If you’ve ever read Bill Bryson’s, A Short History of Nearly Everything, you may recall the following bit of information about the size of our solar system:
Now the other thing you will notice as we speed past Pluto is that we are speeding past Pluto. If you check your itinerary, you will see that this is a trip to the edge of our solar system, and I’m afraid we’re not there yet. Pluto may be the last object marked on schoolroom charts, but the system doesn’t end there. In fact, it isn’t even close to ending there. We won’t get to the solar system’s edge until we have passed through the Oort cloud, a vast celestial realm of drifting comets, and we won’t reach the Oort cloud for another – I’m so sorry about this – ten thousand years. Far from marking the outer edge of the solar system, as those schoolroom maps so cavalierly imply, Pluto is barely one-fifty-thousandth of the way.
It was this distance I thought of when reading a recent post from Ben Kunz at Thought Gadgets that discussed the challenges with attribution for marketing and advertising campaigns. In it, he compared the marketing responses generated from those campaigns to interplanetary gravity – awareness at Pluto, consideration when passing past Mercury, and the inbound plunge of a comet as the metaphor for purchase.
But it’s a long way from Pluto, to say nothing of the Oort cloud, to Austin, with a lot of touch points in between. And in this particular trip through the cosmos, B2B marketers are faced with a far more complex (and lengthy) sales cycle than ever before. In fact, I read that MarketingSherpa reported that nearly 59% of B2B buying decisions will take place in a period greater than a single financial quarter.
Understanding how our campaigns impact buying behavior (and weighting them accordingly) within this longer time frame and myriad touch points is the challenge we face. And while there is no silver bullet, fool-proof formula for accurate attribution, creating, measuring, testing, and adjusting your model is critical if you want to:
- Measure the real marketing contribution to revenue
- Identify how much revenue each campaign generates
- Get better visibility in campaign performance
- Track how many sales-ready leads each campaign generates
- Know how much revenue each campaign generates
Kunz warns, however, that a “myopic focus solely on direct response ignores the need for consumer education, product illustration, message exposition, and relationship nurturing.” The touches involved when building relationships is equally important, and "not all marketing can be evaluated on a pure kiss-or-no-kiss basis."
What do you think? How do you identify and measure attribution?