How to Build Marketing Accountability From the Lead Up

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Marketing accountabilityIn a previous blog post (On the Road to Marketing Accountability: Five KPIs You Should Start Tracking Today), we discussed how to evaluate marketing performance from a macro perspective. In this post we will look at evaluating marketing performance from a micro perspective – specifically, at the lead level.

There are three key variables that ideally should be associated with every new lead:

  1. Lead Source
  2. Marketing Channel
  3. Marketing Campaign

Each of these variables serves a unique purpose, as described below.

Lead Source

The “Lead Source” variable identifies, at a high level, where a lead was originated. The goal of tracking lead sources is to evaluate marketing activities strategically for their effectiveness in producing leads. These calculations are very valuable for periodic (especially annual) marketing planning purposes. Some common lead sources are noted below; you may have others:

Website Conferences
Business Information Providers
Virtual Events
Partners Social
Webinars Referrals
White Papers Sales Prospecting

Because lead sources are used for long-term planning, you should track the same ones consistently over a period of time. At the same time, you should be in tune with the evolving marketing landscape so you can add (or delete) lead sources when a reporting period ends. We recommend performing an audit and refinement of Lead Sources on an annual basis so that reporting is consistent for the year. Make sure that the list of lead sources is as small and distinct as possible. The more clearly defined and distinctive a lead source is, the more observable and actionable it will be.

Marketing Channel

Social clusterThe “Marketing Channel” variable identifies the distribution channel through which the company’s message reaches the target and results in a new lead. Tracking this variable enables us to connect the dots between acquiring a lead with the marketing dollars (and effort) spent in each channel. Thus, identification of each Marketing Channel’s production allows calculation of ROI by Marketing Channel, which in turn enables optimization of marketing dollars spent. Here’s a sample of potential key marketing channels:

Google Paid Search 3rd-Party Webinar
Email (to Lists) 3rd-Party Email
Facebook – Paid Conference
Twitter – Organic Website

There will likely be some overlap between Lead Sources and Marketing Channels. We recommend that Marketing Channels be specific (for example, “Twitter-organic” rather than generic “Social Media”) so that ROI calculations are more actionable down the line.

In practice, attaching Marketing Channel attribution to a lead is harder than attaching Lead Source attribution. That said, some marketing channels are more easily identifiable than others. The recommended approach is to start the practice of attaching a Marketing Channel designation to new leads as much as possible, and then expand the attachment rate over time. Once successful, identifying Marketing Channels to leads could be a major leap towards marketing accountability in your organization.

Marketing Campaign

This attribution identifies the origination of a lead at a tactical level. Your list of Marketing Campaigns increases over time; for clarity, we recommend that the marketing campaign name contain the date when the campaign was sent.

2014-01-01: January Survey 2014-03-01: XYZ Onsite Event
2014-06-19: Email -SEO Basics and Beyond 2013-11-06: B2B Virtual Event
2013-11-01: Demo 2014-02-19: XYZ E-zine: Best Practices for SEO

Analyzing Marketing Campaign data allows you to evaluate the performance of individual campaigns (both number of leads generated and, eventually, lead-to-sale conversion) and fine-tune them for optimum performance at a tactical level.

A Last Thought

Making sure that Lead Source, Marketing Channel, and Marketing Campaign attributions are attached to each new lead may be the most difficult part of implementing a marketing accountability framework. Some marketers add fields to the CRM database. However you accomplish it, once this attribution is implemented, it opens an array of possibilities for improving marketing performance. How you can leverage this data will be the topic for my next blog post.

Have questions? Let me know if there’s an aspect of marketing accountability that you’d like to see in my next post.

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  • Thomas Craft

    Great article, wish it was a little more in depth. The Marketing Channel attribute is a challenge. We are trying to use all of our tracking capabilities to help without having to use the potential lead for feedback.

    • bri44any

      Along the lines of going a little more in depth, it might be cool to see how Act-On manages this process themselves, to see a case study of Act-On’s process. They are growing right now, so there must be something to learn from such a case study on how they approach these.

  • http://www.nugrowth.com Paul Fuller

    Joju – good stuff. I’d definitely recommend having this visible in the CRM, and allowing sales to be completely aware of the fields. It helps with the overall lead flow.

  • Tim

    While it seems so elementary, tracking lead source and marketing channel data is not standard protocol for many companies. But without tracking it, you have no idea what channels, campaigns and efforts are working and you’ve got no clue where your leads are coming from. Sometimes your “gut” instinct is totally wrong, thats where the data should come in.