How to Think About Revenue Attribution in HubSpot
What is Revenue Attribution?
Revenue attribution is the process of collecting data to show that a certain channel or campaign is responsible for a closed won deal. As a whole, revenue attribution is the process of a company connecting their datasets from marketing, sales, and customer service to understand how their revenue is generated.
When we attribute a certain deal to our marketing or demand generation efforts, we’re effectively saying that this deal and the revenue associated with it happened because of these specific strategies. With accurate revenue attribution, a company can shift their marketing strategy to produce a predictable revenue machine that is repeatable and fiscally responsible.
However, it’s important to note that different marketing experts leverage the data that explains attribution differently, leading to slightly different definitions. All of these attribution models are valuable in their own way.
There are several major attribution models, including:
- First interaction. This attribution model gives credit to the first recorded interaction event on a particular customer’s journey.
- Last interaction. This attribution model gives credit to the last recorded interaction event leading to conversion.
- Linear attribution. This attribution model gives equal credit to each interaction that occurs along the customer’s journey that results in a conversion.
- Time decay. This attribution model gives more credit to more recent interactions and less credit to older interactions.
- Custom multi-touch. This attribution model can be specialized to give out different percentages of credit to the different steps along the customer’s journey, as determined by the marketing team. Examples of these models include the U-shaped attribution model and the W-shaped attribution model.
Attribution reports that acknowledge and give credit to more than one step along the customer’s journey are considered multi-touch. A quality CRM and marketing tool—like HubSpot—will have options for multi-touch attribution.
This means setting up multi-touch attribution correctly is pivotal. If done incorrectly, resources will be allocated to areas that may not have bottom-line impact on an organization's revenue. Many business rely on marketing agencies like Vaulted to ensure that this crucial process is done perfectly.
In today’s marketing landscape, most customers have more than one interaction with a brand before converting, making multi-touch attribution highly valuable.
The Selfish Case for Revenue Attribution
Let’s start with the simple reason: revenue attribution proves that your marketing efforts are working. Revenue attribution is a way to cut through marketing conversations and the usual smattering of opinions to directly say, “This offer or approach influences and produces revenue. Here’s the proof.”
Use HubSpot’s revenue attribution reporting to prove your worth.
You can’t prove your worth and influence to an organization until you’re able to attribute the revenue you or your team is bringing to it. This is how you get things you want in many organizations. Whether it’s a raise or a new hire or a salary bump, cold, hard numbers based on attribution are really hard to argue against.
With the continued growth of artificial intelligence in the marketing field, it’s highly valuable to be able to point out your exact value. As marketers, our ability to see ahead if unable to be duplicated, and revenue attribution helps us prove our case.
The Practical Case for Revenue Attribution
No matter how long you’ve been working in inbound marketing, it’s always a good idea to take a step back and look at how you’re doing and ask if everything is working.
In fact, your clients will often be asking you the same thing, since it can be hard to keep up with the latest tactics. For example, with the way digital marketing has evolved and the way tools like HubSpot have evolved with it, it can be overwhelming to really look into the nuts and bolts of what is working and how it’s working.
All of the selfish and practical reasons for having revenue attribution skills are undoubtedly interconnected. In the end, revenue attribution is about gaining a better understanding of how your strategies are working.
How to Use HubSpot Revenue Attribution
Within the past couple of years, HubSpot realized that its fundamental ability to attribute revenue was awful. They didn’t say that, but we did.
And that’s okay! Every software or marketing tool has its faults, and there’s something special about a company that is willing to address its weaknesses so aggressively.
Starting in 2020, HubSpot began to release a number of new reports that made HubSpot deal attribution easier. However, as of this writing, not every version of HubSpot will include this reporting.
Some attribution reports under the HubSpot Report Library simply won’t be available unless you’re on an enterprise version of Marketing Hub (or possibly if you’ve been continually included into a retired plan that has that feature).
You’ll know if you go under reporting and see a checkbox for “Revenue Attribution.” Don’t see this? You likely do not have access to it. Fortunately, all versions of HubSpot provide thorough data that can be leveraged to learn at least a bit about your revenue attribution.
All types of revenue attribution have their limitations, and your model’s strengths and weaknesses should be considered when delivering your reporting.
Getting to Know Cross-Object Attribution
To prove revenue attribution, you need data, specifically data that connects your campaigns, ads, landing pages, or other channels to the user at the heart of the deal.
