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Measure ROI for a Marketing Budget

Cutting marketing budgets can be easy if you cannot tie measurable results from marketing spend. Building accountability for metrics around MQLs and capturing the Buyers Journey is fundamental for measuring ROI.

The perfect plug-and-play system for measuring marketing ROI does not exist, however, there are steps to building a great system you can begin to implement today – and 12-24-months from now – you will move closer to the ideal ROI proof to warrant future marketing spend.

Not every marketing spend can be connected to ROI. There are branding and PR initiatives that come at a cost – which are difficult to measure in terms of ROI, although these initiatives are necessary to keep your company’s profile on the radar.

ROI from a marketing budget spend would be leads converted to revenue generated from customers who were secured as MQLs as the direct result of a pay-for-play marketing initiative. Being able to prove this to be the case requires deft handling of leads procured via an initiative, detailed record-keeping with a CRM system, and documented touches as they travel in the sales funnel and through the pipeline.

To dial-in your marketing budget to focus on the initiatives that produce the best leads, you will need to do some groundwork that mixes MQL goal setting and lead tracking, with visibility into the sales pipeline to study lead movement through the pipeline and lead conversion.

To get started down the path of higher accountability for marketing budget spend, and measuring ROI in the future, we have provided a few tips around the areas that you will need to get [really] good at.


Define the precise traits, characteristics, and behaviors of a Marketing Qualified Lead

Write this information down, with the sales team in full agreement, and be disciplined/resolute with these metrics. For example, if you are B2C, accepting personal (i.e. Gmail) email addresses would be acceptable. If you are B2B and selling software, personal email addresses should be disqualified – as the person is either not qualified, not ready, or not able to be considered for qualification. Or, if you are exhibiting and have a business card drop, or running a ‘enter for a chance to win” fishbowl, these people are not likely going to convert from lead to MQL, as their primary interest is more likely swag-related, and not your product/solution. Furthermore, if you are in a compliance-based channel, any initiatives tied to licensure are suspect in terms of delivering real leads. Leads from these sources should be given a second outreach from marketing to check on whether they are actually interested in your solution.

Define MQL goals for every initiative, pay-to-play or not

You can’t win a race with no finish line – apply this logic to every initiative as it relates to lead procurement. Setting MQL goals is the measuring stick with which marketing can be assessed for effectiveness – goals for all initiatives places focus on the expectation for marketing to delivery MQLs as real measurable results.

Lead tracking

Know where your wins come from, and know their journey to conversion. From the point of origin, into the funnel, and through the sales pipeline - knowing the Buyers Journey makes for a better-informed plan, a refined, lean, and effective future marketing budget. This data is gold as marketing intelligence.

Marketing automation and email nurturing

The 80/20 rule applies to MQLs. 80 percent will need to be nurtured to a deeper state in the sales funnel, and [if you are fortunate] 20 percent will be ready for a higher-level of touch from a sales person. There are marketing automation tools that integrate well into Zoho and Salesforce; having this integration will help define your Buyers Journey.


  • Email marketing works best when you are sending information a prospect values or believes has value.

  • Lead magnets work great when the information within the document as a perceived value or exclusive information.

  • Articles work great when published on the sites your prospects use for research in their field.

  • Advertisements work great when you can catch your best prospects searching using keyword strings.

  • Case Studies work great when they contain demographics (relational points) and a storyline to connect the reader to the story.


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