Can attribution help growth by connecting the dots between efforts and revenue?

Written by Stine Mangor on .

Companies are adopting more tools through which they can collect increasing amounts of data. At the same time we are seeing an increased awareness about privacy, and restrictions in privacy laws. These opposing forces have affected how marketers can work. However, Steffen Hedebrandt, Co-founder of Dreamdata, isn’t worried. As a performance marketer, his view is that the more you can track and measure, the more you can understand what works, “You are looking for a repeatable recipe in that data, and the key to this is to be good at understanding attribution.“

With a background in working with online growth for companies like Upwork and Airtame, Steffen joined as a co-founder at Dreamdata last year, as their revenue-responsible. We spoke to him about tracking, attribution, and where he sees the industry heading in the next couple of years.

Question: can you tell a bit more about what Dreamdata does, and how you got involved with the company?

Dreamdata is a solution that gathers, joins, and cleans all revenue-related data to present an analysis of what drives revenue. I met my two co-founders when I was beta-testing their product. It solved a pain I had as a B2B performance marketer, which was connecting or explaining which activities drove revenue.

Dreamdata helps companies attribute success to what works and to what degree. We build integrations to a lot of the software tools businesses use today, to establish the data foundation for our solution to help our customers connect the dots between their ad spend and sales results. We map out the customer journey and touchpoints, e.g., whitepaper downloads and chats, to help our customers follow and see the results of their customer journeys.

Question: Attribution is key for Dreamdata. Can you tell us about what it is?

When I try to explain what attribution is to my parents, I say, "It is a way of explaining how you make money, and trying to understand that if you do A, and B, then C happens."

In B2C, it is much easier to prove the connection between an ad and revenue. In contrast, in B2B, the deal may take up to a year, and you have multiple people involved and many touchpoints with different people in the company's organisation. It is a much more complex landscape.

"When I try to explain what attribution is to my parents, I say, "It is a way of explaining how you make money, and trying to understand that if you do A, and B, then C happens."

Question: We hear a lot of people talking about an attribution model, can you tell us about what an "Attribution model" is?

An attribution model is a way of looking at all the touchpoints involved in a sale and attributing the value of each touchpoint. A customer may have been in contact with a company ten times, received several emails, a call from a sales rep, and seen a LinkedIn ad. By using an attribution model, you can find out whether one touchpoint mattered more than another one. An attribution model allows you to look at the truth from different angles. We have customers with many stakeholders, it is often marketing provides the leads, and sales closing the deals, and it is important to know what is working. By using our software and working with attribution, we now have customers that are now allowed to increase their budgets, and ad spend because they have proof that what they are doing works, which helps the company grow even more.

There are other models that people can use, such as first touch or last touch. But they can be flawed ways of looking at the truth because they don't take all the touchpoints into account. The last touch is of course, worth something, and it is a standard view in Google Analytics. But it doesn't account for the where the demand started. The first touch model gives the first point of contact credit for a sale. And although looking at it is relevant because it is where the customer journey starts, but it favours marketing people, so giving it full credit does not show the full extent of the truth.

The good marketers today think about how their actions affect whether the company makes more or less money.

Everyone is competing about which numbers are the 'right' numbers. The 'good numbers' might blind people who are new to data-driven approaches to marketing. We see that people are using more tools, and all these tools can provide more and more data. Still, they only present a fraction of what is going on. You need to be able to understand all the tools holistically and how they impact what ultimately matters - how you make money.

"We see that people are using more tools, and all these tools can provide more and more data. Still, they only present a fraction of what is going on. You need to be able to understand all the tools holistically and how they impact what ultimately matters - how you make money."

Question: How do you see the future of data tracking, cookies, and your industry?

I used to love creating top-funnel ads, pushing people to a website and then retargeting them for like 30 or 60 days. Those days are over. But I am not pessimistic about data-driven marketing - or not being able to understand what is going on.

I think tactics will change, and instead of focusing on the sale right away, people will take a step back and focus on micro-conversions instead - a follow on Social Media, a newsletter sign up, or whitepaper download. In the last 5-10 years, you have been able to advertise and stuff things down people's throat, and those days are over, so people need to work a bit smarter. But, I am not worried about being completely blind, I think people who are, need to step up their tech game.

We are entering a new paradigm of increased awareness about what first-party data is. Before, companies could exchange third-party data and not care about the authorities, but now ITP and deletion of cookies are making some things harder to understand. At the same time, people are increasingly working more digitally, and there will be a lot more data that can be gathered from these tools. So even though tracking via browsers is getting harder, you get more people adopting CRM systems and calling systems such as Zoom. Overall, I think the industry will keep growing as the world produces more and more data.

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