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Linking marketing activity to bottom line results has always been problematic for B2B marketers. The return from tradeshows, adverts in trade magazines, brochures, and breakfast seminars, is hit-and-miss. Spend can be justified on the basis of one or two lucky breaks. Justifying investment on traditional marketing spend is difficult. As a result, marketing is often viewed as a function somewhat isolated from sales performance. And without being able to demonstrate a measurable contribution to sales at board level, marketing often lacks credibility.

According to Forbes and MarketShare Partners, “Marketing departments are finding themselves under increasing pressure to justify their spending, prove the effects of their marketing campaigns, and demonstrate program success… or risk losing
their budgets.”

So where’s the promise of marketing accountability? Well, it starts with digital marketing. Spend on marketing activity through digital channels can be quantified. The tools used in digital demand generation let you track and record your interactions with your buyers. Every click and contact can be traced showing their contribution to the buyer’s journey from lead to prospect to sale. To make this happen, you need to connect your email campaign and pay-per-click results to your website monitoring tools and link this to a lead nurturing process and lead tracking system. Viewed as a whole, this will show you exactly what return yourdigital marketing activity produces. You can also integrate your traditional marketing efforts so that you can see each customer’s journey across all your marketing channels. With the right process in place, you will see what interaction helped to move every enquiry into a lead, lead into a prospect, and prospect into a sale. As a result you will be able to measure the results of your efforts in terms of buyer awareness, sales-ready opportunities and contribution to revenue. The results of your marketing spend can be quantified, delivering the promise of marketing accountability.

If marketing is accountable, your company’s sales funnel will become much more transparent. You can identify what tactics are producing the best return, and you can gauge the return. You can be more precise about the status of prospects in the sales funnel and the likelihood and timelines for conversion to a sale. Fulfilling the promise of marketing accountability will benefit your company in the following ways:

• It gives you an accountable pipeline from the earliest stages of marketing activity
• It gives you better visibility on future income
• It helps you form a more confident view of which leads will result in sales
• It lets you work out what spend is required at the top of the sales funnel to keep up or improve the numbers at the bottom of the funnel
• It lets you measure the cost of generating leads
• It allows you to invest with clarity in marketing, knowing what the return will be on incremental investments.

We’ll look at how the promise of marketing accountability might change the role of the Chief Marketing Officer in our next blog onmarketing accountability.