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How SaaS Marketers Can Prove ROI with Revenue Attribution



I’ve spent my career in B2B SaaS, both in-house and on the agency side, and there’s one thing I’ve learned: Our job is hard (yes, I said it!). SaaS marketers are increasingly being asked to connect their efforts back to revenue growth. Simple lead generation is not enough. Conversions are not enough. And yet, tying marketing efforts back to revenue is not always easy. In fact, 4o percent of marketing teams find proving ROI of their marketing activities to be their top challenge.

How can SaaS marketers set themselves up for success and tie every effort back to revenue? Here’s how you can start proving ROI using revenue attribution.

What Is Revenue Attribution?

While marketing attribution provides specific analytics of the journey users take to get to your website and navigate through your site before they actually convert, revenue attribution takes this one step further.

Revenue attribution empowers marketers to reliably identify which campaigns are helping drive incoming business revenue. It is worth noting that revenue attribution relies on both marketing and sales data sets to show which channels are resulting in downstream revenue.

Thus, we’re not just focused on visitors becoming leads, but also leads becoming opportunities becoming closed-won revenue. Having both marketing and sales data helps inform which channels are driving the most success. I love this example from Bizible that highlights the powerful difference between understanding the number of conversions versus being able to actually tie marketing efforts back to revenue:

Number of conversions vs marketing revenue attribution

If we looked at the performance of both blog posts without understanding attributed revenue, we would all point to Blog Post A as being the clear-cut winner. The addition of sales data not only has the power to complete the picture, but to change the narrative altogether. Sales data helps SaaS marketers prioritize where and how they should best optimize their efforts for success.

Why Does Revenue Attribution Matter?

The truth is SaaS marketers really can’t afford to skip tying their efforts back to revenue. In fact, HubSpot estimates that inbound marketing budgets are cut at least 12 percent more in companies that don’t focus on and calculate ROI. A few other reasons why revenue attribution matters:

  • Over 67 percent of buyers used more than one channel to make a purchase decision (Oracle).
  • Attribution models can help provide efficiency gains of between 15 and 30 percent (Net Imperative).
  • Only 35 percent of marketers said that understanding the ROI of their campaigns is “Very Important” or “Extremely Important” (HubSpot).

Thus, it’s never been more important to tie your efforts back to revenue.

6 Ways SaaS Marketers Can Prove ROI with Revenue Attribution

OK, we’re finally here. The reason you probably clicked this blog in the first place. Here are six ways you can get started with revenue attribution to prove ROI:

1. Make Sales and Marketing Alignment a Priority

Sales and marketing alignment is a key cornerstone to inbound marketing and revenue attribution success. However, although alignment seems straightforward, in my experience, it can be the hardest thing to achieve.

Your teams need to be on the same page. Why? Because companies with marketing and sales alignment experience higher customer retention, improve close rates, and drive more revenue. In fact, companies with strong marketing and sales alignment achieve a 20 percent growth rate compared to those that don’t.

To determine whether or not you already have sales and marketing alignment, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do our sales and marketing teams have a service-level agreement (SLA)? If so, are we reviewing it monthly or quarterly?
  • Do we have shared definitions for lifecycle stages?
  • Do we have a documented sales process that includes the role of marketing with expectations of how and where sales follow-up will happen?
  • Is it clear who owns what tools? Are those systems speaking to one another?
  • Are sales and marketing goals aligned?

If you answered “No” or “I don’t know” to any of the above questions, that’s a sign that you probably need better alignment. (Here’s a blog about sales and marketing alignment that’s worth reading!)

2. Break Down Data Silos

According to Net Imperative, 59 percent of marketers say data collection and centralization is their biggest challenge. Furthermore, nearly half of those marketers also have concerns about accuracy when it comes to successfully reporting ROI.

You need marketing and sales data sets in order to tie your efforts back to revenue. Here are some pro tips ensure you prevent any data blindspots:

  • Automate data collection where possible including conversions, landing pages, and any other places that could create blind spots.
  • Use filters to help see MQLs, SQLs, and other segments of attribution.
  • Ensure systems and tools are integrated and transferring any customer journey data possible.

3. Use Closed-Loop Reporting

Having your website, CRM, and marketing automation all within one platform makes things a lot easier, but the reality is most companies don’t and that’s OK. However, ensuring these systems are speaking to one another and seamlessly passing along data is critical to mission success. Both sales and marketing need end-to-end visibility into data from prospect to closed revenue.