The data points come from the different channels, while the objects exist in your CRM or lead management system. Objects are datapoints such as companies, contacts, and deals that you utilize to properly report attribution.
Objects: Companies, Contacts, and Deals
Deals do not manifest on their own. They have to be attached to a company, which is associated with the specific contacts that you work with. Attribution will prove that you acquired the contact via a specific marketing campaign or channel, and now that contact’s company has closed a deal.
There’s one caveat here: original source. Original source is the name of a default field in HubSpot that records the original traffic source of that contact record. Learn more about original source by reading our article, “HubSpot’s Original Source: A Critical Field for Marketing and Sales.”
Proving that you produced a contact is an easy win for attribution.
Sometimes, the HubSpot original source field is amazingly accurate. Here’s how easy it is in one scenario:
- A brand new HubSpot contact is created.
- That same contact leads to a new deal created.
- The deal is won and marketing gets the credit.
This process would be the ideal attribution process, with little room for argument. However, it’s unlikely that a contact will only ever interact with your marketing just one time that leads directly to a conversion.
Additionally, cross-object reporting allows you to pull important data to see what intersections occur. A company that just hosted a webinar may pull a cross-object report to see which contacts from a certain company attended that event, and which attendees closed a deal.
How Behavior Affects Attribution
Unlike original source, behavior is not necessarily a property, although there are some ways for you to make a property to record behavior.
Behaviors are a series of actions that led to a deal, which is different from how they were originally created in the system. When there are multiple interactions from marketing and sales, behaviors will be recorded, and attribution can become more difficult.
For example, if, for their first interaction, a user fills out a contact form on the website after clicking on a pay-per-click advertising campaign, that campaign will be the original source. However, that same user may open and click an email link prior to closing the deal.
Which action deserves the credit for that deal? That depends on your attribution model, which dictates how much credit goes to different actions.Since this kind of confusion is normal, data hygiene is very important. Data hygiene is the practice of checking records to ensure that there are no errors such as missing information or duplicate entries.
Utilizing HubSpot Personas
HubSpot has a great additional feature called personas, which are fictional users who have certain characteristics, needs, and behavior types. Personas can be developed to reflect ideal target audiences, and then those personas can be cross-referenced with revenue attribution to see how successfully your campaigns are targeted certain audiences.
Advanced HubSpot Revenue Attribution
When it comes down to really seeing the value of your marketing activity and demand generation, check the lead sources. Lead source is the primary source by which a lead found your website.
You can go into HubSpot and definitively prove that this contact could not have been produced, if not for a specific channel managed through marketing activity. This strategy also works especially well in terms of net new leads that are brand new in HubSpot.
Learn more about contact attribution by reading our post, “Contact Attribution in HubSpot.”
Default lead sources include:
- Organic search
- Social media
- Direct traffic
- Paid search
- Paid social
- Offline sources
When going over the value of all of your campaigns, you can connect that lead to the bottom line and to how much value you have gained from it.
There are often accounts that members of sales teams are already working and engaged with. While this can muddy the waters in terms of attribution when a HubSpot deal closes, there are a lot of ways to track how the Inbound marketing practices are adding value.
Campaigns and traffic are at the heart of tracking attribution. Depending on your customer’s sales cycle, and if you correctly set up campaigns and match these to UTMs and Campaigns, attribution is easy.
By reviewing new contacts, influenced contacts, closed deals, and all of the attributed revenue, you can show your client just how much value each of your campaigns is bringing to their brand. You can even break down the traffic to see everywhere the campaigns are leading and everything your campaigns bring during the time that they’re active.
Combined with interactions and the leads gained, this data will show how much value you are bringing and what is working.
Want to Learn More Key HubSpot Guidance?
These are just a couple key areas to look at when dealing with revenue attribution in HubSpot. Revenue attribution is a complex topic, but, with the right knowledge and dedication, it can be an absolute game-changer for your sales and marketing teams.
HubSpot revenue attribution is particularly powerful thanks to its easy integration with other channels and its user-friendly interface. You can customize reporting to really dig into the particular data that matters to your goals.
At Vaulted, we’re dedicated to working with clients to help them make data-driven decisions that shift how they engage with their audience, improve metrics, and assert why their company matters. Our specific approach is iterative, practical, and designed to scale at any size organization.
Sound like something that could work for your team? Contact us to learn more.