It’s no doubt one of the most used acronyms in the world of marketing – ROI (return on investment), writes Force24’s marketing automation platform managing director, Adam Oldfield.
It’s understandable of course. After all, there’s little point undertaking an activity if it doesn’t pay for itself and reap results. It could also be argued that a focus on ROI will become increasingly pressing over the next couple of years, as marketers work to justify their every move in the wake of Brexit uncertainty.
However, measuring ROI isn’t always easy. In fact, with a growing number of channels at marketers’ fingertips, some would say it’s becoming harder still.
On average, marketing departments now operate seven different systems to run their campaigns and track ROI. It may sound extreme, but the figures soon stack up – just think about the number of reporting tools used across sales systems, internal product systems, CRM, social, digital campaigns and marketing automation platforms.
Personalise your marketing comms and customer journeys and you’re met with another layer of complexity. Add in PURLs, voucher codes, app downloads and engagement stats, alongside digital advertising and email platforms, and the situation is close to mind-boggling.
So how did marketers let it get like this?
It’s actually not surprising. For many B2B organisations, SFDC or an equivalent sales management tool is the systems ‘king’. Most marketing automation platforms will integrate into it, which is great. But the level of information displayed, is often limited.
This means things like high value page visits and downloads can be captured at a contact level, for example, but the tech will never be suitable for deep diving into campaign reports. You need to log out, and into the marketing automation (MA) platform itself, for insight such as multi-variant testing results and open vs click through rates.
This is where the problems start, primarily because there is no such thing as a universal language across platforms. A ‘lead’ in one tool may be called a ‘contact’ in another, for instance, and while their definitions are the same, their meaning in the wider marketing department could soon be misinterpreted.
In B2C environments, the situation can be trickier still. CRM systems vary significantly, and some secure technologies really struggle to link with cloud-based MA platforms. As a result, marketers cannot obtain all of the information required at a customer record level, to understand if a campaign is working. Finger in the air anyone?
Of course, CRM systems can’t shoulder all the blame here. Some MA platforms aren’t great for tracking digital and social advertising campaigns in detail, for example – the source of lead can be identified but Google Analytics would be required to dig any deeper. It’s actually the multichannel world in which we operate that has made it incredibly difficult to manage the funnel and draw meaningful conclusions from the raft of customer data we hold.
Unfortunately this isn’t one of those scenarios where we tell you to keep it simple. We should be personalising messaging, trialling new ideas and, ultimately, testing stuff! This level of variety within your marketing strategy is what will bring your comms to life, keep you agile and help you win new customers.
So where do you go from here? With so many different channels, different systems and even different terminology, how do you measure ROI from multichannel marketing?
The silver bullet
For marketing teams, this is one system to rule them all – a single view at either a customer or campaign level, which allows you to track everything. By integrating Google AdWords with your marketing automation technology and seamlessly pulling in data from a system like SalesForce, you’re some way to getting a better grip of your data.
But there’s still more to it. Here’s the theory:
- Establish a benchmark. Understand your current situation, what you do and what you achieve as a result. It’s impossible to plan next steps without this clarity.
- Next, set the hypothesis – measurement works better when mapped against a theory.
- Define how ROI will be attributed – that way, you can hone in on exactly what to measure. An email may generate a click, for example, but what if the customer doesn’t buy from the website on that occasion? What if they place a telephone order later that week after receiving a second email, with no click? Which campaign should get the credit? The decision of course, is up to you, but ROI reattribution models can do the sums, when you have decided.
- Outline what ROI ‘looks like’ for your organisation – when will you know that the effort has truly reaped a return? There’s more to ROI than just tracking email opens and clicks – it’s about goals!
To put this theory into context, a campaign may generate a 10:1 return which, on the face of it, sounds fairly positive. But ROI can’t be analysed solely in terms of ‘making some money’. If it takes a week to create the comms, for example, the return is potentially not that impressive after all, as the cost of human resources needs to be considered as well as the more obvious financial expenditure. This is where savvy, quick and easy tech can boost that all-important reward, by keeping things simple, slick and efficient.
The same can be said for an average lead nurturing strategy. If the customer journey has been only partially thought through, a brand may achieve some quick wins, but as soon as engagement and satisfaction levels falter, the ROI will soon tail off. Clear objectives therefore need to be set so that ROI can be truly understood.
This is where people come into it too. Tech can generate a wealth of powerful insight, but it needs the right team of marketing experts on hand to expertly draw macro-level conclusions from thousands of lines of data. They can analyse which campaigns have driven better open rates, which of these leads have converted, and into what level of customer. They can think about what should be tweaked next, and they can champion lead nurturing best practice throughout.
It’s the ultimate ‘ying and yang’ – making excellent use of the human brain in a world full of intuitive tech. That’s the key to keeping things quick, clever and commercially lucrative.