For marketers, it’s the best of times and the worst of times. We’re becoming more involved in the pre-sale process as each buyer’s primary tour guide on their journey. That means our value to an organization is increasing, as well.
Strategies are more complex, campaign design depends on data, and paid advertising is one of the most effective ways to rise above the noise and reach audiences in our over-saturated market. To properly execute such calculated efforts, marketing teams require multifunctional, integrated platforms, tools, applications and, ultimately, a bigger budget.
The good news is, investments in marketing technology are increasing, and defending these buys to the C-Suite isn’t as hard as it might have been just five years ago. But, in the words of the Notorious B.I.G., mo money mo problems.
Greater investment in tech means mounting pressure for marketers to prove just how much return their efforts are providing. The data that’s available with marketing technology and it’s inevitable connection to revenue means that marketing spends are more strictly tracked than before. We have a responsibility to utilize the most effective channels in order to efficiently utilize the budgets we control.
It’s a tough spot to be in sometimes, no doubt, but the best way to showcase marketing ROI is to illustrate its impact on lead generation, sales closes and revenue gain.
And that’s where the trouble begins. Marketing teams, in my experience, have been well ahead of the technology curve in most organizations. They’ve led the charge as proponents of smarter, more efficient marketing using the right technology, tech that can impact every part of an organization.
Yet, marketing’s fate often isn’t in its own hands. In the end, it’s the sales team that must close the leads and create the revenue that can be traced back to specific marketing efforts.
Here’s a good example of what I’m talking about: If marketing requires support from sales to prove ROI, just ensuring proper lead hand-off isn’t enough. Sales needs to utilize CRM in a specific way to ensure marketing efforts are properly sourced. I’ve heard from many a marketer that their biggest challenge now isn’t getting executive buy-in for their efforts, but rather getting sales to understand their role in the grand scheme.
Marketing and sales alignment can only be reached when a framework consisting of data-driven tools and practices is in place to facilitate information tracking and sharing in real time.
To build this infrastructure, companies need:
A marketing platform (MP) for the automation and management of lead generation campaigns
Customer relationship management (CRM) software for tracking and measuring sales activities
Complete integration between the two softwares
When properly integrated, the two softwares create a closed-loop reporting system that tracks and analyzes key marketing and sales metrics. But for reports to demonstrate true ROI, both marketing and sales must contribute to and fully adopt the softwares.
Marketing must share:
Lead intelligence, including each lead’s website activity, campaign engagement, download history, social media interaction, etc.
Lead alerts, including email messages, important notifications (like when a hot lead re-visits the website) and trigger actions (like downloading an eBook or requesting a consultation)
Sales must share:
Touchpoint histories for each lead, including a record of email and/or phone call attempts and connections
Lead status updates, including the stage of each deal from first contact to proposal to a closed deal
Closed won deal amount, including those for new customers and existing customers
The information collected through the integration of a marketing platform and CRM software feeds into highly detailed reports that illustrate: the number of leads your marketing efforts have generated; which campaigns drew them in; how many of those leads qualified for sales; how many converted into a sale; and how much that sale generated in revenue for the company. These are the metrics that will raise CEO eyebrows and (hopefully) earn a larger marketing budget.
The great hope with all of this connected data is that marketing and sales won’t find themselves at odds like they used to. But I recently sat in on a phone call with a sales lead and a marketing lead and realized the conflict was shifting. It’s no longer simply about if leads are good or bad, it’s that marketing can’t prove that leads, campaigns and channels are good or bad without information—a CRM data—from sales. This is where marketing departments have to evolve.
Marketing teams require a technology/operations person who can liaise with sales personnel and CRM managers to ensure the ROI data is being collected. He or she is an essential resource for the setting and tracking of company wide engagement, not just marketing data, that proves marketing made a contribution to the organization. And because of that, this person should be responsible for coaching internal stakeholders on the importance of using the technology correctly.
Is this a marketing role? By default, it has to be. The investment in marketing technology means a person on that team has to advocate for the efforts, including ensuring ROI is captured. That’s the promise of the technology, but it’s up to the humans using it to make sure it’s kept.
With proper connection between platforms and teams, data runs full circle and informational gaps are bridged. This enables marketers to see how their efforts are directly impacting revenue. With this insight, they can also prove marketing ROI with hard numbers and statistics that will appeal most to the C-suite.