Most executives will admit they are not at all sure what marketing should be doing – or how they should measure its results.

Our answer: Marketing should be helping your business to grow.

To make sure that your marketing is working correctly to do just that, here are five questions executives should be asking themselves and their marketing team.

1. Are our marketing objectives aligned with our business objectives?

What are your new business revenue objectives, and what is the average value of your products or services you need to sell to meet those goals?

Once you have this figured out, you’ll be able to start working out how many sales qualified leads (SQLs) you’ll need to meet your sales objectives. You’ll also need to know how many SQLs you’ll need to generate to close one sale.

What’s an SQL? It’s a lead that will be accepted by your sales team as “ready to sell to.” You’ll need to define what an SQL is for your business and figure out how marketing ensures they generate leads that have (or eventually will have) those qualifications or characteristics.

2. Does our marketing team send sales leads that representatives actually want?

It’s a rather scary statistic, but according to a study for Harvard Business Review, 71 percent of leads are never followed up with. Given the massive missed opportunity cost, why do sales reps never follow up with these leads? Mostly, it is because sales has no faith that these leads are worth their time.

Leads need to be nurtured and kept warm because rarely is anyone ready to buy on the first contact. Since sales teams are usually incentivized, it’s not so surprising they choose to focus their efforts elsewhere to try and meet quotas.

That’s why marketing is responsible for nurturing leads to the point of sales ready. You can do this by keeping in contact through emails with follow-up content that matches with the buyer’s information needs throughout every stage of the buyer’s journey.

3. Does the marketing department understand our audience?

This has always been important, but sometimes, it can be overlooked (especially if the level of understanding is superficial). If you don’t know the characteristics of the ideal customer, how will you be able to target them?

You want to dive into the motivations of your past customers. What drove them to buy and choose you? Every good salesperson knows that it is not the features but the benefits that drive the desire to buy. And stating benefits will only resonate with the buyer if he or she cares about them.

Salespeople often have this information because they speak to potential customers the most often. The challenge is getting the information to marketing that they need to understand your company’s target persona to communicate effectively. Your personas should be representative profiles that focus on customer perspectives, challenges, business goals, and personal preferences.

4. Is Your Marketing Shouting and Interrupting Potential Buyers?

It doesn’t matter if it’s at work or home, we have become quite adept at avoiding interruptive marketing (also referred to as outbound). As a result of this, the most forward-thinking marketing departments are switching their budgets away from outbound in favor of inbound.

Inbound is the process of turning your marketing and your company website into a magnet for potential buyers. So instead of seeking out leads trying to get their attention, you let them find you by offering helpful content when they take to the web to search for products and services that can help them solve their problems.

(Important note: you want to be there to help solve their problems and educate them through the buyer’s journey – not push your products and services).

5. How Do We Measure the Effectiveness of Our Marketing?

Another benefit of inbound over outbound is that your spend is trackable. The three key measurable marketing metrics that truly matter:

  1. Visitors – how many people saw your webpage or content offer?
  2. Contacts – how many people gave you their contact information to become leads?
  3. SQLs – how many leads were turned into sales-ready opportunities that were taken up by sales?

Stepping outside of just the marketing department, how many opportunities ultimately turned into revenue is the most important question.

Note that we left off page rankings, number of pages looked at, time on the site, bounce rate, and all those other measures. That’s not to say they are worthless, but they are details that do not create business.

A digital marketing tool like HubSpot will give you the ability to focus on the important marketing metrics through an easy-to-understand dashboard.

If your answer to the five questions above is ‘yes’ then your marketing is on a sound basis, and you’re probably achieving clear marketing objectives.

If you answered no to one or more, it may be time to start aligning your marketing objectives with your business goals.