How to use data to propel your early stage company growth

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How to use data to propel your early stage company growth

How to use data to propel your early stage company growth

Propel your growth with strong marketing reporting

Many early stage companies focus their marketing investments almost entirely on awareness and acquisition, and rightly so. However, investing a bit of time and effort on your operations as you begin to scale can pay off exponentially in the long run. Accurate, reliable data on your customer will help you focus on what works, understand your results and craft a compelling narrative for investors. Founders who can speak effortlessly to how they accelerated their pipeline and sales through strategic marketing will stand out when compared to those relying on the “spaghetti at a wall” approach.  

Marketing without pipeline is pointless

For most businesses, the single most important data point to start tracking is pipeline. Although technically a “sales” metric, pipeline should be at the heart of marketing reporting. Why? Because marketing drives leads, leads drive pipeline, pipeline drives sales and sales drive recurring revenue. As much as marketers like to live in the minutia of web traffic, clicks and conversions, none of it matters if there is no pipeline. And frankly, much marketing data is at best irrelevant if its not strategic and tied to results of the financial kind. Last year, The Correspondent published a fascinating piece looking at the rise of digital marketing, the extraordinary amount of money invested in the practice, and the lack of any real proof of its efficacy. Although I wouldn’t go so far to say that digital channels are ineffective, I would say that the problem with it at many firms is the lack of direct connection to  real sales. And in a small organization that is rapidly scaling, it is very easy to lose the plot on marketing investments, and waste an awful lot of money, if the ROI is not transparent.  

Start with your CRM

When building a company, you have to make tough choices on what operational tools really matter vs. the nice to haves – even Fortune 500s need to justify these same costs. In my experience, nothing pays off more than a well set up CRM (and nothing is more painful than trying to reverse engineer fixes due to a poor CRM configuration).   Salesforce is the market leader by far, but there are many options with varying price structures to suit early stage companies. From a Marketer’s standpoint, what’s important is to ensure that your CRM can scale with your business and function as the hub through which your entire customer journey passes, from initial engagement through to contract signing and renewal. It’s also critical that you build in a single, unified view of the prospect and customer across your Marketing, Sales, Product and Support teams. This will be an incredibility powerful foundation that will feed you the performance data points you need to understand what’s working, what isn’t working, and where to focus your marketing investments. Research has shown that when this works, companies can expect to triple their leads and double their sales.

As you grow, you can bolt on marketing-specific functionality such as cross-channel engagement, AI-based personalization, lead scoring, remarketing, and so much more. What is immensely difficult and costly is to combine customer and prospect data sitting many different formats, in many different marketing automation systems, in reverse.  

The investor’s perspective

Current and prospective investors want to know that the growth you’ve sold them on is real, and not just aspirational. For example, clearly demonstrating how your marketing performance has increased quarterly close rates alongside product strategy will speak to your firm’s depth of understanding of your market and your ability to capture that opportunity. Providing further transparency to investors where your growth is coming from, where the headwinds are, and how you’re pivoting your marketing strategy in response will also speak to how well your firm executes and changes course when needed.  

The art and science of reporting

Finally, we should not forget that there is an art and a science to marketing, and a big part of a founder’s job is storytelling. Data in and of itself is interesting, but it will not drive a conversation forward with an investor or a prospective customer wanting to make sure that your company can perform. The point of the analytics is to help you tell a story about the performance of your business. This is where the art comes in – both in how you present your results and articulate your purpose, brand and progress. Although you may not have the valuation of a company like Hootsuite, Hubspot, Lemonade or Airbnb just yet, present yourself as if you do. Thoughtful, elegant design combined with powerful analytics will make for a winning combination.

This guest blog was written by Laura Davis who is an award-winning, international marketer with more than twenty years of experience advising fortune 500s, start ups and boards on their go to market, brand and growth strategies. Laura sees marketing as a transformative force that has the power to dramatically scale revenue and customer success.

Laura Davis
Managing Director, LRD Strategies