Ops Cast | The Shortcomings of Attribution Modeling with Chris Walker

In this episode we talk with Chris Walker, the CEO and founder of Refine Labs about his view on attribution modeling and marketing. Attribution modeling is a hot topic for Marketing Ops professionals, and he has a different perspective on the value of attribution modeling versus other sources of insights to inform marketing.  He is...

In this episode we talk with Chris Walker, the CEO and founder of Refine Labs about his view on attribution modeling and marketing. Attribution modeling is a hot topic for Marketing Ops professionals, and he has a different perspective on the value of attribution modeling versus other sources of insights to inform marketing. 

He is not suggesting that we should not be doing attribution modeling, but that we should be honest about what it can and can’t inform. Toward the end of our conversation we get into how you, as a marketing ops or revenue ops professional, have tremendous insight into this data and can use that to initiate strategic discussions about what is working and not in marketing.

Recorded live November 4, 2021.

Hi, I’m Michael Hartmann, I’m Naomi Lou, and I’m Mike Rizzo. And this is ops cast, a podcast for marketing ops pros and rev ops pros created by the MO Pros. The number one community for marketing operations. As professionals tune into each episode as we chat with real professionals to help elevate you in your marketing operations career.

Hello, everyone. Welcome to another episode of ops cast brought to you by the MO Pros. I’m Michael Hartmann joined today by my cohost, Naomi, Lou and Mike Rizzo. Say hello? Hello? Hello. Hey everybody. All right. Today. Excited to have with us, Chris Walker, to talk about attribution modeling, sort of he’s the founder and CEO of refined labs.

Um, he refined labs, a progressive demand generation agency that challenges the status quo in B2B marketing, refined labs, executes tactics that align with how consumers actually buy instead of generating fruitless leads. Before launching refined labs. Chris led marketing at two B2B firms. We built the foundation of his unique perspective on demand gen.

The state of demand gen podcast, where he shares tangible advice and tactics alongside today’s top B2B marketers, Chris J thanks for joining. Hey, everyone really great to be here. And as a lot of people know, this is a really good topic. So I’m interested in, uh, I’m looking forward to diving in here. Yeah.

So for the folks who don’t know, um, well, let’s start with our listeners. So our listeners being primarily marketing ops or revenue ops folks. Uh, interestingly, I think we’ve gotten feedback from even salespeople and things like that. So, um, yeah, they’re very interested in attribution, attribution modeling.

We’ve talked about that a number of times on the podcast, whether it was the intended topic or not. And, um, I think it’s safe to say that, uh, it would be safe to say that you’re a skeptic Chris of attribution modeling. Was that kind of maybe at best that the, I’m not sure if skeptic’s the right word, but I certainly have a different perspective than most.

Well, so challenging the status quo. I just think, I, I fundamentally think about it differently than how other people think about it. And I’m looking forward to adding some color and details around it. Yeah. So why don’t we start with this? Like, what do you like from the, at the top, top level, what do you think are the, like the major issues or challenges with attribution modeling?

Um, so especially coming at it from the angle of marketing ops or rev ops people on here, I just want people to know that like, I’ve done your job before. In 2017, I was running marketing ops. I was integrating with Salesforce. I was pushing data. I was looking at attribution. I’ve done all of these different things.

Um, and while I was doing it, I also, when I think that rev ops and marketing ops, people that do not get exposed to is I was out talking to customers and running demand at the same time. And when you get a more broad view of what’s going on and you see what’s happening in the attribution systems, and what’s telling you, and then you go and talk to customers and customers are telling.

What their journeys are like, and you see big mismatches between what software says and what customers say, you start to challenge what’s going on. And so that was the first kind of like the first signals that, um, that I saw, which was basically attribution software was telling us that paid search, organic search and direct traffic were driving all of our.

And the only places in marketing that we were focusing on were a podcast email, um, a couple other things, a podcast, email, Facebook ads, a couple of other things, and customers were telling us that all of those things were the things that were making the impact. Um, and so I’m challenging people to think.

Mainly the main thing to think about here is whether software is the only way to measure attribution or not. It’s not, there are plenty of ways. And the point of attribution is so that marketers. And companies can understand what’s working in order to drive better strategy decisions. And so software is one way to get you there.

It’s one way, but qualitative customer research, win-loss analysis, um, some other type of qualitative measurement like we put, how did you hear about us on your forms? There’s a variety of other ways that you could collect information to drive your marketing strategy than just looking at what’s happening in that software is generating for you.

I’m curious if you think that the type of attribution makes a difference. Right? So like, if you’re talking about like linear or time decay or position base, that kind of thing, and I see a smile on your face and it folks that are listening, you know, I feel like I’ve, maybe I’ve hit a nerve a little bit. I, I love, I love these questions because.

