The Three Pillars of Marketing Attribution

Marketing Attribution has been a controversial topic among marketers. There are two sides in this debate:

  • One side believes the attribution data collected today shouldn’t be taken too seriously, as we only capture the information provided to us at the point of conversion.
  • The other side believes it is better to measure what’s available rather than ignoring it completely.

While both sides have valid cases, my personal position is neutral. While I believe you need to capture attribution data, how you use it depends on your own attribution tracking process.

So… if you’re interested in exploring the three pillars of successful marketing attribution, continue reading. We’ll explore how to capture attribution data with the Attribution Engine, and how to leverage Marketing Cloud Account Engagement (MCAE) and Salesforce campaigns to build successful attribution models.

Capturing Attribution Data

Website traffic data is essential for identifying the channels that bring prospects to your website. Although MCAE has built-in source tracking capabilities, using that information in your programs can be challenging. But, the good news is that now you can leverage the free Attribution Engine script by CloudKettle. The Attribution Engine is a lightweight script that is added to your website and stores prospect attribution data as a first-party cookie in the prospect’s browser. Once installed, you can use the information from the first-party cookie and pass it to MCAE every time a prospect submits a form.

How the Attribution Engine Works

When a prospect visits your website for the first time, a first-party cookie is created in their browser. This cookie stores information as UTM values. As shown in the example below, it includes information about the referral URL, as well as when and where the prospect first discovered your website. In any subsequent visits by the same prospect, only the …_conv values are updated.

See Sample Attribution data here:

"utm_data": {
    "utm_campaign_org": "new-webinar",
    "utm_content_org": "",
    "utm_term_org": "",
    "utm_medium_org": "cpc",
    "utm_source_org": "google",
    "timestamp_org": "1/11/2024 15:22:52",
    "landingpage_org": "",
    "referrer_org": "",
    "utm_campaign_conv": "",
    "utm_content_conv": "",
    "utm_term_conv": "",
    "utm_medium_conv": "organic",
    "utm_source_conv": "",
    "timestamp_conv": "3/7/2024 7:35:12",
    "landingpage_conv": "",
    "referrer_conv": ""


Sending Attribution Data to Marketing Cloud Account Engagement (MCAE)

After installing the Attribution Engine script, the next step is to configure your MCAE forms to capture new attribution data. You have the option to capture all the information generated by the script or select specific fields. Depending on the number of fields, create corresponding fields in MCASE. If you want to pass this information to Salesforce (recommended), ensure that these fields are also created in the Lead and Contact objects.

To transfer attribution signals from the first-party cookie to a form, you will need a custom solution. The specific solution may vary depending on whether you are using embedded forms, form handlers, or third-party form integration. While our first release is mainly applicable for websites using form handlers, we will soon release an update that will enable the same functionality for iframe (embedded) forms as well.

Configuring Salesforce Campaigns

To track prospect engagement with your Salesforce campaigns, it’s important to have a well-structured campaign organization and hierarchy. One way to achieve this is by using the Campaign Member object to store attribution data points (UTMs), instead of creating a new campaign for each channel. By capturing attribution data points on campaign member records, there’s no need to create additional campaigns for each channel.

One more important thing to highlight about campaigns: if your organization is using campaigns for multiple purposes, make sure there is a different record type for marketing campaigns so that the data is not mixed up with operational campaigns.

Configure Customizable Campaign Influence

Customizable Campaign Influence in Account Engagement allows you to configure revenue sharing with both standard and custom attribution models. The influence models scan active campaigns to identify members who are also assigned a contact role on an open opportunity. This process automatically distributes revenue attribution to all campaigns influencing an opportunity. Using contact roles is critical for this model to work. Without contact roles, Salesforce cannot identify campaign-influenced opportunities.

Auto-Association Settings

Customizable Campaign Influence models use auto-association to create campaign influence records based on criteria set by the user. Criteria can include timeframe and campaign types, and you can add other filters using standard fields. The same settings govern all models. To limit when a member-contact relationship is considered influential, you can set an auto-association timeframe in Setup. CloudKettle recommends consulting with your sales team to understand lead-to-opportunity close time and using this information to help decide upon the timeframe.

Capture Attribution Data in the Campaign Member object

The last step with Campaign is to establish a process to save the last-touch point data in the Campaign Member record whenever a prospect engages with your campaign. This can be achieved by leveraging Salesforce Flows. The setup for the flow should capture the last-touch point data from Lead or Contact records and append it to the Campaign Member record whenever it is added to a campaign. To learn more about how to set it up in Salesforce, check out this video.

Leveraging B2BMA Analytics Dashboards

The last pillar involves tracking the performance and impact of your campaign on the pipeline. There are multiple ways to achieve this, depending on your reporting requirements. You can use out-of-the-box reports or create custom report types. Alternatively, you can leverage the Analytics Studio app for deeper insights into your campaign performance. The Analytics Studio allows you to combine data from the Campaign Influence, Opportunity, and Campaign objects, providing visibility into the overall performance of your campaigns as well as the ability to drill down into each channel.

To Summarize

Getting all the processes together to enable these functions might seem a bit challenging, but if you’re already using Marketing Cloud Account Engagement, you’re halfway there. You may just need some help from your BI with the Analytics Studio dashboard and your Salesforce Admin for assistance with Flow questions. But once these items are in place, you’re well on your way to have a robust and effective attribution model.

We love to talk about this stuff, so as always – if you still have any questions, get in touch!

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