End-to-end measurement is the process of attributing revenue to a particular source. This is made possible when the right systems are connected together. This week, Terry Guttman joins the show to talk about his experience with end-to-end measurement. In this conversation, we talk about:
- an overview of end-to-end measurement
- common mistakes or pitfalls marketers should avoid
- capturing the right data at conversion points
- factoring in upper-funnel campaigns
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John Tyreman: Hey, what’s up everybody? Welcome to The Digital Marketing Troop, where we go in the trenches to help you learn more about digital marketing. I’m your host, John Tyreman, and today we’re talking about lead and revenue attribution from start to finish in the terms of end-to- end measurement. I’m here with Terry Guttman, Senior Paid Media and Analytics Account Manager and Team Lead at Silverback Strategies. And I’m looking at you on our Zoom call right here and I see that you’ve got a bunch of ski sets behind you. I’m curious. Do you have any plans to go hit the mountain? When’s the next time you’re gonna go skiing?
Terry Guttman: It’s a good question. I like to go on like a yearly trip somewhere new, that I have not been before. Didn’t get to do that the last winter for obvious reasons with COVID but not sure if I’m going to get to a big trip this year either. I’ve got a wedding I need to plan for and save for early next year, so yeah, I might do some local trips in Virginia, which is – it’s slim pickings but it’s something.
John Tyreman: Well congratulations and but yeah that’s always fun. There are a few good spots here in Virginia. So Terry, let’s start here. For our listeners who might not know, what is end-to-end measurement and why is it important?
Terry Guttman: Yeah. End-to-end measurement or really, end-to-end attribution is kind of the same thing. It’s connecting the dots from your paid media marketing efforts to be eventual bottom line results, right? It’s like the question that your clients or your boss is always asking. You know, how is… how are my paid media efforts contributing to my revenue, or my transactions? Well, this is obviously an important thing to try to answer and it’s difficult to do outside of ecommerce where everything is, you know, a click, directly leads to a sale online. But what is your B2B? Or what is your, you know, lead gen type of strategy? And that lead nurturing process takes time and it’s not immediate. It’s a simple concept of trying to tie things back that way but deceptively, it’s kind of difficult to execute.
John Tyreman: It is difficult, and especially for, you mentioned, B2B, and there’s those long sales cycles do take weeks, months, sometimes even years before a prospect really kind of goes through that full buying journey. So can you share with our listeners an example, maybe of the end -to-end measurement process? Like, do you have it broken down into different steps?
Terry Guttman: It would probably depend on your industry and what your… In our case, our clients are our is an example. As an example, you know, we deal a lot with home services clients, at least in my direct portfolio. So, in that environment, people are looking for a service for their home, looking to, you know, correct something or improve something. They will, you know, search, find ads, click on those, submit leads, and then at that point, traditionally, the job of the paid media advertiser is done. Here you go, client or here you go sales team. Here’s a lead. Have fun, good luck. But what we want to do is consider the information that happens after that – what happens after that lead. So not all leads are created equal. Maybe phone call leads are more valuable than a form lead or a chat lead is less valuable than a form lead. We need to consider that. So as an example, like you’d want to collect information with that lead, not just who that person is but how they got to that site, or where they found that phone number. So that as that person moves along the nurturing of that lead or they move along the sales funnel, internally, with a business, and eventually turn into new business, we can turn around and look back and see where that came from, and use that information to make better decisions about where to allocate our marketing budgets.
John Tyreman: It sounds very simple but I would imagine that there are a lot of complexities or areas where that visibility could not be there and there could be different dead ends. Can you give an example of maybe a mistake or a pitfall that marketers might watch out for? Maybe it’s after that lead is delivered. It sounds like that’s kind of a gray area.