Um, it’s sure like the type of attribution model that you use is going to change the outcome. That’s like the point of it, the thing that people don’t understand is that regardless of the attribution model, the software still misses have huge amount of touch points that matter word of mouth referrals.

Non-direct response, social touches, content consumption in Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, like, um, third party events, PR there’s a ton of touch points that are in my view, the most valuable parts of a modern B2B buying journey today that never get chocked up to attribution software. And so you get this very myopic biased over-weighted view toward lower funnel channels.

Like. That push marketers to invest money in places where buyers pass through to buy, but it’s not driving buying decisions. So you can change, you can use a different attribution model, right? Like, um, but changing the attribution model does not solve the part that software doesn’t measure most of these, these critical things to that.

And so the software originated and worked very well. In 2011, when digital buying journeys were sitting. That there weren’t a lot of different channels. That attribution was straightforward because the web was done there. We weren’t in cross-device where people have three different devices, mobile tablet work, computer, personal computer, um, and all of these social networks that have privacy policies that aren’t going to give out data for all these things.

So people basically just had Google and websites. So, do you think there’s a benefit to doing a hybrid approach or I’m actually really curious what you would say on the phone, if like when a visible rep tries to call you to sell you their self. So for the record, for the record, everyone Mo most of the customers that we work with use a tool, a multi-touch attribution tool.

I’m not saying not to use them. I’m saying the way that the tools are using. I think is, is narrow-minded and suboptimal. And so, yes, I do believe that there’s a hybrid approach that lowers the weight that comes from attribution software. And the main reason that I use multi-touch is looking at the path to conversion, which I find to be the biggest predictor and surrogate of buyer intent and predictor of sales funnel when metrics and things like that.

So I think about it as it’s very clear, how did this buyer enter our pipeline? That’s what I want. And then I use a lot more qualitative signals to think about in the places that we know B2B research and discovery is happening, that we know is not being measured appropriately by these software tools. We need a different measurement system to think about what is actually creating the demand and educating our buyers.

So I think that attribution software does a very good job at measuring capturing demand. And we need to think differently about creating demand, which is some of the things that we’re pioneering with our customers.

I like that. I think, um, I think you see a little bit of this on the sentiment analysis side of things, and there’s, there’s new software solutions that are trying to understand those stuff, that stuff, but at the same time to kind of echo what you’re talking about, you know, it doesn’t mean that once I’m on a call with somebody, and even if my BDR is trained to say, how did you hear about us?

It doesn’t mean that that tool is going to be able to pull that out every single time. I think over time it might be capable of doing that. Um, Like today, the reality is is that it, it just can’t. And what I’m curious about though, Chris is like, for your customers, based on your experience, like who, like what operational process are you putting in place to actually take the time to understand the qualitative stuff?

Cause measuring qualitative data is, is really, really hard. And like, I’m just trying to figure out like who owns that responsibility? Uh, is it rev ops? Like, you know, is it mops like yeah. Yeah. Measuring qualitative data is hard, which is why most people don’t do it, but don’t be confused. It’s where the best insights come from.

Of course, the best insights come from and you see things way earlier. When you look at qualitative instead of quantitative. And so that’s why from a strategy perspective, my company moves faster. We see opportunities years before other companies start acting on them. It’s because the qualitative signals are there and obvious if you looked for them, but most companies don’t.

So I’ll talk through one of the experiments we ran and then I’ll talk through the operational stuff. And so one of the experiments that we ran in our business and I love kind of. Drink your own champagne or do it on like, prove it out on yourself and then show what’s going on. And so what we did is that we put, how did you hear about us on our main form that drives 98% of our revenue comes through this form.

We put a, how did you hear about us? What most people would do is they put a dropdown menu with all the options we did and we required it free text field in the free text field. The buyer can write anything. We are getting crazy stuff from me. That says that. And I’ll talk through the rest of the, the analysis, but what you’re, some of the examples of what we’re getting is somebody says, I like, I was friends, I worked with Gitano DiNardo in 2016, and then I realized that he was doing this podcast with you.

So I started listening to the podcast when he was on it. And then I started following your CEO on LinkedIn. And now I’m on your website, converting and HubSpot enterprise attribution says direct traffic. And then, um, another one is like I’m in Dave Gearhart’s community. And, um, notice that they were talking about some of the work that you did.

And one of the people in the comments of that, they worked with you and now I’m a CFO and I’m here and attribution software says. Organic search and that’s no knock on HubSpot attribution, any type of attribution software has the same limitations of not being able to measure these things because of the privacy policies in some of these places, or just the fact that word of mouth is not being measured this way.

