11 Ways to Measure Your Marketing ROI

11 Ways to Measure ROI

Original Publication: Forbes

Date Published: March 5, 2019

Sometimes, marketing efforts feel like day after day of trial and error in an economy that’s constantly evolving. Technology is changing, social media sites rise and fall, and “hot trends” that work for one business might not be suitable for another. To ensure you’re investing in tactics that will deliver the best results for your brand, you’ll need to regularly review your efforts across the board.

11 Ways to Measure ROI

It’s not always easy to determine and quantify those results, though. That’s why we asked the experts from Forbes Agency Council to explain how they measure the return on investment (ROI) of their marketing efforts.

1. Launch A Content Marketing Campaign

There is no reason it should be difficult to measure ROI today. We have so many tools and ways to glean metrics, and the expectations on marketing to generate sales are too high for us to forsake data. If you’re not measuring anything today, start with some simple content marketing. Get a few campaigns going and you’ll have benchmark numbers—traffic, leads, conversions—in no time. – Sarah Mannone, Trekk

2. Understand Your ‘Whys’

A marketing campaign absolutely cannot be successful without a tight strategy. You should know the reasoning behind everything you do. These “whys” should align with all of your goals. These goals must be measurable, whether that’s in terms of engagement rates or direct sales. By doing this, you can show the ROI of each individual tactic throughout the duration of your marketing campaign. – Lisa Arledge Powell, MediaSource

3. Segment Your Activities

My startup is built around measuring ROI for marketing activities. Usually, I track sales, the lead volume against website traffic, the sources of traffic and total traffic over different periods of time. If you can segment branded search, traffic, leads and sales down to each marketing activity, then it is easy to track ROI. – Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS

4. Check Your Traffic Sources For Each Campaign

One of the most important places to start assessing ROI is looking at your sources of website traffic (organic, social, paid, referral, etc.) per campaign to see what is driving the most website visits and qualified leads. From there, determine what sources are driving the most customers. This data will help you see what sources are most impactful for qualified lead generation and customer acquisition. – Elyse Flynn Meyer, Prism Global Marketing Solutions

5. Establish The Right KPIs

We all know some desired results are easier to measure than others. That’s why it’s important to establish quantitative key performance indicators, such as impressions, CPM (cost per thousand impressions) and sales, as well as qualitative KPIs such as loyalty, reputation management and third-party credibility. