Marketers / Marketing Ops / Sales Cloud

How to Advance Your Campaign Influence Reporting (in 2024)

By Lucy Mazalon

Branded content with Heeet

Campaign Influence is one of the toughest marketing concepts to grasp. By this, we’re referring to both the concepts and the set of features in Salesforce. While it’s a great tool to have at our disposal, we need to understand its working parts and limitations.

In this guide, we’ll cover a number of ways you could consider to advance your campaign influence in the new year – whether you’re new to campaign influence, or are a seasoned MOPs professional, there’s something for everyone to learn. 

Salesforce Campaign Influence: Capabilities and Limitations

If you’re familiar with campaign influence reporting, you may want to skip this section.

Salesforce campaigns are a standard object that comes out-of-the-box with every Salesforce org. In short, you can relate leads and contacts with a campaign and track their level of engagement (member status). Each campaign record is the central hub for recording budget and costs.

While their purpose is good in theory, gaining meaningful reporting can be challenging in practice. Campaign influence joins the dots between sales revenue (stored in opportunities) and marketing data (stored in campaigns). Paired with campaign cost data, you can calculate ROI.

However, campaign influence relies on a number of data points being in place and connected. In fact, it’s all too easy for campaign influence reporting to become inaccurate – oftentimes, without marketers even being aware. 

READ MORE: Complete Guide to Salesforce Campaign Influence

Here are some facts you should acknowledge when working towards accurate campaign influence:

  • Missing top of funnel impact: By their nature, Salesforce campaigns focus more on activities in the middle or bottom of the funnel. This is because the lead/contact has to exist in Salesforce in order to be related to a campaign. Therefore, there could be plenty of top of funnel impact that’s missing from your campaign influence reporting.  
  • Manual creation: Some pieces of the campaign influence puzzle are not all automated. Creating the campaign itself (plus child campaigns), amending the member statuses, adding lead/contact records as campaign members, updating member status as engagement happens, all need to be consistently looked after. Purchasing an add-on (like Account Engagement, formerly Pardot) can automate this to an extent, or custom configuration in Salesforce is also an option.
  • Contact roles: This is another example of manual creation. In order to match up opportunities with influential campaigns, Salesforce uses contact roles, related to the opportunity, to build that bridge. This is reliant on sales teams adding these, which is not always intuitive. 
  • Campaign influence models: Leading up to a closed won opportunity (revenue) there will be a string of touchpoints (represented by campaign records). Models determine which campaign should be emphasized. So, choosing which model to render in your reporting can deliberately (or unintentionally) reinforce the value of the first recorded touchpoint, over the last, for example.

What Do We Mean by ‘Advanced’?

Now that we’ve acknowledged the working parts and limitations of campaign influence, we can look forward to introducing solutions to improve it. 

Google Analytics (GA) is a granular hub of all interactions prospects are making across your digital platforms – wherever they are in the customer journey. The drawback is that assessing performance is only surface-level. All data is anonymized, so you can’t pinpoint individual prospects’ behavior, nor the impact these interactions ultimately have on won revenue.

Here are some points to consider to build a more complete campaign influence picture.

1. Solving The Conversion ‘Black Hole’

Marketers love GA goals; however, these are only representative of digital interactions. They exclude key moments in your marketing and sales cycles (e.g. “demo booked”) which are recorded in Salesforce. Translating these into GA goals can inform better decisions on exactly where to spend your budget.

Solving The Conversion "Black Hole"

2. Steering Clear of “Spaghetti” Attribution

The challenge is that once a prospect is captured, the lead qualified, and (hopefully) the opportunity won, you’ll find that the new customer’s record is removed from the GA/Google Ads data that attracted them to your business in the first place. This prospect continues to engage throughout the customer journey, being recorded in both Salesforce and GA, without the two platforms being totally aligned. This would match GA’s masses of data with rich CRM data. 

Simultaneously using GA, advertising platforms, Salesforce, and marketing automation is not enough – data needs to be exchanged across every platform in a usable format for reporting. That is, GA data available in Salesforce for use in reports, and Salesforce data available for use in GA goals.

3. Avoiding Manual Campaign Human Error

In the previous section, we outlined that some pieces of the campaign influence puzzle are not all automated. This means that some data, that has the potential to be captured, doesn’t have a destination to go to. 

We can take a Google Ads campaign as an example. It’s possible (if not probable) that we don’t create a Salesforce campaign for every paid advertising campaign we launch using Google Ads. When a lead enters Salesforce, where does the engagement with that Google Ads campaign get stored? Moreover, what about the specifics for that individual lead? 

