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Fixing the 6 Biggest Gaps in B2B Marketing Analytics

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5 Biggest Data Gaps

It’s a common spectacle witnessed in quarterly executive meetings around the world:

Marketing presents its contribution to the quarter’s revenue. Sales presents another number. Then the channel team insists that their data is correct. Everyone spends the remainder of the meeting arguing about who’s right.

Unfortunately, gaps in data guarantee that none of these groups are reporting the correct numbers. We consistently see the same pitfalls impacting companies’ opportunity sourcing, campaign attribution, and engagement scoring models--which impacts what other departments believe is true.

The good news?

There is a better way to do things. Some marketing organizations have successfully moved the focus from debating the validity of their reports to optimizing performance instead.

01 Your CRM Doesn’t Think of a Buyer as an Account

This is the most common problem we see companies struggle with, and it has big implications.

the problem with leads and contacts

We’re a fan of Salesforce, but we recognize that organizing people as Contacts against Accounts and Leads has created as many reporting issues as it solved. Keeping people split into two objects has a drastic impact on your ability to faithfully report what took place during a given opportunity.

Why It Matters

Because most B2B sales involve multiple people at a given account, your campaign and sales activity is going to spread across multiple objects. Leads essentially hang out in the ether, and their campaign data isn’t incorporated. Even with tools that loosely link leads to an account through a custom ID field, It’s rare to find multi-touch attribution that can navigate this data gap without a customer data platform like CaliberMind.

The Bandaids

Some companies require source campaign attribution to be manually performed by sales when an opportunity is created. This is problematic because no two salespeople will have the same threshold for assigning a campaign as a “source.” This is particularly dicey when sales is compensated or reviewed on their ability to self-source opportunities.

The most painful (and least scalable) approach we’ve seen is a manual review of each opportunity at the end of the quarter to split credit among channel, marketing, and sales with an equally manual data override process.

The Fix

We see two choices that work:

  1. Eliminate the use of leads
  2. Use leads and automate immediate conversions to contacts

Eliminating leads may not be an option because of integrations with chat tools, sales outreach software, or online forms. It can also slow down data entry for users and encourage people to create duplicate accounts (it’s easier to convert a lead into a new account and contact than check for existing records with variations in spelling).

The most reliable solution is to combine automatic enrichment with matching algorithms that automatically associate leads to accounts. Teams should plan for some kind of review process to catch exceptions. In multi-level corporations, selecting the correct account may involve additional logic.

02 Your Company Thinks 1 Campaign Activity = 1 Sale

You may remember our favorite diagram:
Execs-Reality
Linear thinking leads to conflict in organizations because B2B marketing is anything but linear. Multiple people in a given account are interacting with your company in different ways before committing to a sale. There may be dozens of campaign activities, influential channel interactions, and a lot of legwork by sales before a deal closes.

It doesn’t make sense to assign one interaction with the “credit” for kicking off (or closing) an opportunity. But companies insist on trying. This leads to a lot of chaos for the marketing ops professional and arguments at the end of the quarter.

Why It Matters

Linear thinking fails to account for campaign influence on deals in-flight, for buyer-committees, or for how buyer behavior actually looks. Using single swim-lane campaign reporting will always result in underestimating marketing’s contribution to the organization.

The Bandaids

You can determine sourcing by committee and hold a monthly review to determine each opportunity’s source. This is not recommended as it does not scale. It’s also highly subjective.

The Fix

There is no shortcut to fixing this problem. The executive team must be educated about the true nature of your company’s buying cycles, and that can only happen with comprehensive reporting. This means an integrated marketing technology stack in order to show every step of a typical buyer journey.

The next step is to socialize multi-touch attribution reporting. This is much easier for executives to sign-off on when they can see buyer journey examples. It helps to visualize why multiple factors should be considered when assigning “credit” for a sale.

We also recommend either using attribution reporting to evaluate the effectiveness of campaigns or incorporating sales and channel activity if you plan on using it to report marketing contribution. Because opportunities are won through multiple departments’ efforts, including their activity data removes the perception that reporting is biased toward marketing and will eliminate potential friction between teams.

03 Bad Data Hygiene

While this may seem like a repeat of number one on our list, bad data hygiene speaks specifically to duplicates and missing information. You can have good data hygiene (no duplicates or missing information) and still struggle with leads vs. contacts.
garbage in garbage out
Bad data hygiene can also encompass belated campaign member uploads, improper integration setup, and missing activity data.

Why It Matters

There’s a saying in analytics:

Garbage in. Garbage out.

Reports are structured on data tables. If the data isn’t in the table or structured in a way that’s recognizable (let’s say you decide to use events instead of campaigns), you won’t be able to produce something useful.

The Bandaid

Hiring an intern to eliminate duplicates and merge data is an affordable option you’ll need to repeat on a regular basis.

The Fix

Third-party enrichment tools are still a viable source of information for people and companies in many countries. As privacy laws tighten up, organizations will become more reliant on diligent data entry by CRM users and flawless integration with web forms, chat tools, and any other software that is used to collect volunteered information.

Work with a marketing operations professional who can automate as much of your lead collection as possible. Where it’s not possible (as in the case with many event-provided scanners), develop a process to upload the campaign list as close to the day of the event as feasible.

04 Data Silos

The average marketing organization has over two dozen tools in their tech stack. Want to take a guess on how many of them are integrated?

data silos

Your marketing automation platform categorizes people as email addresses. Your website looks at IP addresses. Social media can be largely anonymous until a form fill. Direct mail is name and address. And the list goes on.

Why It Matters

You can’t prove your marketing program’s value to the organization without the ability to align all of your program data against your CRM.

The executive team wants to know how much money they need to invest in order to generate a lead, an opportunity, and a closed deal. How can marketers hope to argue for budget in a way CFOs understand if they can’t prove the ROI of a given channel?

The Bandaids

The average marketer spends two to three days per month compiling reports. More than 36% of marketers still spend more than four days cobbling together data from CSVs, Excel, Google, CRMs, and marketing automation tools.

While many executives may view dedicating weeks out of every quarter to manually wrangling data as an acceptable expense, we’ve seen it impact employee morale in a big way.


The Fix

Marketing departments have either hired database administrators or data scientists to manage their information or collaborated with their IT department. This involves quite a bit of time learning the data and how to merge the information together. It also requires data enrichment tools to not only enrich account and person information, but it also requires some kind of IP address enrichment.

Keep in mind that each time you add or swap out tools, that’s development needed to map your new data. You may opt for a customer data platform like CaliberMind that takes care of the data transformation layer for you.

05 Oversimplified Campaign Reporting

Years ago, the best practice in marketing for B2B was mapping the single buyer journey. This resulted in many people adopting the Sirius Decisions waterfall and configuring their systems to more or less conform to this worldview.

Don’t get us wrong. We love the waterfall and still recommend using these data points to improve your hand-offs between sales and marketing. And it’s still a good way to measure a campaign’s ability to drive name acquisition.

don't settle on marketing reports

Why It Matters

Most B2B transactions take longer than minutes from the time of initial engagement to close. Some take six or more months. In longer sales cycles, there is an abundance of activity taking place before the stage is updated to Closed Won.

Single-pane reporting doesn’t account for committee buying behavior, in-flight opportunities, and the multiple touches necessary for even a simple purchasing decision. Companies must invest in multi-dimensional campaign reporting.

The Bandaid

Report on what you can and accept that you’re not able to prove the full value of your campaigns.

The Fix

The only way to see and prove marketing’s ROI is to invest in people with the right skills and the technology you need to make it all work. Anything less means making decisions based on only a fraction of the story.

06 Salesforce Is Your Source of Truth

We’re glad everyone has agreed on a single data source. But unless you’re piping your data out to a data warehouse, running transformation code, and piping it back in, you’re still hitting every snag we listed above. If your reports have to be in Salesforce for people to look at them, you’re also limited on the number of joins and whether or not you can do trending.

better reporting is possible

Why It Matters

Salesforce can do a lot of things, but reporting is problematic. The issue is how the data is structured, not the data visualization tools themselves. If you want to see sales activity against campaign members or influence data that includes lead campaign information, SFDC Einstein isn’t going to solve your problems.

The Bandaid

Report on what you can and accept that you’re not able to prove the full value of your campaigns.

The Fix

Again, the only way to see and prove marketing’s ROI is to invest in people with the right skills and the technology you need to make it all work. Anything less means making decisions based on only a fraction of the story.

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