Spreadsheets vs. Sigma: Campaign Spend Attribution

Julian Alvarado

Sr. Content Marketing Manager, Sigma

SaaS companies often have lengthy and complex sales cycles stretching across months, dozens of individuals, and thousands of touchpoints. As the Sr. Campaign Manager at a high-growth software startup, you’re responsible for justifying the ROI of marketing spend across the programs and campaigns across these channels to leadership.

You use various tools to measure your campaign’s effectiveness across your website, webinars, social media, advertisements, emails, etc. Still, no single source of truth exists, so you go into each to download and combine CSVs, and other data extracts manually. But when you go to run your analysis, Excel crashes. Frustrated, you go to your data team for help, but they have a lengthy request queue and can’t help you for another week.

You don’t have time to wait for them, but you don’t know how to code so you can’t use their BI tool. Ultimately, you decide to aggregate your data from a limited set of tools, knowing it will only give you a part of the customer journey and not enough to justify spending. Sound familiar?

Everyone in business wants to understand which activities make the most critical contributions to successful customer journeys. But spreadsheets weren’t built to accurately measure performance across the dozens of touchpoints companies use to interact with customers – until now.

In the second installment of our Spreadsheet vs. Sigma series, we cover how the spreadsheet is evolving to help business leaders reimagine their analytics workflow and break free from the traditional cycle of high-level dashboards, BI request queues, extensive data modeling, and siloed data extracts. You’ll learn:

  • How businesses use campaign spend attribution to justify and more effectively allocate budgets.
  • Why traditional spreadsheets don’t stack up to the demands of modern analytics and are holding you back.
  • How Sigma transforms the traditional business intelligence workflow and allows non-technical users to freely explore data on their terms using their existing spreadsheet skills.

Campaign Spend Attribution: “Giving Credit Where Credit’s Due”

Campaign spend attribution is the science of determining which marketing tactics contribute to lead generation, pipeline progression, sales, and, ultimately, customer lifetime value.

Attribution models use different analytical techniques to assign the appropriate level of impact, conversion value, or amount of credit to each marketing touchpoint. Every organization has its unique customer journey, buying cycle, and business model, but generally, businesses use spend attribution to:

  • Efficiently allocate budget for advertising, asset creation, events, and tech stack investments
  • Minimize customer acquisition costs
  • Optimize campaigns and accelerate paths to conversions
  • Identify tactics that generate the highest ROI for specific campaigns.

But due to the complexity of attribution, most companies settle for simple first or last touch attribution models. Unfortunately, these only tell a fraction of the complete customer journey, since it’s reported that businesses have as many as 62 touchpoints with customers!

Not knowing precisely where leads are coming from and how they’re converting further down the funnel not only causes misalignment between sales and marketing, but it also makes it impossible to optimize performance strategically. To get an end-to-end view of the customer lifecycle, businesses need to measure every single customer interaction — but spreadsheets can only do so much.

Campaign Spend Attribution: How Traditional Spreadsheets Fall Short

Campaign spend attribution is easier said than done in traditional spreadsheets for three reasons:

  1. Each prospect and customer interaction creates dozens of data points. Over time, this adds up to millions or even billions of rows of data from different sources that must be analyzed at once for accurate insights. Spreadsheets tap out at around a million rows. Aggregating or summarizing data to fit within these limitations prevents marketers from being able to understand the efficacy of individual messages or designs.
  2. Multi-touch campaign spend attribution requires an end-to-end view of the customer journey across each marketing touchpoint, through the sales process, all the way to customer success. Getting a complete picture means joining data across dozens if not hundreds of disparate data sources to capture the full lead journey. This is extremely difficult if not impossible to do in spreadsheets. That’s why most companies settle for first or last-touch campaign attribution models that leave out all the valuable touchpoints in the middle of the customer journey.
  3. Given the customer journey touches so many different departments and teams, coming to a fair and accurate consensus about which activities generate the highest returns is a highly collaborative process with multiple stakeholders. But the only way to share traditional spreadsheets is via email. This not only drastically slows analysis, but is also a recipe for data governance, security, and version control issues.”

How Sigma Gives Business Users a Complete View of the Customer Journey

Sigma’s ability to leverage a cloud data platform to create and analyze multi-touch campaign attribution models gives business users a more complete picture of customer journey than is possible with traditional spreadsheets.

  1. Sigma can seamlessly analyze data sets with hundreds of billions of rows in seconds, meaning marketers never have to aggregate their data. Better yet, Sigma Workbooks allows business users to create visualizations, do rapid “what if?” analyses, and more in the familiar spreadsheet environment they know and love.
  2. Never settle for only a first or last touch campaign attribution model again. With Sigma, business users can join data from sources like SaaS applications, websites, IoT, and more on the fly – including semi-structured data like JSON. As a result, organizations can finally have an accurate, end-to-end view of the customer journey.
  3. Sigma enables business users to share, build on, and repurpose their colleagues’ analyses without worrying about version control issues or ruining their work, increasing productivity and amplifying the value of data insights. This gives teams clarity into which programs generate the highest returns.

Success Story: Yesware cut’s customer acquisition costs in half with Sigma

Yesware, a popular sales productivity platform, had four years of marketing pageview and product trial data they wanted to merge to better understand their customer journey and attribute ROI across marketing efforts. But isolated data sources combined with complicated BI tools made it nearly impossible for the team to surface impactful data insights into why marketing campaigns weren’t producing the desired results.

Yesware needed a way to harness the power of data insights to optimize their funnel and align the efforts of their sales, marketing, and product teams: Cloud analytics was their answer.

Sigma’s Workbook allowed the team to leverage their spreadsheet skills to combine data from, Google Analytics, Salesforce, Zendesk, and Google and Facebook ads for a complete view of user behavior at each stage of the funnel — without writing a single line of code. They can now analyze every touchpoint, past and present, and see the results of every interaction.

Because they had a complete view of the customer journey from first touch to purchase and even through customer lifecycle marketing, the team cut customer acquisition costs in half and dramatically dropped their overall spend.

How to Measure Attribution in Traditional Spreadsheets

  1. Determine which data you can access and which data will work with a spreadsheet (sorry, no JSON or other unstructured data types!)
  2. Download CSVs from ad platforms and marketing tools
  3. Combine CSV and other data extracts manually in spreadsheets
  4. Aggregate the data or limit your sources to avoid causing the spreadsheet to slow down or crash
  5. Try to map your customer journey based on your snapshot data set

How to Measure Campaign Attribution in Sigma:

  1. Check with your BI team to make sure data from all relevant systems (primarily from various SaaS apps) is all consolidated into your company’s cloud data platform.
  2. Parse data in JSON or other non-relational data formats so that they can be analyzed together with relational data. This can be done in a single click.
  3. Join and correlate data about specific customers across data sets using a customer ID, Org IDs, or other keys.
  4. Create a Sigma Workbook to map out all of the interactions by marketing and sales stages (MQL, SAL, SQL, etc.) to visualize and analyze customer journeys in aggregate.

Re-imagine Your Analytics Workflow with Sigma

Traditional spreadsheets simply weren’t built for the needs of modern businesses— but they are still the most beloved and flexible analytics tool ever created.

That’s why Sigma delivers an analytics spreadsheet experience at cloud scale and speed. Business users are able to combine data from multiple, even dozens, of systems tracking touchpoints across the entire customer journey – not just first or last touch. This enables teams to see in much greater detail which campaigns and activities are influencing conversion at each stage of the marketing and sales pipelines.

Are you ready to transform your analytics workflow?

Request a demo or sign up for our virtual hands-on lab to see Sigma in action!