September 14, 2021

The Basics of Closed-Loop Reporting

Are you relatively new to the world of closed-loop reporting but want to be able to consistently implement it with your team? Or are you unsure of what closed-loop reporting is, and you are curious about what value it may present? For this blog, we've boiled everything down to the basics, focusing on the core of closed-loop reporting, its value, and even how to implement closed-loop reporting in Hubspot!

What is Closed-Loop Reporting?

At its core, closed-loop reporting is all about "closing the loop" between the data that marketing is collecting — usually in a marketing automation system — and the data that the sales team is collecting, generally seen in a CRM. By connecting your best and brightest marketers with customer insights gleaned through the customer acquisition process, they can be fr more strategic in their marketing initiatives. It could look like exploring a new lead source, abstaining from marketing on a specific platform, or anything in-between.

In summary, closed-loop reporting, and by extension marketing, share a wealth of vital sales and marketing insights in a way that allows your teams to support each other and achieve better results with minimal investment.  

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What's the Value of Closed-Loop Reporting?

The value of closed-loop reporting cannot be overlooked. It is one of the most powerful tools that inbound marketers can utilize. It allows marketers to focus and report on their contribution to the business pipeline instead of solely top-of-the-funnel lead generation. There is minimal value to bringing in top-of-funnel (TOFU) leads that newer convert (even if it looks good on the marketing report).

Closed-loop reporting can contribute to aligning your teams to push toward those key ROI initiatives that can get lost in the shuffle of team-specific agendas. According to the Content Marketing Institute, only 21% of B2B marketers are successful at tracking ROI — a shift to closed-loop reporting is a huge step in solving that challenge.

Closed-loop reporting also serves a crucial role in ensuring operational efficiency. Conducting marketing audits is an essential but intensive process that requires cooperation and effort from all marketing and marketing-adjacent teams. By preemptively aligning your marketing and sales team with closed-loop reporting, you know that all your efforts intrinsically support each other. This provides valuable insight for your audit and will likely result in more favorable audit results!  

How To Implement Closed-Loop Reporting

Once you see the value of closed-looping reporting and closed-loop marketing, the implementation process can seem daunting. However, there are actually just five key measures your team can take to begin the process of effective closed-loop reporting.

1. Focus on the first touch

With closed-loop marketing, it becomes much easier for your marketing team to identify which sources bring in the highest quality leads. It allows them to focus their efforts on those channels and engage with those leads to start moving them through the sales funnel appropriately. This is called a first-touch attribution model, where all revenue credit is given to the original source to show your ROI. For those just getting started with closed-loop reporting, this type of attribution model is a great place to start and a great model to uphold throughout your organizational evolution.  

2. Analyze and plan for success

Successfully implementing closed-loop reporting requires analysis of key information from the sales team in order to be effective. For example, looking at the data in the report below we can see that direct traffic is our top-performing channel, followed by referrals, email marketing, organic search, and finally, social media when it comes to converting contacts to customers. 

As a marketing team looking at this report, I can then focus my efforts on building relationships with other influential sites in my space to earn new referral links. My team can also continue to invest in email marketing and strategies such as blogging to build organic search rankings and test social media to work to improve traction and conversion rates. In this way, a closed-loop report shows me clearly where, as a marketer, I should invest my time and budget.

Another great way to look at closed-loop reporting is to examine the first conversion driving the most business. For example, a great white paper or a webinar to guide which types of content are most effective.

One of the best things about closed-loop reporting is that it takes the guesswork out of creating new marketing materials and the decisions you make with future campaigns. It gives you the ability to use actual data and statistical analysis to influence the direction of your next campaign.

What's even better about closed-loop reporting is that it effectively allows you to predict the future. The insights you gain from closed-loop reporting let you analyze past and present conversion rates, giving you visibility into patterns that occur with your prospects and helping you to plan for those changes with your future campaigns. Taking advantage of this tool can help you direct your business toward profitable opportunities that contribute to ROI.

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3. Understand your audience

Closed-loop reporting efforts ultimately feed into closed-loop marketing, which is where you will start to see the greatest impact on your ROI. With closed-looped marketing, you gain insight into your target audiences' actions and behaviors, showing you exactly how they are interacting with your content and what content pieces and topics are generating results. You'll also be able to see the linear attributions that are driving leads down the funnel.

A large part of inbound marketing is understanding your buyer personas. Before developing any inbound marketing strategy, we always make it a point to identify who we are targeting, what their challenges/pain points are, and how we can provide solutions that meet their needs. But as time goes on, our buyer personas can change. Their industry might be evolving, and therefore their business challenges change along with it. As with all aspects of marketing, flexibility is the key to sustained success.

Most businesses rarely revisit their personas, but that could be a wasted opportunity. Fortunately, closed-loop marketing can give us insight into these changes. Take the time to dive into your lead history, and you might notice there are pain points that your prospects are exhibiting by their behavior, reflected in what blog posts they're reading and what white papers they're downloading.

It’s also beneficial to do your own outside segment monitoring to identify things like new marketing channels developing that are underutilized. Whenever your marketing department unearths these insights, ensure your reporting accounts for them, so you can monitor their contribution to sales. Accounting for changing customer behavior will help you stay ahead of the curve and build more effective, on-target content in the future.

The final benefit of closed-loop marketing is that you can identify the exact steps your prospects take before becoming a customer. As a marketer, this type of intelligence will help you identify areas where your lead nurturing could be stronger or show you that your sales team actually should be reaching out to a lead sooner in the buying process than they currently are.

4. Identify your goals

At the risk of preaching to the choir, it is worth reinforcing that setting marketing and sales goals are important steps in the marketing process. Without goals, how are you measuring success? 
With this infrastructure, you can set your goals based on metrics further down the funnel than visits or leads and instead look at MQLs, opportunities, and customers.

These metrics can then be rolled up into visitor-to-lead conversion rate and our lead-to-customer conversion rate, which we saw on the HubSpot Sources report. By keeping a close eye on these numbers, we are able to see (almost in real-time) what is working and what isn't. Was that the right offer to promote after that blog post? Did sending that email last week generate as many leads as we normally see?

The data you can gather from your closed-loop reporting will show you all this. And what's even better is that you can adjust your goals when necessary to produce the best results and continue to improve your conversion rates. It will also allow you to compare current and past performances.

5. Spend your marketing budget wisely

We know that you don't have an unlimited marketing budget.

So, how do you know where to invest your money? By leveraging closed-loop reporting data, you will be able to identify what channels are generating results for you-more specifically, what channels you should be investing in that will actually help grow your business. If you can understand which channels are bringing in the most leads and revenue for your organization, you can stop wasting your money on tactics that aren't providing a return on your marketing investment. Eliminate the weak links and start focusing on developing content across the channels that will continue to help you succeed.

Optimize Marketing Attribution Reporting

Hopefully, the insights, tips, and tricks in this blog have provided you with enough knowledge to successfully implement closed-loop reporting into your marketing and sales team dynamics. Aligning the teams that constitute your organizational sales success is a surefire way to not only see improved ROI, but also diminish duplicate work and organizational redundancies. Plus, what marketing team doesn’t love more insights? 

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Tag(s): Reporting & ROI

Olivia Perek-Clark

Olivia Perek-Clark leads New Breed’s Learning and Development team. She is a seasoned Demand Generation and Inbound Marketing Strategist turned team trainer who has a passion for developing systems and content that help other New Breeders do their best work for our clients.


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