Handcuffs created by attribution in B2B companies stunt creativity, professionals warn

By Zion Rufus

Marketing experts have warned that methods used by companies to track and measure the effectiveness of their marketing have prevented marketers from getting creative as it turns every campaign into a “dull direct-response lead generation machine”.

In the LinkedIn conversation on how most B2B sales and marketing issues today are rooted in key performance indicators and attribution, Chris Walker, CEO Refine Labs, revealed that these companies have set up their attribution models in outdated ways that rely on trackable digital events that get measured by software based attribution, therefore making it hard for marketers to do anything other than direct response transactional lead generation.

He said: “Those metrics originated in the early 2010s, and have continued; and what has happened during that time is the evolution of the internet, and social media channels, podcasting, communities like slack and Discord, Facebook groups, virtual events, and others. Due to this evolution, the customer buying process has evolved tremendously, however, the sales process has remained the same for many B2B companies. So when CFOs and CEOs go back into the boardroom and say ‘ok what’s working and what’s not in our marketing’, they rely on a single piece of software that has a lot of flaws in measurement, and then they use those things to decide where they are going to invest, and where they are going to spend their money because that’s what they believe is trackable.”

Walker explained that this in turn forces B2B marketers and others revenue professionals to only focus on things that are trackable by software such as transactional digital activities like lead generation that allow them to get a conversion, measure where the conversion came from, and be able to attribute that inside of their marketing automation platform and CRM.

He continued: “And when you do that, you get a lot of leads, but it becomes quite difficult to be able to create pipeline and revenue from them because it’s typically marketers going out to get people that are not ready to buy, then pass them to sales so that sales can try and sell to people that don’t want to buy right now. Everyone says B2B marketing doesn’t have to be boring. But B2B will always be boring until you change how you measure marketing.”

Expressing his viewpoint, Arturo Munoz, an expert business process designer, pointed out that until a company changes its culture, the KPIs will remain unchanged.

He said: “KPIs have become a reflection of corporate culture. The typical public corporate culture of the B2B complex sale is quarterly-focused, Wall Street pleasing, share price driven. This means sales is about impacting earnings every 12 weeks, not customer satisfaction.Marketing concentrates, therefore, on brand awareness. And direct marketing concentrates on precision spiel delivery. Sales goes for repeat customers and large accounts. This is the practice rut because all roads lead to 10-Q SEC reporting, and that game never changes. Neither do the tools that already fulfill this requirement.”

Timothy Pintar, senior marketing manager at Kansys on his part believes that these metrics should be tied to how customers prefer to buy and not how marketers want them to buy.

“B2B grew up in Sales; this is why so many companies have such a difficult time making the shift to a model that doesn’t involve KPIs that are stuck in the stone age when looking at how buyers buy today. MQL, SQL, PinkQL, BlueQL call it whatever you want – but the metrics have to be tied to how they prefer to buy, not how you prefer to buy,” he stated in the LinkedIn conversation.

Tom Tigwell, Founder of Fill My Funnel, advised marketers to free themselves from lead generation forms, to deliver tangible increasing website inbound MoM, QoQ that actually convert to pipeline and revenue.


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