The Quest for the Holy Grail of B2B Marketing Attribution

For what seems like centuries, we have been seeking the elusive solution to B2B marketing attribution. Will this quest be eternal, or is the answer right before our eyes?

One fine morning, Sir Marketer the Brave set out on a quest: to seek the Grail of B2B Marketing Attribution. Fearsome dragons with names like CFO and VP of Sales had been at Sir Marketer day and night, demanding that he prove his worth. The Grail was known throughout the realm as the one way to ward off these bloodthirsty creatures. Sir Marketer packed his trusty weapons, Engagement Metrics and Funnel Reporting into his knapsack, and set off in search of the Grail.

B2B marketing attribution
Fearsome dragons challenged Sir Marketer on a daily basis

Along the way, he enlisted other like-minded knights from across the realm of B2B Marketing: Sir Analyst the Pure, Sir Automation the Bold, Sir Web the Engaging, and Sir CRM the True. With his retinue in place, Sir Marketer felt ready to take on whatever challenges lay ahead.

B2B marketing attribution
Five brave knights set out on a quest for one true Grail

The simpletons: First Touch and Last Touch

At the first crossroads, the plucky band met the simple twins, First Touch and Last Touch. They seemed harmless enough, and purported to hold the secret to the mysteries of the Grail. Yet, after spending some time following the directions given to them by the twins, our knights came to suspect that they were false guides, leading them down the path of poor decisions and placing far too much importance on either very fluffy top-funnel sources, or extremely obvious harvester sources.

“Let’s just put a contact form on every web page and put a stop to all this MARKETING NONSENSE!” breathed CFO the Dragon.  The Dragon called VP of Sales hissed, “But what about all the work that Sales does to find and qualify leads? doesn’t that count?” Sir Marketer realized the simple twins of First and Last Touch had led him astray from his true quest, so he ran them through with his sword and left them for dead on the conference room floor. The knights continued on their merry way.

B2B marketing attribution
The twins, First and Last Touch, pointed in opposite ways

The lure of shinier attribution models

Next, the knights encountered a trio of Attribution Chalices, which appeared shinier and more promising. In fact, Sir Automation the Bold had a hand in creating these chalices, and was rather fond of them. Not being the creative type, he had simply named them U, W, and Equally Distributed Weighting. U, W, and Equally Distributed Weighting each purported to be the one, true Grail of B2B Marketing Attribution. They promised increased visibility into touches along the buyer journey. They spread the credit around, which made Sir Marketer’s knaves much happier.

And for a time, the Dragons were appeased. Until one morning, Sir Analyst the Pure had a dark thought whilst in the shower. “Wait! These chalices may sparkle, but they are completely arbitrary! They don’t consider which of our many marketing engagements actually most influence the sale.” (Ugh, thanks Sir Analyst). Sir Marketer sadly broke the news to their companions. The tarnished chalices of U, W, and Equally Distributed Weighting were abandoned by the side of the road.

B2B marketing attribution
Tarnished, the chalices were abandoned by the roadside.

“Well,” harrumphed Sir Marketer, turning to Sir Analyst, “Now that you’ve trashed these pretenders, do you have a better idea of where to find the TRUE Grail of B2B Marketing Attribution?”

Sir Analyst, kneeling before Sirs Web, Automation, and CRM, bowed his head. “I believe the answer has been with us all along.”

Taking a seat at the Table of Data Sharing

The five knights, now firm friends, all took a seat at the star-shaped Table of Data Sharing. In turn, Sir Marketer the Brave, Sir Analyst the Pure, Sir Automation the Bold, Sir Web the Engaging, and Sir CRM the True recounted all their knowledge. Lead sources, marketing activities and costs, contacts, accounts, opportunities, engagements, result and reason codes, cookies (Yay, Cookies!), products, content, and revenue. All the transactional facts were laid bare before the knights, and with the help of a solid ETL process, they were duly sorted and combined.

B2B marketing attribution
Gathering around the star-shaped Table of Data Sharing

Finally, Sir Analyst pulled out his magic wand from his bag of tricks, and through a combination of multi-linear regression techniques and other fancy spells, the knights began to see patterns in the data. Suddenly, purchase paths became clear, and engagement types that had actually influenced a sale were made apparent. Sir Marketer was thrilled. Finally, he had the TRUE GRAIL with which to, if not slay, at least appease the Dragons. But alas, as usual, Sir Analyst was a giant pain in the ass.

“Alas Sir,” said he, “this data is not perfect. There are elements beyond our ability to measure. Not all engagement happens in the digital plane, and there are external forces and pressures beyond our control. Please do not put your faith entirely in The Grail of B2B Marketing Attribution, for it may lead you to make poor decisions.”

There’s more to marketing than generating sales

Sir Marketer was only slightly deflated. He saw the wisdom in Sir Analyst’s words, but also recognized the value in their work. Boldly, he concluded that the full value of his Marketing realm could not – and should not – be measured by sales results alone. There were softer measures that contributed to the ultimate sales goal: awareness, education, engagement, and advocacy all had a part to play and he resolved to champion their worth with renewed confidence.

So, in his wisdom, Sir Marketer the Brave retrieved his Engagement Metrics and Funnel Reporting from his pack. They were slightly the worse for wear, and not nearly as shiny as the fabled Grail. But he now appreciated the value of these trusty tools, and vowed to use them to aid in his decisions. For in the end, it’s all just an educated guess.