Pro tip: Create a martech spreadsheet that showcases all the technologies used across the organization and who owns them. This is a great way to take stock of all the data points that may need to be connected in order to ensure your reporting is accurate.

4. Choose the Right Technology

I still remember trying to use Google Analytics, Salesforce, HubSpot, and our own homegrown CMS to manually map customer journeys in an attempt to do attribution reporting in a Salesforce dashboard. Every month, I felt like Sherlock Holmes: constantly looking for clues, cause and effect, manually looking at opportunities, and trying to see if they had engaged with marketing before another team claimed the lead as their own. It took a lot of time and effort, and I never knew for certain that what I was reporting was accurate.

Attribution technology has come a long way, to say the least. Now, there are powerful tools that make attribution modeling and reporting much easier. Choosing the right technologies to help support by not only automating how and where data is collected, but by also unifying the data in a centralized place is critical.

Our team has been digging into HubSpot’s attribution reporting capabilities, which includes revenue attribution, but there are other leading attribution platforms you can explore.

5. Determine Your Attribution Readiness

Attribution is a journey, not a destination. Some of us are just getting started. Some of us are doing it manually. And some of us are using a form of attribution modeling but still having challenges accurately calculating ROI.

Before you start playing around with attribution models, it’s important to understand where you’re at in your own attribution journey—as a SaaS marketer and as an organization. I recently sat in on an internal training where my fellow SmartBug, Amber Kemmis, shared this awesome “Attribution Maturity/Readiness Model” that she put together to help companies gauge where they are:

Once you plot yourself on this chart, you should have some deeper insight into any gaps so you can set yourself up for revenue attribution success.

6. Play Around with Revenue Attribution Models

OK, we’re ready to start playing with attribution and tying our efforts back to revenue (Yay!).

Your sales and marketing teams are aligned and regularly collaborating. You have completed a martech audit and have a solid understanding of how data is flowing. Even better, you’ve worked with your team to ensure you’re tracking the customer journey across channels. You have the right technology in place to bring all this data together. Finally, you understand your attribution maturity so you’re ready to choose a model that makes the most sense for your organization.

How do you choose the right revenue attribution model for your company? The best choice will depend on your level of attribution maturity and readiness, but also what your revenue attribution priorities are. Here is a breakdown of revenue attribution models and key things you should be thinking about for each:

  • First Interaction: 100 percent of the credit is assigned to the first interaction.

Use case: Understanding what pieces of content are influencing the most revenue in your funnel or how much total revenue your blog generated.

  • Last Interaction: 100 percent of the credit goes to the last interaction. This will identify the value of actions taken at the bottom of the sales funnel.

Use case: Understanding what is driving the sale/close of a deal.

  • Linear: Credit is split equally across all interactions. This can be a useful baseline report to have in your pocket, especially when getting started with attribution reporting, because it helps you see how contacts interact with assets before closing a deal.

Use case: Understanding what parts of your business are most valuable, as measured by the revenue generated by customers.

  • U-Shaped: 40 percent of credit is assigned to the first interaction, another 40 percent is assigned to the interaction that led to the lead creation, and the final 20 percent is split equally among all other interactions between first interaction and lead creation. This model emphasizes the top half of the customer funnel, assigning 80 percent of the credit to the interactions where your contact first interacts with your business, and then when it becomes a lead in your CRM. The remaining credit goes to other interactions.

Use case: Understanding what pieces of content on your website are getting leads into your CRM that are going to close and earn revenue for your company.

  • W-Shaped: 30 percent goes to the asset that led to the first interaction, 30 percent goes to the asset that led to lead creation, and 30 percent to deal creation, while the remaining 10 percent is split equally among all other interactions between first interaction and deal creation. This model is still mostly focused on marketing efforts, although the inclusion of deal creation can give further insight into the handoff between marketing and sales at this point in the customer journey.

Use case: Understanding what marketing tools are valuable to you in trying to get customers to create a deal on your e-commerce site.

  • Full-path: 22.5 percent of credit goes to the first interaction, 22.5 percent to lead creation, 22.5 percent to deal creation, 22.5 percent to last interaction, and the remaining 10 percent is split equally among remaining interactions. This model is able to take into account the important stage between deal creation and deal closing, which would be ideal for representing business models where deal negotiation is more lengthy.

Use case: Understanding what is driving contacts to your site, as well as what is getting visitors to fill out forms and sign deals.

