Performance marketing and the explosion of data has pushed businesses into advocates of ‘data-driven’ decision-making. The trouble is, despite how connected our digital world appears it’s highly likely your attribution model is far from perfect.

From a historical perspective, gathering data was much harder, less digital and more manual.

For instance, customer information had to be physically filed away as opposed to being logged in a CRM and something like NPS or CSAT was difficult to measure because reaching customers was also harder.

With the world now interconnected through technology and an abundance of communication channels, we’re buried in data. This evolution has changed the way sales and marketing functions operate, depending on digital platforms to report on success and improve decision-making.

One of the biggest struggles right now is that B2B companies are unable to draw any clear picture from the data at their disposal. And secondly, they depend on the data to guide all decision-making, even if it goes against their better judgements.

Let’s run through a few examples to explain this point more effectively. Here’s what attribution is unable to track or measure:

When a customer recommends your product to a colleague (either by phone, email, WhatsApp, etc).

When someone engages with your video content, whether it’s via your website, LinkedIn, any of the social networks.

When someone shares your un-gated content with a colleague or friend.

When someone is tagged in the comments of your social ads.

Solely focusing on attribution without understanding the buyer’s journey can lead to knee-jerk decisions that then drive the wrong activities. This is a great example of the pitfalls of data-driven decision making when used in isolation and ignoring the broader marketing strategy.

A few great references to this include Bazaarvoice’s Digiday Report, which surveyed 197 agencies where 1% of marketing professionals said offline attribution wasn’t important to them.

This also closely aligns with the research Salesforce carried out some time ago when reviewing what channels deliver the most qualified opportunities to B2B companies.

Whilst digital technology has changed sales and marketing operations, growth-focused companies must be careful to not lose the bigger picture and risk focusing on short-term activities that yield low returns.

Companies must shift focus and think in the long-term.

Technology hasn’t changed the human element of a business, word of mouth referral is still king.

Companies need to invest in sales and marketing talent that understand both the intricacies of attribution and the foundations of powerful marketing. Firms will then be in the strongest position to make decisions and deliver a strategy that drives growth.

Your marketing should get people talking and generate word of mouth.

This is what drives exponential growth. Whether that’s customers talking about an exceptional implementation you’ve delivered or a prospect talking to a colleague about your latest piece of content.

Deliver content that people will share and talk about. Deliver a product that people will talk about.

Most companies avoid this because it’s hard or completely misalign their strategy by getting wrapped up in ‘leads’ and chase only what they can measure easily.

The biggest mistake a company can make is to underestimate the value of offline conversions and offline interaction. 

– Felipe Araujo senior director of e-commerce, Diane von Furstenberg

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