What no one is telling you (until now) about marketing attribution technology

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A famous 20th century marketing pioneer, John Wanamaker, once said, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” No business maxim uttered before or since has better captured the value proposition of marketing and its counterintuitive conclusion.

At first glance, things have not changed much since the Golden Age of advertising. For example, according to SiriusDecisions, a leading global B2B research and advisory firm, 81 percent of recent survey respondents wish to make budget allocations based on marketing tactic effectiveness. And 79 percent want to prove marketing’s return on investment (ROI).

Fortunately, B2B technology today allows marketers to say with a more certain degree of confidence which sales leads come from what promotion channels. With that information, CMOs can better optimize their marketing mix spend to deliver a superior customer experience.

Giving customers what they want when they want it with technology

Offering each customer segment exactly what it wants, precisely when and where it wants it is the Holy Grail of B2B marketers. That is easier now than ever before thanks to marketing attribution, a data-driven understanding and laser-focused measurement of marketing effectiveness, as noted by The Marek Group, which works with B2B companies to craft and execute marketing attribution strategies. “Technology is at the heart of marketing attribution,” says a Marek spokesperson. “And there are new cross-channel tools marketers can use to measure digital, offline, mobile and affiliate marketing ROI.”

One such tool is a just launched B2B marketing platform called Accomplice that seeks to link business outbound ads and social content with bottom-line objectives. According to a company spokesperson, Accomplice’s workflow covers the entire process from message creation all the way to attributable web conversion. “The platform’s big differentiator is that it works across all the channels that marketers use daily—social media, paid ads, email and content marketing,” she says. “There are a bunch of platforms doing one or the other in different ways, but Accomplice believes they are the first to provide this end-to-end picture.”

Phone calls still in the marketing mix

Elsewhere, old-school marketing techniques such as cold calling still have a place in the marketing budgets of many B2B companies. But could anything like cold calling be harder to verify as the source of a sales lead? While there might not be an answer to that rhetorical question, there may be an answer to calls returned to a B2B company’s phone system.

For example, according to Forbes Magazine, 80 percent of potential customers hang up if they are directed to voicemail or an automated response. To reduce that bounce rate, companies such as LiveAnswer can provide a cloud contact center solution to ensure that all returned customer calls are answered live and their results tracked.

“LiveAnswer tags incoming calls from multiple customer (company) phone numbers to measure performance,” says a LiveAnswer spokesperson. “This allows your team to track lead generation and determine what methods provide the most return. LiveAnswer not only enables its customers to track—in real time—effectiveness of methods, but also shows its versatility by allowing real-time modification.”

Another call tracking application from ResponseTap also enables marketing attribution from incoming phone conversations. Moreover, phone calls can be attributed to search queries, impressions and clicks on websites. “The software helps companies provide a seamless omnichannel experience for their customers as they move across offline and online channels via the contact center,” says a ResponseTap spokesperson. “Using Big Data acquired by tracking every assist click enables marketers to optimize each touchpoint along the (buyer’s) journey and to identify specifically which clicks really matter and prompt calls.”

By pairing website data to specific pre-call actions, ResponseTap allows B2B marketers to see what parts of their online spend drive phone contacts. For example, one ResponseTap customer implemented its solution and gained more in-depth knowledge about keywords typically searched by customers. These were then attributed to specific phone calls. Consequently, call volume increased 121 percent in one quarter and call duration escalated on average by 20 percent, suggesting more engaged customers more likely to buy.

Don’t neglect quizzes and contests

Now more than ever, B2B end-users are in the driver’s seat with 65 percent or more of customer information gathering being completed before a B2B company rep is ever contacted. As a result customer engagement and even outright entertainment has become a necessity in converting intent signals to leads to sales. In some cases, customer engagement and tracking can be combined. One company doing that is Easypromos, an online solution provider of trackable quizzes and contests. The company is seeing increased interest in quizzes and surveys as a way for clients to reach (out) and build loyalty,  says Brian McNeil-Smith, general manager, Easypromos, North America. “The challenge is ensuring that the technology is simple, customizable and shareable across all platforms.”

According to Easypromos, with its platform B2B businesses can segment their databases of participants, add them to social CRM nurturing programs or mailing lists and calculate ROI and impact of online campaigns. In that way, both current customers and prospects are served equally. That’s important because “now” buyers make up less than 5 percent of prospects, says Walter Wise, president and CEO, BPI Strategy Group, an integrated revenue capture process consultancy. Forgetting the other 95 percent is a serious mistake, he says. “You have to nurture those ‘lookers’ so when they are ready to buy, they would be a fool to buy from anyone else but you,” Wise adds.

However, how much social CRM information is too much to gather, asks McNeil-Smith. Marketers need to define that line before losing a lead, he says. Currently, Easypromos is turning the technology on itself to B2B market its own services in a stronger way through social media technology.

‘Still a long way to go’

For all the advances seen in B2B marketing attribution technology, it’s only scratched the surface. Or so goes the assessment of current online attribution according to Nick Jordan, senior vice president, product and strategy, Tapad, a provider of cross-screen advertising technology.

Jordan feels online attribution still has a long way to go. And while he sees siloed ad buying still happening, it is quickly becoming extinct. Overall, in the next 12 months Jordan foresees advancement in attribution, including an increase in mobile spend and cross-device attribution, which he sees driven by continued growth of mobile, exploding video advertising and more direct subscription services.

Main photo of Brian McNeil-Smith, general manager, Easypromos, North America, courtesy Easypromos

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Derek Handova

Derek Handova

Derek Handova is a veteran journalist writing on various B2B vertical beats. He started out as associate editor of Micro Publishing News, a pioneer in coverage of the desktop publishing space and more recently as a freelance writer for Digital Journal, Economy Lead (finance and IR beats) and Intelligent Utility (electrical transmission and distribution beats).
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