Attribution is not always easy, but I can promise you it is worth it. Nothing is more important (or rewarding) than being able to tie your hard work back to revenue and see how your efforts are driving growth for your organization. Remember, we’re all at various stages of our attribution maturity, and it takes practice and refinement to get it right.

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Marketing Strategies

Sixty orbits



Birthdays are contagious. No one actually remembers the day they were born, other people remember it for you. And the way we celebrate them is cultural, a shared process that keeps changing.

People keep track of birthdays, and today used to be mine.

Sixty of them.

It doesn’t feel like it’s been that many. Time flies when you’re busy. Lots and lots of projects. Countless friends made, lessons learned and ideas shared. Quite a journey, with lucky breaks and advantages again and again, beginning with my parents, the cultural identity, time and town where I was born… I wouldn’t have been able to go on this journey without you, thank you.

But today’s not my birthday (no need to send an email or a card). I’ve never really liked my birthday (it’s a long story involving a non-existent parrot), and the only reason for this post is to talk about who owns my birthday now.

What happens if we start celebrating our birthdays differently? Today belongs to the 20,000 + people who are on their way to a permanent supply of clean drinking water because readers like you brought their birthday (and mine) to charity:water. Thank you. Now, particularly now, when the world is in pain and when so many people are wrestling with health, the economy and justice, it’s more urgent than ever to think of someone you’ve never met living a life that’s hard to imagine.

And today, because it celebrates a round number, I’m hoping you will join in and help us break charity:water’s birthday record. And maybe donate your birthday too. Better still, if you subscribe as a monthly donor, you become a core supporter of a movement that changes lives with persistence and care.

How it works:

If you have the ability, I’m hoping you’ll click here and donate to charity:water to celebrate what used to be my birthday.

And either way, I’m hoping you’ll also donate your birthday to them. Because when it’s your turn to celebrate a missing parrot or a lost cake, you can ask your friends, and they can do what you just did.

It’s hard to visualize 21,000 people, mostly kids, fighting illness because the water in their village is undrinkable. That’s about three times the population of the town where I live. Thanks to all of you, my projects, including this blog, have already raised nearly a million dollars to build long-term solutions to this problem.

Will you help me double that?

Even one kid who lives the life he or she is capable of is worth this blog post and worth your support.

Thank you.

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Marketing Strategies

SEO Negotiation: How to Ace the Business Side of SEO — Best of Whiteboard Friday



Posted by BritneyMuller

SEO has become more important than ever, but it isn’t all meta tags and content. A huge part of the success you’ll see is tied up in the inevitable business negotiations. In this helpful Whiteboard Friday from August of 2018, our resident expert Britney Muller walks us through a bevy of smart tips and considerations that will strengthen your SEO negotiation skills, whether you’re a seasoned pro or a newbie to the practice.

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high-resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Hey, Moz fans. Welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. So today we are going over all things SEO negotiation, so starting to get into some of the business side of SEO. As most of you know, negotiation is all about leverage.

It’s what you have to offer and what the other side is looking to gain and leveraging that throughout the process. So something that you can go in and confidently talk about as SEOs is the fact that SEO has around 20X more opportunity than both mobile and desktop PPC combined.

This is a really, really big deal. It’s something that you can showcase. These are the stats to back it up. We will also link to the research to this down below. Good to kind of have that in your back pocket. Aside from this, you will obviously have your audit. So potential client, you’re looking to get this deal.

Get the most out of the SEO audit

☑ Highlight the opportunities, not the screw-ups

You’re going to do an audit, and something that I have always suggested is that instead of highlighting the things that the potential client is doing wrong, or screwed up, is to really highlight those opportunities. Start to get them excited about what it is that their site is capable of and that you could help them with. I think that sheds a really positive light and moves you in the right direction.

☑ Explain their competitive advantage

I think this is really interesting in many spaces where you can sort of say, “Okay, your competitors are here, and you’re currently here and this is why,”and to show them proof. That makes them feel as though you have a strong understanding of the landscape and can sort of help them get there.

☑ Emphasize quick wins

I almost didn’t put this in here because I think quick wins is sort of a sketchy term. Essentially, you really do want to showcase what it is you can do quickly, but you want to…

☑ Under-promise, over-deliver

You don’t want to lose trust or credibility with a potential client by overpromising something that you can’t deliver. Get off to the right start. Under-promise, over-deliver.

