Measuring ROI is a communications issue

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Paul Dunay is global director of integrated marketing with BearingPoint, a management and technology consultancy based in New York. BtoB recently asked Dunay about essential synergies between marketing metrics and business objectives.

BtoB:In general, are marketers measuring what the C-suite wants them to measure?

Dunay: Well, one factor is they have to focus on what the C-suite will actually read. Marketers should continue measuring all the leading indicators they currently track, like Web hits, white paper downloads, events attendance and so forth, but shouldn't go nuts with these things. And they certainly shouldn't send a giant spreadsheet to executives. Those measurements are nice, but they don't necessarily prove your value as a marketer.

BtoB: What does?

Dunay: Sales. That means being able to cite that you spent this amount of money on these marketing activities that in turn are tied to so much in the pipeline and in bookings. Of course a complex b-to-b purchase is never a one-touch sale; there are always multiple touches.

BtoB: So you combine immediate sales with those purchases made as a result of lead nurturing to ascertain a complete ROI?

Dunay: Yes. Say you do a marketing event, and the top prospects are taken immediately by sales. The rest are left on the cutting-room floor and must be nurtured. To create a sale with any of these is essentially making something out of nothing. You can call this the difference between marketing's sourcing a lead and marketing's influencing a lead. But you need to combine what you source with what you have influenced to get the whole picture.

BtoB: And the tools used to track this?

Dunay: I'm not sure you need high-powered technology here. It's basic math; anybody with a calculator can figure an ROI if you have the right inputs. You can simply say, “We spent this much on our direct and indirect marketing, and as a result it put this much in the pipeline and this much on the books, producing an ROI of X percent.” It's not a technology issue, it's a communications issue.

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