Imagine a way where “missing” campaigns can be automatically created. A social post on Linkedin could be represented as a Salesforce campaign – created automatically – based on UTM parameters contained within the URL that the prospect clicked on. Taking it one step further, even automatically adding the prospect to the campaign as a campaign member. 

This can be achieved in different ways. However, maintenance should be a key consideration here.

4. Granular Lead Acquisition Costs

As mentioned, by their nature, Salesforce campaigns focus more on activities in the middle or bottom of the funnel; there could be plenty of top of funnel impact that’s missing from your campaign influence reporting, especially online activities that occur before your lead fills a form for the first time. 

These pre-acquisition campaigns can be the riskiest in terms of budget spend, where you’re ‘casting the net’ wide. We all know that paid advertising campaigns have the potential to run down our budget – that’s before we even address keyword influence within a specific channel. 

However, where do we acknowledge these costs against won opportunity revenue? Multiple top of funnel campaigns per channel makes it hard to keep up with attribution. 

Having these sync straight to the lead record would eliminate the ambiguity, for example, of being able to say: “this lead engaged with one Linkedin ad, two ads on Google, and an SEO related activity”. Plus, stamping which referring URLs and keywords prompted the lead to complete the form is highly valuable intel.

With this data, you can view the % influence that each channel has had on the acquisition of that specific lead, meaning that marketers can go beyond ‘partial’ first or last click acquisition costs. In fact, because the data is stored in Salesforce fields, you can slice and dice it how you want using Salesforce native reports and dashboards. 

5. Self-Reported Attriubution

What if automated attribution isn’t enough? How do you ensure that you are giving credit where it’s due? 

Having the option to add ‘self-reported’ attribution can give you greater flexibility. One example is the form question: “How did you hear about us?”. While these answers are not 100% reliable, differentiating between automatic attribution and what has been self-reported enables you to scrutinize reports to include or exclude this different type of influence. The example below shows self-reported attribution for the ‘podcast’ channel.     

6. Attribution for Longer Sales Cycles

We also know that some sales cycles can be longer than others. To keep business buyers engaged, you may send your prospects emails, invite them to webinars, encourage them to download a whitepaper, or post on social media – these are all ‘post-acquisition’ activities. 

It’s important to be able to capture the data generated by any marketing activity, even after the lead was initially acquired. This reflects back to point #3 on manual human error, where the creation of Salesforce campaigns can be unintentionally missed when juggling multiple initiatives across different channels. 

As the lead goes further into the sales pipeline, measuring the ROI – that is the cost of marketing efforts versus the pipeline generated – becomes incredibly important.  Not only do you need the touch points consistently created (i.e. campaign records), the cost of those campaigns also should be synced steadily.

Rather than facing the arduous task of inputting campaign cost manually, consider how up-to-date cost figures could be automatically injected into Salesforce campaign records – this is especially important for campaigns with variable costs, such as a Google Ads campaigns. 

Online prospects are automatically added to the digital campaigns they interact with.

Next Steps

You’ve seen some images of how this could look throughout this guide. While the principles are achievable through custom configuration, there’s a solution that packages this up neatly. Heeet delivers a more flexible look into campaign influence, and takes the pain out of top of funnel attribution. 

One aspect not yet covered is what happens after the lead is converted. You have the granular lead acquisition data, which can be carried across to the opportunity record. Heeet’s settings allows you to monitor how you would like to split the attribution between first click, intermediary click, and last click data. With the opportunity amount field populated, the potential revenue is split to show which channels have played a role. 

You can check the data behind the graph by adding the Heeet Digital Channel Influences related list. 

The main takeaway is that so much data is being lost between your main acquisition channels and Salesforce campaign influence. 

The dashboard (and underlying reports) are a dream for demand generation professionals that may not get solid feedback on their efforts. Previously, matching ROI for these top of funnel activities would have been challenging. But, voilà, you can now paint a nice picture.

Heeet (and its objects) does not override the standard campaign influence objects. Instead, Heeet provides an additional way to capture and report on data, all while helping previously ‘shadow’ marketing data be related to opportunity data, all available to report on.

Plus, there is functionality to help marketers and admins unify the various influence models, with the ability to switch between various models, or configure their own unique attribution split. 

Check out a live tour to see this in action!

The Author

Lucy Mazalon

Lucy is the Operations Director at Salesforce Ben. She is a 10x certified Marketing Champion and founder of The DRIP.

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