Smart negotiation tactics

☑ Do your research

Know everything you can about this clientPerhaps what deals they’ve done in the past, what agencies they’ve worked with. You can get all sorts of knowledge about that before going into negotiation that will really help you.

☑ Prioritize your terms

So all too often, people go into a negotiation thinking me, me, me, me, when really you also need to be thinking about, “Well, what am I willing to lose?What can I give up to reach a point that we can both agree on?” Really important to think about as you go in.

☑ Flinch!

This is a very old, funny negotiation tactic where when the other side counters, you flinch. You do this like flinch, and you go, “Oh, is that the best you can do?” It’s super silly. It might be used against you, in which case you can just say, “Nice flinch.” But it does tend to help you get better deals.

So take that with a grain of salt. But I look forward to your feedback down below. It’s so funny.

☑ Use the words “fair” and “comfortable”

The words “fair” and “comfortable” do really well in negotiations. These words are inarguable. You can’t argue with fair. “I want to do what is comfortable for us both. I want us both to reach terms that are fair.”

You want to use these terms to put the other side at ease and to also help bridge that gap where you can come out with a win-win situation.

☑ Never be the key decision maker

I see this all too often when people go off on their own, and instantly on their business cards and in their head and email they’re the CEO.

They are this. You don’t have to be that, and you sort of lose leverage when you are. When I owned my agency for six years, I enjoyed not being CEO. I liked having a board of directors that I could reach out to during a negotiation and not being the sole decision maker. Even if you feel that you are the sole decision maker, I know that there are people that care about you and that are looking out for your business that you could contact as sort of a business mentor, and you could use that in negotiation. You can use that to help you. Something to think about.

Tips for negotiation newbies

So for the newbies, a lot of you are probably like, “I can never go on my own. I can never do these things.” I’m from northern Minnesota. I have been super awkward about discussing money my whole life for any sort of business deal. If I could do it, I promise any one of you watching this can do it.

☑ Power pose!

I’m not kidding, promise. Some tips that I learned, when I had my agency, was to power pose before negotiations. So there’s a great TED talk on this that we can link to down below. I do this before most of my big speaking gigs, thanks to Mike Ramsey who told me to do this at SMX Advanced 3 years ago.

Go ahead and power pose. Feel good. Feel confident. Amp yourself up.

☑ Walk the walk

You’ve got to when it comes to some of these things and to just feel comfortable in that space.

☑ Good > perfect

Know that good is better than perfect. A lot of us are perfectionists, and we just have to execute good. Trying to be perfect will kill us all.

☑ Screw imposter syndrome

Many of the speakers that I go on different conference circuits with all struggle with this. It’s totally normal, but it’s good to acknowledge that it’s so silly. So to try to take that silly voice out of your head and start to feel good about the things that you are able to offer.

Take inspiration where you can find it

I highly suggest you check out Brian Tracy’s old-school negotiation podcasts. He has some old videos. They’re so good. But he talks about leverage all the time and has two really great examples that I love so much. One being jade merchants. So these jade merchants that would take out pieces of jade and they would watch people’s reactions piece by piece that they brought out.

So they knew what piece interested this person the most, and that would be the higher price. It was brilliant. Then the time constraints is he has an example of people doing business deals in China. When they landed, the Chinese would greet them and say, “Oh, can I see your return flight ticket? I just want to know when you’re leaving.”

They would not make a deal until that last second. The more you know about some of these leverage tactics, the more you can be aware of them if they were to be used against you or if you were to leverage something like that. Super interesting stuff.

Take the time to get to know their business

☑ Tie in ROI

Lastly, just really take the time to get to know someone’s business. It just shows that you care, and you’re able to prioritize what it is that you can deliver based on where they make the most money off of the products or services that they offer. That helps you tie in the ROI of the things that you can accomplish.

☑ Know the order of products/services that make them the most money

One real quick example was my previous company. We worked with plastic surgeons, and we really worked hard to understand that funnel of how people decide to get any sort of elective procedure. It came down to two things.

It was before and after photos and price. So we knew that we could optimize for those two things and do very well in their space. So showing that you care, going the extra mile, sort of tying all of these things together, I really hope this helps. I look forward to the feedback down below. I know this was a little bit different Whiteboard Friday, but I thought it would be a fun topic to cover.

So thank you so much for joining me on this edition of Whiteboard Friday. I will see you all soon. Bye.

