• Blog
  • Dec 04, 2017
  • By Jeff Keenan
Marketing Automation AND Attribution: The Unbeatable Team

Marketing automation tools help streamline inbound marketing and keep things humming for lead nurturing. But for a complete 360 view on your marketing efforts, marketing attribution is a logical next step. This article tells you exactly how marketing automation tools AND attribution technology will help you enter the realm of marketing genius!

Marketing automation has grown up… marketing attribution is the next big thing

91% of the most successful users agree that marketing automation is “very important” to the success of their marketing across channels. Impressive numbers, but what might surprise you even more, is that marketing attribution is becoming ever more popular. 69% of marketers believe marketing attribution is now “important” or “critical”.  As we speak, marketing attribution tools are rapidly becoming a requirement for just about any self-respecting marketer.

You want to discover if your favorite automation program can be used for proper marketing attribution. Many of the big players in marketing automation will give you the option to create marketing attribution reports. Surely, the big players always get it right, right? But are they as useful as you think?

When it comes to attribution, chances are those marketing automation tools are all you ever tried. But there’s more to marketing attribution than you think. There are some crucial differences between the big automation tools and genuine marketing attribution tools.

What marketing automation does for you

You have probably been doing customer journey tracking using Marketo or Hubspot, which is a decent place to start. Many marketers love their automation tools, and for good reasons.

Popular marketing automation tools do a good job collecting data about…

  • Web pages visited
  • Forms submitted
  • Emails clicked

And they can inform you about traffic sources, such as…

It’s important to keep an eye on these metrics. They help to build individual journey maps. But they won’t tell you anything about how much any of your marketing initiatives influenced your bottom line. We are talking “conversions” across your channel and customer base here.

All of the above metrics are just the beginning of what you want to know. Companies don’t usually mention “ad campaign clicks” in their quarterly financial reports, do they?

What marketing attribution does for you

What you really want to know is how many people that click an advertisement later converted to become, for example, a life-long customer.

For that you need to look at more than the individual journey maps. Otherwise you cannot see how many times people (across all people) click on various ad campaigns and later convert.

Simply put, the data generated by marketing automation tools is not aggregated, and that is what attribution modeling is all about.

Marketing attribution aggregates information on all online activity associated with individual buyers, so you’ll know which marketing initiative led a customer to make a purchase.

This is especially true when journeys become more complex and longer for B2B customers. Your “guestimations” about which sequence of touchpoints might lead to a purchase may well be incorrect. You need to track every individual to discover how the real world works.

In addition to omni-channel tracking of individual buyers, you need to include both offline and online sources. Or think about the influence of people who don’t directly click ad links in emails, but who go to your website via Google search.

You have to measure that to get a complete and accurate view of whether you’ve spent your marketing budget wisely, or whether you should reallocate funds.

Using your marketing automation tool for marketing attribution 

Common sense tells you to use your existing marketing automation tools for marketing attribution. We stumbled upon a very interesting study published by Adwin Gerritsen from Inferens.nl, on marketing automation tools used for marketing attribution.

The idea was to find out what marketing automation tools could be used for.

On the one axis, 12 different marketing attribution methods were found to be on offer, like first touch attribution, last touch attribution, closer touch attribution, time decay touch attribution, etc.

On the other axis, the research 7 contenders were included: Sharpspring, Act-on, Hubspot, Oracle, Salesforce, Marketo and Adobe.

Each vendor was scored on a variety of single-touch and multi-touch models. Here are the results.

Marketing automation versus marketing attribution

At a glance you see a lot of red boxes, meaning: using your marketing automation tool for marketing attribution will be challenging. It looks like that none of the most popular marketing automation suites can be used for proper attribution.

From an marketing attribution model perspective, only First Touch attribution is offered by all marketing automation tools. The second most popular attribution method is the Last Touch attribution model. The other 10 marketing attribution models are offered by less than half of the marketing automation tools.

From a vendor perspective we see that Adobe covers 6 marketing attribution models. However, the rest of the vendors offer on average 3 (max 4) of the 12 marketing attribution models.

When you’re using Hubspot, multi touch attribution will only track the last 6 touches, which is not nearly enough for most B2B customer journeys.

The conclusion has to be quite straight forward: none of the automation suites performs well as a marketing attribution tool. They simply don’t supply enough insight into customer behavior to enable marketers to make better marketing decisions.

Use LeadsRx in tandem with marketing automation

Although the results from the research show that marketing automation tools cannot be used for marketing attribution, it does make clear instead that you should combine automation with marketing attribution to reach new heights.

Combine LeadsRx with Hubspot, Marketo or any other automation platform and your marketing performance will skyrocket.

Marketing attribution and automation are a match made in heaven.