Free Assessment: How does your inbound marketing measure up?

Get Started

Free Assessment:

How does your inbound marketing measure up?
Take this free, 5-minute assessment and learn what you can start doing today to boost traffic, leads, and sales.
Get Started

Free Assessment:

A Beginner's Guide to Closed-Loop Reporting

By Tom DiScipio

A Beginner's Guide to Closed-Loop Reporting

As marketers, we have an obligation to continuously prove value to our prospects and clients through our marketing efforts.

At the same time, our management, and especially sales teams, need to understand the value of those efforts in attracting additional prospects, but most importantly, new clients.

The questions many marketers hear (and fear) are:

  • “What kind of ROI are we getting on X marketing activity?”
  • “Did we get any new customers from it?”
  • “How do you know that worked?”

The definitive way for marketers to prove the value of their efforts is through closed-loop reporting - using data from the sales team’s CRM to identify which leads have become customers and tracing the lead’s journey all the way back to the single marketing activity that first brought them into the funnel.

In the following graphic, HubSpot illustrates how syncing marketing and sales software, support the ability to close the loop on your marketing efforts.

Consider the rest of this post a beginner’s guide to closed-loop reporting.

It will address the basics of setting up your technology stack to gather the right data to close the loop, to turning closed-loop reporting into closed-loop marketing.

What is Closed-Loop Reporting?

The term "closing the loop" simply means connecting your marketing efforts to that of sales, in other words, sales reports to marketing and lets them know what happened with the leads they sent them.

This tells marketing where the best and worst leads come from, allowing them to make educated marketing decisions that will be beneficial to the company in the future. With closed-loop reporting, marketers are better equipped with the knowledge they need to attract more qualified leads and in turn, sales has more sales-ready leads to work with. 

Connecting Marketing Data with Sales Data

Reporting accurately (and automatically) on the marketing activities that are driving results requires a tight connection between your marketing automation platform (like HubSpot) and your CRM (like HubSpot CRM or Salesforce).

Within your marketing automation platform, the data from leads will be compiled as a contact record that displays how a lead originally found your website (lead source), as well as their engagement with your site pages, blog content, email, and other channels, as they move through the funnel.

As leads reach the point of being Sales Qualified, they will need to be passed on to the sales team.

To automate this process, your marketing automation software should be integrated with your CRM, and vice versa. It is equally as important for your CRM to talk back (send data back) to your marketing automation software when something is altered by a salesperson within the CRM (bi-directional sync). A simple example of this would be when a salesperson marks a lead as an opportunity, and then shortly after, marks the opportunity as closed: “Won.”

Those actions and that data should travel back into the marketing software and automatically update the lead lifecycle stage to “Customer,” officially closing the loop on that lead’s journey.

The Benefits of Closed-Loop Reporting 

What does having a window into the lead’s journey from source to close mean for marketers? Well, one critical thing in particular:

Turn closed-loop reporting into closed-loop marketing

By looking at a report of where your last customers were generated over a period of time, you can identify winning trends related to a specific marketing channel or strategy.

This impacts the development of your marketing strategies moving forward in several ways:

  • Learn more about your buyer persona/target market: When you track a user’s first visit to your website and watch their activities on your site, you learn what this particular lead is interested in and how to better position your product or service to close the deal. With this information, lead nurturing is significantly easier and most likely also provides useful insight into your target market as a whole. 
  • Minimize the risk (know what works and what doesn’t): Many successful marketing campaigns are developed over time, through trial and error, making iterations and improvements as you go. While this is a necessary step for any marketing team, you can minimize the amount of effort by focusing on channels and strategies that are actually driving revenue.
  • Reduce time-to-market: With the ability to understand what’s working through data, you can eliminate time spent on testing and launch your campaigns, posts, etc. even faster. In turn, you also:
  • Short your sales cycle:  The more you know about a lead, the more you know what will resonate with them to close the deal. You won't waste time sending them information they don't want or need. 
  • Reduce your cost per lead: Increased speed typically = a reduced cost. However, the real key here is that by closing the loop, you may realize that your non-paid social channel is generating more customers than your paid AdWords channel, prompting you to shift or preserve budgets.

