Calculating the ROI of digital marketing activities has become the Holy Grail of marketing measurement. But like all other marketing campaigns, organizations must measure their return on investment to gauge their success or failure.
But how do marketers justify the benefits of a video “share” or a social media “like” to executives who can only evaluate activities based on quantitative benefits? Many digital marketing platforms promote customer engagement through advocacy and awareness, but how does consumer value translate into commercial value? These questions all amount to one conundrum: How do you measure the ROI of digital marketing?
To achieve success, companies must step back in their journeys toward digital proficiency. Digital, of course, doesn’t operate within a vacuum, and therefore should become an integral element of marketers’ overall marketing strategies and budgets. Companies must approach their digital marketing strategies in the same manner as all others in order to create the seamless omnichannel experience customers have come to expect. That entails starting with structured thinking about a digital strategy’s objectives, necessary infrastructure, and measurements.
Use these top considerations as a guide to effective investment and measurement of digital marketing.
User experience: To discover the why of user behavior via mobile, companies must move away from traditional analytics like Google, which provide only the what. Visual analytical tools are the next frontier. They go beyond traditional analytics to monitor how visitors are using websites via user session recordings and eye-tracking heatmaps that analyze site usability. By applying the use of such analytical tools for mobile, app developers and publishers will be able to dive deep into the user experience and see the app through customers’ eyes.
Providing the optimal user engagement within mobile devices requires a brand to really understand why a user has decided to connect with the brand in a mobile way. Is it because the user is actual mobile, or is it because they are looking to connect to a call center, find directions, download an app, etc.? Tracking and surveying your mobile visitors is critical to uncovering their true intent and developing mobile experiences that are relevant and engaging. Many brands believe that the utilization of responsive design allows them to check mobile off the list, but the true reality is that responsive design ensures your content loads correctly, but is doesn’t ensure the content you deliver matches the desire of your users.
Advertising: Marketers determine a mobile campaign’s ROI in different ways depending on the goals of the campaign. Some marketers will compare the monetary cost of a program to the raw number of leads it generated, then determine ROI based on their cost per lead (CPL). More sophisticated marketers will measure a campaign’s cost per sales opportunity instead of CPL. The most successful marketers are the ones who measure ROI by determining how much revenue a program helped generate. Call tracking software and scoring leads help with these efforts.
Mobile advertising opportunities are growing exponentially and it is imperative for an advertiser to test and measure the success of different advertising options. Video, search, in-app advertising, click to call, banners, and retargeting are just a few of the most popular forms of mobile advertising. The key to success is developing a suite of KPIs that help you appreciate the full value of your investment. The further you can track to a revenue-generating event, the better you will be equipped to optimize to performance. Measuring calls, clicks, and leads are a good start, but connecting them to new customers is what true measurement success looks like.
Attribution: Tracking sales back to mobile campaigns is a daunting task, especially with the emergence of cross-device customer engagements. Consumers engage with mobile to take an action entirely on their device (make a purchase, sign up for notifications, etc.), but increasingly use devices as part of an online/offline customer decision path, driving in-store or call center sales. In addition, while Web-based cookies allow marketers to track performance on online channels, mobile has lagged behind.
Because mobile apps don’t support cookies, tracking and attributing spend to revenue has proven to be difficult. However, the introduction of the Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) has provided a way to attribute the revenue generated by mobile. IDFA is a temporary device identifier used by the Apple set of handheld devices. It provides device identification while giving end users the ability to limit the device/consumer information accessed by advertisers or apps. The upshot is that mobile apps have the power to track more events tied to a single user, and that means advertisers have a better picture of advertising performance.
Align with intent: Search, often referred to as a database of intentions, provides advertisers a paralleled opportunity to connect with prospective customers at the exact moment they are expressing interest. The key to tapping into this database of intentions and driving new customers in a profitable way is to ensure you capitalize on keywords that represent users’ intent. Sophisticated search marketers know that by customizing their ads, websites, and offers based on keywords, more sales at a more profitable rate are sure to follow.
Balance paid vs. organic: With more than 18 billion searches per month, both paid clicks and organic listings are highly visible and can connect a brand with prospective customers. One of the biggest problems that search marketers have is not running their paid and organic optimization efforts in an integrated and synergistic way. Understanding how each perform individually, but better yet, how they perform together is important to fully reaping the benefit of search marketing.
Test and iterate: Cost per click in many verticals continues to rise, making it more difficult to drive new customers at an acceptable cost to acquire. This is why your most sophisticated search marketers continuously test all the variables that influence outcomes in search marketing. Landing pages, keywords, creative, and day parts are just some of the most common testing elements.
Define the metrics: Advertising with video ads and display/banners ads can be a powerful way to connect with prospective customers at different stages of their decision path. What becomes difficult is measuring exactly how they impact your bottom line, as they often do not appear effective by solely measuring their results on a last click. Measuring view-based conversion, assisted conversion, unaided awareness, purchase intent, impact on search, impact on direct to site visits, and impact on average order value can add to your display/video scorecard to make sure its full value is being attributed.
Programmatic buying: This is when a buyer uses an algorithm-based software interface to stipulate a set of criteria for ad inventory he wishes to buy to display his ad. Publishers with large amounts of high-quality traffic in demographics that maintain a high desirability are likely to see a noticeable increase in advertising revenue with programmatic buying. That’s because they’re reaching audiences globally, can finely target and optimize for audiences, and measure quickly. Programmatic buying offers marketers long-awaited transparency, the ability to use their first-party data, and the ability to connect with any audience at any time.
Personalization: According to the Direct Marketing Association’s National client email survey, 77 percent of ROI comes from segmented, targeted, and triggered campaigns. That should come as no surprise in this relationship era of digital marketing. Consumers want convenience and a sense that brands are engaging with them in their best interests. Brands looking to get started need to understand consumers’ priorities when it comes to personalized experience. Studies show that consumers buy more from brands when they send them personalized emails. Brands that can tap into this relevance reap a major benefit: repeat, satisfied customers.
Delivery: It’s very important to understand the causes of an email delivery failure (bounces, malware attacks, SMTP issues, etc.) in order to ensure all your messages reach their destinations.
Timeliness: Marketers maintain that certain ‘send’ times garner additional opens and conversions than others. For example, some marketers have found that open rates are higher on the weekend once email traffic is lower. Companies are more successful if they utilize their own analytics to trace the time when their emails are opened, and designate future send times consequently.
Set conversion goals and assign monetary value: Measuring social campaigns requires a thoughtful approach, including making the business case to enable regulated users to use social media, creating a social media working group to identify and mitigate the risks, crafting polices and processes, evaluating and selecting third-party vendors, and creating a pilot program. However, different companies and campaigns set different goals, from downloading a PDF, signing up for a newsletter, making an online purchase, or completing a contact form. Track the actual conversions with metrics such as reach, customers, traffic, leads, and conversion rates.
While the quantitative measurements of social ROI are important to a company’s overall goal setting and marketing success, qualitative results are often overlooked. Those who overlook them are missing valuable opportunities. Even just sending a snapshot of feedback from customers on social to the product or marketing team will give them insight into what’s working and what’s not. Marketers must find a way to take those stories and relationships, pull them out, and show how their company’s presence on social made an impact.