One of the most rewarding things for marketers is to see the results of our efforts. Once you start seeing the amount of form submissions and conversions from a specific piece of content you’ve spent weeks if not months on, you know you’re doing your job right.
Reaching your conversion goals is just one part of the equation, though. The most gratifying part of our job is to see how much revenue the company is getting from each marketing effort, which is what matters most to the executive team.
But how do you actually show the ROI of your efforts? That’s where marketing attribution and attribution reporting come to play.
What is attribution reporting?
Attribution reporting is about giving credit to all your different marketing efforts. With attribution reporting, you’ll be able to tell which specific activities, channels, and/or campaigns are generating the most results. It will tell you the following:
- Which channels your customers are coming from
- Which pieces of content they’re consuming
- Which stage of their Buyer’s Journey they’re consuming during these pieces, and even
- Which campaigns are more effective at different stages of the Buyer’s Journey
Why should marketers use attribution reporting?
To answer this question, we reached out to a number of marketing and reporting experts. Here are some of the reasons they use attribution for their own organizations:
1. It helps you create a story (path) of how your marketing efforts are coming together to reach your revenue goals.
"It's important to remember that attribution reports aren't disclosing any data that doesn't already exist. Attribution reports are simply combining your existing data in new ways. Said another way, attribution is giving you a new lens to how all your marketing activities are coming together to tell the story of how you're reaching your goals.
If attribution reports are giving you the lens to understand your customers' journeys, attribution models are giving you the language to express those journeys in different ways. For example, the linear model is great at giving you a holistic view of which interactions are most common among all your journeys, while the last interaction model is great for understanding what interactions are most common right before a contact reaches the attribution report's goal. Leveraging different attribution models allows you to take action by comparing which channel is performing better, which asset is performing better, and where you should invest more resources to drive better results next time."
— Davis Mastin, HubSpot Product Manager, Marketing Reporting
2. It gives you insight into what is currently working to drive revenue and pipeline.
"From my perspective, when it comes to attribution reporting, the most important reason that marketers need to think very hard about using attribution reporting is, it gives us insights into what’s really working to impact the metrics we actually care about.
In this world, it’s very easy to get hung up on generating as many leads as we can to get over to our sales team. But if we are focused on generating revenue and pipeline for our business and aligning ourselves with the sales and business goals, we need to be focusing on doing the things that are actually driving pipeline and revenue.
So in a nutshell, the most important thing is to be using attribution reporting as a way to understand which of your marketing investments are actually helping to generate the metrics you’re looking for, to generate pipeline and revenue, so that you can continue to invest in those programs to fuel your success and continuously improve the results of your marketing programs as they impact pipeline and revenue—not as just they impact your top-of-the-funnel lead gen goals."
— Tyler Lessard, VP of Marketing at Vidyard
3. It helps you understand the most common paths to conversion and tells you the average number of touches prior to conversion..
"A customer can have hundreds of interactions with a brand before ever making a purchase.
Sure, you might know what landing page a customer converted on, but what about all the social posts, ads, and other site pages that also influenced their decision to buy? All these interactions should change how you allocate resources so that you can maximize ROI.
But understanding the customer journey can be hard, and it means you need a more sophisticated way to measure what channels and assets are creating sales opportunities. That’s why marketers are relying on attribution reports.
Attribution reports assign credit to the various touchpoints in the conversion path. It helps you understand trends and the journey that someone takes from the first time they set foot on your website to the time they become a customer. After all, for you to be successful, you need to understand all the influences that drive conversions.
The value in this type of report is you can now pinpoint the exact marketing efforts that led to a conversion. By using this information, you can make better-informed decisions about where to invest your time and resources."
— Jorie Munroe, Inbound Professor at HubSpot Academy
4. It enables you to get additional headcount and budget.
If you can’t bring the leads to the yard, it’s very hard to get the budget, the staff, and the momentum that you need internally in the organization.
If you can’t bring the leads to the website you will die a slow agonizing death. Therefore you gotta measure everything. One of the most important things to measure to get additional headcount and budget is attribution.
That’s what marketing is—it’s a science experiment—and without attribution it’s like you’ve got duct tape over your eyes. You can’t really understand what’s really working to continue to refine your flywheel and get the best results. So attribution changes everything.
Marketers have a fighting chance to understand the importance of the marketing function into sales.
— Dan Tyre, Sales Director at HubSpot
After talking to these experts, I have to say, attribution functions as the eyes of a marketer. Attribution will give you a clear vision of what’s working and what’s not. It will help you see if anything you put in front of a client is ultimately translating to what you want to happen, whether it be a conversion or a sale.
When you are using attribution reporting and can demonstrate that your efforts are working, it enables better bottom of the funnel lead capture, helps you secure buy-in, and gets you the resources you need to execute your job.