How to Attribute Leads Directly to Your Inbound Program with HubSpot

January 30, 2018

whole brain marketing blog author


Posted by Tim Holdsworth

lead attribution

Wouldn’t it be great if you could go back in time, peer over your customer’s shoulder and understand all the steps he or she took to eventually find your company — and decide to work with you?

While it sounds a little “big brother,” those are the types of insights that prove invaluable when determining the effectiveness and ROI of your marketing efforts. You likely have multiple promotional channels working together to create brand awareness and attract sales qualified leads, and knowing which of those serve as the primary sources of lead generation can help you focus your inbound marketing efforts on activities that make the biggest impact.

The ability to measure the effectiveness of marketing efforts used to be the nemesis of marketers struggling to justify the resources it took to promote their companies’ products or services. With today’s digital approach and the use of metrics and analytics tools, many of those insights can be gleaned easily, and buyer behaviors can be understood in ways they never were before.

Define Touchpoints and Value

Typically, there are multiple touches before a lead is ready to make a purchase or engage with a sales rep. Those interactions may take the form of eBooks, blogs, webinars, site visit, emails and more. In the past, the highest value was placed on the first touch — what brought a prospect to your website. The problem with placing such high value on a single touchpoint is that it fails to take the entire buyer’s journey into consideration.

What if you knew that it took an average of 10 touches with your content before someone became a sales qualified lead? And what if you could reduce that number in half and speed up the sales process through a more targeted nurturing campaign? Using marketing automation tools such as HubSpot, you can analyze the path a prospect took toward conversion. You can use that data to adjust your strategy for guiding prospects through the sales funnel and reduce the number of touchpoints, or improve upon existing touchpoints to address buyer needs.

If you discover, for example, that 50% of your lead conversions take place after they read a particular blog, you’ll know that piece of content is of higher value and efforts to boost its visibility and performance should be made earlier in your buyer’s journey.

Note that these insights have little to do with the number of views a blog receives; the focus is on whether a piece of content was the tipping point that led to a conversion. Just because a piece of content has the most views doesn’t mean it has the most value.

Ways to Attribute and See Inbound Touches in HubSpot

1. Set Up Campaigns & Utilize the HubSpot Campaigns Tool

HubSpot introduced a tool in Fall 2017 to help its users prove the value of their marketing campaigns. The impact of campaigns can be tracked across the full lead lifecycle, from first touch to closed/won and beyond. It requires some forethought and planning to get the most out of it, however.

A campaign is generally intended to drive a specific conversion and focuses on one persona, message or theme. The tool allows marketers to see the big-picture impact of their campaigns by comparing and optimizing individual assets. It will help determine which landing pages have the highest conversions, which emails had the best click-through rates, which blogs are most engaging, etc. Knowing these insights helps you strategize for future campaigns, close the loop between marketing and sales and prove the value of marketing efforts.

2. Examine Attribution Reports

Being able to attribute closed deals to a marketing campaign can be the tie that binds Sales and Marketing. When Sales celebrates a win, Marketing can join in that celebration when it effectively demonstrates how a client was successfully guided on their buyer’s journey and nurtured along the way. HubSpot’s reporting tools can produce an attribution report to help Sales and Marketing see and understand which marketing elements a client engaged with and how many touches it took before they became a sales qualified lead. These insights will help validate your inbound marketing efforts.

HubSpot’s attribution report differs from others in that it shows the big picture. Many analytics tools emphasize last touch attribution and show what happened right before a lead conversion, but fail to show the path that lead them there. First-touch attribution is often highly valued, but it only focuses on what may have first engaged a prospect and doesn’t give insight into what kept them moving down the funnel. HubSpot’s attribution report helps identify all the pages that were viewed throughout the buyer’s lifecycle so you can understand the thought processes and measure the value of each asset.

3. Create Lists in HubSpot to Meet Specific Needs

Do you know how many prospects interacted with a particular blog during their buyer’s journeys? When looking at your campaign analytics, you can determine where a buyer engaged with that content. Was it early on, in the middle or later? You’ll also be able to determine how they came upon that content — social media, email, a link from another page of your website or even from an external webpage, etc.

Developing a list of contacts showing these touchpoints can help you rank your content’s value. Also important, however, is having a list of prospects or customers who haven’t filled out a contact form. These may be contacts who were uploaded into the system but have yet to engage with your content. Manage these offline leads and develop a communication strategy for reaching them through marketing automation. Start with a personal email containing relevant content, a link to read and subscribe to your blog, or just a link to your website. Once they engage, HubSpot can backfill their data so you can view their entire journey.

When you've added an offline lead to your database, you can add them to a list of leads who haven't yet opted in to your content, and if they do opt in, they’ll automatically be moved to another list as part of a nurturing campaign.

Knowing each lead touchpoint is critical in determining each asset’s value. When you can attribute how each prospect and existing client is engaging during each step on their buyer’s journey, you’ll be able to make improvements and demonstrate with real metrics how and why your inbound program is working.

For more insights on how to align Sales and Marketing, check out our Marketing and Sales Service Level Agreements guide below. It has lots more information about how to get the two departments working together to leverage the power of inbound. And reach out to us with any questions. We’re happy to share more about how we can help.

A Guided Tour of Marketing & Sales Service Level Agreements



Topics: Inbound Marketing



whole brain marketing blog author
Written by Tim Holdsworth

Tim has vast experience executing B2B marketing plans in a number of industries, including manufacturing, health products, and business technologies. He manages the mechanics of our clients' inbound marketing programs, including marketing automation setup, email marketing, and digital content creation.

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