I've written before about the failure rate of marketing campaigns and it should be no surprise that none of us are immune to losing massive amounts of money when it comes to attracting, engaging, converting and wowing new customers. Today I'll address how to use marketing automation software to track your ROI for any marketing campaign.
Marketing is an expensive proposition for all of us. Therefore, it makes sense to consider the investment in marketing worthy of tracking returns or Return On Investment (ROI). Marketing is game of failure. Most landing pages convert less than 3% of the visitors landing on the page. The ad campaigns we see often have click through rates of less than 3-5%, more in others. Consider the ROI on most trade shows. It's generally not even on the radar beyond expense accounts.
You can easily see why I refer to marketing as a business of failure. This is why focusing on incremental improvements is the most sound approach to marketing without losing your mind and all your money. And in order to do this we need data or business intelligence we can make sense of on a regular basis. If the information we need isn't reliable or accessible then what value is it to anyone in your business? Not much.
Keeping score is fundamental, yet how well are you really keeping score these days if you're brutally honest with yourself? Not very well if you're like most business owners, professionals or marketing professionals who's simply overwhelmed with life and work to begin with. That is the reality today. There is simply too much for us to do and too little time to do it. Which means learning to be more effective in marketing is the name of the game, again, without losing your mind.
Given all this, here are a four steps you can take towards using marketing automation software to track ROI.
- Commit to doing a better job. It's that simple. No software will help you if you don't do your part. You have to decide this is important enough to change your behavior and learn new ways of working by leveraging new software that can be intimidating for many to learn. This is seldom easy for most of us because we don't like change in the first place. But if you see your hard-earned money is going to waste and you're not even sure why it's happening or where the leaks are in your marketing funnel, why not get serious about this and fix it? Commit.
- Keep score with marketing automation software. Marketing automation software is not the same as Email marketing services or EMS like Mailchimp, Constant Contact and the myriad others on the market. For me, the easiest way to track marketing ROI was to research, buy, learn and use new marketing automation software. The reason this is important is most marketing automation platforms provide business intelligence, reports and insights that are crucial to study, understand and leverage to make better marketing decisions. I have been using Infusionsoft since 2008 when I migrated from ACT which I had used for the prior 15 years. We recently added SharpSpring to the mix. Soon we will add our Hubspot certification as we continue to expand our consulting and advisory services fulfilling high-ROI automated marketing campaigns. There are many systems on the market today and each has pros and cons to be considered before making any investment. We are agnostic meaning we help our clients make the best decisions for their team's needs. There is no "one size fits all" when it comes to marketing automation. And it's easy to lose your shirt doing this the wrong way so be careful before you make any big moves.
- Use it every day. This may sound over simplistic, but it's true. Using the software you have and ensuring your entire team is empowered to like and use well your marketing automation platform makes all the difference. I see far too many marketing leaders and business owners ignore the systems they have in place. Look around any organization and as soon as others on the team see the leaders aren't using the platform, they begin to not use it either. Or worse, if people don't like it they ignore it or put garbage in. You know what this leads to. You have to be disciplined enough to invest in the proper training and coaching for you and your team to get the most out of your marketing automation software. Don't be pissed at the software company or the consultant working with you if you can't keep your end of the bargain. Nobody likes to learn new software unless you're just geeky enough like me. And thank goodness I am surrounded by far more talented tech people than me. They do the heavy lifting after I blueprint the campaigns and marketing plans.
- Use dashboards. One of the best features of marketing automation platforms are the dashboards they provide us. Just below is a screenshot of my Infusionsoft dashboard. (It was an off month and I blocked out some of my personal data!) What this reveals is higher level data like email open rates, recent activities, list growth by number of new contacts, sales for the month or chose time period, etc. This makes the information far more accessible and easier to read.
I can customize this dashboard with drag and drop widgets. If I want deeper level analytics I can build reports of many variations analyzing both marketing and sales/opportunity conversion numbers. I can track ROI here and all the lead sources. Lead scoring is also a popular key performance indicator we work with. I would say Infusionsoft provides decent business intelligence, reporting and ROI tracking, but not the best in class.
Here's a view of the dashboard in my SharpSpring sandbox. (The data is not real.) What you see here is each campaign is tracked and pegged for an ROI right to it's ultimate, single lead source. It's a little different to set this up when compared to Infusionsoft or any other application and it's pretty straightforward for anyone with decent experience in these systems.
A campaign is built by creating a blueprint, mapping out each element of the campaign through to the goal and then integrating the content within the system and testing it all before any campaign goes live. We integrate landing pages, websites, emails, videos, membership elements, shopping carts, affiliate tracking and of course, analytics to put it all together. Each campaign has a cost center and each campaign has a goal with a clear source of traffic like pay per click ads for example, or a webinar campaign, trade show, etc.
These are just two examples of marketing automation dashboards you can model or use to start tracking your marketing ROI. Reporting is one of the single biggest advantages of investing in these solutions. But, you have to be disciplined. You should not plan on becoming an expert in software integration, campaign building or marketing automation unless this is your full time profession. It's most essential to learn the fundamentals and get comfortable using your system all the time so you get better at it as you progress. If and when you need professional guidance be willing to invest in people you can trust. That makes a huge difference.
Marketing automation software is here to stay. It is a game changer for many small business owners who a decade ago had no access to this kind of software. It didn't exist really at any price like this! Dive into the realm of marketing automation today or commit to raising the bar if you're already in the game. Take a long view of leveraging these systems and build what makes sense for you and your team to achieve your goals.
I always appreciate your comments, questions and suggestions here on the CME blog.
To your continued success and happiness.