I recently attended a demand gen and marketing ops Meetup in San Francisco that featured a panel discussion on campaign attribution. While I wasn’t surprised about the interest level, I was surprised by a few things:
- Debate on whether attribution needs to be built on Salesforce
- Debate on trying to do attribution yourself vs buying a solution
- Discussion on who should be using attribution
Does attribution have to be built on Salesforce?
The technical answer is no. Attribution does not have to be built on Salesforce but it should be. As a marketer, you want to get as close as possible to sales so working inside the CRM of the organization is critical. If you’re doing attribution outside of your CRM, you’ll likely be using data that’s different, unless you are constantly re-aligning the data manually. And this problem gets harder as time passes and your platform data diverge. Sales and marketing should have a single source of truth as that makes the conversation easier.
There’s also the question of whether certain CRM systems impact your ability to perform attribution analyses in the future. In other words, which CRM is the best to use? The answer is Salesforce. Why? Because Salesforce is the most ubiquitous CRM system in the world, with a huge ecosystem of developers and CRM specialists. You may ask, why does that matter? Because finding people with the skillset to run applications on the most popular software is much easier than finding a needle in the haystack.
Should I just build attribution myself or buy it?
I honestly can’t believe this is even a debate. But this was a real conversation I had with someone before the panel. The time it takes to build something should not be underestimated. The true cost is the delayed time to market, especially when your competitors are hitting the ground running. What’s more, the time and energy it takes to maintain what’s been built also needs to be considered. And do you really want to dedicate precious resources to constantly ensuring that your custom application plays nicely with your CRM? Salesforce tends to update its software continuously, so manually checking to see if my in-house solutions still work would be a chore. I’m a big fan of having things run in the background and receiving automatic updates so that I can sleep at night knowing my applications just work. There are way more important problems to be spending resources on.
Who should be using attribution?
Every company should be interested in attribution and optimizing marketing based on campaigns that have impact on revenue.
But to be using an attribution solution you have to be doing some serious marketing, in terms of either quantity or diversity of campaigns. If your budget is under $300k it’s probably not worth the investment just yet. You should at least be thinking about it and planning for it. Start by asking: Are my marketing dollars driving returns? Am I spending the right amount of resources? These are the salient questions.
The panel concluded with a question from the audience about what was next for attribution given machine learning. It’s quite exciting to ponder how artificial intelligence will enhance our current systems. What is now a dashboard of data points that require connecting of dots and guesswork soon will be much more prescriptive in giving you the optimal marketing mix for success.
For now, we all have some great tools at our finger-tips that give us the insight to optimize marketing campaigns for the biggest impact. This attribution model cheat sheet is a great guide to measuring your marketing performance.