Bonnie Crater, President and CEO of Full Circle Insights, explains why companies struggle to identify what marketing activities impact pipeline opportunities and clarifies what attribution means and what to consider when selecting an attribution model.

She also shares the best piece of advice that she has received as a marketer and the insights she would give to someone starting their career.

Listen to the podcast now via the links below:

Transcript: Interview with Bonnie Crater – Full Circle Insights

Speakers: Mike Maynard, Bonnie Crater

Mike: Thanks for listening to marketing B2B Tech, the podcast from Napier, where you can find out what really works in B2B marketing today.

Welcome to marketing B2B technology, the podcast from Napier. Today, I’m joined by Bonnie Crater, Bonnie is the president and CEO of full circle insights. Welcome to the podcast, Bonnie.

Bonnie: Thank you so much, Mike. It’s great to be here.

Mike: Great to have you on. I mean, the first thing we always like to understand is how our guests got to the position they’re currently in. So can you talk to me a little bit about your career journey, and why you feel full circles the place you want to be now?

Bonnie: Yeah, so I live in California. So I grew up in Silicon Valley. And I always wanted to go into marketing. I found my way at some bigger companies in the beginning Oracle and so on, and then drifted to to startups. But every time I did a marketing job, I was VP of Marketing five times, actually. And every time I had one of those jobs, I always wanted to do a better job at explaining the impact of the marketing activities on pipeline, and revenue. Basically, just really worked better with sales. And so I didn’t really have a very good way of doing this with the technology that was available to me at the time. And that’s really why we built and started full circle is to help people like me, who were really interested in understanding, you know, alright, is any of this stuff actually working? And how well is it working, and which stuff is not working? And that way I can really realign my budget so that I can optimise the activities that we were working on.

Mike: I think it’s interesting, a lot of the best startups are people are effectively building something to solve a problem they’ve had, which, which clearly is something you’ve done here.

Bonnie: Yeah, it was a big problem for us, I, you know, go to a meeting with a bunch of executives. And in the meeting, everybody would be bringing all of their data to the meeting. And I literally have not very much information about how well our marketing was working. And so I became very interested in trying to solve this problem for myself, but also other people that were very interested in solving the problem, too.

Mike: So you’re trying to measure how well marketing is doing? So can you just explain a little more detail what full circle as a product actually does?

Bonnie: Yeah, so we are a software company. So we make software for B2B companies. So this is the business companies. And the software does marketing analytics. It’s a package of software that has a lot of pre configuration to it. So it just makes it easy for marketers to deploy, they can leverage all of the pre built reports and dashboards and get to work right away.

Mike: I mean, I guess effectively, what you’re trying to do is work out which marketing activities generate revenues? Is that what you’re doing? You’re trying to link sales to marketing?

Bonnie: Yeah. And that’s known as attribution typically, is how, what is the impact of all of the different activities on pipeline, and revenue. So salespeople are very interested in pipeline. So the total value of your opportunities, then revenue would be all the close one deals. So sometimes you can do a lot of activities that don’t generate any pipeline. Or maybe you have a particular set of activities or group of activities that you’re doing that generates tonnes of pipeline. But maybe some of that pipeline actually doesn’t close one. So really understanding of the dynamics of all that is what full circle is all about.

Mike: And what IT companies find this this so hard to work out what marketing is actually impacting the pipeline, and what and what marketing is doing nothing.

Bonnie: Well, first of all, there’s a little bit of confusion about this word attribution is want to talk about that a little bit. Because the way we view the world is that there’s really two types of key metrics. One is about a funnel. So this is a an age old concept of a sales funnel. So you have leads that come at the top and deals that come out of the bottom. And then there’s a newer concept that was introduced, I don’t know, whatever, 10 years ago about the concept of attribution, which is really about impact on pipeline and revenue. And these two sets of metrics are really different. The funnel is all about process, right? What’s the volume velocity conversion rate from stage to stage in the funnel, you can see in the data, you can see when things break, for example, you know, leads don’t get passed to sales in a very efficient way. For example, attribution, on the other hand, is all about optimising budgets. So you can see impact on pipeline and revenue. And then you can stack ranks, all of the campaigns that you’re running based on their impact on pipeline and revenue. You might even want to try to look at campaigns in combination, because some campaigns work better when you’re doing other campaigns together. So all of this is a technology that’s all available now. And if I just had this, you know, when I was a VP of Marketing, I’d be such a much better marketer than I, then I was.

