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Leads, Leads, Leads

In previous posts, we talked about the difference between Web and Lead metrics and how you can fill the gap by using cookies to attach […]

Marketing Metrics

The metrics I’m going to describe in the following section come from disparate sources, primarily your Content Management System (CMS), a Web Analytics platform like […]

The Marketing Channel Report

In previous posts, I talked about putting together the foundation for a Marketing Channel report, one that would show us for the first time not only […]

Lead Analytics vs Web Analytics

In our inaugural post, we talked about the birth of the Marketing Channels report, our first look at the true contribution of all marketing efforts – […]

Prove Marketing ROI

This story begins in 2010, when Nate Otiker joined Quest Software as our Director of Internet Marketing. Nate came to us from T-Mobile and before […]

The Marketing Channel Report

In previous posts, I talked about putting together the foundation for a Marketing Channel report, one that would show us for the first time not only how our paid campaigns contributed to leads, sales opportunities and revenues, but also how our “unpaid” or natural channels contributed. It bears repeating that this report was nothing short of revolutionary. Companies were just beginning to figure out how to tie paid activities to revenue through CRMs like Siebel and SalesForce. And here, hot on their heels was this upstart digital marketing team, insisting that we needed to look at natural channels to see the full picture.

Marketing Channel report in a stacked area graph

Over the next 5-6 years, the uniqueness of that report was brought home again and again as we acquired and merged with other companies in the B2B software space. Quest acquired over 30 companies in my time there and none of them had anything like our Marketing Channel report. When we were acquired by Michael Dell in 2012, we found that even the big blue machine didn’t have one. That blew our minds. No disrespect to the folks at Dell. They’re smart and hard-working enough to have built a $60B/year company that started in a college dorm room! But at Dell as at most companies, the website was seen as infrastructural and owned by IT. Marketing was a customer of the website, not the business owner. With all due respect to Dell, I firmly believe that approach is a mistaken one.

Why mistaken? Because, when we were able to compare paid and natural efforts in one report, the results were dramatically different than anticipated. We found that Organic Search and Direct (AKA No Referrer) typically accounted for around 50% of leads and revenue. When we added the other channels tracked through the new algorithm (Backlink, Social Media and PR) the revenue number rose to 65%. When you consider that our Corporate Events team was also accounting for about 20% of revenue, the paid sources in which we were investing so much time, money and energy accounted for about 15% of total Marketing Sourced Revenue.

Many times our co-workers did not appreciate such a direct comparison, with resistance typically going through the following stages:

  1. Your data is incorrect.
  2. You Web guys want to take credit for everything.
  3. Paid sources are important too.
  4. Can I join the Search team?

OK, I made up that last one, although we did have people move from traditional advertising roles to content-driven roles because of this research. I have to confess that at first, I took some pleasure in their consternation. Working on the Web team for so many years, it often felt like the campaign teams got all the attention and budget where we were seen as an infrastructural expense unrelated to lead gen.

Over time I became more sympathetic, especially when I started managing the Dell Software Media Planning team charged with placing online banners and content syndication modules. We began research into multi-touch attribution (more detail will come in a later post) that proved that there was a definite place for paid advertising in the modern media mix, provided you have the time and money to invest in a longer-term cycle to revenue.

However – and this is a big however – our discovery of the unrealized contribution of natural channels revolutionized how we approached Marketing. Over time, the influence of the Marketing Channel report meant that organic keyword performance became a primary consideration in content development as well as product and solution naming.

Thanks for reading! More to come.

3 Responses

  1. Ted

    Mark – Great points, and good to read (and in more recent cases recall) the journey you you led your team on @ Dell Software. Sometimes our teams find ourselves in very difficult conversations when we’re pitching the value of natural and organic leads vs. those coming through paid media. You probably hit the nail on the head when you say that it’s about multi touch attribution, and it’s about a sum of all these parts that creates the most valuable customer journey.

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