How Progress improved marketing performance with multi-touch attribution (post 1 of 2)

By Chuck Leddy

Multi-touch attribution enables marketers to connect (attribute) touchpoints and marketing activities to revenues. Having this MTA capability not only informs better marketing tactics and decision-making, but also enables marketers to “prove” their value more effectively in the C-suite. 

Progress Software, the leading platform for developing and deploying strategic business applications, has moved from a single-touch attribution model to MTA. As Carmen Gardiner, Progress’s Director of Marketing Operations, explains it: “A single touch model just doesn’t give you the visibility you need to make marketing decisions, especially in the enterprise buying cycle. MTA measures a wider range of buying touchpoints, not just around a single individual but also includes buying groups. MTA shines a light on the success of the tactics and channels that you’re investing in, giving you more insight into how those tactics, those campaigns, and that spend is really affecting the buyer’s journey.”

The catalyst for change at Progress

Progress’s MTA journey began with a change in C-level leadership a few years back. The new team “was used to getting multi-touch attribution,” notes Gardiner. “And we simply didn’t have it.” So driving MTA became a mandate for Gardiner and her marketing ops team. 

What did leadership expect? They wanted Progress “to have the data to know what’s working and what’s not, and be able to show the reasoning behind asking for [marketing] spend,” explains Gardiner. “MTA would help explain why we might need money for top of funnel programs. You’d have data to show that it’s an integral part of the buyer journey and not just focusing on that last touch point.”

Big challenges

Whether it’s driving MTA or any other initiative, change management is all about dynamically integrating technology, processes, and people around the new way of working. “Technology was the hardest part for us,” explains Gardiner, “because MTA was a new concept at Progress,” which had been using single touch attribution. “We had challenges getting the scripts to play well with our CMS [content management system]. We even lost a vendor over that. We had to jump over that particular hurdle because you can’t get touchpoints without scripts on your website.”

Getting the processes right was another challenge. “It’s so hard to change your thinking when you’ve been thinking for 20 years in terms of campaigns: we had to change to touchpoints. We just weren’t used to tying those touchpoints to spend and connecting that with our budgeting,” says Gardiner.

Progress tackled technology and processes before the “people” part, which sounds eminently sensible. “If you don’t have your technology and your processes down, your people aren’t going to understand it, use it, and buy into it,” says Gardiner. Progress started its MTA journey with a small group. “We have three marketing groups,” says Gardiner, “and so we started the one that needed the visibility the most.” As Gardiner notes in our second post, Progress may have (in retrospect) been better served by bringing its people in even earlier, as Progress worked to get those challenging technology and process parts of the solution off the ground. 

Bizible for MTA

Bizible was not Progress’s first choice for MTA but was its final choice. “It’s working really well for us. It’s given us greater visibility into the contribution of the top and bottom of funnel programs, the first touch, the pipeline acceleration. It’s opened marketing’s mind into the possibility of being able to report on things that aren’t last touch and allowing them to better understand which mix may lead to better conversion.”

Bizible enables Progress to see where the gaps are: “When you do funnel conversion stats, we can see where we need to get people/leads in at the top or need something in the middle of the funnel,” says Gardiner. “It’s not ‘one-and-done’ tactics, but a mix that eases people through their buyer’s journey.” Progress can see that full-funnel journey, and where its funnel might be “leaky,” in order to plug those leaks.

Impact of MTA 

MTA has moved Progress, especially its enterprise team, away from campaigns and towards touchpoints. “Instead of doing events, because campaign reporting told them events were great, they now look at the touchpoint attribution models. They can see which channels and tactics are better at different parts of the funnel. So they get a better, multidimensional picture of the buyer’s journey and see how their combined efforts contribute to pipeline and revenue.” The way marketing decisions get made is now more data-driven, focusing on getting the mix of marketing tactics/activities right: “decisions are based on a multidimensional understanding of how tactics and actions are impacting every piece of the funnel. Marketers feel better, for instance, going to C-level executives and asking for more AdWords spend because they can actually show the impact of that spend,” says Gardiner.

Marketers at Progress are also conducting more experiments because they’re able to pull the levers and tweak tactics/actions at different stages of the funnel, then measure and iterate upon results. They can “fail small” and learn during a data-driven process of continuous improvement.

Examples of real MTA impact

Gardiner points to Google AdWords as a good example of how Progress has used MTA to have a more experimental approach that leads to smarter marketing decisions and more ROI. “We were spending a lot of money on Google AdWords in places where we shouldn’t,” notes Gardiner, “but the MTA reporting allowed us to see where our sweet spots were, which investments were actually affecting top of funnel and converting into leads. And so we started spending our money in certain areas [that were working] and stopped spending our money in other areas [that weren’t working]. For some areas that were kind of in the middle, we figured out how we could improve results. We tweaked our ads and experimented. We didn’t just cut our AdWords budget: we increased its performance by about 30%.”

Content, which is often deployed around the top of the funnel, is another area impacted by MTA. “Our content teams and product managers love that we can now show the impact that blogs, press releases, and content have on the buyer’s journey. Before MTA, they had no way of showing their impact on the business. So two whole departments now have a seat at the table, asking what kind of content resonates with people? And at what stages in the funnel? They can use MTA to better determine the topics to write about and what content people want.” All of that drives full-funnel ROI.

In our next post, we’ll explain what lessons Progress has learned during its MTA journey, lessons that other organizations like yours might apply for themselves.

Interested in learning more about how your organization can begin a journey towards multi-touch attribution? Contact us today.  

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