ROI: Not Just Data on a Spreadsheet

Measuring your return-on-investment is about more than justifying budgets. It is the measure by which a company can identify opportunity, move forward and continue to grow. However, while the ability to accurately assess marketing’s return-on-investment is critical for justifying more marketing budget, marketers are still finding difficulty in measuring the actual impact their marketing initiatives have on overall sales.

So where does this difficulty originate and how can we avoid it? The answer: defining ROI for your company. As simple as this may sound, the metric means different things to different people. A 600% return-on-investment within the marketing department may translate into a 450% return-on-investment within sales.

The point is, marketing and sales need to come to an agreement in terms of how ROI will be measured, whether that means including cost figures or defining a qualified lead.

Now let’s say marketing has already launched multiple online initiatives, including paid search marketing and natural search engine optimization prior to meeting with sales.

As a search marketer, it’s my job to help marketing accurately measure the overall value of these initiatives. Therefore, there are a few questions I need to be asking myself. Are we tracking every conversion opportunity? Is there a ‘tell a friend’ feature or live chat function that we can be tracking. There are multiple components within a web site that have the potential to provide added value to these online marketing initiatives.

Next, have I provided my client with all of the performance numbers as well as sound rationale necessary to show value and make the case for additional budget? Communication breakdown is too often overlooked and this means that search marketers need to be thinking beyond marketing and IT. Search marketers have the ability to feed information to the sales department. For example, insight as to when people begin looking for their product(s) and services throughout the week, month or year and the specific search terms that are being used by these potential customers is vital information.

A key enabler for success is a strong marketing automation platform utilizing a single database to collect, segment, and integrate all marketing campaigns. With such automation, companies have the ability to manage marketing programs that deliver accurate, timely and unbiased ROI reporting. In addition to traditional marketing metrics, marketers can then calculate how much revenue is generated from a specific campaign, offer or lead source.

In the end, real ROI goes beyond data on a spreadsheet and serves as the foundation to good marketing.