by Nov 24, 2014How To, Reporting

Marketing tracking: tracking the tricky

Everywhere we go, we leave tiny digital footprints enabling marketers to track every move. With sophisticated marketing tracking tools around, you’d think that marketers would have a handle on knowing what’s delivering and what’s not.

There are many challenges to getting this right, particularly in B2B where the complexity of the attribution and tracking issue is compounded by multiple touch points and long lead times. Not to mention the reliance on other systems and the expectation of closed-loop tracking right through the sales process to conversion.

Determining which channels are working is not just about tracking, it’s also about interpreting that data and making sense of it, assuming that the data is the correct data in the first place.

When it comes to the integration of different data sets, for example Google Analytics data with sales data, or source tracking attribution with Salesforce, it can sometimes be like unravelling a giant tangled digital ball of wool. The problems are numerous, so here are our best tips to ensuring you get to grips with the full picture of marketing data you create.

First touch or last touch attribution?

What is most important to the marketing team, is the original marketing source that caused a prospect to touch base with the company (usually hit the website first) or the last activity that caused the prospect to go to the next step whether it be hand raise or become a marketing qualified lead. Marketing leaders need to decide which is more important to the organisation and report as required – and continue to do so to ensure it’s always ‘apples with apples and pears with pears’.

What if they call?

If a lead sees a particular campaign and chooses to call, how do you know it’s their first or last touch point? There are three options you could choose:

  • Rely on the sales team to remember to ask and identify exactly where the lead saw your product or service
  • Send an email to activate and identify a cookie that has been dropped by your marketing automation system to activate tracking going forward and back-fill any activity prior to the call to identify possible attribution
  • Or you can invest in sophisticated phone tracking software that passes attribution to the CRM

PR or content across digital media

Those that have come from content pieces, press releases or features are notoriously difficult to track. Whilst most just settle to report on ‘Referrals’, using UTM campaign tracking codes across all external campaigns, including PR and content will go some way to understanding their benefit and determining how they have affected the sale.

Marketing activity that spans across multiple sources?

When content (white papers, guides, infographics or any digital media really) gets created and pushed out into the wonder-web, tracking becomes quite complicated. The mediums and sources can be controlled to some extent, if your team are the only people doing the sharing. In most cases, that’s unlikely, so it’s easy to lose track and for UTM tracking codes to get mixed up. Ultimately though, you know it’s ‘content’ that’s delivering even if it’s difficult to define whether it was social, PR or another source.

There is no easy answer here, but by thinking through campaign tracking carefully, all “content” can be tracked under a universal code wherever it is placed, thus allowing the team to assess content impact overall as well as which lead sources prospects came from.

Offline marketing

It’s best to start by identifying all possible sources of leads that are not tracked digitally and work through ways that you could track these one by one. Some examples are:

  • Trade press articles, PR or sponsorship = specialist phone numbers or bespoke landing pages, for all offline activity
  • Referrals, where someone is recommended by an advocate = setting new sales processes so that if an attribution has not been identified in the CRM, that they need to determine where they came from
  • Direct mail or advertisements = unique phone numbers, call tracking software and bespoke landing pages

Getting this right is not easy and usually involves considerable effort (time and money) to set-up, implement and monitor. It’s worth carrying out a cost/benefit analysis before implementing, because, if there’s only 5% of your prospects that you’re unable to track, is it worth actually knowing where they came from?

That said, we speak to far too many marketers who are failing at even the simple stuff when it comes to marketing tracking. So for many, it’s worth starting very simply, getting the key aspects tracked, then branching out with increased complexity as you need further insights. As you well know, lead times are long in B2B, so it can take a long time to gather the complete picture and evaluate end-to-end campaign performance.

If you’re not getting the data you require or are struggling to gain insight from your programmes, why not give us a call?

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