Connect to Revenue for Marketing ROI

Create an indispensable marketing team and safeguard your budget by making the most of your data.

Here’s how to get creative so you’ll never be caught off-guard when your CEO asks, ‘How does marketing help us close deals?’ Safeguard your budget by answering boldly, in the language of your CEO: ‘We are a revenue accelerator.’ You’ve already got the data you need.

Like everyone else in the c-suite, marketing executives are busy and overwhelmed—but we lead the one domain that feels most resistant to quantitative measurement.

Too often, marketing reporting is 1) challenging to implement; and 2) underwhelming in its ability to link revenue to activities. We’d all love to be able to point at a campaign, a social channel, or website and communicate how our creativity and execution helped to close more deals. When we can’t, we put our budgets in jeopardy.

Getting caught off-guard without tangible results

I remember being in the room with a massive electronics company who’s a client of ours, and watching as their marketing exec reported on their team’s contributions in the way marketing always does: with a 30-slide deck detailing all the cool stuff they produced. The CEO said, “This is all nice, and that doesn’t surprise me. We pay you because we assume you know what you’re doing. What we’re interested in is this: how do these things you’re doing generate revenue?”

It’s an embarrassing moment too many marketers can relate to: being unprepared to illustrate specifically how a marketing initiative has made a difference, beyond show and tell.

Harvard Business Review references a study that found 80% of CEOs do not trust marketing executives—while less than 10% feel that lack of trust with their CIOs and CFOs. Marketing, perhaps by no fault of its own, seems disconnected from the financial realities of the company (Fournaise Group, July 2012). With these sobering stats, what can Marketing do to prove itself indispensable to the company? Can we transform the perception of Marketing from being seen as a cost center to being seen as a profit center?

We’ve got good news. You may be closer to demonstrating your team’s performance than you think.

‘Keep-it-simple’ secrets of showing Marketing’s value 

1 | You may already have what you need to measure and prove how you’re doing.

Most companies already have the data tracking and IT systems needed to report on the return on marketing investment. You just need the connective tissue to process that data and compile it into an easily-understood picture.

2 | Get ready to roll up your sleeves and work with Sales.

Once you have access to the data, there are likely a few gaps to fill—places in the tracking chain where data is not well-connected—before you’ll have a useful picture of marketing’s ROI. Addressing these small disconnects is often straightforward, and can have a big impact.

For example: the most common data disconnect is on the Sales side. At that handoff point in the funnel, marketing loses the thread of its involvement. It has a connection to the lead, not the opportunity. Retain the source on the opportunity, and retain the record of marketing’s effect. Then, you can answer your CEO’s questions about what you do, and why it matters, in terms they understand: which marketing activities created some of our biggest opportunities?

3 | Reporting doesn’t need to be fancy, or fully automated. Stitch it together to get that revenue number.

Start simple. Once you’ve given the c-suite an initial taste of what insight you can pull, you can make the case for more budget—for custom apps, deeper data analysis, or IT resources. The more you invest in reporting, the more you’ll learn (and adjust for better results). But right now? Just get started. Get a data guy to pull-together a simple report by custom-building a SQL database to consolidate data from the website, marketing system, and sales system. You can even do this with pivot tables in Excel, turning 100,000 rows of data into a clickable cross-reference of any key categories—accounts, opportunities, and marketing activities—to tabulate the results and showcase revenue contribution.

Drive Revenue with Reporting

Connect your marketing investments to revenue outcomes.

Explore Attribution Reporting Capabilities >

As Marketers, we know it’s no longer enough to boast about the brand. The c-suite needs to see that we’re connected to the financial reality—the goals and progress—of the company. Most of us know how to increase exposure, awareness, and even leads. But what we need to do is manage expectations. We need to be clear on how our strategies and campaigns are hauling in leads that hit the top line. And we need to make it all clear in a language that resonates with the executive suite.

Get creative so you’ll never be caught off-guard when someone asks, What is marketing’s contribution to revenue? When you can produce and defend that number, you’re in an enviable position. The good news: this position may not be as far from where you are now as you might think.

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