Marketing attribution refers to the process of working out and measuring which marketing and advertising efforts have been successful in helping to convince a customer or prospect to make a purchase. It shows the marketer exactly where each potential buyer has interacted with their brand in the buying journey. Effective marketing attribution enables marketers to understand where campaigns and marketing efforts have thrived, giving them the opportunity to replicate these efforts.

However, with the knowledge that B2B buying is non-linear as buyers move around the various stages of the buying journey freely, effective marketing attribution is challenging. It is difficult to track what campaigns and marketing efforts have had a consequential influence on a prospective buyer at any point in their buying journey. Making sense of the consumers ever-changing mindset to purchase is skewed because of this, meaning some brands have hit a glass ceiling for marketing attribution.

‘First-touch’ Vs. ‘last-touch’ attribution

However, this is not marketing attributions only problem, with marketers conflicted between two differing models: ‘first-touch’ and ‘last-touch’. First-touch attribution models highlight exactly where your customer first came across your brand and whether their viewpoint was positive or negative from their experience. Last-touch is the final contact point the consumer had with the brand before actually purchasing a product. According to a 2018 Digiday report, out of 197 brands and agencies and 44 publishers, 41% used the last-touch attribution model, whereas 44% wanted to use first-touch.

The first-touch approach is excellent at tracking brand awareness and how to increase this, but it does not track what in particular encouraged the consumer to buy or if they bought the product. The last-touch approach can be useful when analysing sales metrics, so if this is the marketers' aim then they could utilise this model. However, they both offer a single-touch approach as neither offers a full timeline of the buyer’s activity, therefore it should not be relied on solely by marketers.

According to the same Digiday report, they also found 63 percent said their ideal state of attribution would be being able to follow the campaigns throughout the full marketing funnel, also known as the multi-touch model. With this method, the organisations can choose what they want to track therefore giving them more data to track the consumer’s journey. But again, more data comes hand-in-hand with difficult tasks for marketers.

Full pipeline visibility with Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Artificial Intelligence (AI) can solve this issue by giving marketers real-time, full funnel and pipeline campaign visibility. An AI for CRM solutions can automate a lot of the mundane and time-consuming tasks data-entry tasks required to produce an accurate attribution report. Therefore, this gives a full picture of whether the campaign has worked, making their processes more efficient and successful for current and future campaigns.

AI platforms being implemented will give the marketers a better view of campaigns allowing them to see if they were successful or not and shed light on whether there were any breakdowns in the campaign. AI will also allow the marketers to see whether the sales team has followed up leads, eventually aligning the discrepancies between the two departments, allowing for better communication.

Aligning sales and marketing

AI won’t just assist marketers; it is extremely valuable for sales teams as well. Sales and marketing famously don’t like to get on. However, the real-time insights generated by AI from an organisation’s CRM data can bring about alignment between the two departments which can help to create a healthier buying experience for the organisation’s customers and prospects.

And with a recent study by Sirius Decisions finding that 81 percent of B2B buyers make their decisions based on their buying experience, rather than the product or the price, it would seem implementing an AI for marketing solutions could go a long way towards helping organisations increase their sales.

AI will have a transformational impact across the enterprise. It will provide innovative solutions to tackle some of the problems humans struggle with on a daily basis – taking on these challenges while adding intelligent insights on top. In the case of marketing, it can go a long way to solving the headache of attribution while also helping to build alignment between sales and marketing teams through its intelligent, real-time insights.


Written by John Gilman, Chief Revenue Officer,

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