One of the massive benefits of marketing automation software (HubSpot in particular) is the ability to report on those effective channels or sources at both a very high and granular level.

Below we see a report showing the channels that drive the most customers for IMPACT which basically tells us to continue to ramp up our blogging and social efforts.


If we dive deeper into our customers from social traffic, we can isolate a few of them and review their contact records to see EXACTLY what brought them to IMPACT.


Key Takeaway: Help Sales Close Deals

Closed-loop reporting gives marketers (and salespeople) full funnel visibility into traffic, lead, and customer metrics. This means marketers can benchmark, track, and set goals against those metrics that define success within an inbound program.

These metrics may include:

  • Visitor-to-lead Conversion Rate (VTL%)
  • Lead-to-Customer Rate (LTC%)
  • Visitor to Customer Rate (VTC %)

These metrics can be broken down further by channel as well. For example, you could measure against Organic LTC%.

As this full-funnel data compiles over time, setting S.M.A.R.T Goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely) will become easier.

By relying on real data to set the expectations and avoid making assumptions, marketers can forecast and project much more accurately which translates to happier executive and sales teams.

Free Assessment:

How does your inbound marketing measure up?
Take this free, 5-minute assessment and learn what you can start doing today to boost traffic, leads, and sales.


Marketing Strategy
Inbound Sales
Published on June 14, 2016

Recent Articles

7 Must-have Word-of-Mouth Marketing Strategies [Infographic]
May 8, 2023 • 4 min read
What Small Business Leaders Need To Know to Thrive During a Recession
April 19, 2023 • 7 min read
5 Keys to Marketing Your Business During a Recession
April 17, 2023 • 5 min read
Should Your Demand Gen Strategy Change in a Slumping Economy?
April 12, 2023 • 5 min read
Demand Generation vs. Lead Generation: What’s the Difference?
April 10, 2023 • 5 min read
How a Lack of Sales and Leadership Buy-in Is Killing Marketing Morale Worldwide
March 6, 2023 • 5 min read
Website Conversions in 2023 — STOP, START, KEEP
January 25, 2023 • 5 min read
HubSpot Pricing: Your Guide to Everything HubSpot Costs for 2023
January 9, 2023 • 13 min read
Sales vs Marketing in 2023: What’s The Difference?
January 5, 2023 • 7 min read
How To Set Content Marketing Goals for Growth
December 29, 2022 • 6 min read
Should You Hire An Agency to Create Your Content?
December 12, 2022 • 4 min read
24 Essential Questions for Understanding Your Ideal Customer (+ Infographic)
December 1, 2022 • 5 min read
Take It From an Expert: You Probably Don’t Need a New Website
November 16, 2022 • 4 min read
Inbound Marketing Benefits Explained (Updated for 2023)
November 15, 2022 • 6 min read
Want to Win More and Improve Company Culture? Do More Role-playing
November 9, 2022 • 4 min read
4 Ways To Recession-proof Your Website In 2023
November 1, 2022 • 5 min read
Why Trust Is the True Currency for All Business
September 5, 2022 • 6 min read
The Big 5: Best Business Blog Topics to Drive Traffic, Leads, and Sales
August 29, 2022 • 10 min read
What is a Content Strategy? (Definition + Templates)
August 25, 2022 • 12 min read
10 Marketing Objective Examples To Guide and Focus Your Strategy
August 18, 2022 • 6 min read
What Marketers Need To Know About Switching to GA4 [Google Analytics 4]
July 30, 2022 • 5 min read
How To Inspire Your Marketing Team To Try New Ideas
July 25, 2022 • 5 min read
Do I Need To Invest in Marketing When My Business is Thriving? (+ Video)
July 21, 2022 • 7 min read
How Much Does It Cost To Become a World-class They Ask, You Answer Case Study?
July 16, 2022 • 12 min read
Blog Editorial Calendar for 2022: Templates, Examples, and Tips
May 21, 2022 • 6 min read