By Chuck Leddy
As you may have read in our first of two blog posts about Progress’s journey from single-touch to multi-touch attribution, the result of the change was a large improvement in the efficiency of its marketing function, which also boosted the credibility of marketing within the C-suite. In this second post, we’ll share the 10 key lessons Progress learned during its (still ongoing) MTA journey, as told to us by Carmen Gardiner, Progress’s Director of Marketing Operations. Here they are:
- C-level sponsorship is a must. “An MTA journey isn’t a small initiative for a single department to do in a month. It’s got to have C-level sponsorship throughout, and it’s got to be prioritized,” explains Gardiner. “You’ll need to have resources tied to it, with stakeholders committed across the company, from marketing to sales, IT to web to finance and beyond.”
- Seek early buy-in across the organization. “Every time you think you’ve got every stakeholder in the room, you’ll discover that you don’t. Seek to get everybody on board as soon as possible, because people have to feel a part of the process for it to work,” says Gardiner. “If I could go back, I would’ve brought people on board sooner rather than later. We felt that it was a good idea to have the technology and processes down before we bought people in, but [in retrospect] I would have brought them in sooner. It took some people a long time to wrap their heads around touchpoint attribution and not campaign attribution.”
- Select your vendor very, very carefully. Progress went with Bizible as their MTA vendor, but only after some pitfalls with another vendor. “Keep in mind, from the start, what you want to have at the end of the journey because, depending on the vendor, MTA can be defined differently,” says Gardiner, “There are a lot of MTA vendors that fall into different categories, that will give you different information, different results. So think carefully about what you want at the end of the journey and then find a vendor that’s going to deliver that.”
- Measure and celebrate key milestones along the way. “The MTA journey is a long road and people are going to get tired,” says Gardiner. It’s important to stop and celebrate small wins. Measuring progress is also essential. “One of our product clients wanted to see multi-touch attribution and to know about Google AdWords. We showed them multi-touch attribution and then we tied spend to each keyword, each UTM campaign. So not only could they say they spent 10 grand on AdWords and this was what they got back, but they could dig into every little AdWords campaign, and then figure out what was working and what wasn’t. They were able to refine based off that level of reporting.”
- Self-service works. Ideally, you shouldn’t need to be a professional data scientist with an advanced degree to use the tools. “We made it so anybody could go to the BI [business intelligence] dashboard and take a look at it from the different facets,” says Gardiner. “They could look at it from first touch, W-shaped, full path, and get the answers they needed based on the questions they wanted answers to. Self service is really, really important. If people are just allowed to go in there and play, they’re going to be curious, ask questions, and learn.”
- Expect resistance, work to mitigate it. “There was some resistance to the change,” says Gardiner. “I was told by one marketer, ‘I don’t understand this, I’m not going to use it.’ We should have brought marketing in much earlier because it’s like walking into cold water.” Yes, people might resist at the beginning, so you should expect that, but be patient and keep communicating the why and the how of the MTA change initiative.
- Blend the new with the old. Progress didn’t just eliminate the old way of working and introduce the new one overnight, which would have created massive confusion and frustration among end users. INstead, it rolled out the new while staying with the old. “We would run a team’s marketing metrics meetings for six months and show their campaign data that they usually have. And then marketing ops would give them the Bizible/MTA data and we would interpret that for them,” explains Gardiner. “So they could compare and contrast the datasets, because neither of them is wrong. And after a while, our users got used to the idea that neither was wrong. Neither one is going to give you the golden bullet,” but you can gain insights from both. That “blend of old and new” approach helped prevent confusion and drive adoption.
- You need a mixture of touchpoints. “Multi-touch attribution,” says Gardiner, “is just going to help you answer specific, measurable questions like, is my Google AdWords spend helping me affect the top of the funnel? It won’t answer bigger questions like ‘how did my campaign go?’ MTA helps you decide what tactics are best for each stage of the buyer journey. You need a mixture of touchpoints, not just one. Events, for instance, are great but an event might be third base [in a baseball analogy], but you have to get to first and second base before that, right?”
- Don’t be afraid to fail. “You’re not saving lives, you’re learning along with everyone else. Don’t tell people that MTA is going to give them some magic path. it’s a tool they need to learn how to use well, like any other tool.” It’s also important that leadership gives space for people to fail and learn from those failures, in a process of continuous learning.
- MTA is a journey, not a destination. “You’re not going to be done, ever. There’s always going to be something more that you want to know, a gap you’ll want to fill. And I’m sure the technology will continue to evolve as well,” concludes Gardiner. Achieving peak performance is a bit like chasing the sun. You may never reach it, but the journey is eminently worthwhile.
Reach out to us to learn more about how your organization can begin – or optimize – a journey towards multi-touch attribution!
Update: Listen to Carmen Gardiner share 5 of these lessons – and more insights – with Sojourn’s Dan Vawter via our (now) on-demand webinar “5 lessons learned: How Progress improved its marketing with multi-touch attribution.“