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Often regarded as a soft science, the ROI of marketing programs can be difficult to measure. There are many reasons for that, but here five of the most prominent:

  • Programs are often put in place without measurement vehicles.
  • The company is doing "reactive" marketing without a strategic road map.
  • The focus is on measuring individual programs, not on the big-picture marketing campaign.
  • Sales is pressuring to institute quick programs to achieve quarterly goals.
  • There is a disconnect in C-level support for proactive, coordinated strategic marketing.

A lot of tech marketers have put benchmarks in place and are providing quantification for some of their programs. But they are looking for ideas to improve their measurement strategies and to better justify their programs and campaigns.

Here are essential tips that should form the basis of the initial stages of your quantifiable marketing strategy.

1. Measure something

Start somewhere. If quantifying marketing programs is still outside your comfort zone, you aren't alone. The initial results projection for some programs will be an inexact science. Estimate where you must.

Do your best to isolate factors and ensure measurement strategies are in place. Use past benchmarks when they are available and best practices industry standards to project your results. The more quantification you do, the easier it will be to make it part of your process.

2. Get buy-in

Marketing is typically siloed—separated from the rest of the organization. It tends to be a service-oriented function, operating as a delivery mechanism for the sales or other departments. In too many environments, marketing is not given full accountability—or freedom—to impact the organization. The focus tends to be on measuring "intangibles," and there is no formal measurement process in place.

As a result, marketers too often aren't viewed as strategic players. Many tech firms don't have a marketing voice on their management team. Sure, they may have a C-level person with a strong sales and marketing background, but not a person and team dedicated to the absolute day-to-day and big-picture success of their marketing programs.

It will be easy to get senior management to buy into the idea of ROI-driven marketing. But getting their support to help you reach this milestone may be much more of a hurdle. On the other hand, you may have the support of senior management. Better yet, you may be senior management. Perfect. But if you're not, you'll have to fight for your place at the table.

Do what it takes to champion your programs and make them a success. You'll have to take charge of establishing measurement methods and ensure that they are followed throughout the organization, and throughout the prospect lifecycle.

3. Establish formal measurement process

Before a program is launched, you must have a measurement process in place to track the movement of prospects through the sales funnel. Of course, some programs are easier to measure than others. Some businesses, such as those focused on selling to the government, have a long sales cycle. Regardless of such challenges, put measurement processes in place, and translate the results to quantifiable ROI.

From the time the prospect enters your sales funnel, have a system in place to track their progression. Studying the information captured in your CRM solution will yield a wealth of information that you need for launching, maintaining and improving your marketing programs. If the data is inconsistent or lacks detail, offer training for improvement.

4. Communicate

Keys to securing buy-in are demonstrating success and communicating progress:

  • For every program, establish and communicate metrics and goals with your management team.

  • Ensure agreement early on and before you deploy.

  • At each step, communicate progress to senior management and staff.

  • At the end of each program, communicate all metrics and how your programs had an impact on the attainment of your organization's objectives.

Every person within your organization involved in the process must follow that process. This may require training in how to capture data in your CRM system. If you fail to standardize across your company, the numbers you'll yield will not be accurate representations.

* * *

Follow those four steps, and you'll be on your way to establishing a solid foundation for quantifiable marketing.

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Becky Sheetz-Runkle is a business-to-government marketing expert at Q2 Marketing ( in Fairfax, Va., and the Tech Marketing Examiner on