Mike: I’m presumably, I mean, when you talk about attribution, you’re applying some sort of algorithm, because marketing can touch people, you know, right at the start at the awareness phase, or it can be an impact to move people through the funnel further down. So, I mean, do you create those algorithms do? Do your customers build them? How does that work?

Bonnie: Yeah. So moving away from funnel metrics, and just focusing on this attribution. And back to your question of why is the fuel find the so hard? The reason is that the the way that you calculate attribution can be different for different companies or different purposes. So attribution, folks that are experts at attribution, they refer to the models, attribution models that are associated with the calculation. And those models take a form. And many people have heard, oh, it’s a, for example, the phrase first touch model. And what that means is, you’re looking at the first time anyone had an interaction with your, your company. And you’re going to give all of the pipeline dollar amount, or all of the close $1 amount to the campaign that is in that first touch. Another model potentially, would be an even spread model, where most, most folks when they’re interacting and purchasing something, it’s complex, they have lots of interactions with a with a company. And so in an even spread model, you’d take the total amount of pipeline or total amount of, of closed one revenue, and you’d split it evenly across all of those touches. So you can see how in a first touch model versus an even spread model, when you would get different results, because the models are just different. Now, why do people find this hard to do? Well, the math is not that hard. But what’s challenging for folks is to try to understand like, well, when should I apply a first touch model? Or when should I apply an even spread model? Well, I think that’s a great thing to talk about. I mean, I think, you know, even when you run Google ads, you see these different attribution models. And Google just says, so use this one is what we recommend. And I think most people possibly just click on the Google recommendation. But what is the thought process behind how you decide on attribution model? It’s really based on your marketing strategy. So say, you’re trying to really put a lot of stuff into top of the funnel, right? That first touch model makes a lot of sense, because basically, what you’re trying to do is you’re trying to run campaigns that put a lot in the top of the funnel, and even spread gives you a better understanding of how the marketing applies to all aspects of the sales cycle. And you might have a last touch model, or something that accelerates the the the credit as it goes to a close one deal if you have a whole bunch of folks in your pipe or ready, and you’re trying to get them close one. So with marketing, it answered the question, what marketing is helping you close one? So it’s all about your marketing strategy? What are you trying to accomplish for the company, and then select models that will reflect that strategy.

Mike: And that sounds like good advice for companies that want to improve their their use of attribution is think about the strategy and match your measurement to what you’re trying to achieve.

Bonnie: 100% Yeah. And so folks, oftentimes will struggle with trying to figure out what what they want to do. And the other aspect of this is don’t run one model, you’ve had to run multiple models at the same time, because you’re because you want to see, not just one, one point of view on your data, you want multiple points of view, so you get a broader understanding of how your marketing is actually working.

Mike: That makes a lot of sense. I mean, I think, you know, one of the things I hear a lot about attribution is attribution isn’t incrementality. And so you might touch someone with marketing, but it may not actually have an impact, even if they buy because they’re gonna buy anyway. I mean, can you talk a little bit about differentiating between attribution, and then deciding what actually increases revenue?

Bonnie: Well, all of our customers use Salesforce. And so in Salesforce, you have deals, which are called opportunities. And those opportunities can be classified in in various, various ways. So, for example, new business or upsell, or cross sell, or perhaps a renewal repeat, kind of kind of opportunity. And so by cutting the data, based on the kind of sale it is, it’s a new business. Yeah, it’s always going to be incremental, because it’s new business.

Mike: That makes a lot of sense. And so you’re taking this short, you’re measuring the impact of marking but you’re also measuring the performance of sales funnels you alluded to earlier. So do you want to talk about what What you’re doing with a sales funnel and how you’re helping that become more efficient, and how that can inform marketers about what they should be doing.

Bonnie: Yeah, so many folks in an enterprise world are very familiar with a group called Forrester or serious decisions. And those folks define methodologies for various funnels. So the one that that folks are very familiar because it’s actually probably a 20 year old idea is the is a person based sales and marketing funnel. And so there was a methodology that was produced was actually patented by this company siriusdecisions, which was purchased by Forrester. And it basically divided the funnel into four or five stages. So inquiry, marketing, qualified lead, sales, accepted leads, sales, qualified lead and closed one, which is a very simplified version of you know, what happens in in complex sales processes. But that became a standard so that that standard is a person based funnel, so you’re following people who work at companies. And what they responded to about 10 years after that the notion of Account Based Marketing became very popular. And so that notion was picked up by a series decisions, and then also now Forrester in their new Forrester B2B revenue waterfall. And so that methodology is what most people are working from, from which characterises an account based marketing funnel. And so that’s not based on people as the construct, it’s based on accounts. Now, what’s cool about doing Account Based Marketing is that sales teams, and sales people that you might work with, which are, are also focused on accounts. So Account Based Marketing is a great way to actually tie the activities of marketing and sales together. And the campaigns marketing funnel has a different set of stages based on, you know, setting a set of target accounts, and so on until it’s a closed one deal.