Video transcription by

Scoop up more SEO insights at MozCon Virtual this July

Don’t miss exclusive data, tips, workflows, and advice from Britney and our other fantastic speakers at this year’s MozCon Virtual! Chock full of the SEO industry’s top thought leadership, for the first time ever MozCon will be completely remote-friendly. It’s like 20+ of your favorite Whiteboard Fridays on vitamins and doubled in size, plus interactive Q&A, virtual networking, and full access to the video bundle:

Save my spot at MozCon Virtual!

Still not convinced? Moz VP Product, Rob Ousbey, is here to share five highly persuasive reasons to attend!

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

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Marketing Strategies

Now Is The Time To Find And Correct Your Digital Strategy Pitfalls




/Every brand or enterprise is crafting and refining their digital strategy on a daily basis. However, especially in the world of B2B, companies fall into many of the same mistakes. 

According to a 2019 Forrester report, “44% of B2B buyers expect to do more than half of their work-related purchasing online in the next three years.” In the wake of COVID-19, that figure is probably even higher. It is crucial that marketers create engaging digital content, leveraging every digital touchpoint as an opportunity to build trust and strengthen relationships.

Marketers have access to more target audience research and data than ever before, but that doesn’t mean it is easy to avoid pitfalls. Let’s consider the consequential B2B marketing mistakes that companies are making, and demonstrate why a digital strategy audit is the solution.

Your Content Shouldn’t Reflect Your Organization Chart

 Too often, companies — particularly B2B enterprises — build their websites and digital assets around their internal organization structure rather than a customer’s needs. As an example, imagine you are a customer looking for a mop. You surf to a company’s website to buy a complete cleaning solution, but they have separate pages for mop handles and mop heads because they operate as separate divisions. Now you have to research the parts separately, figure out what you need and ensure they are compatible with one another. That’s not a huge ask for a mop, but imagine you are purchasing a complicated business system with hardware, software and a consultative service component.

Your Messaging Should Focus On The Customer, Not The Product

Companies often lead with the news of the capability or product they just launched, but prospects don’t come to your website for product announcements. They visit because they have a question or a problem. Your messaging should show people you understand that problem. This is a best practice for all marketers, but it is especially true for those marketing to developers, engineers and the C-suite. These audiences are highly skeptical of “marketing speak” and an overly product-forward content strategy will turn them off. Plus, leading with product makes your company seem uninterested in building strong audience bonds.

Don’t Overload One Area Of The Buyer Journey With Content But Neglect Others

Another mistake that is easy to overlook when you are inside the organization is creating content around some areas of the buyer journey, but not others. If your organization doesn’t have a healthy mix of content formats, you may be making this error. For example, you might have multiple white papers and blog articles that are relevant to a prospect comparing competitive solutions, but no video to share on social media to create brand awareness.

It is also common to create content for one audience segment but forget about other personas, or simply run out of time and resources. B2B purchasing decisions involve multiple decision-makers with different priorities and needs. A complete digital strategy needs to encompass all of them, which is part of what makes B2B marketing so challenging.

Don’t Overuse Jargon

Your existing customers know your lingo, but new ones may not. It is important that your messaging and content use natural language, rather than jargon, so it resonates with your audience. This may sound like a simple one, but it can be hard to catch yourself because you are accustomed to the company’s lexicon.

Why Now Is The Time For A Digital Assessment

The first step in fixing mistakes is finding them. Your company may have slowed or even stopped marketing initiatives in response to COVID-19, so use this time to audit your digital strategy.

There isn’t an industry on the planet that hasn’t been upended by the pandemic. Buying processes have changed overnight, so even if your company has managed to avoid these marketing traps, you still need to audit your strategy and update it to reflect the new normal.

A comprehensive review should include:

  • A content audit and effectiveness assessment;
  • A website CX health assessment;
  • A channel audit and effectiveness assessment;
  • A brand message assessment; and
  • An event strategy assessment.

The good news is an audit will likely uncover low-hanging fruit — low-effort/high-impact actions you can take to drive fast results for your company. Next, you can devise a plan for tackling the bigger initiatives.

Remember, as a B2B marketer, your goal is to build relationships with prospects and to lead them through their consideration journey, fostering trust every step of the way. The missteps above compromise your ability to do so. An audit kicks off the process of doing this right.

Greg Harbinson is the Senior Strategy Director at Centerline Digital, where he focuses his time on helping companies create messaging and experiences to better communicate with their customers. His work includes building messaging frameworks, defining the information architecture for websites, designing customer experience programs and helping companies understand the best ways to solve communication problems.

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