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How to Prove Marketing ROI to Your Boss

Posted by David O'Sullivan

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Only 20% of CEOs consider their marketers ROI-driven. The other 80? Unfortunately, the vast majority of CEOs believe marketers are consistently unable to “prove...positive business impact.”

For years, it was a challenge for marketers to prove the impact of their activities. Prior to the digital age, it was really difficult to attribute new customer acquisition and existing client spend to billboards, tradeshow booths, television commercials, and other forms of old-school advertising.Fortunately, inbound marketing provides marketers with the ability to seamlessly prove ROI.

In this blog, you’ll learn a bit about the types of metrics that inbound marketers have at their fingertips, assuming they’re using an inbound marketing tool like HubSpot, Pardot, Eloqua, Marketo, Salesforce, or something similar. You’ll also discover a bit more about how to provide the intelligence your boss wants to see, which is hard-dollar return on investment.

Gain Inbound Exposure

Your boss may or may not be swayed by drastic increases in your company’s monthly website visitors. However, when coupled with data-driven knowledge of your brand’s buyer’s journey, you can yield proof that your blogging, social media, and SEO efforts are paying dividends in terms of exposure.

If exposure metrics are a part of your marketing team’s key performance indicators, displaying website visitors by sources can reveal insight into how your company is performing on social media networks, search engines, and in email marketing. Exposure metrics to monitor and share can include:

  • Unique Website Visitors
  • Traffic Sources
  • Keyword Rankings

Increase Qualified Lead Generation

If your company’s inbound efforts are paying off, you’ve hopefully experienced a major surge of new marketing-qualified leads. You’re generating fresh, highly-qualified contacts, and nurturing them into customers via intelligent email workflows.

While lead generation isn’t a measure of ROI, it’s a pretty solid precursor. You can estimate your sales pipeline based on recent lead generation with lead scoring, your average lead-to-customer close rate, and knowledge of the length of your sales cycle. If you’re required to formally report upwards on your lead generation wins, consider including:

  • Total lead generation
  • Lead generation by sources
  • Lead qualification, using standardized scoring criteria
  • Estimated sales pipeline

Close the Deal with New & Old Customers

Ultimately, the vast majority of marketers are required to report on closed-loop analytics. It’s a measurement of marketing success, based on lead-to-customer conversions. With the help of a sophisticated inbound marketing tool, you’re able to determine the campaigns that influenced your new customers into becoming leads.

With the help of closed-loop analytics in HubSpot, Salesforce, or another marketing tool, you’ll be able to provide your boss with ROI in at least the following ways:

  1. Total Inbound ROI = Cost of Marketing Activities/New Customer Dollar Value
  2. Inbound ROI by Campaign =  Cost of Campaign/Campaign Customer Dollar Value

These two measures are fairly simplistic, and really just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to proving the ROI of your marketing activities. You may choose to include factors like estimated customer lifetime value (LTV) in your ROI calculations, to determine both the projected and current value of your new customers. For companies in subscription business niches, estimated customer lifetime value is a particularly important measurement.

Alternatively, if your business makes quite a few sales to existing and prior customers, you may choose to include these buyers in your calculations. If one of your email campaigns or webinars was able to inspire a second or third purchase or a service upgrade with an existing customer, this is almost certainly new revenue that’s attributable to your marketing program and can be included in your ROI calculations.

What Your Boss Wants to See

Regardless of which industry you’re in, there’s a very good chance your boss essentially wants to know the following:

  1. You have a sufficient volume of well-qualified leads in the sales pipeline
  2. Your marketing campaigns are generating a respectable return-on-investment

By moving towards monthly, weekly, or daily reporting that estimates your sales pipeline based on lead qualification and ROI from closed-loop analytics, you can demonstrate these factors on a consistent basis.

Traffic, lead generation, and closed loop analytics definitely aren’t the only inbound marketing metrics. They’re probably not even the only key performance indicators (KPIs) your boss wants from you. However, when it comes to succinctly summarizing the success of your inbound marketing program, they’re three of the most effective tools.

Regardless of how much (or how little) information your boss wants from your marketing department on a regular basis, monitoring your engagement, traffic, leads, and sales metrics as a team can allow you to establish a culture of continual improvement.

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Topics: beginners guide to inbound marketing

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