The Scary Truth About Salesforce Reporting for Marketers

October 27, 2016 Amelia Ibarra (Admin)

It’s a terrifying thought for data-driven marketers: You do the market research, define the personas, create the right content to distribute via the right channels, and execute with precision and care. But then, when all is said and done, reporting gaps and inaccurate data mean you don’t get the credit that’s due for all of that time and effort.

As its name implies, Salesforce is a tool that was developed primarily for the benefit of sales teams. The CRM was never meant to help marketers do their jobs better or accurately report on their program successes, and it wasn’t created to help the two teams work better in tandem.

But why does this matter? Well, when we talk about the B2B buyer’s journey, what we’re really talking about is the B2B buyers’ journey, since a business’ purchasing decisions usually involve multiple stakeholders across an organization.

This makes each individual account’s journey incredibly complex and unique — it is by no means a straightforward, linear affair.

Salesforce doesn’t even come close to telling the complex and unique story of how Marketing’s efforts have influenced all of the decision-makers on an account. As we published in our Q3 ABM Benchmark Insights Report, most accounts have 13 influential buyers, but only one of those buyers is associated with the opportunity in Salesforce. On average, 8.1 orphan leads and 4.5 contacts-on-account are never recorded on the opportunity that they helped to influence, which means the marketer never gets credit for those touches (BrightFunnel, 2016). Each individual account’s journey is by no means a straightforward or linear affair. But with Salesforce — since, again, the tool was not developed to make the marketer’s job easier — you’re only able to capture and report on the first (lead source) and last (Primary Campaign Source) marketing touch points where a prospect has interacted with your brand or product. This effectively knocks all of those other influencers out of the equation — and out of your reporting capabilities.

That discrepancy between what actually occurred and what you’re able to report on should scare any data-driven marketer.

With Salesforce, you can report on Marketing’s campaign successes in just two ways, and neither is all that helpful:

  • You can rely on the Primary Campaign on the Opportunity — This requires the contact to be converted to an Opportunity, and it only looks at that one contact’s activity. It also doesn’t consider campaign success vs. campaign touch — say, emails sent versus those that are actually responded to — which is misleading for both reporting and planning purposes.
  • You can rely on Campaign Influence Reports — This ends up multiplying the amount attributed to an opportunity by two, four, ten, or even more when the associated contact has interacted with multiple campaigns. For most marketers, this only results in nonsensical data that can’t be used to align with Sales, make better allocation decisions, or even make themselves look good when reporting up to the Board.

Let’s say Sally was the first person at ACME Corp. to fill out a form and download a white paper, and Jake watched the ‘How To’ webinar, after which the opportunity was created. But what about Dan, who signed up for your email newsletter and regularly visits the blog, or Sophie, who clicked through a LinkedIn ad to download last summer’s benchmark report? Neither of them were ever associated with the account on Salesforce, which begs the question: If a contact isn’t recorded on the account, did they even really exist? In terms of what you’re able to report on to your manager or the Board, the answer is simple and frightening for marketers: Nope.

Now, let’s pause for a minute to be clear about something: It’s not Sales’ fault that Dan and Sophie weren’t ever recorded as contacts on the account. Why would it be? It’s the salesperson’s job to sell, not slow himself down with data entry. Besides, the sales rep may not even know everyone who is on the buying committee that’s researching your product in the first place!

It’s on the marketer to ensure that every single campaign success is recorded, and she simply cannot do that in a full-picture way on her own or with her team by relying on Salesforce. If she’s only capturing a single contact at the beginning and the end, leaving out everything and everyone in the middle, she can’t accurately report, intelligently allocate spend, or make informed predictions about what will succeed in the future.

Marketers sometimes bend over backwards to make Salesforce reporting work for them, but this only ends up creating an insane amount of clutter in the form of custom fields, and taking up too much valuable time. On top of that, inconsistent processes can mean the data becomes too vague to offer any real insights into Marketing’s performance. And there may also be external data missing from your CRM — Salesforce is not designed to be a data warehouse, so it’s not the place to pipe in your web activity or Google Adwords data.

Reporting needs to be about more than just a single contact on an opportunity — it should encompass all the contacts and leads that have actually interacted with your campaigns. With Salesforce, you only see a tiny sliver of an account’s very complex, multi-player story. In order to see the entire picture of what has influenced every opportunity throughout the entire buyers’ journey, you need to adopt an account-based view and link all of an account’s leads and contacts together so that you can see how every single campaign has impacted the business.

Without this more robust and complete perspective of Marketing’s influence, you and your team will be left in the dark — and find yourself in a truly scary place.

Learn more about how to more fully measure your efforts and better understand Marketing’s true impact by reading our informative ebook, The Definitive Guide to Multi-Touch Revenue Attribution.

Attribution eBook

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