No pun intended. Well, perhaps there is. Years ago those were the words of a boss of mine. He announced my arrival at the company as the ‘chief colouring in officer’. He never ‘got’ marketing. In his experience marketing had been limited to life as a cost centre. It is true that marketing costs money, but in today’s world, we, like other departments, have to justify our existence and show return on investment. It's all about the metrics.
So, when it comes to showing a return, what should we measure? Which metrics should we be collecting, analysing and promoting to our superiors?
You can measure click thrus, downloads, views, Tweets, audience size, demos and trials etc. but the real measure for all our marketing activity comes down to marketing pipeline contribution. How many of the opportunities in pipeline (and what value) can be attributed to a marketing campaign, program or activity?
If you’re not measuring this at the moment, where do you start? What are your peers doing? What’s best practice? What is achievable if you’ve never tracked before and should you look at historical data? Below are three areas to explore to help get you started:
- Understand your current metrics – Do you know how many of your marketing qualified leads (MQL) convert to opportunities currently? Can you track a lead from capture to closure? (Closed loop marketing). Do you regularly review the leads that have been handed over to sales? No matter what your CRM system is, it’s time to get to grips with the reporting and to understand your current metrics. If you can track this back through past activities and programs, while a lot of work, it will be worth the effort to see today’s contribution.
- Align marketing with sales – Have you agreed what an MQL looks like and at what point you will handover to sales? Do you understand the reasons your sales team reject MQLs? What do you do with them if they are rejected? What’s the rate of conversion from MQL to SAL? And then to pipeline opportunity and close? We all know the industry standards, but what is your reality? And can you both agree how to move forward?
- Set objectives – Agree measureable objectives for all activities with your sales team and have clear milestones for review, no go and go breaks in the program. And make sure that you act on any discrepancies or anomalies in your results.
Measuring the return on investment might seem like a thankless task to begin with, especially if you have not been tracking the progress of leads before. Understanding the progress of a lead from capture to close will give you insight into the success of your marketing programs, into the customer journey, and what it takes to show marketing pipeline contribution. We’re no longer just colouring in.
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