Investment in marketing drives growth and ROI for seven in 10 professionals

Automation was found to help individuals hit sales targets, while integrated sales and marketing teams are more likely to exceed forecast revenue.

Individuals who worked in companies that spent more on marketing in 2021 compared to 2020 were more likely to report that their company’s revenue grew.

Close to half (45%) of respondents to a new survey reported that their company spent more on marketing last year, with 78% of those saying their company’s revenue grew, and 34% saying that revenue exceeded forecast for the year.

Meanwhile professionals that used technology to automate sales and marketing tasks were 16% more likely to hit their targets last year, while businesses with well-integrated sales and marketing teams were 26% more likely to bust revenue forecasts.

CRM and intelligent revenue platform Pipedrive’s annual State of Sales and Marketing report this year analysed survey responses from more than 1,100 sales and marketing professionals and start-up and small business owners.

Among those respondents that considered their sales and marketing teams rather or very well integrated, 44% said they had reached personal targets last year, compared with 19% of those that said these processes were ‘not well integrated ’in their company.

More than four in 10 respondents reporting well integrated sales and marketing functions said their company’s revenue grew more in 2021 than in 2020 (compared to 19% of respondents reporting poor integration), and 46% said revenue growth exceeded forecast (20% of respondents reporting poor sales and marketing integration).

Variety in digital marketing drives revenue

The top three marketing areas invested in last year were social media marketing (69% of respondents, email marketing (61%) and content marketing (52%). The same three channels topped the list for driving the most return on investment (ROI) for companies last year. 

Pipedrive also revealed that those businesses who used a variety of digital marketing channels were more likely to hit their regular sales quotas more frequently. 

Those respondents that reported “always” hitting their regular sales quota used an average 3.68 digital marketing channels, compared to the average 3.13 for those that said this “regularly” happened and the average 1.64 channels for those that said they “never” met regular sales quotas.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, larger companies currently tend to use more digital channels, with smaller businesses employing less than 10 staff showing the greatest reliance on social media marketing (58%) content marketing (42%). More than seven in 10 larger companies used social media marketing last year, while 44% of this bracket used online events and webinars – more than double the proportion of smaller businesses. Mid-size businesses (up to 100 staff) continued the trend by leaning most on social media (73% of businesses), but slightly more of this group (57%) lean on content marketing compared to larger firms (55%).

Common to a number of research reports released this year, the study found that investment in email marketing grew across those surveyed in 2021 compared to the previous year, with 42% of respondents saying their company spent more on email marketing, and 39% rating the channel’s ROI as ‘good’ or ‘very good’, though the same proportion said that their ROI on email marketing was ‘average’.

Automating email marketing campaigns helped with ROI, the survey said, with 29% of those that automated email campaigns saying that this drove the greatest ROI for their business, compared with 16% of those that didn’t use automation.

Revenues up post pandemic – but at the expense of personal sales targets

The survey also found that more than seven in 10 respondents reported revenue growth for their company last year, while 40% said that revenue forecasts were exceeded compared to 2020.

However, 64% of sales professionals surveyed implied that they had reached their personal annual targets in 2021, citing lowered budgets (43%) and teams that were cut down in size (43%) for the shortfalls.

Respondents said that the top three areas their business needed to improve in were strategy, goals and mission (36%), the adoption and usage of tech (35%) and leadership and management (30%)

Dominic Allon, Pipedrive CEO, said: “Economic uncertainty and volatility is bound to happen – what matters most is to set your business up for success by implementing the right infrastructure that will pay dividends long-term. 

“Technology has the ability to help small business owners gain valuable insights so they can reduce costs and create operational efficiencies when needed. Not only can that go a long way in getting that competitive advantage in the market, but it can simultaneously alleviate internal pressures within organisations which is especially important when times are tough economically.”