Terry Guttman: Yeah, yeah. So some of the mistakes that can happen… one I suppose is just not attributing everything. So maybe you can have insight into how or where a user came from prior to submitting a form lead but maybe you can’t do that for phone calls or for a chat widget or you know, any other type of lead gathering process. If you’re only able to do part of it, then it’s really difficult to make decisions and insights, just based off of partial data. That’s why it’s so important to make sure that you’re able to do that with all the different types of ways that people can convert on your site or through your ads, so that you’re able to determine which of those types is most valuable and optimize towards what’s best. It’s also very easy to break things when you’re trying to set up end-to-end measurement. It can include a lot of work with forms and modifying forms on your site to collect this information and if your CRM or, you know, data warehousing environment, whatever, is not configured to collect this information, additional information with these forms, you might end up with some problems. Either data loss or things being, you know, attributed the wrong way or put in the wrong place within systems. So, yeah, always good to include the right people when you’re trying to set up, and end-to-end measurement, which typically, you know, will include just working as a team with your client or with people who are in charge of using that CRM. The people who are in charge of keeping the data in the CRM in an organized way. Because, if things break, that’s more than a problem for just paid media, that’s a problem with their whole business.
John Tyreman: Yeah, that’s definitely… I’ve experienced that and that definitely can be painful when something breaks. I’ve spent a fair amount of my time in the backend of Salesforce and Pardot trying to figure stuff out, and honestly, like you’re speaking about working as a team. It’s so critical because, you know, someone who might understand the technical details of the data and how it’s passed forward, they may not understand the strategy, or how the funnel is designed and so getting on that same page is definitely critical. Now you mentioned something earlier about capturing the right data and operating with incomplete data can be kind of a mistake or a pitfall to watch out for. So how can you make sure that you really capture all the right data at the conversion points? You mentioned calls being one that seems like it could be a little bit tricky. So how do you capture all the data from all those different lead conversion points?
Terry Guttman: Yeah. And yeah again, that is super important. So the first thing to really look at is where can a user contact you? What are all the places a person can reach out to you on their website or through advertising? And I say not just through the website, because different ad platforms have avenues for people to submit leads directly on that platform. Like, Facebook has lead generation ads, Google has something very similar to that, LinkedIn does as well and so on. Calls… I’ll step back for a second. So once you understand, you know, where all those places come from, it’s important at that point to determine if you can do this. So it’s important to work with the various vendors that you have in place for these solutions. Call tracking – there’s various call tracking solutions. One that we typically work with is CallRail. And there’s several others that are able to accomplish this – understanding where that call came from. Form providers do this as well. So frequently, you know, Marketo forms, HubSpot forms and so on. There you have the capability of collecting additional information about where that user came from and chats widgets as well. Even if you’re not able to, you know, say for example you have custom forms on your website. They were built in-house. There’s still ways that you’re able to collect the information that you need to by modifying them and working with a developer. This can be done in the form of a hidden form field, for example. So, and what that is is, the form looks exactly the same as it does normally to a user: first name, last name, email, phone number, but there’s also a list of different fields that are hidden to that user, that can be populated with information that can be pulled out of the landing page URL that they got to the website. So it includes click IDs, the campaign, the ad group, the keyword maybe that they searched. All of that can be cookied on the user’s browser for the session or for several days, weeks, and as they go to submit that form that information can be recalled and collected with that form. So it’s important to work with those vendors, those solutions you have in place and to understand if that can be done. And it’s definitely something to consider if you’re in the market for a new call tracking solution or chat widget, is to ask about, if their solution can capture information about how that user got to the website,
John Tyreman: On the call tracking side of things, I can see how that would be really useful for like the home services space, right? Where, you know, I go into my bathroom and I see that my toilet’s flooding, I want to call someone right now to get that fixed right? And so on the home service provider side, they’re gonna want to know how did I find that number to click to call. Was it through a search ad, was it an organic search, was it… I was browsing on Facebook and saw an offer? So yeah, I can see how that’s really important. Now, from a paid media perspective, generating awareness and building up a consideration for a product or service, something that has a little bit longer of a lead cycle, those campaigns, they may not have an immediate impact but they influence customers to reach out directly, weeks, months, maybe even years later, depending on the industry. So Terry, how have you seen those kinds of campaigns impact lead generation efforts?
