What Would Christina Do: Let’s talk about forecasting.

What Would Christina Do: Let's talk about forecasting.

What Would Christina Do? I’m creating a new program and have been tasked with presenting an estimate for program success. How do I forecast anticipated results from campaigns and programs?

Planning and executing a new marketing program is easy for seasoned marketing pros, but even executives have a hard time presenting their value before the program is launched. That said, if you can’t forecast anticipated results for every program, it’s going to be pretty hard to convince people to give you the budget you need for marketing success.

What is a campaign forecast? 

I’m glad you asked! A campaign forecast shows what the program is expected to do in terms of:

  • lead numbers
  • conversion rates
  • Pipeline and revenue.

It should also show that you have a plan to reach the numbers you are projecting. 

A forecast provides transparency and visibility for how you are trending between forecasted and actual results at any given time, and it will help you determine if you are on the right course, or if you need to pivot. 

Even more importantly, a forecast will hold you accountable: to your manager, leaders, and yourself. 

Where do I start?

Here are the steps I take to create a marketing campaign forecast: 

  • Step one: When building out the forecast, I always work backward from the overall revenue goal of the company. This goal is what everyone in the company is driving to and what you are trying to influence.
  • Step two: Take a look at your customer journey. Look at website traffic, lead programs, pipeline estimates, everything. You should have a good understanding of conversion rates at each stage of the customer journey (yes, even the conversion of current customers to expanded revenue). This can help you forecast the next outcome in your funnel. And, because you have a good understanding of the different touchpoints along this path, you can build out a more accurate forecast model.
  • Step three: Create your forecast toolkit. Now that you have the data points you need, time to look at the future. Your forecast toolkit is what you will present to executives to convince them that your program will be amazing. It should include these three components:
    • Estimate leads by lead source and, if you can, by stage in the customer journey.
    • Add up these estimates so you can track actuals against what you forecast.
    • Create a slide you can share with everyone that shows how everything is trending, month over month, quarter over quarter, and year over year.

It may seem overwhelming at first, but once you master these steps, you will be creating forecasts in your sleep. 

Want more advice? I’ve got plenty! Check out some of the other situations I’ve chimed in on, or tell me about a situation you need help with.