What is Marketing Attribution – and Why is it Important?

Written by Janet Granger

Marketing attribution is knowing which marketing tactic(s) got you a sale. It sounds simple, right? But it’s not. That’s why people have built models around it and spend a lot of time (and energy) trying to figure it out.

Here’s why.

If you do a lot of marketing – or put out a lot of content – or have ads placed – you want to know if those efforts (and ad spend) are worthwhile. And the only way to know if it’s worthwhile is to understand – looking at your sales – where those sales came from.

Sometimes, marketing attribution is the hardest part of marketing.

Because if someone comes to you and wants to buy your product and they aren’t neatly tied to any particular marketing pathway or sales person, how do you know what worked? What brought them to you?

If you’re an organization that doesn’t have a marketing attribution model set up – or the idea of setting one up is daunting (or too expensive), here are a couple of ways to figure out what marketing is working for you.

Ask at the point of sale or inquiry

This may seem simple – and it is in theory – but it’s often harder to implement than it looks because it requires employee training. An employee needs to ask the person buying or calling in to speak with someone if they’re a customer and, if not, how they heard about the company.

For B2B, this is really important and can be easier than in a B2C environment. For example, if you’re at a HQ location, the person answering the phone (at a general number) asks each and every new prospect  how they heard about the company.

Watch the gap between marketing and sales

If you don’t have an attribution model set up, it’s important to understand exactly what happens between marketing and sales. How does sales get the lead? What’s the transfer process?

If a CRM system is in place, it should be easier to see all the marketing touchpoints that led to a prospect email or call. But should is the operative word. If there are other “sales incentives” in place that can lead sales people to play games with the CRM system, the success of marketing’s work can be under-stated.

Get a CRM system

If you don’t have a CRM system in place, this is where they can be very helpful. Understanding all the touchpoints along the way to a sale can illustrate what marketing is working and what isn’t. It can also help illuminate where there are gaps, and people are dropping out.

Watch the data

If you have a CRM system, it’s important to use it! Too often, marketers get caught up in the day-to-day work of getting campaigns out, and spend too little time analyzing the data. It’s important to set aside at least one day each month to look closely at the data. Perhaps have more than one person reviewing it, so you can have a dialogue about what it means. If you have all that data at your disposal but aren’t using it – then you’re not seeing how to be most efficient and effective in your marketing.

Not sure how to measure your marketing attribution? Contact me and let’s chat!

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Janet Granger

Janet Granger is the VP of Marketing at the Meeting Pool, getting the word out about Virtual Events and Meetings, talking about the 160 online events we managed during COVID-19. Our expertise in this area is unparalleled and Janet is focusing on hybrid events in 2021. There will always be a place for hybrid and Janet’s goal is to “get the word out” that the Meeting Pool covers more territory and has greater expertise than any other organization. In addition to her role at the Meeting Pool, Janet writes and speaks about digital strategy, inclusive marketing, and the inter-generational divide in the workplace. With over 25 years of marketing and strategy experience, she published "OK Boomer! Revelations of a Baby Boomer Working With Millennials" in 2020 (Amazon) to follow up "Digital Influence for Baby Boomers: Why you should care and yes, you can do this!" (Amazon) in 2016. Janet has an MBA in Marketing and Management from Columbia University and lives in Fort Lauderdale, FL. She is Chair of the Branding Council for the Greater Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce, also serving on the Board of Directors.