Mike: I will see you actually Forrester recently been talking about opportunities funnels now where they’re actually splitting the opportunities within companies. So presumably, there’s this view of the perfect funnel, it’s gonna keep changing as we move forward.

Bonnie: Yeah, I think there’s always going to be new invention, and a new optimization about how to actually do B2B marketing in the best way possible. So yeah, for sure, there’s going to be innovation and changes. The reason that this is my interpretation, but the reason that Forrester talks about opportunity based Funnels is that the focus is on getting marketers to think not just about people, and getting people to do things, but get hold counts, and to drive, drive a sales interaction, or an opportunity. So it’s just a slightly modified theme, but person based funnel or, or account based funnel, they both work. And most larger companies actually do a bit of both, you know, they focus on the people, because you have because you people do things. And they focus on accounts, because they’re trying to get more cats.

Mike: That makes a lot of sense. So, you know, when you’ve got, you know, particularly customers, they’re focusing on trying to improve their marketing and their sales to ultimately I guess, sell more products, you know, what do they do, that actually works that helps them improve that sales process?

Bonnie: Well, the the first thing is, is to really understand and measure how much time it takes to go through each stage. And this is reflected in either a person based on campus funnel. So for example, you if you have the time it takes to go from one stage to another takes a really long time, you can see it in the data that is taking a really long time. So this is an opportunity for discussion, you can have meeting with the folks that are supposed to be following up or we’re responsible for taking it to that next stage and discuss, okay, what activities can we do better, so that we can shorten the sales cycle. If you shorten the sales cycle by half, you close twice as much business and in the same amount of time. So velocity is a very key metric that a lot of people don’t really pay that much attention to. But for folks that are really thinking through all this, yeah, focusing on velocity and seeing those the impact of changes that you’re making, in your process, to have things go faster. It can have huge, enormous impact on the company.

Mike: I love that about velocity. And I mean, it’s one of the things we talk about Napier and I think, you know, perhaps sales has been thinking about funnel velocity for a while, but but certainly marketing, I think it’s kind of a new concept, isn’t it that actually the faster you can move prospects through, the better it’s going to be?

Bonnie: Yeah, I can’t comment about how new that new that idea is. But certainly remembering that that’s an important concept and an important way to help help your company. Yeah, that’s a philosophy Sir, a key metric.

Mike: Sounds good. I mean that there’s one other part of the product you’ve got that I’m interested about, you’ve got a product called matchmaker. What’s that? What’s that all about?

Bonnie: Yeah, so that’s designed to solve a problem that lives in offerings, that helps our customers that are interested in Account Based Marketing. And basically, it allows leads that are in Salesforce to be tied to accounts in the box, Salesforce leads are separated from accounts. And so this, this particular product allows you to tie people or representatives leads to accounts. So you can do measurement prior to the opportunity creation.

Mike: No, I mean, that makes a lot of sense. You know, I know that Salesforce is very contact, or lead driven. And it’s not really thinking about opportunity in terms of an account based funnel. So it makes a lot of sense that what you want to do is be able to think in that way. at that early stage, when you’re first gathering contexts.

Bonnie: Yeah, and a full circle, what we do is we build a set set of software that basically creates a data model that allows you to do funnel metrics, whether it be person based, or account based, or all sorts of flexible attribution right inside that Salesforce platform.

Mike: I mean, that’s awesome. I think one of the questions some people ask now, obviously, you know, full circle is targeting enterprise primarily, I mean, is there a solution for SMEs or an approach you’d recommend for smaller businesses that they could take and use?

Bonnie: This is an area that that I’m really interested in right now. Question is, how does a small business do what a big company does, and many, many small businesses use tools like, say MailChimp to send emails, and there’s pretty good reporting inside there. But tying that to tying that to a pipeline and revenue and doing more sophisticated things, that requires other products. So I’m very actually very interested in building one of these, I think it’d be great actually build, build a new tool, a new small business marketing analytics tool that actually does the very sophisticated things that an enterprise class product would do. So anybody who wants to, to share their ideas with me, I’m eager to build one, you can just send me an email Bonnie at full circle

Mike: That’s awesome. I know, I know, there’s a lot of small businesses going. Yeah, I’d love to know which bit of marketing budget I’m spending is actually working in which bit isn’t. So that sounds great. Moving on. I mean, I feel I have to ask about AI at the moment. It’s obviously the technology everyone’s talking about. You mentioned earlier, and it’s quite unusual. You said, you know, it’s maths attribution is maths. Whereas I think, you know, lots of people like, why should be AI? You know, do you see AI coming in and changing what you do significantly? Or do you think it is more mass that is known and understood?

