How to Build an Attribution Culture: And Why It’s Critical for B2B Marketers

Kit Fox

B2B marketers have an attribution problem. If you go into any lead in your CRM, we bet you can’t say precisely how they came through the door, even though you’re probably using any number of software solutions or reports to figure it out. 

At the end of the day, you are trying to answer a few simple questions. How did we get this revenue? Or, Where did this lead come from? But for the scale and nuance required in the B2B world, your tech stack isn’t the answer to attribution. Your culture is.

In this 20-minute webinar, Altitude Marketing’s Chief Strategy Officer, Adam Smartschan, explores how your organization can build an Attribution Culture.  When reports and algorithms only go so far, watch now to learn why attribution matters, why tech is not the only solution and 5 practical next steps you can implement in your organization. You can watch the full video now or read on for the essentials.

Why Does Attribution Matter?

It’s important to first understand what we mean by attribution. We don’t mean the number of leads you earned through an advertising campaign or the percentage of revenue growth because of a new content strategy. Those are just data points.

We want to look at the individual lead or the individual source of revenue and then ask: Where did they come from? 

If you sell a product for $9.99, it makes sense to approach attribution at scale. But for that $100,000 contract or $1,000,000 in the pipeline (a scale we more often see in B2B), you really do need to get granular. It’s not enough to look at the whole forest. You need to zoom into each specific tree.

Why Tech Cannot Be the Only Answer

Marketers are worried. In fact, many of them aren’t sure how to approach attribution as privacy becomes ever important. The data shows:

The trouble with these numbers? They’re all rooted in concerns about technology. Many marketers are simply not tracking any data or losing access to it as consumer privacy grows. Either way–at least in the B2B space–they’re focused on the wrong thing.

Technology is just a tool. Attribution only becomes effective when it’s embedded in your culture.

You can pay for any slew of analytics services, but the technology won’t be effective if your team doesn’t believe it’s crucial to understand how and why every single lead and single deal came through the door. No matter the tools at your disposal, attribution starts with motivation–your team needs to buy in.

5 Practical Steps to Build an Attribution Culture

So, how do you build an attribution culture? The good news: It’s really not that complicated. Even better, it doesn’t require another SaaS in your tech stack. These 5 steps will get you started.

#1 Establish Common Goals: Too often, marketing attribution starts once a campaign ends. That means you’re scrambling for data. Your C-suite wants to know how the ad spend performed after the check’s already cleared, forcing you to build a scattershot dashboard with imperfect data.

To avoid this, start any marketing effort with measurement in mind. Know the specific goal you want to achieve: the exact amount of revenue you’re targeting, or the precise number of qualified leads you hope to earn. Then work backward. What are the major milestones you want to hit along the way? What are realistic starting points for users?

Aligning on goals seems simple, but it’s absolutely critical before launching a new effort.

#2 Keep it Simple: The industry has moved to automation and dynamic tracking. We’d all love a perfect model that aggregates your data and spits out the exact answers. The problem? Automation is complex to set up, and it only provides a rough picture. That’s ok at scale, but in B2B, it’s not enough. You need to get granular. 

Ironically, old-school and simple tactics can still be the most effective way for your team to go deep. Build duplicate forms for multiple entry points (one for social and one for email, for example). Hand-code UTM links to ensure accuracy. These methods take more time, but they are foolproof.  And they’re easier to adopt–meaning your team is more likely to do so.

#3 Keep Your Data Clean: In B2B, the 80/20 rule always applies. Twenty percent of your tactics are going to net 80% of your results. What does that mean in attribution? You may have to get your hands dirty, updating CRM accounts manually or actually contacting a lead and asking them how they found you. 

The bigger the data mess, the more effort that 20% is going to take. So, start with a philosophy of crisp, clear, and updated files. Delete dead accounts, archive campaigns no longer needed, and figure out or scrap the old information from a previous employee. The less noise in your system, the better.

#4 Create a Feedback Loop: Big deals deserve big attention. You can afford some attribution leakage if you sell a $10 product. Not when you close a $100,000 contract. 

Tech is fun. Meetings are not. But at B2B’s scale, the latter can often be quicker and more effective than the former. After all, how can tech track the drink your sales rep had at the conference four months ago that turned into a six-figure deal?

Get sales and marketing together on a regular basis to establish beyond a shadow of a doubt how the deal got done, and what that means for the future. A bit of personal forensics goes an incredibly long way to understanding and then replicating successes. 

#5 You Still Need Tech–But You Need to Know How to Use it: Modern MarTech is incredible! Set up correctly, it’s going to do a good job. But it will never be 100% accurate. And it will never be close to 100% if you’re unclear about what it’s supposed to do. If you are going to invest in a marketing stack, you also need to invest the time and resources to use it properly. It is not a solution in and of itself. Your people, and their drive to understand results, are a higher priority.

Conclusion: Attribution Starts and Ends With Culture

It would be fantastic if we could stick every piece of data in our system into a magical algorithm, and then have that algorithm spit out an accurate and valuable answer. That’s not the reality. If technology is your only answer for attribution, you will never understand the tactics, time, or dollars that make you successful. 

Your team needs to buy in. They need to be obsessed with understanding the manifestation of every single deal and every single lead. In B2B, when each one is so valuable, they can’t afford not to.

Ready to elevate your B2B marketing?

We help leading business-to-business brands hit their marketing goals. Get in touch to learn how Altitude Marketing can help you reach your peak performance.

Kit Fox

Kit Fox is Altitude’s lead internal brand storyteller and content creator. Before joining Altitude in 2024, Kit spent a decade in the publishing industry, where he served as an editor for, Runner’s World. Men's health, and Men’s Journal, special projects director for Hearst Magazines, and director of membership for Lehigh Valley Public Media. He is the co-author of “Mighty Moe: The True Story of a Thirteen-Year-Old Running Revolutionary.”