5 Blockages to Marketing ROI in Salesforce

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Marketing Return on Investment (ROI) is a huge topic, one that I’m not going to tackle entirely. This post focuses on a specific piece of the puzzle – where the Salesforce Opportunity meets the Salesforce Campaign. It’s the kind of ROI that will answer your question: ‘How much revenue did Campaign A bring to the business?’.


As we know, of all CRM / Marketing Automation tools on the market, the Salesforce / Pardot combination is proclaimed a market leader. A primary reason is the ability to track marketing influence through the pipeline, designed to work together for seamless ROI reporting.

Yet, sometimes it’s just not the case. Instead of viewing the topic through rose-tinted glasses, someone has to speak the ugly truths, because luckily, they are avoidable in most cases.

I’ve been consulting on Pardot and Salesforce for a year and a half, and during that time, I’ve been lucky enough to work with a wide variety of businesses – from quirky, ambitious startups right through multinationals, represented globally as leaders in their respective industries. Working with businesses of all shapes and sizes led me to consider the blockages to measuring marketing ROI that are circumstantial and unique to each business; the blockages that are dependent on the business’ context rather than solely the technology.

Things to note.

Firstly, there are seemingly limitless internal factors:

– Team organisation: The way teams are structured and how they communicate with one another.

– Relations at management level

– Business priorities: is marketing considered a revenue generator or cost centre?

– Campaign experience: what have colleagues’ experienced whilst working with marketing? Have campaigns had debriefs at wrap up time?

– Investment into user enablement: is training considered important?

Secondly, Pardot typically arrives as a Phase II implementation. As the most logical order, I would say that 90%+ of organisations will start with Pardot after their Sales Cloud implementation is complete. Therefore, marketing processes sometimes need to work around Sales Cloud processes that have already been defined, implemented and rolled-out.

There’s plenty of content about the increasing influence the modern marketer casts across organisations. Whilst this is clearly a good thing, it can also mean that marketing challenges become cross-departmental. It’s possible that the blockages I’m going to address may remain out of your control, yet, what you can do as a Marketer is:

– Be aware of the signs, and

– Know what steps to take to solve, or at least alleviate the blocking factors.

1: Salesforce Opportunities Adoption

Signs of blockage: The Sales Team are not using Opportunities.

In order to track the ROI of a campaign, you need revenue data. Revenue data is stored in Opportunity records, then used to calculate Campaign Influence. You are bounded by the rules of the Salesforce data model, and this is non-negotiable. If your colleagues are not using Opportunities properly, or not at all, then you are stuck.

What to do about it?

Get in touch with the CRM team and discuss their roadmap. Hopefully, you’ll be able to pilot, and subsequently roll-out Opportunities. If low adoption is the problem, conduct training to make sure everybody understands the wider value of Opportunity data. Refreshers are a chance to collect user feedback.

The accuracy of data in opportunities can also be a roadblock. Oftentimes, you can alleviate manual data input by mapping Contact/Account fields to the Opportunity where it makes sense. Be selective about required fields, or you may end up with a dump of dummy data; a sales user just wants to save the Opportunity and move on with their day! With Opportunity maintenance, aid users with workflows that can automate field updates as the Opportunity progresses through the pipeline.


2: Sales Initiative Campaigns

Signs of blockage: Sales ‘do their own thing’ with campaigns.

I was grappling with the subtitle for some time. Essentially, you’ve unintentionally doubled up on campaigns: 1 containing Marketing data, and 1 containing Sales data. The resulting situation is that the Marketing Campaign is excluded from Campaign Influence.

Why? If you have the Salesforce Campaign Influence Model, the most basic influence model, each Opportunity can only be associated to 1 Campaign via the ‘Primary Campaign Source’ field. The campaign stored in that field will get 100% of the credit.

What to do about it?

Again, cross-team communication is the way forward. Get Sales management on-board, and keep a regular cadence.

Define a clear process, covering:

– Who creates the Campaigns?

– Who launches the Opportunities?

