The measure of success is largely determined by the goals you set in the first place – what are you trying to achieve by doing this? What are you looking to get out of it? When we think about success in that light and apply that definition to marketing, we come across a tricky pickle that has plagued both Marketing VPs and the CEOs they report to:

How do we measure the success of our marketing campaigns – by the leads they generate? Or by the deals they ultimately did – or did not – produce?

The old way of measuring marketing

Traditionally, marketing campaigns – and subsequently, Marketing VPs – were largely judged on how many leads they generated. After all, that was their job, right? To come up with effective campaigns that spread the word about the company’s product, attract potentially interested prospects and passing this initial interest over to sales to convert into opportunities and deals? As long as the marketing team kept generating more leads than they did last month or quarter, they were doing something right.

Yet, over the past few years, a dramatic shift has taken place regarding sales and marketing alignment. Not only is marketing expected to generate leads, but their sales counterparts are also expecting high-quality leads. Giving sales reps a bushel of bad leads that they will waste lots of time calling, with very little chance of converting, is not what they want.

The renewed emphasis on lead quality – at the possible expense of lead quantity – is a roundabout way of getting the answer to our first question posed. The best leads are ones that convert into opportunities and deals. On the flip side, bad leads are not only unproductive roads that lead nowhere – they could actually and actively hurt a rep’s sales process by slowing him or her down.

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Modern marketing success

Today’s Marketing VP – or more accurately, the CEO they report to – is less concerned with leads. After all, a campaign that generated a thousand leads could have produced zero opportunities and deals – can that campaign realistically be deemed a success? Campaigns have to be looked at from a revenue-focused lens, instead of merely a lead-generating one.

Marketing attribution in the age of multiple digital channels has become more challenging, requiring the user to go beyond the lead source in to campaigns. Then, can they identify which campaigns have not only converted the most leads to opportunities and deals, but also which ones have influenced the most opportunities and deals.

Being able to pull reports like the one above that identify which specific campaigns – whether it was that eBook email blast, that event you hosted or that Adwords campaign – were most influential will give a Marketing VP answers to questions like:

  • Which of our campaigns influenced the most opportunity conversions?

  • Which campaigns had the highest conversion rates from leads to opportunities, and opportunities to deals?

  • Which deals, stemming from which campaigns, were the most valuable in terms of overall bookings?

  • Which levers should we be pulling more, and which ones should we be pulling less?

That last question is ultimately the be-all-end-all of why campaigns should be judged by the deals they produced, not the leads the generated. For Marketing VPs, ROI isn’t just a buzzword; it’s a very real concern that drives all of their decisions. Their job is to work within their budget to attract potential customers and prospects. Being able to identify campaigns with substantially better ROIs than other campaigns will allow them to do their jobs better, and help the sales team drive more deals.


In this day and age, a lead is a dirty four-letter word. Ultimately, nobody cares about leads. It’s all about opportunities and deals, about pipeline growth and the bottom line. If Marketing is actively contributing in both those areas, they will be judged to have done a damn fine job with their campaigns.

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