Five Tips for Showing Marketing ROI in Salesforce

If you’re a marketer starting to think about hunkering down with several pumpkin spice lattes and Excel spreadsheets (recommended ratio = 2:1) to crank through your 2016 budget projections, we feel your pain. It’s that time of year when you need to show your marketing ROI and Salesforce is just the platform to help.

Our resident Marketing Guru has a great blog post up about how you can begin to arm yourself with the numbers you need to answer all your boss’ questions about just what exactly you’ve been doing the past 12 months with all those marketing dollars and in the spirit of friendly commiseration, we thought we’d throw a few more pointers your way. We, a company full of Salesforce and project management nerds, of course have a few opinions on the best way to go about organizing this metric-gathering effort, to help you avoid the usual caffeine- and spreadsheet-induced seasonal panic and I’ve consolidated our top five for you here:

salesforce marketing report roi

Explaining marketing results starts with effectively using Salesforce to track, measure, and report. Photo credit Shutterstock

#1 Determine the top metrics you’ll be accountable for
You probably get the same questions every year from your boss. Make a list now of what data points you know you’ll need to present (some starter ideas here), then add to that list some additional metrics that help enrich the picture of what you’ve been working on. Think about your Marketing/Sales funnel and where you want to use data to help articulate successes/challenges.

Once you have your list together, it’s time to channel those word-problem skills you haven’t used since seventh grade math. Translate your list of must-have answers from executive-speak into measurable metrics. “What worked?” is not a question Salesforce can answer. “Which campaigns by type have the highest closed opportunity return?” is. Having a very clear and specific list of questions to answer makes your reporting homework much more manageable.

#2 Make Salesforce Campaigns work for you
After Step 1, you now know what you need to be able to measure. But wait – you haven’t been measuring those things all year? You’re not alone. Companies often invest lots of time and brainpower customizing other areas of Salesforce to fit their business, yet Salesforce Campaigns and the marketing team are sometimes not included in this effort – leaving them to try to somehow divine performance metrics from standard, out-of-the-box Campaign functionality (read: giving up and instead consulting multiple, conflicting versions of old spreadsheets and invoices from your PR company).

Campaigns, like every other area of Salesforce, are customizable to fit your business needs. Want to track performance by business division, geography, channel, messaging, or audience? Need to know how much of the credit for a given Campaign should really be going to the Marketing team? Get with your System Administrator to create any necessary fields in order to be able to calculate the metrics you know you need.

Once you have those fields in place, it’s time to go back through your campaigns from the past year and fill in as much information as you can. Painful? Sometimes. The good news is that, after this exercise, you will a) look extra knowledgeable and b) never forget to fill in those key fields for new campaigns moving forward. That means this process next year will be a whole lot easier.

#3 Create reports that find those metrics
Now you know what you’re trying to find. You have the fields to capture that information, and the data filled in to calculate it. You just have to grab all the relevant data to get those metrics, so it’s time to create some reports. If you’re not a Salesforce reporting guru (or don’t have the necessary permissions), now you get to make even better friends with your Salesforce Administrator. Maybe offloading one of those lattes to them would be a good start. (Even better, brush up on your own Salesforce reporting skills.)

This will be a continuation of your earlier conversation with your Salesforce  Admin about Campaign custom fields. Brief your Admin on the metrics you’re trying to get, and generally how you want the data to appear on a report. Between knowing your requirements, and being generally awesome at Salesforce, your Admin should be able to take this on.

Knowing which Report Type to use is 90% of the battle. Some standard Report Types they’ll probably need to get started include: Campaigns, Campaigns with Influenced Opportunities, and Leads with Converted Lead Information. Once your Admin has the reports configured, spend some time with them to determine the best way to graphically represent that data. Then add a chart to each report to reflect that.

#4 Put it all on a dashboard
You’re almost done! Now you have some informative and beautiful reports with charts. Is your boss actually going to look at all those reports individually? Nope. Make it easy on them, and pull those reports together onto a single Executive dashboard of marketing results. Since you already created the report charts, this should be a fairly simple process, again involving your friendly Admin.

I recommend titling each dashboard component with the question that graph is answering. Here, you’re translating from Salesforce metric jargon back into executive-speak. If your chart was designed to show relative campaign ROI by channel, give it a title like: “Which marketing channels yield the most profitable deals?”

#5 Practice
By this point, you and your Admin are well into the weeds, and it can be easy to lose track of what all these charts and reports were for in the first place. Think of your audience (who are probably not experts in Salesforce or marketing), and take some time to run through your dashboard presentation with them in mind. Ask your Admin to log in as those users to confirm they can see and drill into the dashboard components. Cut the jargon and the details from your presentation, and make sure you’re ready to answer those hard-hitting, bottom line questions – knowing that, if the powers-that-be choose to drill you on specifics, you’re now more than ready with all the answers.

Like where this is going, but need some more specific guidance in order to actually get started and show your marketing ROI in Salesforce? We’ve got you covered. Join us at our Marketing Year-End Salesforce Reporting class, offered October 30 or November 6, to arm yourself with the tools and skills you need. Early bird rate of $149 available through October 23.