Sales says the leads STILL aren't any good?

Marketers of a certain age will remember an ad from the Wendy’s hamburger chain castigating its rivals for its skimpy burgers. It showed, memorably, a little old lady yelling “Where’s the beef?” at employees of rival chains. (Walter Mondale also recycled the line in attacking his opponent Gary Hart’s economic policies.) )

I wanted to do some tweaking of my own when I read a recent blog post, How do you convince your boss to buy marketing automation, by Kim Roman, Director of Demand Generation at G5 Search Marketing. Among her excellent advice to prove the value of MA software (that automatically distributes and monitors the readership of marketing material) was to “approach the conversation with facts and numbers, not emotion,” to “present a solid business case” and to “touch on how goals and KPIs (key performance indicators” will be affected.

All well and good, but what “facts and numbers,” and “goals and KPIs” do we really have to prove the ROI of marketing automation used in email and other campaigns? Her blog post failed to mention any specific metrics to trot out, such as:

  • Increased sales.
  • Conversion rates (defined as a purchase, not downloading a white paper or signing up for an email newsletter.)
  • Improved lead quality (as measured by sales, close rates or profitability per customer.)
  • Reduced cost of sales.
  • Increased profitability per customer.
  • Increased upsell/cross sell per customer, or
  • Increase in lifetime sales.

This lack of specificity seems to afflict marketing automation vendors in their case studies. All too often, what passes for results is “increased Web traffic” or “200% increase in white paper downloads,” which are steps in the right direction, but are only show increased market awareness. There’s no proof you’re getting more attention from the right people, or that those people are buying as a result of your marketing automation program.

“Increased marketing efficiency” or “reduction in marketing expenses” is another metric I often see which seems like all bun, no beef. If you’re doing an ineffective job marketing, and MA lets you spend less doing it, you’ve only cut your losses. Not a compelling ROI case.

Lauren Carlson, a CRM Analyst at Software Advice  on whose blog Kim’s post ran, argues that MA is evolving into what MA vendors Marketo and Eloqua are calling Revenue Performance Management, “layering on more analytics that will give you the exact numbers…making it easier to prove ROI.” There’s a great comment stream on her blog arguing whether this is just hollow rebranding or something more real.

From my own experience, I have sympathy for those still waiting to deposit a check with the words “Marketing Automation did this” in the bank. I know my own efforts over the last few months are working, in that I’m talking to and forming partnerships with more people  who “get” marketing automation and seen the vision. But developing a marketing automation strategy, not to mention the required content, is plain hard work, and is keeping a lot of us waiting for our burger and fries.

If anyone has a workable methodology that delivers quick, provable wins from marketing automation, this would be a great time to speak up.

Author: Bob Scheier
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