NO! MARKETING SUCCESS IS NOT MEASURED IN NUMBER OF SALES!
Your first thought would be "What are you talking about? Of course it is measured in sales"! When we are evaluating marketing campaigns, we are directly relating the success of our marketing campaign with the number of sales generated. This is common sense for most companies, and for years have stood by it and defend it, in order to address whether the amount of time, money and effort put into the marketing campaign was overall worth it.
What if I told you though that this is all wrong? What if I told you that you are using the wrong metrics to define your marketing campaign success? This is something I always bring up in the training or consulting sessions, as it is a great starting point to understand where the company is really hurting, and whether or not their metrics are correct.
The correct metrics to use are NOT generated revenue, and certainly NOT the number of sales! The correct and most accurate metric to use, is actually the number of LEADS generated. Everything in the sales process, plays a role. Marketing is responsible to bring people in, whether they come in HOT (ready to buy) or COLD (not ready to buy yet), the ultimate goal of marketing campaigns is to bring people into our sales funnel... and this is where the marketing campaign success should end and be measured at!
What happens after that, relies on the efficiency of your sales team. If your team is made of sharks (meaning highly efficient tactical closers), then turning the leads into actual paying customers should not be an issue, and you should have a great turnover on sales! However, if your team is made of goldfish (salespeople that are not highly efficient or skilled), then you would not expect to see a great number of sales from the leads generated.
Let's take an example. Company A has launched a marketing campaign and has received 500 emails from potential new customers. That's it ! The marketing campaign generated 500 emails! (if that was the target, then it was a success). Now from there on, these emails are passed on to the sales department. How many out of these emails will turn to paying customers relies on the efficiency of the sales department. A weak sales team will generate far less sales, than a highly efficient one. This has nothing to do with the "marketing campaign", hence it cannot be attributed to its success as a metric ! If the sales team doesn't manage to convert the leads into sales, this doesn't mean that the marketing campaign didn't yield results.
Therefore, marketing success should be measured strictly on number of leads generated, and not number of sales closed or revenue generated. These are determined by the efficiency of your sales team. That's why we need to have a clear distinction between marketing and sales people, as well as departments.
P.S : Even for online purchases, where one can argue that "We don't have physical sales people, people buy on our website", then you need to treat your website as the salespeople. The marketing campaign brought them in to your opt-in page, but how good is your page at turning potential customers into actual paying customers? Again, it's two different things. The campaign being one, and the actual website format and capabilities on the other.
I hope you have found this helpful and useful. All feedback is welcomed, so leave your comments below!