Busting the Myths of Self-Reported Attribution: A B2B Guide to True Marketing Insights

In marketing, knowledge is power, and understanding your past results allows you to plan better. Marketing attribution enables B2B SaaS companies to determine how marketing strategies contribute to conversions, sales, and revenue. This helps to identify the variables and touchpoints that drive the most ROI by inspiring their target audience to take action.

Attribution helps to account for every past interaction and use the results of the interaction to make informed decisions. It involves assessing the current marketing strategies and making changes to impact your brand’s strategy.

Marketing attribution is vital for most marketers, with 76 percent saying they have or will have the capacity to use it in one year.

Self-Reported Attribution

Most B2B SaaS companies need help to measure their marketing efforts’ effectiveness. As a result, they turn to self-reported attribution.

Self-reported attribution measures the effectiveness of marketing efforts based on customer feedback and prospects. It involves asking prospects and customers how they heard about your business and using the response to attribute marketing success to specific tactics and channels. But how reliable is self-reported attribution?

The “how did you learn about us” field is a common practice for B2B SaaS companies. The field includes a textbox or drop-down list that allows them to select the channel that directed them to your website. However, this may lead to inaccurate attribution because some leads may choose the first option for speed.

Moreover, the user may believe they found your website via a social post while they found it via a paid ad. This will also lead to incorrect attribution. The conversion path is complex, and though the first click is important, it might not efficiently track your impact. This makes building your marketing attribution system around a drop-down list or text box unreliable.

Another limitation of self-reported attribution is that it ignores cognitive biases, like recency bias. For instance, you could see a specific website’s content for years, but the recency bias will make you believe that you heard about the website from the last ad you saw.

Marketing attribution affected by cognitive biases may cause B2B SaaS companies to make flawed marketing decisions.

Attribution Narrative

An attribution narrative takes every data point as a contributing factor to a data story. It incorporates clear and unclear details as well as broad and fine details. The Narrative aligns all this information to create a complete customer journey.

A narrative attributes the impact of each marketing activity into a matrix. The matrix’s axes are:

  • High confidence vs. low confidence
  • Quantitative vs. qualitative

An attribution narrative enables B2B SaaS companies to effectively measure various marketing efforts because it considers the successes and failures of both quantitative and qualitative data sources. As a result, it builds a rich picture of the company’s current marketing performance, enabling it to make informed decisions.

How to Create an Attribution Narrative for Your B2B SaaS Company

An attribution narrative incorporates information from multiple sources, including:

  • Ad platforms
  • Social media engagement
  • Web traffic analysis
  • CRM data
  • Community engagement

The first step is to classify the sources into:

1. Key narrative: High confidence and qualitative signals, e.g., demos, form fields, and self-reported on calls.

2. Supporting points: Low confidence and qualitative signals, e.g., comments on social media posts.

3. Key reports: High confidence and quantitative, e.g., data on ad platforms.

4. Supporting metrics: Low confidence and quantitative, e.g., email marketing engagement.

This classification allows the company to gather and analyze marketing data.

The second step is to develop a narrative.

A marketer who leans on quantitative signals will add supporting points and supporting metrics to their key report. This will help test the quality of reporting. Conversely, marketers who trust qualitative signals will add supporting metrics and key narratives to key reports to get a complete view of what’s working.

Combining these models provide complete information that supports the marketing and sales strategies of B2B SaaS companies.


Self-reported attribution has significant limitations and biases, which make it reliable and may lead to flawed decisions. Instead, B2B SaaS companies need an attribution narrative that incorporates all marketing efforts and data to provide a complete picture of their marketing strategies.

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