The Most Important Marketing KPI: Sales

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Secrets for Increasing Marketing’s Contribution to Sales

After having played the Trusted Advisor role in over a thousand Customer Experience engagements, we are often asked what is the most important Marketing KPI? While marketing departments can get caught up in creating elegant copy and pretty pictures, success is ultimately evaluated by their ability to facilitate sales. This can come in the form of generating high-quality leads, or providing customer experiences that lead prospects to the ready-to-purchase stage.

There is rarely an engagement where this little known KPI doesn’t become front and center once we show our customers how to measure it.

The fastest way to increase your marketing budget is to be able to trace Digital Marketing’s Contribution to Sales. This can be challenging since doing so will require some stitching of your data.

Those who can show their contribution to revenue have the business case to defend and grow their budgets as well as headcount.

Here are the recommended best-practices to Grow Digital Marketing’s Contribution to Sales:

  1. Start with the customer
  2. Unify the Marketing and Sales funnel
  3. Create a unified view of your prospects and customers
  4. Content
  5. Marketing Automation
  6. Personalize
  7. Score your leads
  8. Create Dashboards

1. Start with the Customer

In today’s market, customer experience is everything. While once companies sold products and services, today they largely sell experiences. A customer centric business strategy allows organizations to understand their customers’ likes and pain points. With this understanding comes the ability to tailor products, services and experiences that fulfill their needs at every stage along their journey.

One of the first steps to marketing to the customer is building personas. A persona is a fictional character that marketers and designers define to represent a user, including their preferences, feelings, desires, and characteristics. The variations in the personas’ attitudes and beliefs should be enough so that the marketing messaging can be actionable and personalized.

Each persona has unique pain; therefore, it’s imperative to design experiences for each of them indivudally.

LCG has extensive experience helping organizations document and develop personas, which enables personalization.

2. Unify the marketing and sales funnel

Perhaps the largest detriment of many marketing and sales efforts is a siloed mentality. Especially in today’s world, the lines between these two departments’ interests and goals have blurred. In the past, lead generation was largely a sales effort, however, in the digital world, lead generation is often a marketing effort when it comes to email marketing, PPC, website conversions, and social media.

In order to serve today’s market, where customers are interacting with brands across channels, the two departments must integrate their funnel, into a unified sales and marketing funnel.

The customer journey needs to be considered as a non-linear process, where sales and marketing work together for a common goal.

It started with sharing critical data.

3. Create a unified view of your prospects and customers

Effective organizations have a unified data layer that can track and attribute paid marketing. Sales and marketing must share their data across the different tools they use for an omnichannel view. It doesn’t matter how wonderful each of these tools is performing alone, because if they aren’t sharing critical data in real-time, they can’t provide optimum benefit in terms of decision making to your organization.

Sale’s and marketing’s customer view must be integrated, accessible in real time, and serve as the single point of truth for your company. Disconnect between sales and marketing results in lost opportunities, meaning less revenue.

Many organizations are adopting customer data platforms (CDP). A CDP is a collection of software that creates a persistent, unified customer database, where data is available to other systems. Data is cleaned, combined, structured and standardized to create a single customer profile. The systems that CDPs pull from include call center data, marketing automation, CRM, and ERP. With this aggregate actionable data, you are able to predict the next best action for any customer, in any situation, including both for marketing acquisition and customer service for retention.

Pro Top: If your CDP isn’t about to power personalization in 30 milliseconds or less, its not a CDP, it’s a data lake.

4. Content

Once you have developed personas, and are collecting actionable data in a unified platform, you are ready to start creating content that speaks to your prospective customers, at the stage of the buying journey they are in.

We recommend you start with a content audit, to determine if you have the necessary content for each stage and for each persona. Then, start to create content where required.

Pro Top: Focus on video for mobile devices. Over 60% of online searches are performed on mobile devices, and in some industries, it is even higher. Based on the size of mobile devices, videos are excellent at driving engagement.

5. Marketing Automation

Marketing automation is the next step in marketing to increase sales. First, document existing processes that are working well, to determine how to digitize them. Digitization leads to standardized and scalable sales efforts.

While many think of marketing automation as strictly email, start thinking more broadly to utilizing SMS, Social, and even WhatsApp for international businesses.

Marketing automation is invaluable for nurturing leads and remaining top of mind to current clients for customer retention. It should integrate with your CRM and your CDP.

6. Personalization

By now, almost all marketers should be aware of the benefits personalization has to offer. Customers want experiences that are relevant to them and meet their needs. According to a study by Epsilon, 80% of customers say they are more likely to do business with a company that offers personalized experiences. Personalization in marketing results in increased conversions, better customer retention, and happier customers, that are more likely to refer you business. Using the data you are collecting, you should be personalizing your content, messaging and experiences wherever possible.

7. Score your leads

The most successful marketing business units score their leads. Lead scoring allows you to systematically determine sales-readiness. You should be spending your time with those that are most receptive. By determining what stage of the buying cycle prospective customers are in, you are able to treat them with the appropriate content to advance them to the next stage.

You should establish criteria for Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) based on scoring segmentation and behavior to identify interest.

Marketing can also help to identify leads that are ready to be passed to sales counterparts. As a former sales rep, it is extremely frustrating to be fed sales leads by a marketing department that fail to meet the necessary criteria, with little to no buying intent.

8. Create Dashboards

The goal of dashboards is to make marketing’s performance transparent. A shared dashboard that both marketing, sales and leadership use leads to recommendations from all parties, and to performance improvement.

The basic marketing campaign data should be included in your dashboard like

  1. Campaign status
  2. Leads by source

The sales and marketing pipeline should also be included in your dashboard.

  1. Lead to (Marketing Qualified Lead) MQL
  2. MQL to (Sales Accepted Lead) SAL
  3. SAL TO (Sales Qualified Lead) SQL


Firms that have marketers who can show what they’ve done for the business are in a great position to improve customer experiences while also providing personalization at scale.

If you like what you have read, and want to learn how Lima Consulting Group can help your organization develop a strategy to increase marketing’s contribution to sales, please fill out the form below and we will be in touch shortly to setup a time to discuss.

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