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How to Write a Business Case for New Marketing Technology


May 24, 2022


May 24, 2022

So you’ve found it—the marketing technology that’s going to free you up for more strategic, creative tasks. You’ve attended a demo, finished the free trial, and you know exactly how it’s going to fit into your team’s workflow. The only thing left to do is secure the funding and get buy-in from the powers above. “This will save us so much time!,” you think, confident in the feeling that you’ll be setting up your new tool soon.

And then, the budget is denied. 

There are other priorities, you’re told, and what’s wrong with your existing tooling anyway? You fire off an email, protesting: “This will be so much easier to use, though! It will save our team so much time!” 

Your leadership responds, “Write a business case and we’ll see about the budget next quarter.”

If you’ve ever been tasked with writing a business case for a new martech, or been asked to “demonstrate the ROI,” we’ve got you covered. Having persuaded three separate organizations to purchase Hubspot in the past five years, I’ve learned a thing or two about what is persuasive and useful to leadership, and what is just noise. And the first thing I’ve realized?

‘Saving Time’ is Not a Business Benefit

There, I said it. If you’re scratching your head, stick with me and I’ll explain what I mean. 

If you visit a SaaS provider website, chances are you’ll see “save time” as a value proposition, front and center. And for marketing tech, it is likely that saving time is a top goal of yours. 

Why is it, then, that communicating “time saved” as a business benefit so often rings hollow? Because it is hard to quantify, and doesn’t draw a clear enough connection to the business’ bottom line. 

Common objections I’ve heard to implementing new martech include, “But we have an engineering team that can do that,” and “But you already have three other tools that you can use for that campaign,” and “Why don’t you just hire an intern to do that?” 

The key is, instead of listing “save time” as a benefit on your business case, you need to articulate the impact of that time saved. This could be fewer dependencies on your engineering team, the capacity to launch more campaigns, or an extra administrative hire you can avoid. The important thing is to think through the business impacts of saving time, and communicate those front and center. 

How? We’ll cover that next. 

Pain Points that Marketing Tech Can Solve

This is where many marketing teams fail to persuade. If you can execute your marketing plan with the tools you already have, why do you need a new tool? Your concise, clear problem statement(s) should be at the top of every business case. 

It can help to start broad and clarify from there. Brainstorm a list of problems with your status quo—the tools you currently use or the functionality you currently lack. Here’s an example from an exercise I recently did with a client that didn’t have any CRM or marketing automation platform:

  • Our current email automation system requires a development resource to add or iterate on emails.
  • Landing page design and development is dependent on the Product team’s bandwidth, making it difficult to spin up landing pages quickly for performance channels and A/B message testing.
  • Cross-channel reporting must be done manually, which takes away time from campaign execution and increases human error.
  • We lack attribution which makes it difficult to understand the impact/ROI of brand-driven campaigns.

Now review this list and highlight the pain points that directly impact your team’s KPIs. Clean those up if you need to and add them to your business case. 

How to Outline Your Ideal Marketing Program

One CEO I worked for called this “starting with the end of the maze,” and it’s a great way to ensure you’re thinking impact-first. 

Describe (briefly) what the ideal marketing program looks like, and the expected impact of such a program if technology or resources were not a blocker. This exercise is your chance to think through your ‘marketing wish list,’ so have fun with it.

For this same client, we knew we wanted to publish blog posts daily, host one webinar per month, create landing pages for each of our ad campaigns, send three newsletters to different segments weekly, and continue to run our performance ad channels. 

Estimating the Impact of New Martech on Your KPIs

This is where I’ve seen teams get hung up, but don’t overthink this. Using whatever data you have (your current funnel metrics, industry benchmarks, even a bit of your gut), estimate the impact of your ideal marketing program on your team’s KPIs.

Are you responsible for increasing web traffic this year? What percent lift in unique page views can you expect if you publish more blog posts?

Do you need to improve your conversion rate from subscribers to MQLs? How would a better-segmented newsletter impact that rate?

