What is Revenue Marketing? The key to earning a seat at the revenue table.

Chances are, you found this article because you heard the term “revenue marketing” but you might be asking: What is it? Is it some fluff concept that doesn’t mean anything? Or, is there some merit to what I’m hoping to do?

If you’re looking to transform your marketing team from the “make it pretty” department to a revenue-generating machine, you’re in the right place!

Originally developed by Partner and Chief Strategy Officer Dr. Debbie Qaqish in 2011, the concept of Revenue Marketing goes beyond what traditional lead generation or demand generation strategies encompass.

Jump to a section with these links:

Definition |The Four Marketing Stages | How Revenue Marketing Is Different | Six Key Areas | Next Steps

Looking for a deeper dive? You can get certified with our free Revenue Marketing Basics course and learn from Dr. Qaqish in the one-hour video series!

What Is Revenue Marketing?

Revenue marketing is a holistic approach that helps marketers prove return on marketing investment, create optimal customer experiences, and compete in the digital world.

This happens as marketing:

  • Drops sales-ready leads into the top of the funnel
  • Accelerates sales opportunities though the funnel
  • Measures marketing based on contribution to pipeline and revenue
  • Transforms marketing from a cost center to a revenue center

The result? Marketing is viewed as an integral part of driving revenue … and is far more respected than just a “pens, mugs, brochures, and trade shows” department.

The Four Stages of the Revenue Marketing Journey

The Revenue Marketing transformation improves upon lead generation and demand generation

You’ve heard of each stage (except, perhaps, the last one!) and likely talk about it often in your own marketing.

But in this journey to a full-on revenue-crushing marketing machine, it’s important to know the common challenges and solutions we’ve seen hundreds of companies work through.

You may find parts of different stages that resonate with where you currently are … that’s normal!

Curious which stage you fall into? Our Revenue Marketing Assessment is for you!

Traditional Marketing

Your team / department is still viewed as the “make it pretty” team. You’re always on the defensive with your budget and it’s next-to-impossible to increase it.

Customer experience revolves around whatever events you’re hosting, or new products are launching. Personas are usually barebones in scope and largely ignored by most of the organization.

Metrics are often tactics-based, such as “# of webinar attendees” or “# of conference leads for sales to follow-up on.”

What’s most likely missing? A strong lead management process. You’ve created leads, but then they’re out of your hands? That doesn’t add up. Working WITH sales and helping build relationships with prospects requires both sales and marketing’s efforts.

Lead Generation

In this stage, marketing thinks sales often ignores their leads. Sales thinks marketing’s leads simply aren’t worth the time and effort. And there’s a lack of visibility / accountability as to what actually happens to these leads.

There’s often a lack of clearly-defined customer profiles for marketing to work with, nor the ability to provide really personal experiences to customers and prospects alike.

Metrics often focus around lead volume and customer engagement (such as unsubscribe or open rate). And the CMO / VP (if there’s even one dedicated to marketing) cannot quickly identify marketing’s contribution to the bottom line, making defense of its budget difficult every quarter.

The primary challenge? It’s still lead management! But in this stage, it’s less about building an effective process, and more about enforcing said process with buy-in from multiple parts of the company.

Related: Establish a service-level agreement with sales

Demand Generation

The move from lead gen to demand gen involves plenty of strategy, so it’s not the easiest task!

Here, you’re focused on marketing’s contribution to revenue. However, there’s often conflict between sales and marketing regarding this very attribution.

Other common challenges here are:

  • Developing a robust content operation focused on what customers are truly looking for (at any stage of the buying cycle)
  • Having defined primary and secondary Ideal Customer Profile(s)
  • CMO’s ability to forecast marketing’s impact moving forward based on available data

Typically, our clients have needed to hone in on what customers want by working more closely with sales for their feedback and input. You’re also likely proving some value from marketing to the bottom line … but there are often ways to improve this measurement (and make it easier / replicable).

Revenue Marketing

Very few organizations would classify themselves here. If you’re reading this and the following description fits you, congratulations on reaching marketing nirvana!

Revenue generated by marketing is properly attributed, and methods (such as marketing automation, outbound nurtures, landing page development, etc.) are predictable, scalable, and repeatable across the team in the following ways:

Predictable: When your CMO or VP of Marketing walks into a senior management team meeting, she / he comes with two different reports: a report showing marketing’s revenue contribution over the past month, quarter, or year, and a forecast for the upcoming period

Scalable: Campaigns, reporting, content development, and attribution are all done similarly across any vertical, business unit, and / or product group. Anything new has a ready-made base from which to build.

Repeatable: Processes for success are documented so that any new hire could quickly pickup processes and begin contributing to the revenue machine.

In summary, the entire journey can be summed up like this:

The Revenue Marketing Journey's four main steps may seem straightforward - but implementing processes for growth can be difficult, with multiple levels of the organization needing to buy-in

How Is Revenue Marketing Better Than Demand Generation?

Key areas are enhanced to provide exceptional insight:

Sales and marketing alignment

Marketing can pass all the leads possible over the sales, but if sales thinks they’re crap, it doesn’t matter.

Gaining necessary buy-in from multiple levels of the organization – from sales to executives, customer support to IT – are must-haves if marketing’s efforts are to be best realized into revenue.

If your initial thought was “Yeah, but…” then you’re not alone. In fact, this is typically the single-greatest roadblock to progress. Our series on building an effective lead management process addresses each key step needed for greater alignment.

Tying goals to revenue – not leads

A majority of marketing teams have quarterly / annual bonuses and performance tied to leads generated. A revenue marketer knows that’s an empty metric on its own.

With the right alignment within the company or business unit, marketing should feel comfortable signing up for a specific revenue number that’s tied to closed-won sales opportunities.

Think about it … which is more likely to get executive buy-in and resonate with all areas of the business?

  • “Marketing should drive 30 MQLs a week with a > 30% conversion rate to SQL status”
  • “Marketing drives $5M in revenue”

The first is far more common, but the second keeps focus on the one ultimate goal everyone should care about: Revenue!

Customer, Not Product, Focus

Typical demand generation drives interest in a given product or service. However, this falls into common traps of a product-focused company that doesn’t put the customer first.

Now, revenue marketing obviously involves driving demand … after all, if you can’t create interest in what you do, you won’t last very long!

But typically, hyper-focusing on demand leads to the question: “How do we create greater demand for this product / service?”

Instead, the question should always be: “What do our customers want, and how can we deliver it so they become more willing to spend and stay with us?”

Read more on a customer vs. product centered focus to dive deeper into this topic.

Six Key Areas Of Focus

Revenue marketing is holistic, focusing on processes, people, tech, and aligning them all to the customer for results. Each pillar contains a set of capabilities to help you achieve mastery in that area:

Revenue Marketing six key areas

For more information on each and every one of these pillars and capabilities, you can download our Revenue Marketing 2019 Index report. In this report, we surveyed over 1,000 marketers about these six areas and discovered Strategy is one of the stronger areas, but that companies really struggle with up to four of the others!

So, What Now?

“…to learn and not to do is really not to learn. To know and not to do is really not to know.”

― Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People

Now that you’ve been introduced to revenue marketing, it’s time to do something with it and start accelerating your career, your marketing, and / or your team!

  1. If you haven’t begun your transformation, reading through the first steps may be a great starting point to think over team structure and how internal processes need to work together.
  2. Take an hour and build on the basics with Dr. Debbie Qaqish in this free Revenue Marketing Basics class!
  3. Go through the assessment or read the report to glean new insights into your team and your industry
  4. Or, ask us any questions you have about revenue marketing!

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