3 ways to prove ROI on your next marketing initiative

In taking on the role of CMO at ITWC, I realize I am like all other marketers. I’m searching for the holy grail in justifying actions and dollars spent, from public relations to agency billings, new hires, and new suppliers with whiz-bang platforms that will change your perspective on the customer journey.

With all these options to choose from, what do we require before going to market with yet another very expensive campaign? In an omnichannel world, the ability to track ROI becomes that much harder and critical to master.

Setting the context

When you’re introducing measurement, it’s important to prepare your team for the prospect that some initiatives will fail. After all, the real benefits of measuring are to point out what is not working. Sales are the ultimate measure of success, but the metrics of failure are equally as important.

If measurement shows your efforts fall short of its revenue target, sales may stamp it as “a failure.” Be prepared to take accountability for testing the waters and constant improvement. In programming, it’s called an agile approach. Look at measurement and learning of shortfalls as opportunity for agile marketing that can be justified over time.

Two great thinkers on agile marketing are Arnold Travis and Jim Ewel. Both have spent a lot of time on a Sprint Zero project to brainstorm an Agile Marketing Manifesto.

At, Arnold breaks down the Manifesto’s essence as follows:

“Agile Marketing is…

  • Transparent
  • Sustainable
  • Interactive
  • Measured
  • Iterative
  • Relevant”

Such points coming forth from a great scrum remind me of my CIO and development team, moving step by step to a determined destination. The CMO has much to learn from the Office of the CIO as code and processes deliver new business innovations. I don’t do code, but allow me to share my three-step process for proving ROI on marketing initiatives.

1. Set up your customer journey

Many marketers will determine ROI from marketing activities by creating what is called a First Touch and Last Touch capture.

It is imperative for marketers to show how campaigns influence the customer revenue flowing through and what points. The sales organization is constantly looking for not just any marketing leads, but is in search of valuable BANT (Buyer, Authorized, Needs, Timeline)  leads. These individuals have four qualifications and have interacted with multiple touchpoints of an organization. Those touchpoints serve as steps in a nurtured lead process that can relate back to your marketing efforts and strategies.

The primary question to ask is: “How many times did you engage me?”

2. Tracking the sales lead

Your marketing systems, be it Hubspot, Pardot, SalesForce, Marketo, and other content/marketing platforms must talk to your accounting systems. How else are you to know who should claim some or all responsibility for generated revenue from a lead gathered or even influenced by your creative campaigns?

As the marketing person, you have to ask and continue to ask sales about the customer or customer set which bought a product or service that relates to the campaign launched by you.

3. Attribution measurement – aka How much can I add to my data set?

Precision ROI on independent activities remains the holy grail of marketing. There’s a range of platforms that marketers can rely on to improve the accuracy of their measurement. Ideally. a marketer requires several different data sets to show how well something has performed.

You need to determine what is most important to measure. Is it your Twitter/LinkedIn/Facebook activities? Do we include retweets from Influencers?

Who are they? Where do we find them? Should the Twitter handle be in the CRM to show how well we track? How many dashboards can I possibly handle and how do I drive back to the individual sale?

I hope you share your thoughts with us on agile marketing. It’s a new frontier, constantly evolving and always moving.

Until next time.

Fawn Annan
Fawn Annan
Fawn Annan is the President and Group Publisher of IT World Canada/IDG Canada, the largest global IT media company located in 87 countries. Its global brands such as CanadianCIO and Computing Canada are written with local views for global IT issues.

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