And so we bubbled up all that data. There was more than 200 total conversions that we’re publishing. So we have conversions, right? Just raw form conversions. Then we have what made it to a qualified opportunity. And then we have what made it to close. And if you look at the data of qualified opportunities, it’s the, the attribution software says that 76% of our qualified ops come from port search or direct traffic.

But the customers say that 82% of customers. So they found us through community, social media, um, our podcast or word of mouth, but most companies don’t have that data. They don’t measure it at all. So they’re saying organic search, direct traffic, or some of our lead gen programs. Let’s keep doing that stuff.

Yes, that’s what we’re measuring, but it’s not like, and then, but they don’t ask their customers. So they don’t see that word of mouth and content and referrals and communities is where this stuff is actually coming from. Um, and so that’s fascinating. So that’s an art business, and now we’re scaling that out to, to collect that data across 40 B2B SAS companies and run this at a much large scale model so people can really see what’s going on.

And this is all from like actually adding a field to a form, which most people would kind of cringe at. Right? So we took one out. So anyone that’s like, oh, our conversion rates going to go down, blah, blah, blah. We took one out. You can use enrichment software, you can do whatever you want to lower the fields on the form.

It’s just an excuse not to do it. Um, because you might not like the answers that it shows. And so, and the second piece is that I mentioned on the qualitative, like the free text field, we’re getting huge insights. And then on the back, we’re manually sorting them into buckets. So that it’s accurate. So I’ve, I literally do this myself when it says I was on the, like, listen to the podcast and I heard, saw, I followed your CEO on LinkedIn, and now I’m here.

I tick podcast and. It’s interesting that you would say, this is almost like what I’ve seen from market research stuff where, you know, you usually do it through surveys and the surveys that, you know, the structure of the surveys and the questions and the answers and the options that are there really.

Kind of drive what you see, but what I’ve always found is the most valuable stuff is that if you just ask an open-ended question, right. That’s where the real gold is, and that’s kind of what you’re talking about. Okay. And that’s just one, this is one data point collecting a lot of information. Right. I think that the.

Is that people are looking for some straight line, like I’m going to see a dashboard. It’s going to tell me exactly what to do. And we’re in a world now where you need to be a lot more strategic and a lot more thoughtful and collect data points from a lot of different places and pair intuition with data and, and go out of customer.

Understanding is one way to look at it, but it’s really just deep customer knowledge to drive strategy decisions. So com companies. I w I don’t think it’s for lack of a better word. I just think it’s the truth brainwashed to think that you need to look at software to have direct ROI, but like you don’t, you’ve just been trained to think that well, and you just brought up the ROI term and I was going to kind of get to that.

I think one of the things that has sort of shifted along with the, kind of your, your points of view, I guess, about attribution modeling has been, I get the sense that. Yeah. Part of what the appeal was for marketing leaders for attribution software, it was, it was a way to prove the ROI of marketing, right?

Not just tactics and programs, but overall marketing spend. And, uh, I think it was really interesting. We had a guest a couple of weeks ago who sort of did this, trying to distinguish the two. And then we had one who actually tried to bring it back together, but. I mean, I, I th do you think that’s part of the problem too, is that everyone, you know, a lot of marketers who are getting beat down about proving their value.

So attribution modeling tools and technology is a way to sort of solve that for them. I think that attribution’s software helps marketers take credit for things that they didn’t actually make an impact on. So I do think it helps marketers. Generate some type of ROI that’s larger than what it actually was.

Um, but if we’re looking at just generally, what is the ROI of marketing I’ve completely changed like a comp uh, we’ve built a completely different way to look at this. That is so much more simple, that so much more clear to go back and have a conversation with a CFO that just says that just looks at how many people, how many qualified buyers or accounts come to our website and say, I want to talk to your sales are about buying this stuff.

How much revenue gets generated through that against the cost of all of marketing. And if you can’t defend at like a six to 12 month CAC payback of the entire marketing budget, driving that much revenue through the website, then something’s wrong. And so what we’re looking for is if you’re on a $10 million, $10 million budget in marketing, then you should be driving about 20 million in revenue, somewhere between 10 and 20 million in revenue through your website.

During that period of time, um, which is, which would deem most marketing programs complete. Because. And so they, they leverage influenced revenue, first touch attribution, but our sales team called them six years later. You know what I mean? And so, um, it puts pressure on marketing to deliver real, real results.

The second reason, and the real reason of why a company should score marketing this way is because you’ll never have a better system to generate revenue than qualified buyers coming to you and saying, I want to buy now. So I don’t want my marketing team op optimizing for anything, but that is how do we get more qualified buyers to say, I want to, I want to buy this stuff now.

