You’ve implemented inbound techniques into your marketing strategy. Your buyer personas are dialed in, you’ve created content that directly addresses their needs and more and more leads that are a great fit for your product have started to pour in. You’re ready to flip the switch and crank up your inbound efforts. But when you head to get sign-off from your CFO, she’s not so gung-ho.
As frustrating as that can be, it’s likely you’re not framing your marketing efforts in a way that fully resonates with your CFO. She’s not from another planet — though often it might seem like it — there’s just a good chance marketing represents a black hole in her mind. Money goes in, and she never sees any quantifiable return come back out.
With inbound, you have the ability to accurately tie all of your marketing efforts directly to the revenue they generate. But you still need to present that attribution in a manner that addresses your CFO’s main concerns. Here are few tips to better prove the value of your efforts and hopefully make that next conversation go a little smoother.
1. Rent vs. Own
Ask your CFO this question. Do you want to rent or own?
The core of any successful inbound marketing strategy is creating quality content assets. You own them. And each piece of content will continue to generate new visitors and leads for many years to come. Take a look at this blog post we published back in January 2014. This year to date it’s generated 7,726 views, with 89 percent of that traffic coming from organic search.
Year to date, our blog has accounted for 45 percent of all our leads. And those results are largely attributed to the continued performance of our high traffic blog posts (many of which are 2–3 years old). Inbound momentum allows our lead generation website to keep chugging right along.
Compare that to other marketing channels, say pay-per-click advertising. While it certainly has its benefits, you’re essentially renting a space to reach your desired audience. And you’ll have to keep paying that rental fee to generate new leads — indefinitely.
Bottom line, your CFO wants to see a lower cost per lead as you drive company growth. That’s a pretty tall task if you’re continually paying a flat rate to get your message in front of prospects. But as you build up content assets with your inbound efforts, you start to gain leverage. Cost per lead will go down over time, and lead count will continue to rise in a predictable fashion. That’s certainly something that will get your CFO’s attention.
2. Measurable ROI
So how exactly do you prove marketing is driving revenue? Nothing speaks louder to your efforts than accurate reporting. We’ve integrated InsightSquared into our growth stack for executive level and leading indicator “this is how things are going” reporting. Let’s take a look at a few specific executive level reports that'll be especially meaningful to your CFO.
Marketing’s contribution to pipeline
With this report you can compare the amount of pipeline value that comes from your marketing efforts versus sales. Your marketing pipeline contributions are defined by the opportunity value that’s been generated from leads that converted into opportunities. A revenue number tied directly to your marketing efforts is certainly speaking your CFO’s language.
Marketing’s contribution to bookings
This report looks at which sources are generating the most bookings (by volume and value) within a selected period of time. This should be your go-to report to prove the revenue generated from that webinar you ran 6 months ago. And we think it'll give the green light to run a few more in the future.
While we suggest integrating a reporting tool like InsightSquared into your growth stack, you might also need to turn to some good old fashioned ratios. LTV:CAC is one that’ll especially resonate with your CFO. This ratio looks at the expected lifetime value for an average customer compared to what it'll cost to acquire that customer. You’d like that ratio to look something like 4:1. That’d mean that for every dollar of marketing spend, you’re generating $4 in value. Your CFO will take that ROI any day of the week.
3. Full Transparency
Our last tip will help you demonstrate that your marketing and sales teams are closely aligned toward the same goals. Develop a Service Level Agreement in tandem with your sales team to set clear expectations as to how many leads your team will generate per month and how the sales reps will follow up with them. There’s no better way to prove to your CFO that you’ve fully committed to driving growth through your inbound marketing efforts than making yourself expressly accountable.
Adam is a Senior Web Strategist at New Breed with a focus on inbound best practices, conversion rate optimization and web strategy.