “hardest to track” channels?

How attribution changes channel reporting:

Attribution is the process of tracking every touchpoint across all channels, both online and offline. It stands to reason that, for a martech solution with this capability, it would be relatively simple to measure ROI from these “harder to track” channels. This is, in fact, the case.

Every page on a website is equipped with javascript tracking that captures every website touchpoint. UTM parameters added to URLS can track a plethora of other digital channels. And because an advanced attribution solution integrates seamlessly with a CRM, those touchpoints are captured and displayed for each contact/lead and account.

But why does this make a difference, exactly? Take a look at the following “hardest to track” channels and see how much of a difference it can make.

[1] Webinars

If marketers are unable to link the attendees of a webinar to up-funnel ads or down-funnel conversions, it’s almost impossible to accurately assess the ROI of a webinar. Not only do you have to know the effectiveness of the spend used to promote the webinar, but you also have to determine the revenue that eventually resulted from webinar attendance.

Because attribution tracks all prospects and leads across all channels, it’s easy to filter attribution data to show the ROI of a webinar. All registrants of a webinar will have a touchpoint within their buying journey that corresponds to that webinar campaign. As a result, all it takes is to filter a CRM report based on the webinar URL, and you can see the number of attendees that eventually resulted in x number of conversions and x amount of revenue.

These figures are affected by the type of multi-touch attribution model chosen. In the example below, the revenue report is based on a W-shaped model.

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[2] Content Marketing

While it can seem like a difficult channel to track, content marketing is actually an easy channel to track using attribution. Advanced attribution solutions use a tactic that tracks URLs via javascript, so it’s rather simple to attribute revenue to certain pieces of content.

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When accounts have run their course through the sales pipeline and either closed as a win or loss, an attribution solution will total the revenue attributed to various blog articles, landing pages, or other types of online content. These content pieces are associated with a revenue value that shows how much money they generated for the company.

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[3] Social

Using similar methods described above (UTM parameters and javascript web tracking), social channels become very easy to track. Customize your own UTMs, link them to the proper campaign in Salesforce, and watch the numbers climb over time as leads, opps, and revenue generated by your campaign begin to appear in your report.

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ROI reports can be far more intricate and complex than the example above, but attribution can handle however many filters or fields you’re inclined to use. Filter by touchpoint record count, lead creation, opp stage, or revenue generation. It all depends on the numbers you need and the insights you’re looking to discover.

[4] Events / Conferences

Events and conferences have historically been very difficult to track. However, since all leads are linked to an email address (usually), it’s easy to track offline touchpoints -- such as events. And, because advanced attribution programs integrate directly into the CRM, offline touchpoints integrate seamlessly into the buying journey within each contact/account touchpoint report.

The following report is filtered by campaign name, opportunity count, and revenue generated by those touchpoints. This way, marketers can finally see the exact ROI of their event efforts. They can see on no uncertain terms whether the event in question was worth the investment.

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With the capabilities of an attribution solution, channels that have been “hardest to track” can be just as easy to track as the easy ones. There doesn’t have to be a transparency discrepancy, and many companies are realizing the power of attribution insights when choosing channel investments. Attribution arms you with the information you need to achieve your highest possible levels of ROI on your marketing spend. Make every marketing dollar profitable.

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