How to Use Attribution in Traditional Marketing

February 23, 2021
How to Use Attribution in Traditional Marketing

B2B marketers in traditional industries like manufacturing, agriculture & biosciences, furniture & textiles, and more may seem vastly different, but they all have a common bond.  

Traditional industries typically have traditional ways of thinking about marketing.  

The C-suite always seems to be asking for ROI, but they’re not sure why they should invest more in the latest marketing technology. From print ads in trade publications to trade shows, you might want to scream when it comes to measuring marketing success. 

We’ve heard it before: “But our business is different!” 

The problem is: marketing and technology are undervalued. How do you prove that marketing actually brings in or influences revenue, and what activities are most important in doing so even in traditional efforts? 

Marketing attribution. 


What is Marketing Attribution? 

If you need to know where to focus your marketing efforts, you’ll need to assess the value of the various channels and how they influence potential customers or accounts.  

Marketing attribution is measuring and analyzing touchpoints in marketing and sales to determine how prospects move through the pipeline.  

You’re probably wondering, “Imarketing attribution truly possible within traditional marketing efforts?"

I’ll give you the good news: yes – it’s possible! It just takes strategic planning and a few sneaky ways to work around the obstacles. 

I can’t move forward without stressing the importance of unifying your sales and marketing efforts (“smarketing”). In order to understand where revenue is coming from, you have to see it from all perspectives. Get your sales team involved in the marketing process to boost efficiency and make it measurable!  


Prep for Applying Attribution in Traditional Marketing 

First things first: get the right marketing attribution tools in place. 

  • You don’t have to implement every single one from the start, but it’s important to have a user-friendly CRM and a system to track marketing efforts and sales deals moving through the pipeline.  
  • Make sure you’re regularly running reports on web traffic in Google Analytics or HubSpot (they’ve got great marketing attribution software within their suite of tools). 
  • Set SMART (smart, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely) goalsplatforms are important, but you also have to establish what you’re measuring against in order to know if you’re being effective. 
    Set up lead scoringtake inventory of current touchpoints, score them based on current data, and refine/adjust as you collect more data.


Next, map out a typical customer journey.  

  • How do they make it into the pipeline? What are the activities that marketing and sales feel are most relevant in the process?  
  • Ideally, think about B2B prospects within accounts and their roles as decision makers rather than as individual leads – it’ll help you a lot more in the long run and give you a head start on account-based marketing. 
  • You can use a tool like LucidChart or whatever works best for your teams to collaborate. 
  • Break it down into top-of-funnel, middle-of-funnel, and bottom-of-funnel activities. 


Then, choose a few activities from each portion of the funnel that are difficult to measure. For example: 

  • Print sales collateral 
  • Ad in an industry magazine 
  • Trade shows (in-person or virtual) 


Putting Attribution in Traditional Marketing into Action 

After you’ve narrowed down some activities throughout the funnel that are important yet difficult to measure, let’s dig into ways to make them attributable. Bonus: in the process, you’ll also have more tips on how to unify marketing and sales processes. Let’s use the examples mentioned above. 


Print sales collateral:  

A great one-pager can go a long way, right? It can inform, tell a story about a product or service, and be an easy way for salespeople to leave a takeaway at an event or meeting. 

Traditional Mindset: 

A typical sales sheet will list the company website and a rep’s contact information in the hopes that the prospect will make the first move. 

Digital Attribution Mindset: 

Create a unique QR code or simple URL on the sheet that links to a unique landing page with a form fill that so that you can track exactly where the prospect came from. If you want them to connect directly to the rep, the page could have a chat that helps them find the rep in their area to get more info or place an order on the spot. 


Ad in an industry magazine:

Although digital ads are built-in finders and trackers, print ads don’t have those luxuries. However, it’s important to keep showing up in industry publications or in traditional media buys, even if it just seems like a formality.  

Traditional Mindset: 

Make sure the design and copy are creative enough to catch the eye of the right prospects. If you throw it out into the universe and it’s pretty enough, someone will call, right? 

Digital Attribution Mindset: 

This ain’t Mad MenPeggy. If you’re spending money on ads – even if they’re print – make them attributable (but of course still beautiful and eye-catching)Each ad should have a unique QR code or URL to a landing page that tracks your specific campaign on the product or service you’re pushing. Even if it’s a generic ad for your company, you can create a unique place to send prospects to make it measurable. 


Trade Shows:

Industry events are ideal for gaining knowledge, making connections, and hopefully, expanding brand recognition to boost sales. Whether they’re in-person or virtualyou typically have to cover the cost of entry fees, giveaways, a booth, and more. How do you know if there’s any marketing ROI? 

Traditional Mindset: 

Trade shows are all about exposure. The right people will be there, see us, and take action if they want to buy from us. We just gotta keep showing up; it’s what we do in this industry. 

Digital Attribution Mindset: 

Make a plan of action in advance to make the most of your time and investment into any in-person or virtual trade show. Prior to the event, set up an email sequence to customers or prospects, and set up targeted digital advertising if you don’t have direct contact information. During the show, interact with booth visitors and gather their data on the spot through something like a unique landing page or giveaway. After the event, follow up with another email sequence personalized directly from sales reps, hold a meeting for sales and marketing to connect, and continue to funnel the new prospects through the pipeline. 


Where Do I Begin? 

Don’t try to do everything at once; you can quickly be overwhelmedStart small and keep your mindset focused around how you can connect everything back to data and digital strategies so that you can look at individual activities and attribute your success.  

As you build up your digital footprint, determine what steps were taken and what channels or activities have been most impactful to prospects and customers. If you find that specific ones are doing really well and others are performing poorly, make tweaks as necessary to build a stronger marketing engine. 

However – don’t lose the relational aspect that traditional buyers love. Your sales team still has an important place in building and keeping relationships. Your digital efforts are there to complement those efforts and make it easy for them to move through your pipeline. 

Traditional efforts have a place, but digital isn’t going anywhere! You can continue to implement traditional efforts in your industry while “digitizing” them for attribution along the way. 

Author Bio

Abigail is the Content Manager ("Content Queen"), which enables her to lead the copywriting team, craft compelling stories for clients across industries, and oversee contracts. Her professional background includes teaching and sales with 10+ years in research, copywriting, and editing. She has a knack for details and an in-depth knowledge of storytelling, content development, brand voice, and tone. She holds a BA in English from Campbell University and an MA in English from East Carolina University. As an adventurer, lifelong learner, and lover of cats & plants, she approaches every day with curiosity and gutsiness. Connect with her on LinkedIn!