Shorter sales cycles, way higher win rates, way better sales, productivity, um, way more ultimate scalability drives word of mouth into the market from happy cups customers, the lowest possible customer acquisition costs. It’s just obvious. And so I want my marketing team optimizing around that. From a business standpoint, I want the business to score marketing on how much revenue is coming through our website, relative to how much we spend on marketing.

And then from a marketing standpoint, marketing needs to look at the programs and how the budgets being allocated and potentially use different measurement mechanisms to figure out and. To executive leadership, CFO, CEO, and say, these are the things that are working. Here’s why in a way, with a way that people trust and believe.

If we spent more, we want to reallocate budget to these programs, or I want to go back and I want to spend a million dollars more on LinkedIn ads next year. And here’s why, and here’s what we’re going to get out of it because I put together a business case that a CFO buys into. Those are the types of conversations that marketing leaders can are.

A lot of marketing leaders can. Um, and so you don’t, if you went and had that conversation, one, I think you’d have a lot more trust from the executive team. I think you’d have a lot more success in getting more budget the, um, and I’ve gone through this a lot with CMOs. The reason that their request for more budget get denied is because there’s no business case to support spending more.

Okay. So you got a big fan of that for me, cause I keep telling everybody in marketing and marketing ops, so they needed to learn, find out. Okay. If you can’t have the conversation with the CFO, you’re kind of behind and being able to justify any kind of thing like this. So, um, so, so if I understood this, right, right.

And I, I like the idea, like the real intent is someone raising their hand and I’ve gone through some of this on websites. So if I. Take what you said. I think what you’re saying is like focus less on what’s driving people to a website. I mean, you do need to do that, but also make sure that your website is an efficient tool at driving those people who are interested in.

And make it easy for them to raise their hand and get to you so that you can then move them forward quickly. Is that kind of the shorter version of what your, the, the shortest version is that you will definitely win more and do better when people are coming to you saying, Hey, I’d love to have a meeting with you about buying this now, versus you going to them and saying, Hey, do you want to have a meeting with.

And that’s marketing’s job marketing job is to build a reputation in the market where everyone understands the category, the product, and the company has an affinity, so that, and they are aware of the problems and the opportunities that exist by either using or not using the tool, which then leads them to talk to peers and communities have internal discussions with leadership, check pricing, look at review sites, go to Google, those types of places that we need them to.

An inbound conversion. And so, because of the way that companies score at and use attribution, they’re not focused on any of that stuff because they can’t measure it. So all they do is just sit down and review sites and Google search and overspend in these places and collect leads. Yeah, I totally agree.

I, uh, I just like, as I’m, as I’m listening to all of this, I’m thinking about companies that I’ve been at and companies that I advise. And how you’re you’re oftentimes in like early stage organizations, you’re trying to figure out what the right messaging structure is and what the right strategy is. And you can sort of test that through clicks, right?

Like you can put together messaging like hypotheses on Google search terms, for example, and like, oh, I’m going to, I’m going to try to validate that. Um, the approach of, you know, making someone fearful of not having the solution is the right way for us to be thinking about, you know, the go to market here.

Um, but if you’re not actually thinking. Okay, well, once they’re on the page asking them for that qualitative feedback, you know, Hey, what actually got you to even Google search us, right. Type in that search term. What was the thing that made you consider kind of even filling out our form? Um, that’s, that’s a, that’s a critical component that I think a lot of the early stage organizations miss out on and even late stage organizations miss out on all the time.

But what I really interested in is. I don’t know if, I don’t know if there’s any way to just maybe just the crew here can answer this question in general from your experience. But like, do you ever see people avoiding qualitative questions? Because like, I don’t want to be proven wrong. So think of like an early stage company where they’re like, no, no, no.

Like my hypothesis is that like, I’ve built this tool for this purpose and I don’t want anyone to really tell me anything other than what I think this tool is for. Do you ever come into that where, like, I don’t want you to ask that question cause I don’t want to know it’s kind of there was that other, oh, I think that Pete, let you answer that.

When I think about this and I think that people just. Struggled to, to use common sense. And so like when, when I like had an aha moment, when I thought of, I mean, major shift in how I did marketing was in 2017, I was visiting a customer, our customer selling into hospitals. I was in an ICU at like two in the morning.

I went to the break room and I looked at what the nurses and the respiratory therapists and the physicians were doing in the. We’re spending time on Instagram and Facebook. And I was like, when they’re watching that video, why wouldn’t I rather have them reading a clinical trial about our product. And so, and it was that it was that obvious.

