How to talk to your clients about lead attribution reporting

Businesses invested in their marketing and sales processes can gain much from attribution reports. The data yielded by lead attribution can drive new marketing strategies, inform current campaigns, and ensure that underperforming channels aren’t languishing.

These marketing analytics come with one little problem: To the average client, they might seem too advanced. Although the various models aren’t as difficult to decipher as they might initially appear, your customers may come back to you wondering, “What is lead attribution?”

Proactive marketing agencies don’t just deliver great results — they educate and inform clients to not only help them better understand the tactics an agency uses, but also strengthen collaboration and trust between both parties. Attribution reporting is one resource that, besides delivering powerful metrics, makes clients smarter about the strategies that drive marketing success.

You likely already know the power of lead attribution and what can be learned from these reports. The tricky part becomes explaining all that to clients. Here are some tips for touting attribution reporting to your customers:

 

Why attribution reporting is vital

Attribution reporting tracks every touchpoint that prospects and leads make when interacting with your brand. Did someone see a paid ad on Facebook and click to reach the client’s site? That’s a key touchpoint. Did someone type in the client’s web address directly into a browser? That’s another important touchpoint. Did someone request a demo from a product page on the website? Again, that’s a touchpoint that carries strategic value beyond the move toward a sale.

Basic lead attribution provides a basic picture of where and how people are finding your client. However, when all the touchpoints are analyzed together, the paths leads are taking to learn more about the brand — and, ideally, to become customers — comes into sharper focus. Rarely does just one marketing strategy produce all your conversions, nor do conversions occur on just one touchpoint. Attribution reporting shows the journey leads are taking through the client’s website and brand — and what everybody can learn and apply from this data is invaluable.

 

At first, keep it simple

Clients not familiar with what lead reporting is might myopically — and understandably — focus on the first or last touchpoint of a conversion or sale, ignoring everything in between that may be working but is not individually coming across as successful. Your job is to show how the dots connect, as well as the value of those connections.

However, if you jump too deep into multi-channel attribution reporting with a client that’s still trying to understand the basics, you risk causing even more confusion and potentially losing a little confidence in your strategy. Therefore, simpler initial models — at least for the client — may build the expertise and confidence needed to move toward more advanced reporting.

Some straightforward models that are great for introducing clients to attribution reporting and the data that can be learned from the tactic include:

First-touch model: Whatever a lead clicks or visits first gets much of the attribution credit in this reporting strategy. This model is effective in tracking which outward-facing campaigns — such as pay per click, paid social, and organic — are drawing people to the client’s website. It also works well for companies with longer sales cycles by identifying what’s attracting leads to the first touchpoint of what ends up being a multistep journey.
Last-touch model: This bottom-line approach tracks the last touchpoint before a lead converts. Last-touch attribution reporting is helpful in identifying what marketing activities help seal the deal, but it is less effective in determining what worked along the way before that last step. Still, this model works well for short sales cycles for which quick wins are the norm.
50/50 model: This is sort of a combination of the previous two approaches, assigning half the credit to the first touchpoint and half to the last touchpoint before a conversion. The 50/50 model works well as an introduction to multi-channel attribution, and though it misses everything in between the start and finish of the conversion, it works well for shorter conversion paths that often require only two touchpoints.
Linear model: This attribution reporting is also straightforward, with every touchpoint getting equal credit for the conversion. It is simple in its application, yet effective in acknowledging that every step of the lead’s journey may have contributed to the successful result.

The attribution models become more advanced as you further divvy up credit for a conversion across various touchpoints. Once your client is ready for the deeper data, the patterns of what’s working will become more apparent — and that’s when you can comfortably take campaigns and channel strategies to the next level.

 

Compare ROI

The channels you use ideally produce a return on investment, either directly or through the touchpoint they take the lead to next … and every touchpoint thereafter. Showing the client a high ROI both on individual channels and through elongated conversion paths is a clear way to reinforce your marketing strategy while making the case for lead attribution.

That said, showing channels that are producing a low ROI — if any at all — also highlights the value of attribution reporting. For example, a client that loves its brochures may not realize how average they are in actually getting people to convert or even visit its website. Multi-channel reporting can show the efficacy of those brochures both as a first touchpoint and further down the buyer’s journey.

By comparing ROI, you can pinpoint the strategies that are clearly producing for your client, readjust on channels that aren’t, and maybe even figure out a better way to use those beloved brochures so they convert at a better clip.

 

Emphasize goals and strategy

Your clients have goals — objectives they bring to the client-agency relationship as well as ones, through your agency’s expertise, you recommend and implement — that provide the overarching framework for everything you do. Although instinct and expertise are valuable in your role as an agency, strong data forms the foundation that goals and strategies are built upon. Attribution reporting provides some of this data and points the way toward success.

Sometimes, overcoming the “client is always right” approach is difficult when everything is suggesting the client is at least a little bit wrong. Lead reporting provides evidence that a strategy is working or not working, and that progress is being made toward the client’s marketing and sales goals. Although you don’t ever want to create an antagonistic relationship with a client, attribution data helps both parties pivot their strategy, adjust goals, and plan — together — where the retainer should go next week as well as next year.

The advanced nature of lead attribution also encourages clients to actively engage in all aspects of campaigns. Although some of your customers might be content to just see how your efforts impact the bottom line, some may benefit from learning about the ins and outs of conversion paths and what they can do to help. In this way, clients become more immersed in the marketing strategies you are driving, as well as trust you more.

 

Expand beyond online channels

Of course, the challenge many agencies find with multi-channel attribution is that accurately reporting on non-digital sources, such as billboards, print ads, and the aforementioned brochures, is difficult because you’re never quite sure which “traditional” channel inspired the prospect to call, email, or visit the client’s website. The data from this attribution reporting is crucial to proving (or disproving) the effectiveness of these channels, yet many agencies and their clients can only guess how well their efforts are contributing to their strategy.

Call tracking software from CallRail overcomes this challenge. Our platform gives agencies advanced analytics to help them determine not only which campaigns and channels are contributing to success, but also which keywords and ads are specifically driving leads.

Moreover, the CallRail solution seamlessly incorporates offline lead attribution with online reporting applications to deliver unparalleled marketing intelligence. In this way, your strategy thrives, gaps are addressed, and clients realize more ROI by working with your agency.