Marketing: From Money Pit to Money Maker

Posted on by Chief Marketer Staff

Top executives regularly invest in marketing to boost their company’s bottom line, but too many of them don’t actually believe their expenditures pay off. Why? Because while marketers are adept at telling stories that sell their company’s products or services, they often fail to tell stories about how their efforts are critical to improving sales and customer retention, and about how much money they generate for their organizations.

The number of channels (email, social, search, mobile, etc.) through which customers can interact with a company is increasing every day, making telling the story of revenue impact ever harder. And there is an additional challenge: Fully explaining how these mediums work together to generate new sales and revenue to those in an organization—especially those who control the purse strings.

Marketing can demonstrate its real value by taking two key actions:

First, by creating a model of collaboration that aligns objectives, planning, and communications across key areas in sales and marketing.

Second, by establishing a marketing analytics strategy that enables data-driven decision making, empowers innovation, and builds credibility through transparency.

Models of Collaboration

The relationship between marketing and sales organizations has evolved from a strictly service-oriented dynamic into a strategic partnership. That partnership is defined by the alignment of objectives and metrics, joint planning and constant two-way communication.

For example, marketing educates sales on how marketing uses various channels, influences digital dialogue with potential customers and builds credibility with existing customers. Sales provides valuable feedback on marketing investment, pipeline analysis and lead quality.

Most importantly, marketing and sales must share accountability for new revenue. When sales and marketing are both number-driven, the result moves the relationship from adversarial to collaborative. This creates an environment of trust that can jointly demonstrate impact on revenue.

Just as the customer journey involves many touchpoints that need synchronization, the collaboration model between sales and marketing needs to exist within marketing organizations themselves.

For instance, digital marketing—(email, social, search, web, content)—no longer falls under one department or is a single function, but rather is an integrated part of all marketing. It plays a fundamental role in every campaign and in most interactions with customers or prospects.

Content creation and delivery must take many diverse forms and be aligned to the customer life cycle, from the buy stage to loyalty and retention. Social media marketing, which is no longer exclusively an external communication strategy, should be fully integrated at the campaign level. Field marketing must embrace digital media, search marketing, lead nurturing and scoring, social media, and retention marketing efforts.

This alignment creates a framework for marketing delivery. It ensures joint accountability that leads to a better customer experience and enables marketing to analyze all the touchpoints that impact revenue.

The Power of Marketing Analytics

Analytics allows marketers to have data-driven, collaborative discussions with key partners throughout the organization. As with any successful partnership, transparency is essential.

Content creators want to know what content is working well so that they know how best to spend their time. Web managers want to know how search marketing, social media marketing, and the corporate website create revenue. The sales force wants to better understand how a prospect becomes a lead. Marketing analytics can bring each of these insights to light and bridge the gap between cross-divisional partners to drive the business forward and generate maximum revenue impact.

The real story of revenue impact lies in the series of events that leads to the creation of sales. To tell that story, marketers must analyze campaign performance based on such metrics as:

* Touches
* Opens
* Clickthroughs
* Responses
* Opt-outs
* Leads passed
* Lead to new sale conversion rate
* Total pipeline impact
* New revenue impact
* Accelerated revenue impact

This information should be tracked for every offer within a campaign. From this data, marketers can obtain these valuable insights:

* Which offers are working in their mix and which need to be replaced;
* Which offers and channels are generating the highest quality leads;
* Which leads are converting to new sales and which are not (those leads that did not convert should be included in future campaigns);
* Which sales need help moving through the pipeline;
* Overall revenue impact.

Marketers need a view into what worked (and what didn’t) in the process of converting prospects into sales in order to replicate successes and avoid underperforming efforts. Marketing analytics can provide that information. The use of analytics allows marketing and sales organizations to work together to make strategic, data-based decisions that generate revenue–and it enables executives to better understand the return on their investment.

Adele Sweetwood is vice president of Americas marketing for SAS. Matt Fulk is senior manager of database marketing at SAS

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