And I went back to HQ and I was like, we have this insight. It’s a major insight. None, no one in. Medical device marketing there, we’re going to have free reign. Our competitors aren’t doing this is going to be great. And they’re like, yeah, but physicians don’t use Facebook. And I was like, I was literally there and to saw a bunch of people do this.

And so, and then we did a large market research survey with 600 of our target accounts and found that 60% of people said that they do use social media, specifically Facebook and Twitter and YouTube to learn about medical technology, which gave us even more data to go and market there. And then we started to market.

Running media and ads. The amount of buyers that are an accounts that are coming in to buy is going up from like 10 a month to, we were going up to like 50, 75 a month. So major increases in pipeline, major increases of revenue, significantly better than what we’re getting in, um, from an outbound perspective.

And then you look at what attribution software saying, and after. We’re $30 million business. The only thing that we really changed as we S we spent started spending $25,000 a month on Facebook ads. And now all this stuff is happening. Attribution software is like organic search is driving all this stuff.

And I’m like, this is so simple. So obvious of what’s actually happening here is these people are reading the clinical trials. They’re on mobile devices. So it’s not getting cookied and attributed. They’re going back and they’re having conversations internally. And then the decision makers coming to our website and buying, and it’s getting attributed to organic search we’re in multi-stakeholder sales and B2B we’re in complex sales cycles that are going to be outside of your little attribution model.

The optimal way to market is ungated natively inside of the channels that you’re marketing to. So I’m trying to get someone to read about the clinical trial inside of an instant. Inside of Facebook, not clicking on my landing page, filling out a form and then reading it, which means that a thousand times a hundred to a thousand times less people will actually read it because of the friction.

And there’s just so many things that have outdated. Ways of doing marketing that put measurement before outcomes, we need to start prioritizing outcomes over measurement. Yeah, I would agree with, uh, at least the prioritizing for outcomes and letting, letting experiments. Kind of dictate, you know, uh, creating a hypothesis and letting experiments kind of get you there.

Right. And, and then Sean Ellis, like, I pretty sure it was him, uh, where he said, you know, there’s a question that you could ask, uh, all of your current users, like, what would you do if this tool never existed anymore? Like ceased to exist? Um, like how would you react? And, and that, that was a really hard thing for a lot of organizations to try to put out in the world, because it shares a lot of really high qualitative, you know, results on whether or not someone value.

It was like the best NPS indicator ever. Um, and it really, at the end of the day, it was, it was a qualitative way to try to measure the affinity for a product or a feature or what have you. Um, and I think my takeaway from a lot of what you’ve been sharing today, Chris is. Yeah. If you get out in the field and you really see what’s going on, um, you’re going to learn some things, right.

And I think you have a unique perspective in that regard that not all of us in marketing ops get, but some of us too. Yeah. Just put it simply just a disconnection between buyers and what’s actually happening in the world versus what the dashboard tells you. Well, and I think, I think, um, there’s a part of this also.

I think when people not only does it, they want this technology, that’s going to do some of this heavy lifting and do the work and do it at scale and all that. They also want like a simple answer. Right. And very often the world is like, I have teenage kids. Right. And they want things to be yes or no. And there’s like, there’s a lot of black and white.

There’s a lot of gray in the world. And I think. One of the things I’ve run into is like, how do you know if a campaign was effective or not? Right. And it’s usually not just one thing. Some of it is, did you get good feedback? You know, but it’s a combination of metrics, usually that is the indicator.

Ultimately, you know, whatever that key outcome is, hopefully you thought about what that you want that to be too. But I think that’s a big part of what’s big and people just want it to be relatively simple. And it’s just, that’s just not the way. Yeah, I’m curious. Oh, sorry. Well, I’m curious if you think that it’s, it’s less, um, it’s, it’s easier to do the, get this kind of insight.

Um, when the teams are smaller and you have a single person in charge of like multiple platforms. Right. But what happens when you get into. Uh, very large enterprise organizations where maybe you have, for example, entire social team, that’s dedicated just to like Facebook ads or, or whatnot. And you have like all these disparate teams and they may or may not always be talking to each other.

Does it become then more difficult to kind of corral all of this information together to get that. The way that companies measure marketing and silo teams in larger enterprises creates all of the wrong behaviors in marketing, because the people that run Facebook ads need to create attribution on Facebook ads and do things that are not appropriate for the channel so that they can collect the leads so that they can do something.

And so it creates single channel. Focus, not multichannel journeys that are appropriate to each individual channel. So every single team is just running lead gen and their channels. That’s the only way to, to measure and get attribution. I think it creates a ton of the wrong behaviors, but it’s just the way that it’s the way that companies measure marketing.

And I get it. It’s a, it’s a challenge to do this. And so when we work with companies, we help them take a, a blended approach that uses a lot more of what I would call. Lenient to lean into journeys, but also lean into the idea that not every channel should be generating leads. Not every channel needs to do that.

