Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Brightfunnel Gives B2B Marketers Self-Service Revenue Attribution

Marketing without revenue attribution is like playing golf without keeping score: it might be fun but you can’t tell whether you’re doing a good job. But while keeping score in golf is simple, figuring out the impact of marketing programs is quite tough. In fact, B2B marketers face several challenges on the road to perfect attribution.  The simplest is just connecting marketing leads to closed sales, which is an issue because the data in sales systems is often incomplete.  A higher level ties specific marketing programs to individual leads, and through them to accounts and deals. The most advanced efforts estimate the relative impact of different marketing programs on the final result.  The problems must be solved in sequence: you must connect leads to revenue before you can connect marketing programs to revenue, and must connect all programs to revenue before you can start to allocate credit among them.

Brightfunnel compares results of different attribution methods

Most marketers struggle to get past the first level. There wouldn’t be a problem if sales people religiously associated every lead with the right account. But this doesn’t always happen for many reasons. So marketers must either accept that they’ll miss some connections, do laborious manual research to make the right matches, or rely on specialized software to do the work.

This is where Brightfunnel comes in. Brightfunnel reads lead, account, and opportunity data from Salesforce.com and supplies missing connections based on things like company name. Since Salesforce.com can also capture lead source (i.e., original marketing program), Brightfunnel can build a complete chain linking marketing programs to leads to accounts to opportunities. The system also has connectors to bring in data from Oracle Eloqua and Marketo, marketing automation, which will often include marketing programs and leads that never made it into Salesforce. But Brightfunnel says that most clients work with Salesforc data alone.

Making connections is certainly important, but Brightfunnel also provides tools to use the resulting information. Marketers can analyze results by marketing program, time period, customer segment, or other variables. They can compare performance over time, compare specific programs against an average, and see top campaigns by lead source. Because the imported opportunity data includes sales stage, reports can also track movement through the sales funnel, calculating conversion rates and velocity (time to move from one stage to the next). The system can use this to forecast the value and timing of future sales from deals currently in the pipeline.

What about that third level of attribution, splitting revenue from a single sale among different marketing programs? Brightfunnel offers two varieties of multitouch attribution: one where credit is shared evenly among all programs that touched a lead, and one where credit is split according to a fixed formula of 40% to the first touch, 20% to middle touches, and 40% to the final touch. Brightfunnel can also show first-touch and last-touch attribution, which attribute all revenue to the first or last touch, respectively.

Attribution aficionados will recognize that none of these is a fully satisfactory approach. The gold standard in attribution is advanced statistical methods that estimate the true incremental impact of each program on each lead. Brightfunnel is working on such a method but hasn’t released it yet. In the meantime, the simpler approaches give some useful insights – so long as you don’t forget they are not wholly accurate.

The value of Brightfunnel is less in advanced analytics than in the fact that it does the basic data assembly and lets marketers analyze data for themselves.  Without a tool like Brightfunnel, detailed analysis often requires technical skill and tools that few marketers have available.  .

Brightfunnel was introduced in 2014 and has something under 100 clients. Pricing runs from $35,000 to $80,000 per year based on system modules and number of users. The amount of data doesn’t matter. Clients are mostly mid-sized tech companies – the usual early adopters for this sort of thing. The company raised $6 million in Series A funding in October 2015.

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