4 Replies Latest reply on Sep 5, 2018 8:08 AM by Justin Norris

    Attribution w/ Multiple Channels: Avoiding Over-Complex Solutions

    Sean Kennedy

      We have been doing attribution a certain way for a while and we are worried that we are starting to have a narrow vision when it comes to attribution. So I wanted to get some feedback about how you are handling attribution and ROI reporting in your org when leads are converting in the same place, but are originating from different channels.

       

      For example, let's say you have a gated whitepaper on a non-marketo landing page that you are pushing traffic to via multiple channels like Social, PPC, Display, etc. How do you appropriately give credit to those different channels? Do you create a different program for each channel-asset combination(ugly but effective)? Do you use UTM parameters and lead source information in place of program specific fields like Acquisition Program? Like I said, we have our way of doing things right now, but curious to hear how others are thinking about it.

       

      We are looking for the cleanest way to handle attribution without sacrificing important depth in reporting. Is there any good (and recent) content on this subject? Any and all help is appreciated.

        • Re: Attribution w/ Multiple Channels: Avoiding Over-Complex Solutions
          Justin Norris

          Sean Kennedy

           

          It's an interesting question. There are five main approaches here that I am aware of. I've worked with them all with various clients, and they each have their pros and cons.

           

          1) Separate Programs for Offers and Channels

           

          In this case you create a distinct program for every marketing initiative at the level of granularity you want  - e.g., one program for your white paper, for each social campaign, for each PPC campaign, etc. When someone engages with your offers, add them to the relevant programs for both offer and channel. I consider this the "traditional" way of doing it.

           

          Pros

          • Relatively simple compared to other options

           

          Cons

          • No connection between offers and channels at all - it's not really possible to do summary reporting about which channels are doing best with which offers. And almost everyone wants to know this.
          • You can't add someone twice to the same channel program (e.g., if they come in through organic Twitter twice and consume different offers, organic Twitter only gets credited once).

           

          2) Program for each Offer + Channel Combination

           

          This is the method you alluded to - if you have an Ebook, you create a separate program (or a master program with a separate SFDC campaign) for each possible combination you care to track. E.g., Ebook ABC_Organic Social_Twitter, Ebook ABC_Organic Search_Google, Ebook ABC_Paid Search_Adwords...etc.

           

          Pros

          • You can report on which offers and channel combinations are doing best
          • You can track multiple engagements through the same channel (as long as they were with different offers)

           

          Cons

          • This is obviously a real pain to orchestrate and manage.
          • ROI reporting can still be difficult - you need to find a way to allocate costs amongst the different programs/campaigns. E.g., if you spent $10,000 on Adwords, how do you best allocate these costs between Ebook ABC_Paid Search_Adwords and Webinar XYZ_Paid Search_Adwords...

           

          3) Stamp Channel Data on Campaign Member for Offer Campaign

           

          In this approach, you capture channel data into UTM / web referrer fields on the person record and then stamp them on the campaign member in Salesforce when you add someone to the offer program.

           

          So for example, when someone fills out the form to download Ebooks ABC, you capture utm_medium=paid-search and utm_source=adwords and then when the person is added to the corresponding Salesforce campaign, you write those utm values on the campaign member  with Apex.

           

          Pros

          • You can report on which offers and channel combinations are doing best
          • Once it's configured, much simpler to manage and maintain
          • You can track multiple engagements through the same channel
          • Probably the best option if you can't do #4

           

          Cons

          • Only works in Salesforce (or in a similarly-structured CRM) - you can't add additional metadata to the program membership in Marketo the way you can in a CRM
          • ROI reporting can still be difficult - you no longer have a discrete campaign or program representing the channel, so where do you post your costs to in order to calculate ROI? You'd need to crunch this in a spreadsheet external to your systems or mix in a custom object of some sort in CRM. In any event, not as straightforward as one might wish.

           

          4) Bizible

           

          Bizible has a completely different data model that helps resolve a lot of these complexities. Instead of the program / campaign being the fundamental unit of attribution, the Touchpoint (which represents a discrete marketing interaction) is the unit of attribution. Each touchpoint contains the relevant channel data AND metadata that indicates the offer. This is all created automatically as long as you have a solid process for UTM tagging (which is also a requirement for all the other solutions).

           

          Pros

          • You can report on which offers and channel combinations are doing best
          • Relatively little technical effort for setup and ongoing maintenance - although care and feeding to prevent dirty data is still needed
          • You can track multiple engagements through the same channel
          • Tracking is automatic (no custom scripts, form fields, etc.)

           

          Cons

          • To indicate the offer, the Touchpoint record displays the Form URL. The offer can be deduced from this, typically, but there isn't as much metadata about the offer available as you might like.
          • Extra cost.

           

          5) Send Data Directly to a Warehouse / BI Tool

          You can concatenate all the touches into a person field in a structured way (e.g. a JSON array) and bring that field into an external database where the data can be parsed into separate rows for summary reporting.

           

          Pros

          • You can report on which offers and channel combinations are doing best
          • You can track multiple engagements through the same channel

           

          Cons

          • Higher level of technical sophistication required
          • Higher level of infrastructure required
          4 of 4 people found this helpful
          • Re: Attribution w/ Multiple Channels: Avoiding Over-Complex Solutions
            Yulia Novozhilova

            In addition to Justin's comment, you can track paid channels (or other channels like email) in addition to offers. In case for adwords campaign, you will have two salesforce campaigns - one detecting the channel that only tracks clicks through UTM data and another one as described for option 3) — logging lead source data into campaign member object. The first campaign will have cost associated with it. You will also be able to see paid and inbound sources on offer campaign. In terms of attribution, it's possible to separate offer and channel weigh via campaign type if that is the goal.. I hope it helps!

            • Re: Attribution w/ Multiple Channels: Avoiding Over-Complex Solutions
              Jackie Gragnola

              Agreed with Justin Norris on the above. My last company used the in-house solution for #3. The company I just started at uses Bizible, and I'm right now trying to wrap my head around whether we have superflous campaigns that will skew our attribution.

               

              Justin Norris are you familiar with Bizible? If so, does it make sense to have an SFDC campaign for every single email send? Likewise, would an SFDC campaign for every channel (social, SEM, etc.) - to me, it seems these shouldn't be necessary since Bizible does the work in the background when you have accurately tagged UTMs on your links from email, social, online ads, etc.

               

              If you have thoughts here, would love to hear your take and any pros/cons, or constructive banter on the merits of having these campaigns in place.

                • Re: Attribution w/ Multiple Channels: Avoiding Over-Complex Solutions
                  Justin Norris

                  Hi Jackie Gragnola,

                   

                  Yes I'm very familiar with Bizible.

                   

                  I agree with your position - I wouldn't suggest having an SFDC campaign for each email send if you are using UTMs properly on all links in those emails. If you are using UTMs, the traffic sent from the emails will get properly credited when a person takes action on your website (by filling out a form) and a Bizible touchpoint will be created associated with the email Marketing Channel.

                   

                  The main challenge here might be with emails that have a success action that isn't tracked by Bizible - e.g., a reply. A tool like Siftrock could fill this gap.

                   

                  Some people might want a campaign for each send to track clicks, but given how unreliable this metric is becoming, I don't think that's worthwhile and it will also result in double-counting (two touchpoints) if someone fills out a form.