Measuring ROI: 3 Key Metrics That Prove Marketing Success

June 18, 2019 | Elizabeth Rivelli


If you’ve been in the marketing game for a while, chances are you’re familiar with the infamous Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL). Historically, B2B marketers have used the MQL as the gold standard of measuring the success of their marketing programs and campaigns.

But today, marketers are realizing that the MQL doesn’t always paint an accurate picture of their lead generation efforts, because almost 80 percent of MQLs never convert into a sale. Today, more and more marketers are moving away from the MQL, and instead, are adopting new methods of measurement to prove their ROI.

The Problem With the MQL Model

Marketers spend a significant amount of time, money, and resources running campaigns that generate high quality MQLs for sales that would convert into customers. But here’s the problem: Salespeople aren’t measured on MQLs—they’re measured on revenue, and closed deals. Not to mention, sales’ criteria for an SQL can look very different from a marketer’s definition of an MQL.

When a marketer sends an MQL to their sales team, that lead isn’t necessarily qualified based on sales’ criteria for a quality lead. The result? Unhappy sales reps that struggle to hit their numbers, and a marketing team that’s frustrated because their leads are getting stuck at the top of the funnel..

How Modern Marketers Measure ROI

For most marketers, the MQL is their comfort zone, and they’ve never been measured on anything else. But to reach your goals and prove ROI, marketers must align with sales to determine what makes a lead qualified, and create shared goals and metrics for success that hold both teams accountable. So instead of relying on MQLs, here are a few metrics that can illustrate a more comprehensive view of your lead generation success.

1. Percentage of Sales Pipeline Generated by Marketing

Instead of looking at the number of leads that come from marketing, find out how much of the total sales pipeline is generated from marketing. Analyzing the percentage, rather than a single figure, takes into account the number of leads that actually converted into SQLs. As a reference point, the Sales Benchmark Index reports that marketing teams typically contribute 15-30% of net new customer sales pipeline. When that figure is broken down by month or quarter, marketers can determine which campaigns were the most successful, and which ones need a refresh.

2. Opportunities Created by Marketing

Data from HubSpot found that 61% of marketers say generating traffic and leads is their top challenge. Tracking the number of opportunities created by marketing is a great way to indicate if marketers understand what defines a sales-ready lead. A high volume of opportunities in the pipeline from marketing means that marketers are targeting the right audience, uncovering buyer intent, and finding leads at the bottom of the funnel. It also proves that marketers are contributing to sales’ late-stage conversations with prospects that are already considering a purchase.

3. Closed Deals Generated by Marketing

For sales, closing deals is their top priority, but they can’t do it without help from marketing. In fact, over half of all marketers today have a revenue-based quota. Tracking the number of closed deals generated by marketing shows the direct impact of their efforts on the company’s bottom line. This metric is especially impactful when showcasing the ROI of marketing to leadership—and it makes sense that marketers who calculate ROI are 1.6 times more likely to receive higher budgets.

Final Thoughts

Counting the number of MQLs from a given month can be a good indicator of moving in the right direction, but it’s not representative of the impact that marketers have on company growth and revenue. Tracking the percentage-based figures we discussed here are just as simple, and will go much further when it comes time for quarterly campaign evaluations, or budget increases. Not to mention, it enables marketers to build a trusting relationship with sales, and earn more respect from leadership.

For more tips on measuring the impact of your marketing programs, check out our guide, Moving Beyond the MQL: 3 Way to Improve Marketing Measurement.


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