How to Avoid Common Mistakes in Attribution Reporting

Attribution reporting is a powerful KPI for modern marketers. Find out how to avoid the biggest mistakes that can undermine its successful implementation.

Marketing leaders planning to implement attribution reporting in their companies have a formidable challenge ahead of them. Stepping outside the traditional marketing role of establishing brand awareness to take responsibility for revenue requires vision, organization, and a commitment to redefining the role of marketing in the 21st century. Attribution reporting – the process of connecting marketing investments and revenue outcomes – proves that marketing is not simply a creative pursuit, but a direct contributor to your company’s top line. It provides insights that validate bigger marketing budgets for Marketing leadership, and supports the development of better campaigns that bring higher quality leads to Sales.

As alluring as that sounds, successful attribution reporting (AR) still manages to elude the most forward-thinking, innovative marketing leaders. Why? AR is an interdepartmental affair, with most leads impacted by at least four teams as they move through the funnel. The complexity of having a variety of stakeholders with contrasting interests, perspectives and functions involved can lead to a number of misconceptions and missteps.

So what are the myths and missteps of attribution reporting, and how can marketing teams avoid them? Let’s take a closer look at the most common mistakes companies encounter as they implement AR.

Mistake #1: Not connecting your reporting to revenue results.

Marketing departments often focus on identifying which activities resulted in Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) instead of revenue. Typically, once a prospect becomes an MQL, it becomes the sales department’s responsibility to take those MQLs and convert them to revenue. There is a good reason for this— previously, number of leads created was the best KPI (key performance indicator) that could be reasonably tracked, especially with sales and marketing operating at a distance from one another.

The lack of connection between leads generated from marketing activities and top-line revenue means that the Marketing department lacks critical information that demonstrates exactly how much value they are adding to the business goals of their organization. Today, marketing departments can, and must, connect their demand generation efforts to top line results.

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Mistake #2: Underestimating how many processes and technologies are involved in implementing a new reporting framework.

Many people, processes, and technologies are involved because attribution reporting touches every part of the Marketing and Sales funnel. One missing link has the potential to skew the results dramatically. As such, underestimating the scope of an attribution reporting project can be a big mistake.
In most organizations, a minimum of four separate teams are involved in impacting a lead as it moves through a funnel. For example, agencies or Demand Generation teams may drive the traffic. The web/IT team, through the web properties they manage, distributes the information presented and facilitates the initial conversion of a visitor to a prospect. Marketing and MarkOps nurtures and qualifies the lead. Inside sales teams validate the opportunity and field sales ultimately closes the deal. Each team uses their own systems to enable their work: Advertising networks and social platforms, Content Management System (CMS), Marketing Automation (MA), CRM/Sales Automation, etc. All these systems need to be directly or indirectly connected for attribution reporting to be successful.

Connecting teams and systems is an undertaking that requires the realignment of priorities for each group, and a careful change management approach to achieve buy-in at different levels of the organization. Overlooking the challenges inherent in integrating relevant teams and systems can result in adoption failure and ultimately sabotage the initiative.

Mistake #3: Approaching attribution reporting as an end goal.

Attribution reporting is the first and most significant KPI for a modern marketing department: contribution to revenue.

Attribution reporting, while critical, cannot be the end goal. This single KPI should be bolstered by influence and funnel reporting as a modern marketing trifecta. While influence reporting provides the depth that would otherwise be missing from attribution reporting alone, funnel reporting enables entirely new metrics like conversion ratio and lead velocity, essential elements for conversion rate optimization through funnel stages. Taken together, these KPIs empower marketers to build and maintain an effective revenue engine.

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Attribution reporting enables new insights about the dynamics of the marketing and sales funnel and the journey your clients take as they build a relationship with your company. It empowers marketers to drive continuous improvements based on revenue outcomes.

Avoiding the common mistakes companies often make when implementing attribution reporting will enable you to make meaningful and high-impact decisions that ultimately support increased revenue generation.


Connect reporting on marketing results to revenue bolster conversion points through technology and business process, and put revenue as the top KPI in your marketing plan and you will be well-positioned for attribution reporting success.

Want to learn more about attribution reporting? Download our ebook, Attribution Reporting: The Ultimate Guide to learn how you can transform marketing into a profit center for your company.

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