And so rethinking, what is the purpose of this channel and how do people do it? And then if you want to get me back on track on your question, I can answer it more directly, but the, the first thought that came to my head, cause I watched people do this. You got people that are running LinkedIn ads and.

They have to, they have to go back and be like, peer. It was a hundred dollars CPL. Here’s what we had. And then if you track it through to Salesforce and revenue, they closed, it spent $500,000 that year. They closed one deal for 30 K MRR. And no one actually looks at the outcomes. They only look at the cost per lead, just blows my mind.

So do you think it’s, uh, like how, like how would you kind of solve for this? Do you think it’s, um, a case of just the way the teams are structured and org chart change. Is it, do we take out software, put in software? What do you think is the best solution to this type of thing? Too many silos and marketing I think is, is one big one and a, um, a.

Attitude of wanting to do everything versus making choices on the things that actually are working. Um, so. Because you have like the demand team, right? And the demand team is all they’re doing is running paid channels to drive MQL ELLs. And then you got over here, you got the brand team that posts on organic social gets no traction, Dustin corporate PR releases and designs, trade show booths that don’t drive results.

And so you’ve got the brand team over here doing stuff. You’ve got the field team that’s mainly running like basically sales, enablement and webinars. And they’re all kind of doing their, their own thing. Like maybe we need a more integrated strategy, um, are some of the things that I’m thinking about, which, and I just, I interact with companies that have 50 marketers and I know if they had 10 marketers, they could get better.

Just over a couch. Yeah, no, really. It like it’s, it’s a real thing. How do you, how do you see, you got to get this in here? It’s like it’s people don’t understand the, that the strategy and the talent matter. The most one marketer can move a business more than 25. If you have the right marketer, it’s like unbelievable.

The difference in talent and skills and results that get driven by a top 1% marketer. And then everyone else that nobody understands. I interview directors of demand gen every day from some of, some of the biggest companies that all of, you know, and they’re, and they are not good. Um, and so I would say probably.

I would say 3% of the people that I interview, I would classify as very, very talented. Um, and the challenge for everyone else, the CMOs, the CEOs of early stage companies, whatever is that they don’t understand demand gen modern demand gen well enough to know whether their director or their VP knows it.

So they’re just guessing they’re looking at resumes, they’re looking at what buzz words people use or what companies they worked at. Not whether or not they know what’s going on with buyers today and can drive results. I think there’s a pretty big, a pretty big opportunity for the good ones. And just trying to help people understand that that the talent matters.

I think, I think, I mean, I think those are valid things to be talking about. We see a big talent gap in marketing operations right now, too. And it’s it’s to kind of mirror the environment a little bit. It’s that like leadership doesn’t always know what marketing ops folks are doing. So they don’t really know how to measure what success looks like or really what, what they should expect out of these individuals.

And I think what I just heard from you is a, like, you know, you’re feeling like there’s a good. You know, like in most situations there are one percenters, right. And that are quite good. Or like even really wealthy people, there’s the 1% around the world. Right. And, and they exist, but like how does a leader, a CML ever know what good our highest quality is supposed to look like?

And if they’re not willing to, to listen and to understand. What high quality really is meaning I don’t need to rely on the traditional silos of marketing and the demand gen funnels and the software and all of those things. I need somebody to be able to look at a strategic approach that integrates all of those components and tries to do something that’s disruptive.

And I need to I’m I’m very comfortable with. If they’re not there, how are they ever going to know what quality demand gen looks like? You know what it’s like? So I think as experts in the field, you know, yourself included in those, in that group, like let’s create creating content that helps educate up market on what does it look like to have quality in that role and how do you go find it and how, and how do you nurture.

Right. How do you get it? There? They take somebody from not a 1% or two being closer to 1%. The, the, the major gap here from a CMO standpoint is that B2B marketing was very static from 1980 to 2010. Yeah, you build trade show booth. You did industry conferences. You made friends with the trade publications.

You hung out with Gartner and those types of people who recommended stuff. And then you had a S and then you had to make sure your sales channel knew who to go after and had enablement tools. And that was B2B marketing. And now we have rapid acceleration where things are changing. Six months ago, people were obsessed with clubhouse.

Now it’s nothing, right? Three years ago, nobody was marketing on LinkedIn. Now it’s the most important platform in B2B. There are changes that are happening that require you as a CMO to get into the details and know what’s going on so that you can judge whether or not the people that you’re hiring and bringing in to lead your organization.

Know what they’re talking about or not. A lot of people can use the buzzwords, but when you put them in and you set, you try and understand, do they understand the underlying details? They understand why most people crack like cheap glass. And so this is a call-out here for CMOs is that there’s a lot of CMOs that are getting major turnover.

