481537227When marketing key performance indicators suffer it can be easy to find things to blame. Outdated marketing tools, product features, and changing customer preferences. However, successful marketers need to be able to diagnose whether the problems are stemming from an inadequate tool set, or an outdated strategy.

In this blog post, I’ll look at a couple of ways to evaluate both. This will help ensure you're focusing your efforts and your resources in the right areas to get your marketing machine pumping out leads. So let’s get started!

Is It Your Strategy?

When evaluating the health of your marketing department it’s important to look at key strategy benchmarks like:

1) Inbound Lead Generation

Are you generating inbound leads on a consistent basis? If you are not frequently adding new leads to the top of the funnel this is a fairly good indicator that there is a problem with the marketing strategy.

Successful marketing teams that are operating in a well honed strategy are creating content and campaigns that are highly relevant and valuable to their buyer persona. This content should be driving new leads into the sales funnel on a daily and weekly basis. If this is not the case in your company you should take some time to evaluate your marketing strategy to see if it needs to be re-aligned.

2) Growing Your Reach & Network

Another measure of a well crafted marketing strategy is consistent growth in your subscribers, fans and followers. As social media, content marketing, and blogging play a more significant role in lead generation watching these growth trends becomes important.

If your organization's strategic messaging is sound you should see your reach and network statistics moving up and to the right over time. If this is not the case you should dig deeper to see if there are issues with your marketing strategy.

3) Financial Metrics

The final yardstick from which you should be evaluating your marketing strategy is through financial benchmarking metrics. Things like: cost per lead, cost per follower, and purchase funnel performance metrics. When it comes to these statistics there is no magical number.

Rather, each industry will have a benchmark for these KPI’s. Successful marketers are constantly evaluating their performance against industry standard metrics. A well articulated strategy will manifest itself with these financial metrics within industry standards. So take some time and look to see how your marketing department is performing in these areas. If you start to see outliers in your evaluation it could be a sign of a poor marketing strategy.

Is It Your Tools?

As we all instinctively know having good tools is not a panacea for poor strategy and lousy execution. However, having a poor set of tools can definitely limit productivity and effectiveness. Let’s look at a few ways of evaluating if it’s time to upgrade your tool set:

1) Time Loss

A disparate set of tools can definitely be a huge time waster for marketers focused on executing campaigns. I talk to marketing managers and coordinators all the time that are forced into using Wordpress for their their website, Blogger for the corporate blog, and Constant Contact for their email campaigns.

The time wasted logging in & logging out, learning separate interfaces, and staying abreast of new feature roll outs is exhausting. Additionally it takes valuable time from the important work that these marketers could be doing. Things like creating valuable premium content, working to elevate the company’s search rank, and blogging. If you find yourself in this situation it’s time to upgrade your tool set.

2) Difficulty Understanding Engagement

Using non-integrated tools makes tracking brand engagement almost impossible. Marketers need the ability to see how an individual is engaging with their brand over time.  Things like, page-views, video views, content downloads, blog subscriptions, and social engagement. Only a select few marketing automation platforms give you this functionality.

So if you find yourself trying to correlate data from Google Analytics with email open rates from Constant Contact it’s time to upgrade your marketing tools. Cobbling together meaningful and actionable data from these various systems if a fools errand. So instead of wasting your time doing this, just upgrade your software.  

3) Reporting Struggles

Finally, poor marketing tools makes reporting key performance metrics to upper management difficult at best. As marketing moves digital, executives want and need hard data on monthly marketing performance.

Operating with outdated and non-integrated tools make this job almost impossible. In contrast, marketing automation tools make daily, weekly and monthly reporting very simplistic with one-click report generation. Additionally, these reports give you the 360 degree view of what is happening with your marketing pipeline. So if you find yourself hamstrung every time you need to give a marketing report to company leadership you know that it is time to upgrade your marketing tools.


Diagnosing issues in your marketing department is always difficult and can be related to a number of different variables. Not all of which can be boiled down to just strategy or tools. Other factors like personnel, budget availability and market conditions also play a significant role. However, by doing an evaluation of your strategy and your tool set you can better assess if your current software is holding you back or propelling your marketing objectives forward.

So answer the questions about time-loss, evaluating brand engagement and reporting. If these important tasks are difficult to execute, it may be time for you to upgrade your marketing tool kit. Just remember the old saying is true “a tool is only as good as the person using it.” So even if you upgrade your tools you are going to have to put in the time and dedication to learning and mastering the software. However, a great tool with a skilled marketer can lead to exponential increases in productivity and lead generation!

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Originally published May 28, 2014 10:00:00 AM, updated January 18 2023


Marketing Strategy