Many established businesses still rely 100% on a sales team for lead generation. Marketing can feel like a difficult expense to justify when a business has never pursued it seriously as a strategy for sales growth. Determining a smart approach to measuring marketing success is key to setting up a marketing plan you and your executives can get behind.
The Immediate Benefits of Investing in Marketing
Established businesses can see immediate benefits when they invest in branding and marketing strategies. Here’s what you can expect after your business’s rebrand, new website or campaign launch:
More Referrals – Your account management team is likely to take credit for the increase in referrals your business will receive after you launch your marketing strategy, but the truth is that your brand will first be recognized by existing customers.
Have your sales team report a baseline of how many referrals the company receives and measure it monthly after your launch your marketing strategy.
More Sales with Existing Customers – Again, since your existing customers are the first to gain additional awareness of your company through your marketing efforts, they’re often reminded to come back to you if they liked their previous experience.
Have your finance team establish a baseline for internal sales to existing customers prior to launching your marketing strategy so you can measure its effect on your current customer base.
Shorter Sales Cycles – Recognized brands have shorter sales cycles. After you launch your campaign, potential customers already in your pipeline will move through the stages faster.
Your sales team’s CRM system probably measures the current sales cycles (From initial lead entry to conversion to deal acquisition). Establish a baseline for the average sales cycle and measure it quarterly after you launch your campaign.
Higher Employee Engagement – A business that has a stale approach to how it speaks about itself can be a drag for the employees as well. Reviving your approach to how your company markets itself can inspire more confidence from your internal team.
If you currently use a Net Promoter Score or some other polling tool to measure employee job satisfaction and engagement, compare the scores a year after your marketing strategy launched to see if it affected your team.
Measuring Marketing Success During Its First Year
Investing in marketing is a long-term approach that will provide a stable return on investment over the life of the business. Just like a new salesperson on your team, it’ll start driving results towards the end of the first year but grow your business exponentially over the years that follow.
Step 1: Define What You’re Measuring
The first step to determining your plan is to decide how you’re going to define leads generated by marketing. The most common approach is to measure inquiries that come through the website and asking how they found the company. Your sales team can also report where the lead generated from when a potential customer calls on the phone.
Here are a couple of things to keep in mind:
- Most customers don’t remember how they got to your website. Use website inquiries as a measurement of overall marketing strategy success but don’t try to tie inquiries to a specific tactic in that strategy. It’ll be inaccurate since it usually takes 5-7 impressions on different platforms and through different media before a customer engages with a business.
- Remember that referrals are a sign of marketing strategy success as well. Like mentioned above, measuring referrals should be a key performance indicator (KPI) for the marketing strategy.
- Consider all leads not generated from outside sales tactics like cold calling and networking to be “marketing leads” that you measure. If the salesperson didn’t pull the lead in, then marketing did.
Step 2: Determine the Lifetime Value of a Customer
Marketing success shouldn’t be measured by the reward of the first transaction. Instead, when a “marketing lead” is converted into a customer and that customer spends dollars over a long period of time with your company, then the LTV (lifetime value) of the customer is what you actually want to consider when you measure your ROI. You may have more than one kind of customer to do this exercise with if your business has more than one line of business.
Step 3: Calculate Your Annual Marketing Budget
Your annual marketing budget should include advertising, online marketing activities, annual campaigns and events, public relations, fees to agencies and costs of printing. In addition, you have larger marketing investments that should be amortized over a longer period. For example, a website redesign project every three years might cost $25,000 over the years you do the project. That cost, for the purpose of measuring marketing success, should be divided over the three years that site is relevant and added to the annual marketing budget.
- Year 1: Website Redesign at $25,000 + $50,000 in ongoing annual marketing campaign expenses
- Year 2: $50,000 in ongoing annual marketing campaign expenses
- Year 3: $50,000 in ongoing annual marketing campaign expenses
- Year 4: Time for Website Redesign
Marketing Budget for Measuring ROI:
- Year 1: Website Redesign at $8,333 + $50,000 in ongoing annual marketing campaign expenses = $58,333
- Year 2: $58,333
- Year 3: $58,333
- Year 4: Time for Website Redesign
Step 4: Determine Your Cost of Acquisition
After your first year of marketing, take the Marketing Budget for Measuring ROI for the year and divide it by the number of marketing leads you received for the year. This determines your Cost of Acquisition. For example, if you received 30 marketing leads over the course of your first year, and your marketing budget for the year was like the above example, $58,333, then your Cost of Acquisition was $1,944.33 per lead.
Step 5: Figure Out Your ROI
If the lifetime value of a single customer is greater than your cost of acquisition with enough margin for you to deliver the product and service and make a profit, then it’s easy to determine that you’ve had marketing success.
However, if you didn’t receive the ROI you need, then there are two possible situations to consider. The first is to determine what individual tactics within your marketing strategy returned the fewest results and shift your budget for the following year. By examining your results each year and proactively planning for the following, you’ll reduce your cost of acquisition each year.
The second is to consider adding the cost of acquisition to the pricing model for your goods and services. Because marketing is a game that needs to be played for the lifetime of the business, making sure your cost is properly covered in your price to the customer is the smart way to move forward.
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I’m a mom, a small business owner, and I’m a marketing professional with over a decade helping businesses with their branding and online presence. When I’m not spending time with my family or on my business, I love cooking (and eating), racquetball, yoga, and shopping. My favorite authors are Malcolm Gladwell and Steve Martin. My favorite movies are L.A. Story, Little Mermaid, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and Trainspotting.