Bonnie: So AI is a topic that’s been evolving for many, many years, the concept of, of making a computer really understand, and draw inferences and things like that, like people do. And there’s certain cool advances that have been made over the last, say, 10 years. And it really boils down to your data, right? How good is the data? If you have poor information to draw inferences from? If you’re human, or you’re, or you’re an AI machine, you’re gonna draw the wrong inferences. So first of all, start with the data, making sure that that’s as best as you can make it, no one’s data is perfect, but give it a go. And then if you have enough data, so that’s another bit of this is you have to have enough information to draw the draw the inferences that you want. A lot of AI in marketing is about, you know, next best action. So what should a marketing person or salesperson do when a potential prospect has taken certain actions? What should that be? And if you have enough data, you can identify patterns that are fairly specific, and you can do things like that. So that’s very much where where we are right now. But it’s for many B2B companies don’t have enough data to really draw the kinds of inferences that you would want, B2C companies have lots and lots of data. So Well, we’ll see how these how the algorithms play out. And whether we can be very successful at applying them to be to be

Mike: interesting. I mean, that’s kind of a watch this space. And, you know, that leads on to one of the questions we’d like to ask all I guess, which is, you know, if you have a young person who comes to you and says they’re interested in marketing, with all the potential change going on, would you say to them, you know, marketing is the place to be or would you say, Yeah, you know, it could be a tough industry, what would be your view? Oh, my,

Bonnie: my view is marketing is great. It’s particularly good for folks that really want to use both sides of your brain, so your left side and your right side. And you also, if you also have a real need to have a lot of diversity, a lot of different kinds of things that you’re doing every day. Marketing is a great job because The world is changing, the markets are changing, your products are changing, everything is always changing. And so there’s a lot of new and fun things to work on. And if you need new and fun things, marketing is a great job.

Mike: So awesome. And then following on from that, you know, you’ve obviously had a really long successful career in marketing. But I’m interested in what’s the best bit of advice you’ve ever been given about marketing?

Bonnie: You know, I think it really came a long, long time ago, and just kind of remembering the purpose of marketing. What is the purpose of marketing, if you’re a B2B market, the purpose of marketing is to make your offering really easy to buy. And also make it easy to sell. So if you ever forget about what you’re trying to do in your marketing job, that’s a really good thing to remember. Just to go back to that very simple thing. Yes. Is this is what I’m doing making my offering easier to buy? And or is it also making it easier to sell?

Mike: I love that very simple, very good way to you know, focus on what you’re trying to do. That’s brilliant. Bonnie, I really appreciate your time. Is there anything you feel we should have covered that we haven’t that you want to talk about?

Bonnie: Yeah, thanks for thanks for asking that question. So the the new hot thing is to do Account Based Marketing. And Account Based Marketing is awesome, because it helps you bring together companies, both sales and marketing, you know, talking from the same page. I think it’s also important as as you’re doing, if you’re taking on this marketing analytics project, with your sales team, it’s really important to make sure that your data is in one spot so that everybody has access to the same information. Oftentimes, disagreements arise, because sales team might be working from one set of data. And marketing has working from a separate set of data. But if you put all the data in one spot, and make sure that everyone has access, and you’re transparent about the information, it facilitates Much, much tighter sales and marketing relationships and can make create great success for your company.

Mike: That’s amazing advice. And I’ve actually I’ve certainly seen that where you’ve got two views of, of what’s going on. So I love that. I really appreciate your time on the podcast, Bonnie, it’s been great. I know you mentioned your email address before. But you know, if people want to contact you and find out more, either about full circle, or they want to partner with you to build a new product for SMEs, can you just remind people that the best way to contact you would be

Bonnie: Yeah, you can go to Or if you have any great small business marketing analytics ideas, just send me an email Bonnie at full circle

Mike: Bonnie, thank you very much. It’s been a great conversation. I really appreciate it. Thank you, Mike. Thanks so much for listening to marketing B2B Tech. We hope you enjoyed the episode. And if you did, please make sure you subscribe on iTunes, or on your favourite podcast application. If you’d like to know more, please visit our website at Napier B2B dot com or contact me directly on LinkedIn.