How to Prove the ROI of a B2B Digital Marketing Plan to your CEO

Struggling to prove the benefits of inbound to your CEO? Speak the language your superiors understand and prove the ROI of a digital marketing plan.

Picture of George Linley George Linley

Published: 22 Jun 2015

5 minutes read

How to Prove the ROI of a B2B Digital Marketing Plan to your CEO

The majority of B2B marketers will agree that an inbound digital marketing plan can enable your business to source more leads, build brand awareness and create opportunities for business growth. In fact, 93% of B2B marketers are actively using this form of marketing, while 41% of marketers agree that B2B inbound marketing strategies have produced a measurable return on investment.

However, while marketers themselves can see the benefits of inbound digital marketing, proving ROI to senior colleagues and decision-makers is the biggest challenge for 30% of marketers. CEOs, directors and business owners don’t talk in terms of click-through rates, reach, unique visitors etc. Instead, they value real-life indicators which show that your marketing strategy is impacting business growth, customer acquisition and of course, ROI. Without solid evidence that your marketing efforts are achieving these business goals, it can prove difficult to get senior staff to invest in inbound digital marketing strategies. This is why you need to speak in a language they understand.

Cost and value of leads

When managing business marketing activities, the most important factor to senior decision makers is cost. More specifically, the cost of leads and how this equates to their value. Based on research, inbound pioneer HubSpot has concluded that inbound leads cost 61% less than leads gained from outbound marketing (such as TV advertisements, trade shows and cold calling). From an extensive study of 972 marketing professionals, it discovered that a typical outbound lead costs $346 (£210), while an inbound lead costs just $135 (£85). While costing your business less, inbound leads are also much more likely to convert into customers. Leads that have been nurtured with educational content, initiated as part of a digital marketing plan are 47% more likely to make larger purchases than non-nurtured leads, increasing the potential revenue provided by each individual lead.

Although every business is different, you can use this information as a benchmark for proving the significant savings achieved from inbound marketing vs traditional tactics to your superiors, showcasing a year by year, or month by month comparison report. 

Content nurturing produces more sales-ready leads

Maintaining a healthy relationship between marketing and sales teams can be tricky. Unsuitable leads can waste the sales team’s time and resources, while reflecting poorly on the marketing team.

Content nurturing has been proven to produce more qualified sales-ready leads - people who are interested in your services, fit into your target audience and are ready to buy. It’s therefore worth highlighting to decision-makers and your sales team that companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales-ready leads.

Say, for example, your company normally generates about 100 outbound sales-ready leads each month. 

Using the previously mentioned benchmark, this would equate to: 100 x £210 = £21,000 

While sales-ready inbound leads would equate to: 100 x £85 = £8,500

This works out at a month by month saving of £12,500, with a yearly saving of £150,000 while doubling the quantity of qualified, nurtured leads.

Closed loop reporting

Your boss needs to see exactly what their budget is paying for and the results achieved by specific activity. As discussed by HubSpot: “The irony is, today, marketers have the technology they need to “close the loop” between marketing and revenue, but few are actually taking advantage of it.”

Closed loop marketing requires strategic alignment between sales and marketing teams. With closed loop, you can assign a new customer or lead won by the sales team to marketing activity performed by the marketing team. In this broad explanation, this process may seem simple (and it can be), but only if you use competent marketing software such as HubSpot. 

When performing closed loop marketing, pay special attention to the ‘contacts’ tab. In this section of the HubSpot dashboard, you can access information regarding prospects who have downloaded your assets or have signed up for your blog. From here you can view the journey your prospects have taken on your site and their current stage in the buying cycle. 

For example, a prospect may have visited your blog post from a social media referral. Then they may have clicked on a call to action (CTA) and downloaded your asset – becoming a lead and so on. 

Once a lead has been converted into a sales-ready lead or even a customer, you can use the contact’s journey to prove the worth and ROI from marketing activity and credit the lead’s original source. With this information, you can also create an informed report, detailing which pages and promotional channels are resonating with audiences and encouraging conversions, helping you to assess which activities are bringing in the most revenue. 

More importantly, closed loop will highlight the weaknesses in your digital marketing strategy. For example, say you are having a lot of clicks on your call-to-action, but limited form submissions. It’s clear to see that the weakness here is either that the landing page copy isn’t engaging enough, or the asset is asking for too much information based on its perceived value. 

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