Planning a successful strategic business review

Your annual strategic business review (SBR) is a prime opportunity to review past performance and set ambitious new goals

Nearly three years after the COVID-19 pandemic, the world remains an uncertain place. Amidst this culture-defining moment, marketers are optimistic, but they’re hedging their bets. According to Gartner research, marketing budgets fell to their lowest recorded level in 2021, dropping to 6.4% of company revenue from 11% in 2020.

In this environment, marketing automation that makes you more efficient and gives more value from your existing budget is especially useful. And that’s been the experience of many Adobe Marketo Engage customers. According to a Forrester Total Economic Impact report commissioned by Adobe, our customers found bottom-line benefits such as an overall return-on-investment (ROI) of 267%, a post-implementation payback period of less than 3 months, and more than $15 million in business value.

Of course, these figures are average values and every organization’s experience is unique. We encourage all Marketo Engage customers to analyze how the system helps to reduce their marketing costs while growing engagement, conversions, and sales. Moreover, these improvements should be continuous. That’s why Adobe offers an annual strategic business review (SBR) to all our Marketo Engage customers.

An SBR is a guided evaluation of how your Marketo Engage system delivers value to your business. It also includes helpful recommendations from Adobe for addressing any trouble spots and building on already-impressive results. This post explains why SBRs are one of the best ways you can take advantage of your relationship with Adobe (and why you should schedule your own SBR soon).

Why you need an SBR

Now that many business buyers expect to complete their customer journey entirely online, digital marketing plays a critical role in moving prospects through the sales cycle and converting them to customers. Marketers are busier than ever before, rolling out new product launches, customer communications, and campaigns.

In fact, digital marketing organizations are so busy meeting quarterly objectives that it can be hard to find time for longer-term strategic analysis. Your SBR can help fill this gap. Your Adobe success account manager (SAM) is familiar with your business as well as other Adobe customers in your industry. They will guide you through the SBR and explain how your results from Marketo Engage compares with other, similar companies and what you can do to improve.

We recommend decision makers in your marketing organization attend your SBR. You may also invite key stakeholders, such as Marketo Engage power users. This allows you to have an honest, multi-dimensional conversation about how your organization is using Marketo Engage today and what you need to accomplish future goals.

Customers who participate in SBRs come away with actionable strategies and tactics for increasing the ROI of their Marketo Engage system, spending less time on campaign execution and other common marketing activities, and replacing those efforts with AI-powered features to grow sales while decreasing churn. Taken together, these recommendations can deliver thousands or even millions of dollars in additional value.

What to expect

We’ve designed the SBR to be a full-service experience that’s easy and convenient for your team. Your Adobe success account manager will schedule the SBR as well as any necessary follow up sessions. Afterward, they will send a follow up email with customized recommendations based on your discussion.

Because your Adobe SAM understands digital marketing practices in your industry, they will be able to share data and use cases on how others are approaching common issues. They may provide real-world examples from other Adobe customers facing similar challenges. They can also help benchmark how well you’re currently using Marketo Engage compared to results in a previous SBR.

Your Adobe success account manager will then help you put their recommendations into action. They will answer any questions you have, brainstorm alternatives if needed, and connect you will all the Adobe resources you need to take your marketing to the next level. We will continue to help you achieve your goals long after your SBR meetings are done.

How to get ready for your SBR

Before your SBR, you’ll want to look backwards and forwards. If you set any goals for your implementation of Marketo Engage over the previous year or two, you should revisit them. Ask whether your organization has met these goals or fallen short. Also, talk to stakeholders who use or rely on the system and ask if they see any gaps in your current license or functionality.

Look backward

As you look back, you may also want to pull together some performance reports to provide additional insight into your successes and struggles. For example, you could look at how your campaigns launched and managed through Marketo Engage have affected high-profile KPIs such as sales lift, average order value (AOV), and cost per action.

You may also want to look at specific channels — email, events, etc.— and identify which ones are driving net-new acquisition, which are encouraging customer engagement, and which aren’t performing so well. And, if your organization does marketing attribution reporting, you may want to look at how activities managed in Marketo Engage contributed to pipeline, sales, and improving the customer experience.

Look forward

At the same time, your SBR is an important chance to build a strategic view of how Marketo Engage can help your organization meet next year's goals. Talk with your team about what you’d like to achieve at different points in the future — 6 months, 12 months, 18 months, and so on. And be sure to speak with a variety of stakeholders. Your CMO’s goals may be very different from your marketing operations manager’s.

You’ll also want to think about what your marketing technology stack will look like next year, your roadmap for getting there, and what you might need from Adobe. Your IT team should also be a part of this discussion. They can help identify needs for improving connectivity between Marketo Engage and other key systems in your organizations.

Make a list of questions

Before your SBR, we also recommend you develop a list of questions for your Adobe Success Account Manager. These questions can cover a lot of ground from the highly strategic to the deeply tactical. Some commonly asked questions include:

Book your SBR

We offer an annual SBR to help our Marketo Engage customers get better returns from their marketing automation programs. We believe it’s imperative to improve our customers’ experience — and their results. We recommend scheduling your SBR for roughly 6 — 9 months before your license expires so you’ll have plenty of time to evaluate potential changes to your contact. When you’re ready, reach out to your Adobe Marketo Engage Success Account Manager via email or phone to schedule an SBR for your business.

Use this checklist to prepare for your SBR.