What resources do you need in order to effectively market your company? You need people who can create content, optimize that content, develop and implement campaigns and design a lead generation website. On top of that, you need software for content creation and management, paid and organic search, marketing automation and more.
That can be a hefty expense for a company.
“If you’re doing that, and you can’t tie any of that back to generating revenue for your company, it gets really hard for your CFO to justify the spend or the investment that they’re making into marketing,” New Breed’s Head of Demand Generation Guido Bartolacci says.
While we as marketers know we’re adding value for our companies, quantifying that value is important. The best way to do so is to tie your efforts back to revenue.
“There’s pieces of marketing that don’t necessarily fall under that scope of revenue,” says Guido. “When you think of marketing, sometimes people think about branding, and they think about the color, design, messaging aspects of it, and yes, all of that matters to marketing, and you need to be doing it. But, at the end of the day, that stuff needs to get you to a point where you're able to actually drive revenue for the company.”
Prove the Impact of Your Marketing with Attribution
If you don’t have a system in place for tracking how your prospects move down the funnel, proving the impact of your marketing efforts is easier said than done. But, with the right tools, measuring how customers were nurtured through their buyer’s journey is very doable.
“One of the great things about where we’re at today is a lot of things are trackable. It’s a lot easier to measure marketing today than it was even five–ten years ago,” Guido says. “Especially when it comes to online marketing, every ad that you run, every visit to your website, every person who converts through those channels, all of that is trackable now.”
Most marketing automation platforms can now natively track prospects’ digital body language and push that information into your CRM. The increasing number of marketing automation platforms with this functionality has made tracking the impact of marketing even easier. By merely setting up your tech stack, you can collect the data you need to demonstrate how leads engaged with marketing content throughout their progression toward becoming a customer.
“The easiest way to think about attribution is from the sourcing side: marketing generated this lead that became a customer,” Guido says. “That’s a really easy story to tell.”
For example, someone came to our website because of a blog they saw in the search results. They loved it so much they filled out a form and became a lead. The sales team followed up, and they eventually closed as a customer. You can directly see an action from marketing resulting in a customer who brought in a certain amount of revenue.
The other side of marketing’s impact is influence, where marketing didn’t source the lead, but they contributed to the prospect closing as a customer. That’s harder to track.
For instance, if a lead is sourced from an event and marketing did the follow-up, that marketing content factored into the prospect’s decision to move forward in conversations with that company. You can track prospects’ engagement with those marketing efforts to determine your impact.
Unfortunately, not all marketing efforts are entirely digital or contain links back to your site, making it difficult to measure how those tactics drive results. If a prospect learned about your company through marketing tactics that don’t link back to your marketing automation, like social media content or earned media, you can capture that information by asking “How did you hear about us?” in your forms or initial phone calls.
“If you know you get picked up by news media or that you have earned media opportunities or that you're doing a lot on social media and you want to prove the value of what you’re doing, including that [question] on a form is probably the best way to track it,” Guido says.
Proving the impact of your marketing requires you to understand what tactics you’re utilizing and then building systems to collect information on how they are performing.
How to Do Marketing that Results in Revenue
In addition to measuring how your marketing is contributing to your company, you need to prioritize tactics that contribute to revenue.
“I like thinking about building from the ground up. What’s your core offer? What’s the deepest bottom of the funnel action that could enable someone to become a customer?” Guido says. “Now how can we get people to that point?”
Once you define what you want your marketing to accomplish, work backward through the conversion path you want prospects to follow.
“If you start with that endpoint where that ultimate action that you want them to take is and consider the ways in which you can get them to that point, that’ll be the best way for you to decide which types of activities can help drive people to that point and get us to revenue,” says Guido. “If I am trying to make sure my marketing is resulting in revenue, I’m going to start with the things that are guaranteed, and then once I’m able to prove that this thing works, I’ll move on to the next thing that has a little bit less certainty.”
Before trying something new, ask yourself, “Am I getting enough out of what I’m currently doing to justify investing in something unpredictable?” If you’ve built a plan that’s working, don’t get distracted by something shiny and new — especially if you’re strapped for resources.
“If you’re thinking about adding something new into the mix, or someone asks you to add something new in, if you can get the additional budget for it, great, let’s move forward — as long as it’s something that’s valuable,” Guido says.
If you have unlimited time and resources, why not try everything that could potentially add value for your prospects and your company. But if you, like most companies, are working under limitations and a new tactic won’t help you reach your goals, don’t take resources away from what is working to try a tactic that might not pay off.
Being able to prove that your marketing is contributing to your company’s growth will help you build a business case for continuing your company's current investment into marketing resources and potentially expand it in the future.
Focusing on driving results doesn’t mean you can’t be innovative, and it also doesn’t mean you can’t work on less measurable tactics. Sometimes, to justify those actions, you just need to flip how your thinking about those results: instead of trying to prove the positive impact of those efforts, demonstrate the harm of not doing that work.
For example, if your website is ugly and outdated, but you’re trying to position your company as cutting edge and innovative, your website design is negatively impacting your company.
“If a part of your branding as it exists today doesn’t align with the story you're trying to tell, it means you’re not doing an effective job at telling it and connecting with people,” Guido says.
In that case, it might be difficult to say, “by redesigning our website we’ll increase conversion rates by X percent,” but you can say “people are having trouble trusting us because our website doesn’t visually match the rest of our brand, and we know that based on feedback from sales conversations and user behavior on the website.”
Quinn is a writer and copyeditor whose work ranges from journalism to travel writing to inbound marketing content.