Attribution can be a confusing topic even for seasoned marketers. That’s why we posed some of our most often heard attribution questions to Justin Norris, Perkuto’s own Director of Solutions Architecture. From thoughts on Bizible versus Marketo RCE to “hacking” attribution models and managing UTMs, Justin’s real-world experience informs his answers, and can guide you into making smarter attribution decisions.
Question: At what stage for a company would it make sense to upgrade to Bizible from Marketo RCE?
Justin Norris: I don’t see Bizible as a more complex or more mature option than RCE—I see it as a roughly equivalent product, in terms of attribution reporting, but with differences that make it a net improvement on RCE. Marketo RCE has had very minor changes since 2011 and is sometimes slow. Bizible is easier to use, has less overhead, and requires less care and feeding because much of the data capture is done automatically.
Bizible is also a more modern platform. You will be paying more for Bizible, but you’ll be able to use it more easily right out of the box and it can grow with you to do more sophisticated things as your needs become more complex. Nothing else out there has the same combination of flexibility and ease-of-use, so if you have the need and it’s financially viable, Bizible should be your choice.
It’s worth noting, however, that some of RCEs capabilities for reporting on Marketo programs and revenue models don’t have an exact equivalent in Bizible.
Q: Is it possible to hack an accurate attribution model with the standard reporting package in Marketo?
JN: Assuming that you’re talking about standard Marketo without the Revenue Cycle Explorer, the answer is basically no; it lacks the ability to calculate the multi-touch contribution that various programs make to revenue. A full, detailed, multi-touch model isn’t available out-of-the-box with Marketo.
Q: How do you manage UTMs and ensure they’re consistent?
JN: Even though Bizible automates the process somewhat, it’s only as good as the data it gets. To avoid errors, I suggest two things:
- Look at your processes—your campaign launch process, your pre-flight check and QA process—and ensure that you’re keeping your various teams or agency partners informed of that process and any changes. Having a tight process will help you scale.
- Most people start trying to manage UTMs with a Google spreadsheet that has approved UTMs, and while this can work okay it can also get messy. At Perkuto, we use a tool called Terminus that is a UTM URL tagging tool. It allows us to put in a list of approved values for structuring UTMs and it works much better for us than a Google spreadsheet.
The thing to remember is this: The tools can help you accelerate, but if you don’t have a process and governance around it, then the system will break down no matter how good your tools are.
Q: How do you ensure touchpoints are created for records that are entered into the CRM by sales?
JN: This is a common problem; digital touchpoints are relatively easy to create because Bizible does the heavy lifting. However, where records are being created in the CRM from personal referrals, one-to-one prospecting on LinkedIn, external sources, partner referrals, etc.,you can get a touchpoint “dead zone” with leads or contacts that don’t have any touchpoints associated. If those people end up on opportunities, you will have an attribution gap.
To avoid this, we suggest doing the reverse of creating digital touchpoints. We start by enforcing fields like lead source and lead source details with validation rules so that sales has to input that information. We give them a small number of relevant options from which to choose to keep things streamlined. Then, we set up Marketo smart campaigns that listen for those values, add people to relevant Salesforce campaigns, and generate the touchpoint at that time.
Q: Is it possible to report on offers in a more summarized way?
JN: There’s a big gap between what the touchpoint has on offers and channels—there’s a lot of rich metadata about the channel, subchannel, ad campaign, etc. but only the form URL indicating the offer that someone engaged with, which makes it difficult to do summarized reporting on offers.
What we do to work around this is to connect the touchpoint to an entity that has more info about the offer. So, for example, we connect it to a Salesforce campaign where there is more information about the offer, using a mapping table to connect the form URL from the touchpoint with the appropriate campaign, and using automation to populate that information. Doing this, you can report on things like attribution by offer type, persona, buying center, content themes and more. It isn’t crazy to set up; a few extra minutes per content piece and a bit of extra automation can bring you a lot of extra insight, which your content team will really appreciate.