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A Ridiculously Simple Way to Solve Attribution
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A Ridiculously Simple Way to Solve Attribution

Introducing "Cohort-Tracking."
Author
Keith Putnam-Delaney
Updated on
January 25, 2023
Published on
December 16, 2022

Table of Contents

We came up with a radically simple way to measure digital advertising performance: Ad Audience Cohort Tracking.
We know that’s a mouthful and probably sounds complicated. It’s really not.

Very few B2B purchases are made from a click on an ad, right? Still, most marketers are stuck using last-click conversion to prove ad spend ROI, even when we know opportunities attributed to other channels, like organic traffic or outbound sales, are influenced by advertising.

We’re stuck with a crappy system for one simple reason: We don’t know which specific individuals or accounts are seeing our ads.

When you set up a campaign on an ad platform like Facebook or LinkedIn, you are limited by the data the platform provides or the data you bring to the platform. You set your targeting criteria and hope that your ads will actually reach your ICP.

However, you don’t know the inputs that ad networks use to ID people and add them to your audience.

Because you don’t know who specifically is in your audience the only thing you can truly measure to gauge ROI is last-click conversion (or you can turn yourself in knots building a complicated attribution system).

Most basic systems look like this:

  1. You use UTM parameters
  2. A lead fills out a form
  3. You attribute that lead back to the campaign you ran
  4. The lead works its way through your funnel
  5. You gauge the CAC (ad spend + other costs)/LTV
Most Basic UTM System Image

If the campaign is ROI positive on a last-click basis you can justify more ad budget. If not, good luck convincing the CEO.

EVERYTHING changes when you know who is in your ad audience.

Cohort Tracking

What is audience cohort tracking? It’s audience-based attribution.

In other words, when a lead signs up — regardless of source — you are able to say with certainty that the lead was a member of your ad audience, was served ads, and those ads influenced their decision to sign up.

If you know with confidence which individuals and accounts went into your audience and what sign-ups you got, you can look at all your organic and direct traffic sign-ups and say:

“Did I serve this lead ads? Was this lead part of my audience? Yep! Amazing. Count that previously unattributed direct sign-up towards my marketing efforts and give me more budget.”

Audience Cohotr Tracking Schematic Image

You can think of Ad Audience Cohort Conversion Tracking like an email marketing funnel. Some of the metrics are still the same while a few are modified for advertising:

  • # of emails sent (size of audience)
  • Open rate (reach)
  • Unique clicks
  • Replies (sign-ups)
  • Lifetime spend
  • Opportunities generated
  • Cost per opportunity

The problem of attribution is dramatically simplified. You’re no longer stuck without an answer to the question: did advertising have an impact beyond last-click conversion?

You’re no longer reliant on UTM parameters alone to measure success. You can look holistically and simply at your ad spend and assess its impact on the drawn-out B2B purchase making process.

How does your ad measurement system change?

We’re not saying eliminate last-click tracking. We suggest adding an additional component to your system to assess whether new MQLs/SQLs are members of active ad audiences (more on how a bit later).

Most advanced teams end up with a basic 4 step attribution process:

  1. Based on ad platform and site analytics, are the members of an audience engaging with the content of the campaign? (i.e. reach, impressions, clicks, etc.)
  2. Based on reverse-IP lookup are people from the accounts in the audience visiting our website?
  3. Based on UTM parameters can we attribute last-click conversions/sign-ups back to the ad campaign/audience?
  4. By looking up emails/names of all new MQLs/SQLs can we attribute additional sign-ups back to the ad audience/campaign?

Ultimately, if you know specifically which leads are in your audience and which leads end up signing up it’s much easier to measure ROI.

How do you know who is in your audience?

Ad Audience Cohort Conversion Tracking only works if you know EXACTLY who goes into your audiences. So this is where we shamelessly plug Primer :)

The only way to know who is in your ad audience is to load a list-based custom audience into an ad platform. The only way to have confidence a lead is a member of the ad audience is to have a high match rate (>70%).

Most B2B companies only have a name, business email address, and office phone number. As a result, they get sub-par match rates on ad platforms. Typically 10–30%.

What makes Primer-powered audiences so effective is our high match rates. We typically see 70–80% match rates for our customers on platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn.

Primer works with over 7 compliant data providers to enrich lists with ad network matching data — hashed personal email addresses, mobile phone, mobile advertiser ID, etc.

You choose the leads and Primer will enrich them to create a high match rate audience. Simply connect your ad accounts and Primer will automatically sync the audience over and you can plug it into your campaigns.

Primer-powered audiences work even better in multi-channel campaigns. For example, you can run ads to a specific audience and follow-up with outbound emails to that exact same group of leads.

Personally, we’ve seen 20%+ CVRs on accounts that have received Facebook ads + outbound emails, using audience cohort tracking.

Lead Prarmeters Chart

To boil it down: Cohort tracking becomes easy with Primer. When a lead converts, check to see if they were in the original audience/list Primer created for you.

How a Lead Converts Image

Unlock ABM ROI with this simple system

Audience cohort tracking is a vastly simplified way to measure the impact of digital ads, particularly if you’re pursuing an ABM strategy.

  1. You can prove ROI of ad spend beyond last-click
  2. You serve ads only to leads that are pre-qualified so your overall CAC drops significantly
  3. You can coordinate multi-channel, multi-platform campaigns to increase conversion rates (i.e. email + ads + direct mail to a specific individual)

Want to implement cohort tracking for your ad campaigns? Shoot us an email at info@sayprimer. We’re always glad to help :)

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