How is marketing automation attribution changing?

MHDG Staff Marketing Automation

It’s definitely getting more advanced, for good reason. With all of the different marketing and advertising channels out there (blog marketing, social media marketing, affiliate/influencer advertising, email, search engine marketing, etc), there’s a lot of different paths a marketing team might try to increase the leads driven to sales.

Marketers are no longer the marketers we think of from decades ago, thought of as creative types, with their jobs being more focused on creating good looking content. Today, the demands of a digital marketer have increased. A marketer not only has to navigate these channels, but they’re also expected to understand the ROI behind every marketing campaign and content strategy they create. It’s no longer just a matter of volume of leads, or even the quality of the leads, but the return on investment on those leads is being scrutinized more than ever before. Digital Advertising on channels like Adwords and FB Ads make this pretty straight forward, but what about content marketing? Email Marketing? The numbers aren’t always so clear.

That’s where marketing automation comes in, or at least it should. While the direction of marketing automation has made it easier than ever before to generate the content and fill it in at the necessary points to attract and nurture prospects into leads, into qualified leads, the attribution step hasn’t quite gotten there.

We can’t escape the spreadsheets just yet.

Sure, you can connect paid advertising channels to your marketing automation platforms, and you can use UTM tags to track sources of prospects and leads to your website or landing page across different channels. But in a complex customer journey, where there are multiple touch points and long, complex sales cycles, there are often holes in the attribution or a marketer must either set up a convoluted process to set up an attribution/ROI model, or look at some basic metrics upstream to find .

There are some platforms out there that recognize the challenge, and are taking steps to help marketers close the loop on the attribution and ROI. Many of the ecommerce marketing automation platforms connected with the ecommerce platforms themselves like shopify have a fairly clear connection between an email campaign and the revenue generated from it. However, the use case is never that simple in a B2B or service based business.

Eventually, we’ll see marketing automation platforms get sophisticated enough to connect the dots from end to end, to build attribution and ROI reporting that encapsulates the entire buyer journey like one might see in a GA report, but that won’t be cheap.

Additionally, sophisticated teams are going to need to take into account the manpower to create the assets to support campaigns. It’s possible Marketing Automation platforms will track the hours spent building a landing page or set of emails in their tools (feature request!), but that still excludes the brainstorming, copywriting, graphic design, and other aspects of creating content that go into a campaign. When we’re talking about attribution and ROI, we can’t ignore this data.

Marketing Automations lifeblood is in its relationship with the marketer running day to day marketing operations and campaigns. Given the fact that marketers are being pressured by their organizations to validate and show attribution and ROI for their tasks, you can bet Marketing Automation Platforms are well aware of that and want to be the heros for their users. Having worked at one of these platforms in the past, I can safely this is on the forefront of the Product Managers (and Customer Success Teams) minds.

High praise to the platforms solve end to end attribution.

Marketing Automation platforms will close that gap over time, but it’s unlikely that they’ll build something out of the box to support every businesses needs as it will either A: need to be heavily configured and actively managed/organized to support different use cases, or B: Still have gaps or integrations required to get the full picture. Again, having this type of data accessible to a organization is a challenge for marketing automation. It’s highly sophisticated to do right, and it won’t be cheap. At this point, these tools have a long way to go before they can claim sophisticated attribution features. And if they are claiming it now, it’s likely just marketing talk.

When we do marketing automation and operations consulting with our clients, we attempt to fill in the gaps of attribution and ROI when the platforms aren’t quite connecting the dots for them. Often times we’ll need to make qualitative based decisions, or simplify or change a process to support better attribution and ROI reporting.

It’s certainly a challenge and it’s a big part of what the experts do and handle for marketing teams and organizations. Need some help building an attribution model and making sound Marketing Operations decisions for your team?

Let’s chat.