Anyone that knows me will tell you I *heart* numbers and I am an even bigger fan of using numbers in analytics. Heck, I even wrote a post about the ROI of my job search. But when I read on eMarketer recently about how so many marketers struggle to close the loop, I couldn’t help but think that it’s their own fault. A little harsh?
If you are not closing the loop, then how the heck do you know if you are closing anything?
Seriously. Think about that for a second.
Closing the loop implies that the loop started somewhere. Someone clicked something, filled out a form on your site, called a sales rep, attended a webinar, etc. The only way the loop ‘ends’ is to close out that record. Make a sale, lose a sale or add to a nurturing flow.
The record has to go somewhere so where are we losing it?
When we consider budget planning and building out programs to generate leads, closing the loop and being able to track the effectiveness of programs and budget spend is pretty important. It helps to educate and influence our future decisions in these areas and more importantly, it enables us to justify marketing as an expense to the business.
How to Close the Loop
1. Consider how things are being tracked. Do you have a discount that is unique to a customer that clicks on a banner vs. one that calls you directly? Think of ways to track sources in instances where you may not be able to automatically like a web form.
2. Look at your entire funnel and identify where the tracking becomes lost. Do you see leads coming in and opportunities converting into sales but are missing the information regarding where the sale originated? Perhaps your source is being captured at the lead status but not being carried over once it converts to an opportunity. Consider all the scenarios that may occur and re-trace your leads steps.
3. Make an agreement with the sales team to capture source information. Most likely they are happy to be getting leads, especially if they are converting, but are not really concerned about the source. That’s your job as the marketer to track what is working and what isn’t but you can’t report on data that is not being captured. Gain buy-in from sales on ‘we deliver leads, and you preserve the source.’
4. Track your progress. Have you improved your ability to quantify the financial impact of campaigns? If not, consider adding some alternative tracking tools to use within your organization and cross-check the process you implemented to ensure everything is working the way you envisioned.
Closing the loop and being able to intelligently report on the financial impact you are having on your company’s bottom-line is not 100% up to you but it is up to you to ensure a process is in place and that you have buy-in from key stakeholders (sales, senior management). Illustrating how their lives will improve as a result of your ability to track and report on successes and failures is essential.
Are you challenged with closing the loop? Where in the process do you lose sight of your efforts? How can I help?