Measuring the true ROI of marketing campaigns has always been one of the greatest challenges in business. If you know what marketing activities or messages are effective at producing sales, you can focus your efforts on what works and eliminate anything that is a waste of time or money. The problem is that there has never been an effective way to track which marketing messages contributed to each sale.
In today's Information Age, though, there finally is a way to do exactly that. In fact, many companies already have online tools which track interactions with marketing materials, as well as customer relationship management (CRM) software which records selling activities and revenue. All that is needed is a way to close the loop between sales and marketing--to tie each sale back to the marketing activities that generated it.
Closing the Loop
Tracking a customer's buying process from inception to sale involves several steps:
- An online cookie is used as an identifier for each visitor the very first time they reach your site. The cookie will record the way in which they found your site: i.e., by typing in a search term, clicking on a social media link or directly typing in your web address. That way, you know what sources produce the traffic that eventually turns into sales revenue.
- The cookie tracks which pages they view on your site. Even if they just do initial research, leave, and come back to your site days or weeks later, the tracking cookie allows you to monitor their buying behavior.
- The visitor converts into a lead. This is the point where you finally get a name and contact information rather than faceless cookie data.
- The lead progresses through the sales cycle and eventually becomes a customer. Records are kept of all the selling activities and communications that eventually lead to the sale.
Once you have CRM and marketing software recording data on these different steps, the key to closing the loop is to tie the two programs together using an application programming interface (API). The API associates each customer with the individual cookie which tracked their initial activities, allowing you to see the entire buying process from beginning to end.
Using Closed-Loop Reporting
Closed-loop reporting can give you valuable insights into your customers and the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns. You can utilize closed-loop reporting to:
• Identify which keywords attract visitors who actually end up buying from you, allowing you to focus your SEO efforts on the most valuable search terms.
• Identify which social media channels are most likely to produce customers.
• Perform touch point analysis to see exactly how customers interact with your company and your marketing messages.
• Make improvements to weak points, such as web pages or selling activities where a large percentage of prospects drop out of the process.
• Identify unnecessary steps or content which can be done away with, as well as new steps or content which may need to be created.
• Measure the true ROI of your marketing campaigns.
What gets measured gets managed, and closed-loop reporting allows you to accurately measure and manage the entire marketing and sales process. Used correctly, it will result in more sales, greater efficiency and a better understanding of both your company and your customers.
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