It was John Wannamaker, a marketer operating around 1900 who famously said, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” The sad truth is that, according to a recent report by the Aberdeen Group, 51% of modern marketers in the 21st century aren’t doing any better than Wannamaker was able to achieve 117 years ago.

It’s not for a lack of tools, desire or intelligence. There’s no excuse not to compute accurate ROMI in this modern age. In this post, we’ll look at the tools that are needed to establish return on marketing investment (ROMI) and a few basic principles about how to get started tracking ROMI.

There are 4 big reasons why you should track ROMI:

  1. It’s just good practice to know which marketing spend is working to drive revenue and which is not. Many times, the marketing leader’s continued employment depends on it.
  2. Without being able to prove a positive ROMI, the marketing department and its team members are relegated to the expense side of the ledger. Marketing is perceived as a black art, meaning it is just not understood. Most have the opinion that it is probably needed, but aren’t convinced of any real value beyond the services provided like setting up the trade shows for the sales team.
  3. Without a proven and documented ROMI, Marketing is often the first department to get cut when times are tough. Nobody really understands how marketing contributes to revenue. ROMI solves that problem.
  4. A positive ROMI helps you get buy-in from leadership when you want to expand your marketing team, experiment with new tactics, and get more budget.

ROMI = (profit generated-cost of marketing)/cost of marketing


Now that we understand why being able to report ROMI is so important, here is how you obtain it.

There are two pieces of marketing technology (martech) you’ll need to determine ROMI. You’ll need a customer relationship management (CRM) program and a marketing automation platform (MAP).

The most common CRM platforms are, Microsoft Dynamics, Oracle Sales Cloud and SugarCRM. A CRM is typically a sales tool because it allows the sales team to track their activity as new leads pass through the sales funnel. The funnel stages usually include something like; suspect, lead, qualified lead, opportunity and closed. Most CRMs also include an option that can tie an opportunity, contact, and/or company to a specific marketing campaign. It should be noted that there are many other features built into the CRM that are not germane to this discussion. The key function of the CRM with regard to ROMI is in connecting pipeline and revenue to a marketing campaign.

To measure ROMI, the two systems must be integrated. In other words, they must talk to each other via digital connection. The most common configuration process is set up so that the MAP activity goal is to generate a qualified lead. When a qualified lead is created, the contact information, along with information about the campaign that was responsible for generating the lead, is sent to the CRM. Once the lead is in the CRM, the sales team works on it until an opportunity is generated and revenue is credited to the opportunity. The connection between the qualified lead, campaign, opportunity and revenue allows us to calculate ROMI. The important connection between the 2 systems is the campaign.

There are a few key points to note here because this is the crux of how ROMI is determined:

  1. The campaign information will include the cost to execute.
  2. The lead and the campaign are forever connected.
  3. When or if the lead is associated with a sales opportunity, the campaign is connected to that opportunity – this shows marketing contribution to sales pipeline.
  4. When the opportunity is closed as won, the associated revenue is tied to the original marketing campaign closing the loop between the cost of the campaign and revenue generated.

Because some of the information is created in the MAP and some of the information is created in the CRM, it is critically important to ensure the requisite information maps properly between the two programs.



The ROMI Mindset

The first step towards determining ROMI is in the mindset. Even before you purchase the tools, it is important to establish a ROMI mindset, meaning that each and every marketing activity must be reviewed in the context of generating revenue. Ask these questions for each marketing campaign:

  • How will this marketing campaign generate leads?
  • How will we know if the leads are qualified to send to the sales team?
  • How will the lead generated by this campaign flow through the sales funnel?
  • What other campaigns will touch this lead as it flows through the sales funnel?
  • What is the expected ROMI?
  • What will be considered a successful ROMI?
  • How will this campaign convert to revenue? (map it out on the whiteboard)

The good news is that you can get started tracking ROMI without purchasing either one of these tools. Note, it is, “get started”. Start with a ROMI mindset and start a spreadsheet that tracks campaign cost and qualified leads as a minimum. Granted, this is a manual and somewhat laborious process, but, at least it gets you ahead of John Wannamaker. Next, take incremental steps towards a full ROMI closed loop model.