Justifying your marketing spend and determining the ROI (return on investment) for major sales campaigns are obstacles every marketer faces at one point or another. Without enough data and an adequate means of interpreting and reporting on what the numbers mean, it’s near impossible to make smart, informed decisions as to what will improve your bottom line.
The good news is that marketing can indeed be measured. By making sense of the marketing-sales cycle, you can identify what worked (and what didn’t) and adapt your plans accordingly. This is called closed-loop marketing. And by equipping yourself with the right tools, you can efficiently (and confidently) justify and report on your marketing strategies.
5 reasons why you should be closing the loop
- It directs your focus on what has been working.
- It provides clearer results on measuring the successes and failures.
- It delivers valuable insight into your buyer.
- It shortens the sales cycle.
- It helps set more realistic goals and expectations.
Closed-loop reporting 101: How it works
Essentially closed-loop reporting answers these two critical questions: 1: Where did the lead come from? And 2: Who is the lead?
Imagine your buyer persona spending time browsing your website. What is she interested in? Now think about how her behaviour is tracked. How did the person come to be on your website? What is being looked at?
Cookies and tracking URLs
As soon as a visitor lands on your website a cookie is set on the referral source. HubSpot offers a traffic by channel view that collates this information for you so that you see exactly where your lead came from; be it a Google search, email or social media. Cookies also track the actions taken by the visitor on your website, which can then trigger further marketing actions, e.g. if a lead visits the pricing page the sales rep can be informed via email to take further action such as phoning the lead.
Another means of tracking is by adding a tracking URL to your website’s link. This will define the parameter of a particular marketing drive and clearly indicate the source.
For example, a visitor from Twitter could look like this: /?utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter
By centralising all your marketing activities to your website you can set a cookie on visitors and gather data. Now you have to tie together two essential pieces: a visitor’s session with their lead information once they convert on a form. At this point software has to become an essential part of your strategy. HubSpot is the market leader in marketing automation software that integrates all these aspects into one central hub.
Conversion process from lead to customer
The next step in the process is to gather information about a visitor on your website so as to turn them into qualified leads for the sales team via a specified nurturing path. This is done by directing them to different landing pages with lead-capture forms. Once the lead becomes ready to be qualified by the sales team and they eventually close the sale, you can go back and determine which sources delivered the best leads and closed the best sales based on where they came from. This information empowers you to spend your resources on those activities which attract the type of clients of which you want more.
In order to successfully map your marketing campaign from the activity stage to a closed sale you need tools: software in the form of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Marketing software. Most importantly, they need to speak to each other. This means integrating your marketing software to your customer relationship management system.
CRM will support your business by synchronising marketing activities while marketing software, such as HubSpot, will record your marketing data. The combination of this intelligence will reveal the source of your leads and give you insight into your customer and determine the best way to improve your bottom line.
Some systems "talk" nicely to each other, like Salesforce and Hubspot, others need a bit more tweaking. It is often seen as a hurdle that needs extra resources. However, the value of the information gained outweighs any cost to set up closed- loop analytics.
It all starts with having your buyer personas and most importantly your marketing path mapped out, then you run various campaigns to drive traffic which then gets converted into leads and ultimately clients. Then you analyse your data and start testing to find out what works and what doesn't. This, in a single paragraph, is what we call "Inbound Marketing".
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