Terry Guttman: Yeah this is also such a challenge. So the initial objective of those campaigns is never to or should not ever be to drive leads. They’re never going to be as effective as that as your low funnel campaigns. So you’re typically operating on trying to get the most exposure, most frequency or the right frequency. CPM is another common metric that’s used in those cases. But the cool part about end-to-end measurement is you’re able to take that information about how that person eventually converted and went through the sales process, became a customer and contributed to the revenue, and then send that information back to an ad platform, where they have multiple different attribution models they can use to help try to help you figure out the path people take to eventually converting and becoming a customer. So that can include clicks and views on videos that happened months ago that fed into searches that have multiple different searches and interactions prior to eventually submitting a lead, and then becoming a customer. And with attribution modeling and these ad platforms and sending that information that sales information back to these ad platforms, you can paint a better picture of all the interactions people can have prior to the eventual last click they took to submit that lead.
John Tyreman: Now that’s really interesting to me. So do these platforms talk to each other natively? How did you pass that data back and forth? It sounds like this data would probably need to be able to communicate across multiple different platforms, your CRM included. I’m curious, you know, with everything that’s going on with third party cookies being phased out, how is that going to change?
Terry Guttman: Yeah, no attribution model is perfect, so I’ll say that. And Google and Facebook and LinkedIn, they don’t play nice with each other so they’re not going to share that information in that way and try to say, oh you know what, you know the, in the end the last user clicked a Facebook ad but prior to that they were really doing all their search on Google. Facebook’s not going to hand that attribution over to Google and say, actually that’s yours. So that’s another important thing to consider. Nothing here is perfect. As far as it goes for the third party cookies, that’s where the first party cookies come in, so a lot of the… like what we were talking about with forms happening on the site, even the out of the box solutions that come with chat solutions and call tracking solutions, they’re all trying to transition over to using first party cookies. So with that, that means, you know, I clicked to your website, and the information about how I got there, it click IDs, the campaigns that I associated with that click, that’s actually cookied on on my browser on my end, or on the website’s end. So it’s not involving a cookie that is from a third party, meaning like Google or Facebook. It’s directly on that site and on that browser. Those aren’t going away. So that’s an important piece. Third party is going away, first party is not, and that’s going to play a big part in continuing to enable attribution at this level.
John Tyreman: Tell me if I’m off base here but it sounds like that type of attribution will be more incumbent on the operators of the CRM platforms and it sounds like that’s probably inevitably going to be the place where you’re going to need to be able to visualize the customer journey. Am I off base with that?
Terry Guttman: That’s part of it. I mean, I think that the most valuable part of end-to-end measurement is sending this information back to the platforms, the advertising platforms. That way, we’re able to leverage all of that intelligence that they have with automation of bid strategies, and budget strategies, to optimize towards these actions that we ultimately care the most about: transactions, revenue, ROI. If we don’t do that, you’re still back to optimizing towards the conversions, the lead. But if you’re able to harness the full picture of end-to-end measurement and sending information back to the platforms, forget clicks, forget CPCs, forget conversions really, in a traditional sense. At that point you’re analyzing and reporting on and optimizing towards revenue and transactions.
John Tyreman: Well, it sounds like that’s probably the most important piece because that’s what fuels the cycle, end-to-end right? You want to be able to take that revenue that you gained, and then feed that information back to the ad platforms themselves, bringing it back full circle. Well, Terry, this has been informative for me. I know that I’m always trying to learn more about attribution and measurement and understanding all of that. So if listeners want to learn more about analytics, about end-to-end measurement or any other topics, paid media topics, where can they find you?
Terry Guttman: I, like everyone else, is on LinkedIn. That’s probably the best place to find me, /Terry Guttman.
John Tyreman: Awesome. Well Terry, thank you so much for taking the time to hop on this podcast with me.
Terry Guttman: Thank you very much, John. I appreciate it. It was a good time.
John Tyreman: If you found this podcast episode insightful, please subscribe, tell a friend and leave a rating and review. And to learn more, head on over to silverbackstrategies.com where we have a wealth of digital marketing insights on our blog and Resource Center. We’ll see you next time on The Digital Marketing Troop.