The reason is because you need to understand the execution in order to drive strategy. Now, things are changing too fast. I mean, the analogy I’m thinking in my head right now is the back. If you were a CIO back in the seventies or eighties, right? You, you basically, if you, if you didn’t want to keep your job, you bought IBM.

Right. And then along came apple and Dell and Compaq. If you remember that, like, and it changed the whole landscape. I mean, uh, it’s, it’s a little bit like that here. Right? Things are moving so quickly that we. See it happening. I think that’s part of it. So there’s this fear of, if I don’t do everything the way I know that everybody else is going to be asking me about and SQLs and all that kind of stuff.

So, you know, that’s the stuff I need to focus on. Yeah. So let’s, let’s take it back to attribution modeling a little bit. Right. So I know we kind of danced around, but do you, do you, do you see a. A cause a lot of people have invested time and effort into the technology and the processes. Everything else is, is D is there, is there a, is there a way place for.

In terms of how we use it within marketing to do you know, from your standpoint, is it helpful in, I’m gonna kind of put it in my own terminology. I think you were suggesting, like you want to not try to do everything in, in the, in the go-to market strategy, but sort of focus on where you can place bets that worked for you.

I mean, is it helpful in that sense and driving that or, or anything else? So I think that most companies should be using it, right? So I’m not over here saying rip out all that stuff that you did was a waste of time, rip it out. You’re wasting money. What I’m saying is that how you use it is flawed. The software is going to get you 40% of the way.

You think that it’s going to get you a hundred percent of the way there and that 60% is why your marketing strategy doesn’t change and why you keep funneling back to outdated tactics that are easy to measure. I feel like that’s the, the, um, the cry of every MarTech platform on the planet though. Like whether it’s attribution software or a marketing automation platform, like.

Right. By the way, it’s not going to get you a hundred percent of the way there. And so you need to one acknowledge that the thing that’s the scariest for me is that most people still think the software is a hundred percent accurate, but don’t even acknowledge that like a touch by word of mouth touch point in a community that drives B2B buying decisions then thinks that that doesn’t exist because it doesn’t get measured.

Right? I mean they think website, how many visitors did we have? It’s down to a single digit. No, never. And so we need to one recognize the limitations of the software, which there are many we need to figure out based on those limitations, what is the appropriate way to use this? And what additional ways can we measure stuff that would help us get the rest of the 60% so that we can accurately and responsibly drive strategy?

So that’s where I’m putting in. You want quant do market research surveys, ask your buyers where they, where they hear about things, where they learn, run win-loss qualitative, call your buyers, ask what they, you know, jobs to be done. Win-loss analysis, figure out what was their spend, 15 minutes understanding their, their buyer journey.

You can put the how’d you hear about us on the forum. You can be doing general market research. Like the thing is for me, like I knew I, I ran that the experiment that I showed you before, right. To collect the data, to show that our buyers tell us that they’re finding us in these places, attribution software is telling us completely different stuff.

I knew all that stuff to be true because. I’m with my customer every day. I’m in, I’m in the places I see what they’re doing. They tell me these things, right? And so I’m encouraging marketers to be in that place where the software is nice, but you, because you know your customers so well, and you’re with them, you, you can easily know when the software is telling you something that’s false.

And so we got to get to a place like the definition of marketing is understanding customers deeply in my view, Um, and being able to be the voice inside of the company of what customers need and do that was a very traditional way of looking at marketing. I think it needs to get back to that. Cause right now it’s been all promotion comms, lead gen type of stuff.

The foundation of good marketing is always understanding customers and because customers are changing so fast, like you need to be with them. Um, and so I’m pushing people to go back to the F to get back to the fundament. I think we’re seeing a shift towards that again now more than ever. Um, you’ve got client success and tools that they’re trying to utilize to better understand how their customers are engaging with the business and the, the SAS company, the software tools itself.

You’ve got product marketers who are trying to tap into the knowledge that’s coming in collectively from the top of the funnel and the bottom of the funnel, BDRs SDRs, and then the client success team, you know, and the, and they’re trying to bring together some sort of qualitative analysis in one CRM view.

So you’re starting to get to a place. Everybody’s trying to figure out what is the sentiment of the buyer journey and where do they want to go and how do they stay with us? Long-term um, I, I think that is absolutely happening, at least in the organizations. Matured in that way. Um, but yeah, it’s probably not, not the standard.

Yeah. So, I mean, I like the idea that, you know, one of the things I’ve been thinking about is it like what, and what I’ve seen value when I had like inbound for part of my role as well was. Part of the value that I had from the data we had was be able to tell the story about how we either won or lost a deal.

