3 steps to justifying your marketing automation platform budget

By Bill McGinnis

Justifying your marketing automation platform (MAP) budget – and overall marketing budget – can be an uphill battle if you don’t have the numbers to prove your contribution to revenue and can’t back up your requests. Many base their budgets on a percent of revenue, citing industry or market norms. While this does lend some credibility to your request, what your CFO is probably looking for is ROI.

Still, it is a good idea to see what other companies are spending on marketing, especially your competitors. The prevailing thought is that companies spend anywhere from 3 – 5% of revenue on marketing. Then again, you will see companies in the tech space spend as much as 400% of revenue, especially in the startup phase.

Okay, so you are not quite ready to ask any C-suite member to spend all the company cash on marketing, but you do know that if you make a great case for delivering a substantial ROI on marketing dollars, then C-level on down would be all ears. Instead of approaching your budget as an expense, tout it as an investment. How do you do this? Start with past performance, then present actionable intelligence learned from the past, and finally create a plan for continuous improvement. Here are the 3 steps:

  1. Extract all the relevant data out of your MAP and all Won Opportunities out of your CRM
  2. Aggregate and organize the data in a database
  3. Analyze the results in reports and dashboards

Here is the analysis that will result:

  • Hard numbers on the campaigns that contributed to each Won Opportunity the past 12 months
  • Stats on activities (emails, downloads, page visits, etc.) that created and moved each Opportunity
  • Defined Personas that were key to influencing the decision-making that led to a Win
  • Metrics showing breaks and gaps associated with people, process, technology and data that prevented more Won Opportunities – and that you could fix in the coming year with the budget you submit

You are probably wondering, “looks a little bit too easy”. Yes, the devil is in the detail, so let’s go through each step in a little more detail:

    • First, “How in the world am I going to get all of that data out of my MAP? Exporting all of that is either not possible or takes way too long.” Sojourn Solutions has the answer with its Data Assistant, an IT tool built for marketers like you that uses MAP API’s to extract any and all email activities, form submits, page visits and more.
    • Second, a simple MySQL database not only stores your data, it helps organize it too. In the diagram below, we helped one of our long-time customers – and Oracle Eloqua client, in this case – to get started:

Oracle Eloqua and CRM Flow - Sojourn Solutions


  • Finally, Tableau makes it easy to configure the reports and dashboards you need to make your case.

Tableau Marketing Influence on Revenue Dashboards - Sojourn Solutions

But pay attention to the fourth bullet in the analysis results I mentioned above – metrics. They are key. By looking at your metrics you will be able to find out (besides how great your campaigns’ performances were, and which campaigns you should mimic in the coming year) where there are specific problems concerning:

  • Data – you uncover missing, incorrect, or just plain lack of data. Improving here will improve personalization and segmentation, or perhaps provide intel to help your sale reps prepare for lead follow up
  • Technology – you find disconnects between components or systems. For example, Contact Roles are not being associated with Opportunities, or silos of data in the webinar platform are not integrated with your MAP
  • Process – you see the need for a data quality and enrichment process, and also that sales and marketing have not clearly mapped out the whole lead to cash process
  • People – analysis reveals to you that sales and marketing do not have a mutually agreed upon prospecting and lead follow-up plan

If you follow the 3-step process, in the boardroom you will be armed with relevant, insightful information to justify your new budget requests. Specifically, clear irrefutable data on market and competitor spending and Marketing’s contribution to revenue and success in the past year. This will allow you to confidently present a data-driven, number-supported plan to increase Return on Marketing Investment in your new fiscal year.

Sojourn Solutions contributed to one global enterprise’s marketing success by proving and improving marketing’s contribution to revenue in an industry-recognized way – check out their story.

Do you need help executing this 3-step process? Please contact us today!



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