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Executives: Here’s How to Drive Marketing ROI

Kelly Waltrich

February 15, 2023

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Nope, not clickbait. This is a real breakdown of the underlying reasons why you’re frustrated with your marketing efforts. We see it all the time – a business invests heavily into a marketing lead funnel, but then months later wonders why the results aren’t better.

This undoubtedly raises concerns that marketing efforts could be falling short. (Let the finger pointing begin.) Before executives make decisions, metrics are splashed out on the table, lead funnels are examined, and sales teams are questioned. At the end of the circus comes a conclusion: it must have been the marketing. [Que theatrical sting: ‘Dun, Dun, Dun.’]

Despite all this, your rockstar marketing team continues to report phenomenal metrics on click-throughs, new engagement requests and booming web traffic. It looks like they’re KILLING IT. But if the business is still missing its revenue goals, something is clearly amiss. Is marketing really to blame? Maybe.  But maybe not – here’s how you can tell.

The Marketing ROI Dilemma

Here’s my favorite conversation: “How do I measure the value of marketing?” Rightfully so, executives want to understand the cost-benefit analysis. Do the results surpass the outlay enough to justify the expense not only in dollars, but also in the production hours and opportunity cost? To answer this effectively, we need to return to the initial goal and the processes that were supposed to get us there.

This question must be asked relentlessly from beginning to end of any campaign. But here’s the reality: most firms are doing it backwards. They set out with high hopes, run like crazy to execute, and then a few months later they review the results. This doesn’t work for a variety of reasons.

Marketing, more so than most departments, also relies heavily on other teams to properly execute strategies. Even with a suite of allies, a marketing leader requires that A, B, C, D, and E and F, all happen in complete harmony.

Marketing’s Allies:

  • C-Suite
  • Customer Service
  • Product Development
  • Public Relations
  • Sales
  • Technology

Even assuming the processes and teams are working well together, it doesn’t mean there’s not a greater underlying issue hindering your revenue performance. It’s time to dig deep.

Maybe You’re Asking the Wrong Questions

Marketing isn’t a band-aid, it’s a central component to driving company profits. If you’re relying on marketing to fix a broader, underlying issue…keep reading.

Used effectively, marketing procures qualified leads and delivers them (piping hot) to sales leaders. In order for that to happen though, a number of factors need to occur in constant, synchronized succession. So before you throw out your existing marketing strategies, executives should consider where else challenges may exist in your product, technology, sales and customer service processes.

Hey, There’s a Hole in Your…

Shoring up these gaps now is essential to quantifying your marketing efforts later. Turning on the lead flow will only temporarily mask your larger problem. Before greenlighting your marketing strategy, you’ve got to understand the factors that could hinder its success. Kick-off your intentional marketing campaign only once you’ve reviewed the entire process, asked the hard questions, and believe that the only thing between you and increased revenue streams is a need for customers to be more aware and willing to purchase your products or services.

Just what the [#$%&] is going on?

Consider these common scenarios:

  • Leads are going stale in the funnel.

Despite driving qualified, ready-to-purchase prospects into the sales cycle, there’s a lag in capturing revenue. This could show up more obviously in longer close times, but also with minimal notes in your CRM, fewer sales calls, poorly written follow-up emails, or a variety of other sales issues that essentially stack up to improper training. No amount of leads from marketing will solve the problem of an ineffective sales process or team.

  • Product is missing a competitive advantage.

In an industry facing rapid expansion, businesses need to be evolving their product to serve the growing consumer demand. If you aren’t focused on constant improvements and investing in growth, know that your competitors are gaining the upper hand. Marketing can bolster your messaging and attract more eyeballs, but if the product itself can’t stand on its own, there’s nothing marketing can do to hide its flaws.

  • Ineffective dashboards and integrations.

Marketing has become far more scientific over the past decade. With all key technologies linked behind the scenes (from content platforms, to social media, to CRMs) there are dozens of metrics that can be created to monitor performance across activities within your firm. When these integrations and dashboards break, or never exist in the first place, it becomes more like a guessing game. Not investing here is a sure way to set your sales and marketing teams up for failure. If this is a gap in your current processes, resolving it should take immediate precedence. You can’t optimize what you can’t measure. 

  • Capacity constraints are hindering performance.

Especially today, our industry is not immune to the national talent shortage. If you’re seeing weak metrics from any department, consider if this is a talent issue. Are the right people in the right chairs, and if so, are they overcompensating for a larger issue? This could present in ways such as, a department that previously performed well is now missing their goals, your customer service team is hearing more complaints than usual, your CRM is showing the same volume of activity yet fewer leads are closing. The list goes on…but until you solve the capacity constraint, you will not see improvement in your bottom line.

  • Poor or confusing client experience.

Do you know what it’s like to be a client of yours? If it’s been awhile since you mapped your client experience, you may be surprised at what you find. As businesses grow, their services typically evolve, and with this often come temporary bridges. The problem with temporary bridges is that they become permanent and then overlooked as new challenges present themselves. Revisiting your client experience may uncover some reasons that prospects and clients are falling out of love with you. Some of these findings will have easier solutions than others. Marketing can help adjust messaging and positioning, but ultimately won’t move the needle until your processes are reconfigured to meet the demand for the size of your firm today.

 Prove it.

Before, during and after your campaigns, marketing leaders and executives can track progress by reviewing a few key metrics. The best and most reliable way to stay on top of this is through dashboards and reports. Executives should ensure these are set up in advance to build a baseline, and then continue to leverage these for insight as the campaign unfolds.

Whenever there is concern over whether marketing is performing as intended, step one should always be reviewing the agreed upon marketing metrics. When those appear to be in order, yet the firm is still missing its financial marks, it’s time to look more broadly at the products, processes and people across the organization.