Think You’re Not Ready for Attribution? Here’s How to Tell


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One of the most common things I hear from marketing teams is that they’d like to get a handle on attribution, but they just don’t know if they’re ready for it. I actually love to hear this because it’s not only smart to use caution before investing in a new tool, but it also shows great self-awareness. Here’s a look at how you can ensure you’re ready for attribution before you dive in, so you can get the most value possible out of the technology.

Ensure Ownership

You might think that data and tech come first in the attribution conversation, but your people are actually just as important. If you get the right folks in the right roles, you’ll prevent a whole host of issues that many organizations face. To that end, make sure you have someone with ample time, energy and knowledge to take on ownership of the marketing attribution platform before you go any further.  

Usually, the best person for the role is the person that manages the marketing automation platform (MAP), with the person that oversees the customer relationship management (CRM)  being an alternate. This is because this individual already knows your MarTech processes, can take a greater strategic look at everything you’re doing and can make changes across the board as needed (e.g. adding in new tracking processes when you onboard a new channel or tactics). When you don’t have one person designated as the owner, it’s all too easy for tactics to fall through the cracks and accountability to suffer.

Get Synchronized

Next, check whether your marketing engagement is synchronized from your MAP to a corresponding CRM campaign. If you do, engagements that aren’t trackable by javascript will still be able to be tracked via a campaign record. This is how you’re going to track things like event and webinar attendance.

Standardize & Achieve Consistency

Customization in your digital tools can seem like the obvious way to go, but custom isn’t always best. In fact, when it comes to attribution, standardizing some of your processes and strategies is necessary to yield the best results. Before you get an attribution platform, pay attention to your:

  • UTM Strategy – Standardize the process for creating and implementing UTMs using a UTM builder. And, most importantly, standardize the values you use. For exapmle, something as innocuous as capitalization can cause confusion in an attribution platform.
  • CRM – Use standard fields, standard objects (for Leads, Contacts, Accounts, Campaigns and Opportunities) and standard Opportunity Contact Roles to connect Contacts to Opportunities – as opposed to custom field(s)/process(es).
  • CRM Campaigns – Make your Campaign Type values, Campaign Member values and Responded checkbox usage uniform. Much like how non-standardized usage of UTMs can cause confusion with an attribution platform, so can non-standard usage of Campaign Types and Campaign Member statuses. Don’t use “booth scan”, “visited booth”, “booth visit” and “scanned at booth” to indicate when someone visits your booth at tradeshow, when just one of those values would suffice. And yes, we’ve seen this exact scenario.

Once you’ve standardized all these elements, your team must get used to using them consistently. After all, a lack of consistency is often what breaks attribution success.

Extra Credit

Technically, this final criterion isn’t a requirement. But, it is strongly recommended in order to be fully ready to hit the ground running and achieve success with attribution. With that in mind, consider whether you have a mirrored database. If you do, all your records will immediately sync from your MAP to your CRM with few exceptions. 

This is important because of trackability, like we touched on a little bit earlier. Here’s more information about how it works. In some organizations, MAP records are kept separate from the CRM system until they reach a certain stage (e.g. MQL). Although this can happen, it can wreak havoc on your attribution attempts. 

Think about a prospect who visits your booth at a trade show, whose information then gets imported into your MAP. But, since they didn’t raise their hand to talk to sales, their not an MQL – and therefore don’t get synced into your CRM system. The interaction with the prospect from your trade show is not trackable by javascript, so the only way to make a touchpoint for them is through a CRM campaign – except that they’re not in your CRM.

At some future point, this same prospect might request a demo on your website, which would then sync their trade show information from your MAP to your CRM. But since this is happening months after the first interaction at the trade show, the date will be wrong and your touchpoints won’t have accurate data. Fixing them requires rework and a lot of wasted time, which can be prevented in the first place by simply mirroring your databases.

Are You Ready For Attribution?

Let’s come back to the original question of whether or not you’re ready for attribution. Take a look at this quick checklist that hits on all the key points we covered here to see if you are:

  1. Do you have someone committed to owning the attribution platform, ideally someone who is already in charge of your MAP?
  2. Is your marketing engagement synchronized from your MAP to a corresponding CRM campaign?
  3. Have you taken the time to standardize your UTM processes, CRM data and CRM campaigns – and are your team members adhering to this uniformity religiously?
  4. Are your databases mirrored?

If you answered yes to at least one through three, you’re in a good spot to implement a marketing attribution platform and start deriving value from it. If you answered yes to one through four? You’re extra ready. Even if you don’t have this foundational groundwork laid, you now know what needs to happen before you can maximize a new system, so you can work toward it and reap all the benefits that attribution has to offer.

Drew Smith
Drew Smith is the CEO and Founder of Attributa where he enjoys helping to solve complex B2B attribution challenges. He is a veteran of Marketo, Marketo Measure and Salesforce consulting and has more than 20 years experience in marketing leadership.


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