The important thing with this step is to document your thinking as much as possible. It’s usually okay to make assumptions if you indicate them as such and explain your thought process. 

Making the Case for Your Ideal Marketing Program

Here’s where you can make a direct comparison between your status quo and your proposed martech. Some vendors with more consultative sales reps may even help you with this stage. 

I like to use a table (in a document or spreadsheet) and list on the left-most column every recurring project or task my team will need to complete in order to realize the ideal plan I’ve described previously.

In the next column, I list the number of hours each project or task would take my team currently, rounding to the nearest half-hour. 

And in the final column, I estimate how long each project or task would take my team with the proposed martech in place.

Here’s a generic example:

Sample template of a table to demonstrate the ROI of adopting a new marketing technology.

If you have engineering or product dependencies, you should document those here as well. Freeing marketing from a dependency on another team is a big win! 

At this stage, you can start to compare the true costs of reaching your team’s goals with your current tooling vs. the proposed martech. This is where the monetary ROI calculation becomes possible. 

Optional: Repeat the comparison exercise for the setup time 

If your leadership is requesting a ‘time to ROI,’ it may be helpful to repeat the above exercise for the one-time projects of setting up all the functionality necessary for implementing your ideal marketing program.

For example, if you’re writing a business case for migrating to a new CRM instead of improving your company’s homegrown CRM, you’ll want to document how much time it would take your engineering team to improve the existing CRM, the opportunity cost of the other projects they’d need to deprioritize, and compare that to how long it will take to migrate onto the proposed CRM. 

Addressing potential risks

This is especially important for larger purchases or longer contracts. Taking the time to document that you have thought through the risks will not only increase your credibility, but it also helps you plan for success. With this in mind, consider:

  • Is this a one-door or two-door decision? (Can it be reversed, or once implemented are you stuck with the new tool for a while?)
  • What will you do if you don’t get the results you’ve predicted?
  • What are the alternatives? (e.g. Doing nothing or choosing a similar product.)

Bonus Tips for Writing Martech Business Cases that Persuade 

Congratulations! You’ve outlined a business case for a large martech purchase. Go back and check your work, clarifying your language or adding explanations to concepts that leadership may not understand. 

Some other tips to keep in mind as you polish your final document:

  • Keep it short. Busy executives don’t have time to read. Your document is as much a display of your preparedness as it is something that will be digested. Keep it short and sweet (under one page), and add lengthier descriptions to an appendix if needed. 
  • Focus on outcomes, not features. Your CFO doesn’t care that you can optimize leads toward a certain funnel stage or install a fancy new tracking pixel. Chances are, they don’t even know what that means. But they will understand what it means to increase the number of leads and pipeline velocity. 
  • Understand the politics of the decision. Are you going up against a homegrown solution or a tool that another leader chose? Be aware of the political aspects of the decision and avoid any personal landmines. 
  • Be patient. The first time I wrote a business case for a new marketing automation platform, it didn’t stick. But a year later, when the budget changed, the leadership team remembered the case I had written, we resurfaced the discussion, and secured funding. This exercise is worth doing, even if you still can’t secure a ‘yes’ right away.

In summary, include these sections in your business case

TLDR? Here is what your business case should include at minimum. 

  • Describe (briefly) what the ideal marketing program looks like, and the expected impact of such a program if technology or resources were not a blocker. 
  • Tie the impact of your ideal marketing program to your current KPIs.
  • Document the resources required to action your new program with and without your proposed martech. (Time spent, headcount, and real budget are all options for this comparison.)
  • List and address potential risks.

Need help setting up your ideal marketing program? Drop us a line at growth@rightsideup.co to learn how our experienced pros can create the marketing strategy needed to scale your business.

Sarah is a demand-focused marketer with over 9 years of inbound lead generation experience for B2B SaaS companies. In her spare time, she helps fast-growing startups launch their content teams and is a Hubspot process consultant.

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