ROI for Communications Pros is a three-part series that will explore the basics of marketing and PR measurement and campaign tracking. In this first installment we share background on customer relationship management tools and how to use them. Want to read part two? Click here!

Leads alone mean nothing if you can’t turn them to sales. You might as well be talking about a city in the English county of Yorkshire. What leaders need to know about is revenue, return on investment (ROI)and which campaigns converted to generate both.

For a great primer on proving the value of your PR efforts read our tip sheet, 9 Ways to Show the Value of PR.

Customer Relationship Management

The first step to proving ROI is having a way to monitor and track clients and potential clients who find your brand. A common place to start for this is a customer relationship management tool, or CRM. These tools allow you to track which activities potential clients have conducted on your website, at events or through your sales team’s outreach. Here’s what you can track:

1. Thought leadership engagement: Downloads of white papers, attendance at webinars, requests for pricing or follow-up events by the sales team.

2. Search engine activity: Using search engine marketing (SEM) tactics, communicators can target people that are search for a product or service with an ad inside a search engine’s results feed. These results can be funneled into a CRM and be monitored as a source for a specific contact.

3. Email activity: When a marketing team sends an email blast to clients using a marketing automation software, you can use a CRM tie-in to measure how many people are opening emails or engaging with your content by clicking on the links within.

4. Social media activity: Just like with search engine marketing, social media messages can be tracked back into a CRM through the use of UTM codes and campaign functions.

5. Create campaigns: A CRM will enable you to partition your work into campaign segments. Some of these may be ongoing, such as contacts that come through blog newsletter sign ups. Others will be tied to a specific marketing effort like a webinar promotion. Give each campaign a name matching the initiative and the CRM will tag existing, or new, contacts generated through these campaigns for future measurement.

6. Create estimates and proposals or quotes: Before a deal or order can close, an estimate needs to be created. These estimates are used to pitch clients and will be generated inside a CRM. These can be defined as opportunities.

7. Invoice clients: CRMs enable organizations to invoice clients and set up product orders. Picture an ordering system in a restaurant where a server will punch in food orders and provide a receipt. This helps an organization keep track of what products a client has purchased, the value of those transactions, and who did the work to get that sale. All of this can be dissected to find the value of a campaign.

With a CRM in place, those original leads we mentioned can be shaped into clients. Data from a lead’s activities can be used to direct sales strategy and those insights can help drive content creation.

In the second part of ROI for Communications Pros, released this Thursday, we will share the types of content that can help a campaign find new leads and how to track every piece of content you create with UTM parameters.

About James Rubec

James Rubec is a data geek, a former public relations lead and journalist with a love of content and advocacy. Ask him anything @JamesRRubec and be sure to follow @Cision_Canada

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This post originally appeared on **This post has been updated. It was originally written in 2015 by Amanda Laird** ...