The new attribution challenge: Understanding how marketing and sales work together
When it comes to attribution, many businesses face a huge disconnect between their sales and marketing teams. Contributor Shane Murphy takes a look at the challenge and how to solve it.
Proper attribution is one of the biggest challenges marketers face. I’ve experienced this firsthand in my role as VP of marketing at AdRoll; I’m responsible for reporting on the impact of my team’s marketing efforts and dedicating resources toward the activities that drive the business.
Our customers have the same imperative, which is why they invest in assigning credit to the interactions that generate revenue. A CMO Survey found that 73 percent of businesses plan to increase their spending on marketing analytics in the next three years.
Measurement is vital, but it’s nearly impossible to show the impact of marketing on the business without a cross-functional view. Marketing and sales teams work together to acquire customers, but many marketers — including me, until recently — use attribution models that ignore this reality. These models can account for a number of customer touch points, but they are only complete when they assess the interplay between marketing and sales.
I learned this while building AdRoll’s 2017 acquisition budget with our chief revenue officer, Suresh Khanna. I had a model to measure the return on investment (ROI) of inbound marketing efforts, and he had a model for the ROI of outbound sales efforts. However, these two models weren’t linked. We needed to rethink how we measure marketing and sales at AdRoll, which required expanding our view of attribution. Here’s what I learned from this process:
The disconnect between marketing and sales is an expensive problem
Under the old system, my team was tracking the marketing resources it took to move prospects to conversion, but not how much more revenue we were getting thanks to outreach from sales. Similarly, our sales teams knew how much of their resources it took to clinch a contract, but not the extent to which our marketing efforts helped to close those deals. Meanwhile, using two separate models meant we were often double-counting the impact of marketing and sales, which made our ROI calculations unreliable.
This disconnect isn’t exclusive to our business. A recent survey by Callidus found 84 percent of B2B sales and marketing teams are misaligned. This can cost businesses 10 percent in annual revenue due to missed opportunities and redundant efforts.
Many businesses, including ours, are shifting toward account-based marketing (ABM) to plan more efficiently across marketing and sales and increase profitability overall. Still, the attribution problem remains.
Calculating ROI requires understanding all possible scenarios for closing a deal
In the past, our marketing team measured performance against fairly basic metrics — the number of leads driven by marketing and the revenue that came from those leads. We didn’t take into account whether the lead was truly inbound or already in the sales funnel.