Self-reported attribution: what it is & why you need it
Mar 08, 2023
You can't tell how good your marketing is without data to back it up. Looking at the wrong metrics won't tell you much, and with lots of data in lots of different places, knowing where to start can be overwhelming. That's why it's important to choose the metrics you report on carefully so you have reliable information that gives you actionable insights to work from.
Once you've cracked your metrics, you'll be able to review your marketing efforts more strategically, use data to inform decisions, and define what success looks like more easily.
When it comes to demand generation metrics, there are two important things to remember:
What you decide to measure and why influences your marketing strategy. For example, if your goal is to generate as many leads as possible, you might use an inbound marketing strategy. If your goal is to generate revenue, you might focus on inbound demand generation.
When you’ve decided what tactics to use and which demand generation metrics to track, it’s important to let what you’re doing bed in. Give yourself time and don’t expect results straight away.
Your end goal should be to help drive sales and revenue, so track metrics that measure how well you’re doing that. Decide on the demand generation strategies and tactics you’ll use to reach your goal, and remember you’re playing the long game. Expect to see an accurate reflection of progress around two sales cycles from when you start and formally review progress no more than every quarter. You can track indicative metrics alongside commercially focused ones to give you a sign of success, but the really important metrics are the ones that show how marketing is having a direct impact on your bottom line.
Most marketers agree that an MQL is a lead that should be flagged or given to sales, but definitions of an MQL vary. We recommend treating someone who converts on bottom-of-the-funnel offers or contact forms as an MQL, as they’ve expressed a clear wish to talk to sales, e.g. by requesting a demo. If you qualify them before this stage, they’re unlikely to be ready to speak to sales and contacting them will be disruptive and potentially put them off. It will also waste time in your sales team.
Marketing attribution tells you the touchpoints that lead to engagement, conversions, and sales. There are two main types of attribution. These are:
It’s useful to track both types because together they’ll give you a more accurate picture of how people are coming to you and why they’re coming to you in the first place. For example, software attribution might tell you someone found you through organic search, but self-reported attribution might tell you the reason they searched for you is because of a webinar you hosted 6 months ago.
In other words, software attribution is how you captured demand. Self-reported attribution is how you created demand.
Demand capture is the method for attracting and converting the 5% of your market that is actively looking for a solution. This includes ‘capturing’ buyers in channels that they use when they’re ready to buy e.g. Google search, review sites, and your own website.
Demand creation is the method for generating awareness of a problem and solution. Then, educating the 95% of your market that isn’t actively looking for a solution. This includes creating and distributing content to a wider audience on mediums such as social media, podcasts, and communities.
These are opportunities in your pipeline that came from a marketing source. To see how many of your MQLs successfully convert into opportunities, you can work out the conversion rate.
Reporting on this gives you a good idea of the kinds of MQLs that convert into opportunities. Sometimes you can spot patterns that show particular sources or campaigns are driving the best results.
This is the number of MQLs that converted into a closed/won sale. Looking at this tells you which MQLs have generated revenue for the business.
Revenue is the most important metric in any business. By reporting on marketing-generated revenue, you're able to see what marketing activities drive leads that convert and contribute to your bottom line.
Sales will thank you for this as you're prioritising bringing them high-quality leads that are more likely to close.
These metrics are a great indicator of success. They’ll help you to tell if you’re doing the right thing, but shouldn’t be the only thing you measure. They support the four key metrics we outlined earlier.
Understanding your search performance can tell you a lot. Looking at the number of brand searches you’re getting can be a good indicator that you’re creating demand. And, looking at your keyword positions can tell you how visible you are in search engines, if people in awareness and consideration phases will be able to find you, and where you rank against competitors for specific search terms.
See if you’re getting a good level of engagement (shares, comments, likes, impressions) on your social channels. And see what kind of people or businesses the engagement is coming from – you want it to match your ideal customer profile (ICP) as this indicates your content resonates with them.
It’s a good idea to track the status of your MQLs so you know where they are in the sales process and have a clear idea of their quality. Software like HubSpot usually has a set of default statuses you can use, but it’s possible to customise them to better suit your business and processes if you prefer. You’ll usually have something like:
If there are lots of leads in Open and they’ve been there for a long time, it might mean your sales team hasn't followed up. If there are lots in Disqualified, it’s a sign your MQLs are poor quality. This is why it’s useful to track reasons for disqualification, too.
Looking at leads by disqualification reason helps you to understand why your MQLs are a poor fit for your business. Like lead status, disqualification reason is something you can customise, but you’ll usually have categories like budget, timeline, spam, etc. If lots of your MQLs are being disqualified, then you need to change something so your sales team has better quality leads to work with.
Both lead status and disqualification reason are important metrics for healthy communication and feedback between marketing and sales.
If you ever feel overwhelmed, remember to focus on the four key demand generation metrics first. This will allow you to build a picture of the commercial impact of your marketing, but you won’t see an impact straight away.
If you want to look at indicators of success while you’re implementing your demand generation strategies, look at the four indicative metrics alongside your core ones.
You’ll start to see patterns emerge and learn what works well and what needs a rethink. But don’t act on impulse – good demand generation takes time.