Why Marketing Needs A Number

Published on September 14, 2023 by David Zhang

Why Marketing Needs A Number

In a world where data drives decisions, marketing is no longer just an art—it’s a science. Your marketing can be incredibly creative, but without numbers to measure its impact, creativity alone won't justify investment. In today's cutthroat marketplace, every department must demonstrate measurable value and contribute to the bottom line, and marketing is no exception. Here, we’ll discuss why it is imperative for marketing to own a number—be it leads, revenue, or customer life-time value—and how doing so can transform not only the marketing department but the entire organization.

The Case for Marketing Accountability

The old adage "Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half," is no longer palatable. In the age of big data and analytics, that's an unjustifiable position. Marketing leaders are increasingly held accountable for not only brand building but also for generating a measurable return on investment (ROI).

This shift in expectation is underpinned by the need to:

  • Align with business goals: Marketing's activities should align with the overarching objectives of the business, particularly revenue targets.
  • Justify budget allocation: The days of unaccountable marketing budgets are gone; today, marketing spend has to be connected to outcomes.
  • Optimize strategy: Numbers are fundamental for understanding what works, reducing waste, and continually optimizing strategy for better performance.

Ownership of a Number Drives Strategy

With accountability for a specific number, marketing teams must adopt a more strategic mindset. Ownership of a number requires marketers to understand the sales funnel deeply, from top to bottom, and to identify the most meaningful metrics for their business.

These metrics commonly include:

  • Lead generation: The count of new prospects interested in your product or service.
  • Sales-qualified leads (SQLs): The number of leads vetted for legitimate interest and readiness to buy.
  • Customer acquisition cost (CAC): The total cost of acquiring a new customer.
  • Lifetime value (LTV): The projected revenue that a customer will generate during their relationship with the company.

Marketing's focus on these numbers means strategies must be data-driven. It requires setting up robust tracking and analytics, defining clear goals, and using performance data to influence budget decisions, campaign direction, and even product development.

Enhancing Cross-Functional Collaboration

When marketing commits to a number, it fosters alignment with other departments, particularly sales. This alignment can break down silos and ensure that marketing and sales are working toward the same outcomes. Shared metrics lead to unified action.

Cross-collaboration fosters a greater understanding of the customer journey. Sales can provide insights to marketing about barriers to closing, and marketing can support sales with content and tools aligned with the customer’s pain points and needs.

Data-Driven Marketing Fosters Innovation

A focus on numbers doesn’t stifle creativity; it informs it. When marketers know what metrics they’re aiming for, they can innovate within those parameters to maximize results. With constant performance feedback, marketers are encouraged to test new approaches, refine tactics, and use data to iterate on their creative campaigns.

This data-driven creativity can take many forms, from A/B testing advertisements to exploring different content vehicles like webinars, whitepapers, or interactive online platforms. Data allows marketers to understand the impact of each effort and to continually push the envelope.

Demonstration of Marketing’s Value

By owning a number, the marketing department can clearly articulate its value to the broader business. This capability is critical when securing budgets and resources. Whether it’s demonstrating an improved ROI, lower CAC, or greater contribution to overall revenue, marketing can shift the perception that it’s a cost center, instead positioned as a crucial driver of business growth.

What’s the Right Number for Marketing?

So the question becomes, "What number should marketing own?" There's no one-size-fits-all answer. The "right" number depends on a variety of factors including business model, stage of growth, and organizational structure. A SaaS company, for instance, may focus on monthly recurring revenue influenced by marketing, while an e-commerce platform may look at the ratio of website visitors to purchases as a key figure.

It's critical for marketing to collaborate with finance, sales, and executive leadership to determine what metric best aligns with corporate priorities and reflects marketing’s impact.

Implementing a Number-Based Approach

To pivot to a number-based marketing philosophy, organizations must:

  • Cultivate a culture of accountability where marketing is expected to understand and drive business outcomes.
  • Invest in the right technology and tools for tracking and reporting.
  • Develop a methodical approach to testing and optimization.
  • Encourage continual learning and development within the marketing team to stay abreast of best practices in data-analysis and marketing technologies.

In essence, numbers provide a language that resonates across departments and up to the C-suite. They allow marketing to communicate its achievements in terms of business impact—elevating the role of marketing from brand promotion to strategic business acceleration.


By owning and delivering against a specific number, marketing takes its place as a central player in business strategy. It enables smarter decision making, justifies investment, and empowers a performance-driven culture. In a landscape where every department must justify its existence through measurable outcomes, assigning a number to marketing is not just beneficial—it’s essential for survival and success.

Fueling this transition is not always easy, and tools like Aomni are designed to aid marketing teams in becoming more data-savvy. By providing actionable insights, Aomni can help marketers focus on Business to Business (B2B) sales targets, streamline account planning, and effortlessly measure the impact of their efforts.

In this new era of marketing accountability, embracing numbers is not just about survival; it’s about proving the crucial role marketing plays in driving growth and creating value for every stakeholder in the business.

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