– Who associates the Campaigns to the Opportunities? (or, will this be automatic – as we’ll revisit later)  

It may seem basic, but organisations often forget to step back from the daily hustle and bustle and set accountability between teams.

3: Patchy Data & Data Model Woes

Signs of blockage: Working at the Account-level, limited at Contact-level.

This is the trickiest to grasp, and the trickiest to diagnose.

A good example is when emails are sent to generic (catch-all) email addresses, such as [email protected]. However, this is not the same as the Contact that is involved in the Opportunity, such as Geoff. As you can see, a silo is created between the email engagement and the sales process. The silo created by the two is then up for debate: is Geoff the person that sits behind the [email protected] mailbox? Or did your campaign have no influence on Geoff’s decision to purchase?

What to do about it?

There’s been a big push for Account-based Marketing (ABM), however, ABM relies heavily on Contact data quality and completeness. Clean your Contact data in a way that will improve segmentation, especially fields holding persona data (Job Title, Department). That way you can create better Pardot lists and send appealing content. The ABM approach can go further, by identifying 1 primary contact per account. I’ve seen this done with a custom checkbox on the contact level.

Marketing needs to know about who the contacts being associated to opportunities as Contact Roles are. Are there patterns? These contacts are clearly key influencers that should be targeted with tactical marketing – think upsell, renewal and advocacy opportunities.  

4: Multiple Sales Channels / Data Streams

Signs of blockage: Salesforce is not the hub for revenue data

Although it may seem like the world revolves around Salesforce at times, we have to be realistic and acknowledge that organisations use a plethora of other tools in their IT infrastructure. Often it’s convoluted – and yes, often it’s not logical. When there are alternative data streams for transactional data, you lose sight of potential marketing influence if it doesn’t get stored in Salesforce Opportunities. A typical example is eCommerce platforms passing directly to an ERP.

What to do about it?

Integrating systems is a no-brainer, but this depends on the constraints of complexity, bandwidth and budget (integrations are expensive!). Real-time processing like this can affect system performance, so you may have to compromise with batch processing. As the name suggests, data is passed from one system to another in batches, for example, every night. Investigate the options to at least get relevant data into Salesforce so you can report on marketing influence on one platform.

5: Zero Confidence in Influence

Signs of blockage: Campaign Influence viewed as Marketing department assumptions vs. reality.

An organisational culture wrought with friction isn’t uncommon, especially between the Marketing and Sales team. Marketing influence is tough to quantify, being so subjective. You may find that enabling both Campaign Influence and Auto-association can raise a few eyebrows around the company, believing that taking credit so easily for sourcing opportunities is unjust.

One word that never fails to sting is ‘fluffy’ – an assumption based on nothing tangible.

What to do about it?

Aside from fixing the organisational culture (maybe too idealistic), you could consider turning off auto-association for a period of time, essentially taking a step back and evaluating how campaigns should be credited for influencing opportunities. Yes, there will be manual association involved by filling in the ‘Primary Campaign Source’ lookup field on the Opportunity. This screams ‘not going to work’ for some, but I’ve seen it done well (when monitored with a dashboard).  

If contemplation isn’t possible for you with the volume of Campaigns/Campaign Members/Opportunities, you don’t have to go cold turkey. It’s possible to add Auto-association rules, that will only automatically associate campaigns that meet the criteria. You can include only the type of campaigns you are confident work when automatically associated.


ROI blockages are frustrating, no doubt. There’s a lot riding on ROI reporting, and every marketer wants accurate, reliable results that are easy to obtain. This post has covered 5 blockages that can creep up that are specific to the organisation. These are:

– Salesforce Opportunities Adoption

– Sales Initiative Campaigns

– Patchy Data & Data Model Woes

– Multiple Sales Channels / Data Streams

– Zero Confidence in Influence

Of course, not all are relevant to everyone, but there’s no harm in noting them down in the back of your mind. Whilst it’s possible that the blockages I’ve addressed sometimes remain out of your control, at least now you can be aware of the signs, and know steps to take to solve, or at least alleviate the blocking factors.


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