Um, and so, but that’s, you know, it’s heavy, heavy lifting, hard work to do it. And, and he can only do so much of it with people, but what you know, so our audience is mostly marketing ops. It’s not always people who are, you know, head of marketing or something like that. Yeah, any kind of, let’s wrap this up, I guess a little bit with any suggestions you have for how we, as marketing ops pros could help drive that conversation towards one that is looking at all these different kinds of data points and insights that we could use.

Yeah. I got a couple here, so. I’m just gonna, I’m just going to say it, like, I believe as a marketing ops or rev ops person, if you do not do your own primary customer research, actually talking to people, then you’re doing your job with your hands tied behind your back. And you’re at a huge disadvantage of knowing these types of things.

I think I’ve communicated a lot on, on that already in this episode. So that’s one, I think the second one. Would be deeply understanding the limitations of these different tools and educating your peers on what those limitations are and why like marketing ops and rev ops can be the people that actually drive this, these people.

Like I hear it all the time. I see it in LinkedIn. I talked to these people. I want to be seen as a strategic business partner in this role start acting like. Drive drive serious strategy, change the change, how people think and look at, think about these types of things. You own attribution, you own these types of things.

And so by being able to mix software, qualitative, different things like that. Bubbles up to a completely different go to market strategy when you actually do it, it will happen every time. If you add qualitative, you will end up with an entirely different go to market strategy when customers get involved in these.

And so, um, these are some of, and then being able, like you mentioned, the, the business acumen, like being able to guide and change, what are the right things that we should measure here doing? Do we need to measure clicks on this campaign? Is that the right way to do it? Do we need to have a 20 page deck about this campaign that lasted three, three days, or should we be looking at business metrics that matter?

Should we be going back to the CFO and talking about cost per qualified meeting customer acquisition costs, conversion rates through the funnel by different source CAC by source. Why we should stop spending money in Google and move it over here because the CAC has tech CAC payback is 36 months. These are things that I don’t see being talked about from marketing ops, and we need to elevate to a place where the CFO really trust the trust, the advice that we’re providing.

I appreciate that. And I think, uh, it’s been said before on past episodes for us, it’s a bit of the begin with the end of. What do you want to learn? What do you need to learn? What kind of questions do you need to be able to answer? And I think our role as marketing and rev ops professionals is to be able to ask those questions and push back to say, is that really the answer that you’re looking for?

If I go build. Way to track something. Is that going to help you answer some, some strategic question? Um, I think it’s okay to ask why, w what’s the, what’s the rule you have to ask why like five times or whatever, before you finally get the answer. So, yeah, but I think it’s, it’s beginning with the end in mind.

It’s so interesting. Cause like I interact with rev ops people a lot and all of the, a lot of the things that I talk about that are broken in companies like lead gen doesn’t drive results, it drives a lot of MQs don’t convert. They were measuring marketing the wrong way. A lot of the rev ops people that I talked to know these things, they see the data every day, but they haven’t been able to elevate to get a change to happen in the company to move away from it.

I think that’s the next step of, of this function. It’s not only about surfacing the data and looking it’s about inspiring change inside of the. Okay, love it. All right. So we are going to, I think we’re going to have to wrap it up here, Chris. This has been a great conversation. Um, I’m sure we’re going to get lots of feedback from our, from our listeners.

So this is great. Uh, if it ever negative, feel free to shoot it to me in LinkedIn. DM would love to hear it seriously if you didn’t, didn’t like it. I’d love to hear why. Yeah. Okay. So yeah. So it’s the best way for folks to kind of catch up with you? Is it on LinkedIn? Is it, I mean, you’ve got the podcast.

How would you, what do you see. Um, yeah, if you want messaging, uh, LinkedIn, LinkedIn, DM, Chris Walker. And then if you want to check out the podcast, it’s called the state of demand gen podcast on apple or Spotify. That’s cool. In real time, uh, I pulled the data while we were on the show and, uh, 36% of our audience were referred to the MO Pros by a colleague or a friend 26% from LinkedIn and 20% say other.

And I don’t have a field for them to fill in. So guess what? I just did. Well into other fields. So we’re going to learn something new. That’s more than that’s more than 50%. That would go into what I call collectively dark social word of mouth, social networks, things like that that are not going to get properly measured by attribution software.

The data is the same in every company. Companies just don’t measure it. So encourage people to put that in their forums and see it for themselves. Awesome. Well, thanks Chris. Appreciate it, Mike. Naomi, thank you. Thanks to our listeners. Um, we will catch up with you at the next episode. Bye everyone. Thanks everyone.

Bye everybody. I run.

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