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Reality Check: Marketing Technology ROI

Heike Neumann
VP, Marketing, Oracle CX Marketing

If you have never heard that Marketing became a technology-driven world, chances are you missed the memo. So, let's assume you are aware of all of this and you also know that ROI is the key factor why marketers are looking to implement marketing technology. In a recent report from Ascend, marketers  were surveyed on their objectives for implementing marketing technology strategies, their challenges, and their expectations. 

The survey found that:

  • 69% of marketers agree that marketing ROI is the most important objective for their marketing technology strategy. 
  • 50% say that they expect this ROI to come from technology for analytics or predictive modeling. 
  • On the other hand, 44% state that predicting the ROI for a marketing technology investment is their biggest challenge when it comes to acquisition of such technology (ah, and the leader in that one is, of course, budget availability with 55)
  • 25% of marketers surveyed are expecting to see said ROI within three months or less, while 39% are slightly more patient and giving it 3 to 6 months.

In summary, marketers want to implement marketing technology to increase their ROI, which they have challenges predicting, but expect it to come from predictive modeling, with budget hard to acquire, and to see returns on their investment in less than six months.


I don't want to be a party pooper, but here are five realities to help you manage your expectations:

  1. Marketing Technology alone cannot drive Marketing ROI

First of all, you already have some Marketing ROI- you may find it challenging to calculate, but it is there. Marketing technology can certainly help you to not just measure ROI but increase it. But, ROI only becomes a tangible reality once sales happen- which leads to our next reality.

  1. Implementing Marketing Technology always triggers process changes

I know. We have all seen our fair share of process changes, and have experienced it too. It does not happen overnight. Depending on which marketing technology you are implementing, it might even be more than just a process change. It might require an entire change management process, including changes in staff, roles, etc. And, let’s not forget, Marketing technology implementation happens while marketing is running full steam- think open heart surgery.

  1. Analyzing The Sales Cycle is Essential

Your ability to see ROI from your technology investment depends greatly on your sales cycles. If it takes an average of six months to take a lead to close, you cannot expect to see ROI within 3 to 6 months. Furthermore, you also need to factor the time it takes from a prospect to reach the stage of becoming a lead.

  1. Data Must Be Prepared Before It’s Applied

Marketing Technology runs on data, databases and data intelligence. Your data is the wool you need to weave the golden fleece of your marketing success. If your data looks more like straw, you either need to be Rumpelstilzchen to turn it to gold, or you need to do something about its quality. Prepare, clean and scrub your data, before you dump it into your new technology solution.

  1. The Human Factor of Technology Cannot Be Underestimated

Reality is, if the people working with your marketing technology don't understand it, the output will be sub-par. The most critical connection is your sales team. They need to understand the difference in the leads they are getting with the new marketing technology. You also need to factor time for training, adjustment and process optimization.

Marketing Technology is a beautiful thing, and I'm a firm advocate for it. I encourage you to explore, define your needs and implement it. But my highest recommendations here are:

  • Be realistic

  • Manage expectations

  • Don't be shy to get help with the planning and implementation


One type of technology marketers need to invest in to stay competitive and drive ROI is marketing automation. Here are "Six Reasons You Need Marketing Automation."

View the guide

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