Prove marketing effectiveness to gain artistic freedom


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We all know that marketing is both an art and a science.

It’s hard to measure the effect of brand on revenue, but we marketers know it has an effect. However, we work for companies that have tough numbers targets and little interest in art.

This is why you need to have the science of marketing right to have the freedom to do the art.

If you can do both, you will get …

  • A place at the board of directors and the ability to guide the direction of the company
  • Freedom to do the things you know are good, meaningful and right for your department and company
  • And (perhaps closest and dearest to my heart) the ending – or at least a minimization – of “Hey, look what ‘Business X’ is doing. We should do that.”

Like Rodney Dangerfield, marketing gets ‘no respect’

I can not think of any other business that is changing faster than marketing. Just for nerdy fun, I recently made a list of all the technology I’ve become proficient at in the last 20 years – without training:

Acrobat, PowerPoint, Word, Excel, InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Salesforce, Marketo, Pardot, SharpSpring, HubSpot, HootSuite, Buffer, SurveyMonkey (now Momentive), Zoom, ZoomInfo, Constant Contact, Mailchimp, Act-On, Google Analytics, Omniture (now Adobe), Dropbox, Basecamp, Slack, WordPress, Sitecore, Drupal, Homegrown CMSs, Wix, Avid, Final Cut, LinkedIn Sales Navigator, Semrush. And I’m sure there are more I’ll forget.

Can you think of any other profession that needs all these tools in its wheelhouse? I can not. And that’s just technology.

Let’s talk about strategy and tactics. We need to understand how to flawlessly perform branding, social, web, search, paid ads, events, direct mail, PR, analyst relationships, lead generation, webinars, videos, podcasts, blogs, messaging, sales tools, articles and reporting — all with a view for how these tactics generate revenue, influence purchasing decisions, and improve our brand position.

On top of that, most of us did not go to school for marketing; and even though we did, marketing is changing so fast that a college education in it is becoming less and less useful with each passing year.

Is it weird that marketers …

  • Tends to have short employment relationships in organizations
  • Often turns into small balls of stress and anxiety
  • Feel alone and overwhelmed

No, your CEO does not know marketing better than you – here’s how to push back and prove marketing effectiveness

I’ve never heard a CEO go to the accounting department and say, “Hey, did you see how the competing company does its spreadsheets? We should do that.”

Yet it happens to us in marketing. Continually.

What you really hear is frustration: CEOs can not get a handle on what Marketing is doing and how it helps the company. They see what other companies are doing (because the marketing effort is super visible) and they wonder what their own investment is giving them.

How To Prove Marketing Effectiveness And Avoid These Awkward Conversations.

1. Start backwards

Know what the company’s goals are and align yours with them. Set a revenue target (or at least pipeline) for your marketing team.

If you can not prove Marketing’s impact on revenue, you need to correct it. That should be your No. 1 priority. You will never get a bigger budget, more staff or a promotion if you can not prove real impact on revenue – and to say that a customer or customer has received an email does not usually count in B2B.

This is the point where many marketers say, “But my sales team does not follow up on the leads I send them,” or “They do not track data properly in Salesforce.” I say it again: fix it. This is your No. 1 priority!

Become friendly with the sales manager, make the source of an agreement a required field in Salesforce, hire an SDR to follow up on marketing leads by promising a real agreement goal that they must reach, attend regular sales calls to the team, review new agreements in Salesforce, and ask Sales where they came from. Whatever it takes.

2. Invest in your team

HR, accounting, sales – almost all other departments in your company receive regular training. But in a recent (non-scientific) poll I did on my LinkedIn page, 0% of respondents said they received formal marketing training from their company, and as many as 78% said it was up to them. The lucky ones (11%) said they received training at conferences a few times a year.

We can and must do better for our profession.

Results of marketing training survey

If this is the moment when you say “I do not have the budget for that”, remember that the average employment time of a CMO is the shortest of any C-level leader. I’ve just listed all the technology and tactics marketers need to know right now, and I’m sure there’s more on the way. Marketing teams need to be in a constant state of learning and development to deal with what is now and to see what is next.

Yes, marketing departments are far too small to handle the massive amount of heavy lifting they have to perform. Yes, budgets are always being cut. But too many new tools and tactics bar us every day from having not everyone on the team cross-trained and exceptional.

Get really good at reporting

Every time we talk about engagement, click and open, our CEO, CFO and CSO roll their eyes at us. These are important leadership indicators for us, but they are not what we need to report on at the management level.

By using a marketing automation system, having a good relationship with sales and establishing a few easy processes, marketing teams can and should be able to report on the following:

  • Marketing-sourced deals that went straight to the pipeline (from events, downloads, webinars, contact forms, ads, etc.). I set it up like this: What is the primary activity that got a contact to engage again? For example, the lead downloaded a paper, which prompted an SDR to follow up, leading to an agreement and then an agreement. The source of the agreement is “Webdownload” because that action started the chain. C-level financiers can accept that.
  • Channels that drive the most pipeline
  • ROI pr. channel (pipeline and closed agreements)
  • The lifetime value of the marketing activity (a customer who came to the company through marketing and continues to buy)
  • Lead flow — pipeline names

Lead flow diagram

The great thing about such reports is that you will find interesting nuggets of gold for yourself and your team. You can start to see changing trends and make really informed decisions about where to spend your larger budget.

Then you finally have the freedom to do the art.

More resources on marketing effectiveness

Proof Marketing to Managers (Part 1)

Three ways to strengthen the marketing and finance relationship

These four data points demonstrate the marketing ROI for C-Suite

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