Marketing Forecasting 101

As marketers, we’re constantly working to predict future outcomes. We must both anticipate what tactics are most likely to pay off and how long they’ll take to begin yielding results. That guesswork drives marketing decision-making as we attempt to meet and exceed organizational targets.

The more sophisticated and data-driven we become, the more precisely we are able to predict results. The best way to pinpoint future outcomes is often to examine them through the lens of historical data and past results.

Benefits of Marketing Forecasting

The most obvious and practical benefit of marketing forecasting is that when your data can paint a picture of which marketing activities will produce the best results, you can allocate your budget more effectively toward the types of channels and tactics that result in the greatest ROI.

Accurate forecasts are also appreciated by the C-suite. Showing your CFO the predicted number of leads and customers your campaigns can be expected to bring in for a future period makes it easier for them to justify a greater allocation of capital for marketing. Your forecast will serve to simplify how marketing contributes to the bottom line results that matter most to them, which solidifies your department’s value to the organization.

Finally, accurate forecasting improves the alignment your marketing department creates with sales. If you can provide a clear idea of how many leads to expect in the coming months and their associated historical conversion rates based on waterfall analysis, they’ll be better able to manage their time and execute against quotas.

Getting Started

First, you need good data, and lots of it. You’ll need access to key metrics such as the number of INQs and MQLs generated in recent quarters. You’ll also want to determine the conversion rates for each awareness stage so you know the percentage of leads getting “stuck” in your funnel. If you’re interested in stage velocity, you’ll need to deploy a mechanism for time-stamping the entry and exit points for your waterfall stages.

If your data is tagged in a more sophisticated manner, you can explore how the aforementioned categories shake out for specific personas and lead types. With all that in front of you, you’ll be ready to calculate how likely specific activities are to achieve success various lead types. And If you’ve gone this far, you may be ready to begin strategically examining customer journeys.

Performance Management

All of this is possible, but takes both real work and some powerful technology. Marketing performance management solutions help you see the stories hidden within your data so you can learn all the important details you need for true insight.

Once you have technology that can show you the stories your past data has to tell, it can also predict an accurate story of what’s to come. By projecting the likely results of future actions based on thorough waterfall analysis, your team can figure out how your next campaign is likely to play out. In addition to improving your relationship with the C-suite and sales, it also gives you the information you need to craft the best possible marketing campaign, every time.

If you’d like more information on how to more accurate marketing forecasting at your institution, our team can help. Get in touch to learn more.

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