Getting real results from your marketing efforts can feel like climbing a steep mountain.
The struggle is real. Many event pros find themselves stuck in a cycle of spending without seeing substantial returns.
When generating reliable, long-term success through marketing, the number one challenge is improving the return on investment (ROI) of the marketing approach. And as revenue declines, the ability to identify tactics that drive sales defines a business’s rate of success.
If you don’t know how to effectively measure and increase your marketing ROI, reaching the next level may seem impossible. Fortunately, there’s no need to throw money at mediocre tactics any longer.
Enter closed-loop marketing systems.
Closing the loop between sales & marketing teams
It’s no secret that sales and marketing teams often operate in isolation. When revenue declines, this lack of communication leads to heated debates and the inevitable blame game.
Marketing teams place fault on the sales team for low closing rates. Clearly, the salespeople don’t know how to sell. Meanwhile, the sales team is busy pointing fingers at the marketing team. Clearly, all those inquiries were low-quality leads. But it doesn’t matter who’s right because revenue is still in the hole.
A better solution is to use a closed-loop marketing strategy, which creates a continuous feedback loop that uses mutually agreed-upon data and analytics to drive conversations between marketers and salespeople. Instead of creating a divide, both sides work together toward a common goal. As a result, valuable insights are shared, and each team can refine their approaches based on continuous feedback and performance metrics that support revenue generation.
Shifting focus from inquiries to revenue
Many marketers within the event industry place a heavy focus on engagement. They claim you must post on social, learn TikTok, and jump on Threads early.
However, the best marketers know that inquiries and lead generation matter more than mere likes and comments. Instead of hopping on TikTok trends, they’ll help you develop an airtight funnel to turn interest into inquiries. Excellent marketers understand how marketing efforts ladder up to sales, revenue, and business growth—which is the ultimate goal.
To better understand the connection between marketing and sales, start with the sale and work your way back up the funnel, determining key performance metrics (KPIs) that affect sales and revenue. With that data, sales and marketing teams can explore campaigns, tactics, and action items that will allow them to generate more sales and revenue.
From there, data-driven team members can set up measurement protocols to capture data that will help everyone stay on the same page and make better decisions for optimizing the customer journey from brand awareness to signing the contract.
Key steps to start with closed-loop marketing
Shifting to a closed-loop marketing strategy requires time, planning, commitment, and the right tools. But before buying the newest customer relationship management (CRM) or analytics platform, schedule a joint meeting to emphasize that these changes aren’t just procedural; they are a new way of thinking about how you do business. In short, you are making cultural shifts that start with fostering a more data-driven culture. To do so, you’ll need buy-in from both teams.
1. Foster a data-driven culture
Data is key to bridging the gap between marketing and sales teams.
Your first meeting between marketing and sales should be an open conversation about what each team does, how they do it, and how they measure results. Encourage transparency and empathy as each group shares their experiences and explains how and why they measure success. Once everyone understands roles and responsibilities, it’s time to discuss what kind of information will promote informed decision-making for everyone involved.
2. Commit to regular communication among departments
Effective closed-loop marketing requires seamless communication among departments. This ensures that data is shared, insights are exchanged, and strategies are aligned. Regular meetings, collaboration, and open lines of communication are essential for success. Determine reporting needs, including essential KPIs, campaign performance metrics, and other data needed to monitor campaign health and make data-driven decisions. You can also decide on reporting cadence (i.e., monthly, weekly, or real-time).
3. Measuring results with the right technology
You may need to invest in or re-evaluate your automation platforms, CRMs, analytics programs, and other software you use in marketing and sales. Each tool should feature adequate tracking capabilities that meet your needs for data collection, analysis, and reporting.
Once closed-loop marketing strategies are implemented, analyze the results in meaningful ways and at regular intervals. Each metric or KPI should demonstrate how campaign performance affects the bottom line.
Continuously optimizing and iterating
Closed-loop marketing is an iterative process, and by reframing KPIs as active questions, you’ll naturally drive action with team members. For example, instead of “looking at” inquiry and close rates, you can ask: “Are salespeople better at closing warm leads or cold leads? Why?”
You’re still looking at inquiry and close rates, but by framing the data with questions, marketing and sales teams can have more meaningful conversations about optimizing campaigns and solving challenges.
By evaluating KPIs throughout the sales cycle and into the business’s bank account, marketers can refine campaigns and make informed decisions to maximize returns.
Importance of omnichannel measuring capabilities
Omnichannel measurement allows marketers to monitor customer interactions across all online and offline channels. This comprehensive perspective aids in deciphering how different touchpoints contribute to a consumer’s conversion journey.
Prioritizing this aspect of technology can transform your approach to ROI tracking and performance evaluation. An omnichannel analytics platform can be as simple as a spreadsheet that aggregates marketing insights (e.g., directory listings, social media efforts, website metrics, and email marketing performance) with sales data (e.g., number of sales follow-up emails sent, consults scheduled, and sales closed).
Even if you can’t pinpoint an individual’s journey from viewing a single Reel to signing a contract, following the customer journey through the entire marketing and sales cycle will reveal patterns and offer valuable insights for optimizing marketing efforts and sales tactics.
When thoughtfully connected, a little data can go a long way for small and mid-sized businesses.
Using closed-loop marketing to bridge gaps between sales and marketing teams can revolutionize your approach to marketing ROI. This integrative approach helps teams focus on data-driven decision-making, tying everyone’s efforts directly to revenue generation instead of increasing brand exposure or drumming up inquiries.
Christie Osborne is the owner of Mountainside Media, a company that helps event industry professionals brands develop scalable marketing strategies that bring in more inquiries and leads. Christie is a national educator with recent speaking engagements at NACE Experience, WIPA and the ABC Conference. Christie regularly shares industry insight in her Special Events column, as well as on Wed Altered, Risingtide Society, WeddingIQ, and NACE’s industry blog.