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What Execs Want from Marketers (How-to Prove Marketing ROI)

Did you know that 80% of CEOs don’t trust marketers to provide accurate numbers that relate to the business?  According to one study, CEOs think there is a disconnect between marketers and c-level definitions of the term “ROI.”

step-out-side-marketing-boxMany marketing managers struggle when it comes time to justify their budget. To marketers, we work on energy and creative juice (plus our fair share of coffee); analyzing numbers was not one our favorite college assignments. When we're asking to prove marketing ROI, voices around the cubicles sound like, “Give us Photoshop and InDesign… you can keep your Excel!” It's time we step outside our marketing box. 

The gap between the executive and the marketer often exists because marketers:

  • have a less-than-clear understanding of the business goals
  • lack of reporting tools or tools that work together
  • don’t know the right metrics to report

For years, it was nearly impossible to report numbers to justify the marketing budget. But, with today’s technology and a greater understanding of business goals and terminology, you can become THAT marketer with the reporting superpowers.

By the time you finish reading this, you will welcome numbers with open arms (or at least be able to fake it). 

Here is what you need to do:

Know the Goals

There is a direct correlation between a company’s success and its ability to keep its employees’ goals aligned with the business goals. As goals filter down the chain, the become muddied as business goals mingle with team goals and supervisor goals.

If you don’t feel like you have a solid grasp on the goals for your company, then ask. Knowing these will:

  • help guide you to make smarter campaign decisions,
  • help you deliver the reports your boss wants,
  • and also helps you determine which tweaks on a campaign are more important (by what the changes will impact).

Get the Tools

Reporting no longer has to take days (or weeks). With the right tools, reporting is simplified… and trusted. 

These days there are so many great marketing tools available to us. Unfortunately, to get them to work together and determine (easily) if our efforts are paying off has become a challenge.

Marketing automation (MA) tools are becoming more robust every year. One of the greatest benefits of automation is its ease of reporting and that’s because, with good MA platforms, the sales and marketing are combined in one place. My preferred, trusted MA platform is Hubspot. 

Imagine – with a few clicks, you have a beautiful report showing how many visits to your landing page over the last quarter and exactly how those visitors made their way through the sales funnel, how many of those leads are now customers, and how many of those customers can be attributed to marketing. Wow. Cigarette anyone?

Know the Numbers

The numbers that make us happy are the exact numbers your boss doesn’t care about (customer engagement, bounce rates, likes, downloads). These numbers don’t mean much to people that don’t spend every day in the marketing trenches like us.

Yes, the numbers matter, because you and I know that improving these numbers drive more traffic and qualified leads.  But, the boss just wants the bottom line; they don’t necessarily care how you got there.

Know the Formulas

Here are three metrics your boss wants to know:

  • Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) – If we understand how many dollars it costs to acquire each customer (on average), we can tell how efficient our programs are. The lower this number is, the more effective our marketing is.
  • Time to Payback of Customer Acquisitions Cost – The faster you can start making money from a new customer, the better. So if your CAC is $20 but it takes 10 months to earn $25 in revenue from a customer, does that make sense for the business?
  • Marketing Originated Customer % - This number tells us how much new business is driven by the marketing team. If the boss is relying on your sales team to drive 60% of new deals and 40% of customers coming from the marketing team, you need to be able to show you’re doing your part.



Keep these numbers looking good and no one will ever cut your marketing budget again. It’s hard for your boss to argue the value of marketing when you have the numbers to prove it.

To get more detail on these metrics (and a three more!) check out our short guide on metrics. These simple formulas will help you become a marketing rock star!

Learn How to Prove Marketing ROI

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