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In the early part of the 20th century, psychologist Fritz Heider began research in attribution theory.

Attribution is the process of explaining the causes of behaviors. And in marketing, researchers study the influence of marketing campaigns on decision making, namely the decision to purchase.

Today's online marketers study the forces that influence consumers to convert. 

Whether it’s signing up for a demo, offer, or email list, marketing attribution allows marketer to optimize media spend and compare the value of different marketing channels. It’s the cornerstone of a good pipeline marketing organization.

Fritz Heider studied attribution errors, the tendency to attribute an explanation based on the person and not their context and situation. 

Here's an example, a waiter forgets your order or talks to you as if they are in a rush. They don’t smile. You think they are impatient and unpleasant. But perhaps there’s a situation. Perhaps they received an eviction notice and are wondering where their kids will live next week.

It’s easy to make attribution errors, to believe what we see in the individual, and not the situation.  

This reminds me of a recent story. A man tipped $3,000 dollars when his waitress talked about getting an eviction notice earlier in the month.

Say a marketer looks at data showing all new customers for the month of May, he looks at their campaign source, i.e. the marketing campaign attributed to each customer. He see’s most of the customers have paid search advertising identified as the primary marketing campaign.

He assumes these customers responded well to his paid search campaign and decides to invest more in this channel.

He’s making an attribution error.

He doesn’t really know how much paid search influenced the deal.

While using a CRM to measure marketing campaign influence is better than using marketing tools alone, marketers can still make errors when it comes to identifying the campaigns that influenced decision making.

In this article, we discuss Salesforce campaign attribution and how marketers can measure campaign influence. 

Attributing Revenue With Salesforce Campaign Attribution

Marketers use campaign attribution to measure campaign influence, i.e. how campaigns generated revenue by influencing prospects to buy.

Currently, a Salesforce Campaign can be assigned to an Opportunity as a Primary Campaign Source (that's the name of the field).

Marketers can set one Primary Campaign Source for each contact. This is ideal for marketers with a limited number of campaigns.

For B2B marketers, they should distribute credit to multiple campaigns to provide an accurate measure of how all campaigns perform. 

Without this, marketers cannot accurately attribute the influence of their marketing campaigns to revenue.

During long sales cycles prospects engage with multiple campaigns, many of which influence the buying decision. For example, there are campaigns that drive brand discovery, and there are campaigns designed to help close the deal via educational content.

Assigning one campaign to one Salesforce contact does not accurately measure how multiple marketing campaigns influence a prospect.

When dealing with many campaigns, marketers need to be able to assign multiple campaigns to contacts in their CRM. From there marketers can attribute revenue using a model like W-Shaped Attribution.

Getting Smart About Campaign Attribution

Being specific is an important concept in marketing attribution which we recently talked about in our B2B marketing attribution overview post.

There are broad level channels like events and conferences. Then there are parent/child campaigns where a large campaign is composed of smaller campaigns.  

For example, a company does events marketing and holds conferences for CTO’s, their ideal customer. They hold conferences across the world. In this instance, the parent campaign is [CTO_World_Tour] and the child campaign is [CTO_World_Tour_London]. 

Using parent/child campaigns, marketers can compare performance of different campaigns and measure with specificity which campaigns are influencing the most prospects.

Marketers can also define campaigns based on the call-to-action, conference sponsorships, content asset, PPC keyword or PPC keyword groups.

Making Decisions Based On Campaign Attribution Data

Marketers use Salesforce campaign attribution to decide which marketing campaigns should be scaled, and which campaigns should no longer be invested in.

The primary metrics used to measure campaign performance are:

--Lead to sales qualified lead (SQL) conversion rate

--SQL to sales closed conversion rate

--Campaign ROI

--Revenue generated from campaign

Identifying poor performing and high performing campaigns means marketers don't waste budget on campaigns that have zero influence. 

Salesforce Campaign Attribution vs. Lead Source

When identifying the activities that are generating business, marketers may look at Lead Source data. Lead Source tells marketers what channels leads convert from.

Channels include organic search, PPC, paid social, retargeting, and etc.

Here’s a list of Lead Sources:

Using Lead Source data is ideal for organizations with limited channels and short sales cycles. 

In these cases it is not important what happens at the beginning, middle and end of the sales cycle.

With a simple sales cycles, marketers identify the strongest lead generation channels, and these leads either quickly convert into customers or abandon the transaction. Prospects don’t progress through many channels before they convert and as a result, there are fewer touchpoints to track and fewer campaigns to monitor.

In contrast, Lead Source data becomes less helpful for B2B companies. Lead Source measures only the last channel before the conversion.

The Lead Source is not inclusive of all the campaigns contacts were a part of during their journey through a B2B marketing funnel

In B2B, marketing campaigns that drive brand discovery and the numerous touchpoints prior to closing a deal (e.g. email marketing and PPC) are important for generating revenue.

Final Thoughts

Despite being able to track every touchpoint and every interaction, getting that data connected inside a CRM is difficult. This is why we built Bizible.

It’s even more difficult to align that data in time sequence to reflect the journey through the pipeline.

Marketers who begin the job of getting data connected and aligned will be able to avoid the attribution error that is all too easy to make in day-to-day life, and in marketing.

We've come a long way since the research of Fritz Heider. Marketers adopted attribution theory and we're moving closer to measuring campaign success with exceptional accuracy.