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Watching television in the 90s, people rarely complained about the low fidelity of their television screen. It’s what people were used to, so they didn’t have expectations of anything better. Just to put this in context, in the late 90s, a high-tech Philips plasma television had a screen resolution of 852 x 480 and cost $15,000.

But not until higher definition televisions were introduced did anyone really notice just how bad that was. Today, many would consider that resolution unwatchable on a big screen, compared to 4k screens with a resolution of 3840 x 2160.

Not until you’ve seen just how much better it can be do you realize the state of your current status quo.


The same concept applies to marketing attribution data.

The status quo of legacy attribution is to track digital marketing interactions through hidden fields that pass data to Salesforce campaigns. While it’s better than nothing, it’s a low-fidelity solution.

Tracking through Salesforce campaigns limits marketers to try to understand complex, data-rich interactions with just one dimension, typically the lead source. When marketers compile these interactions into a full buyer journey, the low-fidelity compounds, leading to bad analysis, ineffective optimizations, and ultimately, disappointing performance.

Salesforce Campaigns

Salesforce campaigns are designed to handle list uploads. The functionality is great for events and conferences, where you come back with a big list of people that you talked to at your booth. This could also apply to things like content syndication where every few weeks you get a list of people who downloaded your content from a third party website or even a list of people that you sent direct mail to.

The common thread between activities that are good fits for Salesforce campaigns is that they are naturally one dimensional: there aren’t numerous ads, assets, website pages, etc. A contact from a booth visit is a contact from a booth visit. There isn’t a ton of other information that you could squeeze out.

The trouble with using Salesforce campaigns to track digital marketing

However, when it comes to tracking digital marketing, Salesforce campaigns are limiting for this very reason. Digital marketing tends to be more complex and there are many layers or dimensions that you want to account for. Two people who download the same ebook could have drastically different paths to get there.

For example, here’s a common engagement our prospects have with our LinkedIn ads:

A prospect who has visited our site before, but has never filled out a form, is served a LinkedIn ad for our ebook, “B2B Marketing Attribution 101.” It sounds interesting, so she clicks on the ad. Once she gets there, she decides that she wants something more in-depth, so she navigates to our resource library and proceeds to download “6 Reasons to Implement Multi-Touch Attribution Right Now.”

If you were to try to track this interaction through Salesforce campaigns, a ton of important information would be missing. Depending on how the page was set up, it might only capture one dimension, the lead source. If the hidden form field was dependent on UTM parameters from the ad, it wouldn’t even capture the lead source because our prospect navigated away from the original landing page.

At best you get one piece of data, at worst you get nothing.

Beyond just the lead source, there is so much more information that could be collected related to this interaction. Not only do you want both the channel and the subchannel (Paid Social and LinkedIn, respectively), you want the landing page (B2B Marketing Attribution 101), the form URL (6 Reasons to Implement Multi-Touch Attribution Right Now), the specific ad that was served on LinkedIn, and the ad campaign that it was a part of. There’s even information about the user that could be passed: their city, region, and country, their device and platform.

Each dimension helps create a more vivid picture of the buyer journey and helps marketers better understand their prospects.

If you’re just scrolling through, here’s what you need to know: Salesforce campaigns are sufficient for tracking offline marketing, but extremely limiting for digital marketing.

Fortunately, legacy attribution is just that: legacy. There’s a better way to do it. From API connections into ad networks, to smarter JavaScript that tracks web sessions from landing page to form fill and beyond, marketers are not dependent on campaign tracking.

When you see the better data, there’s no way you can go back.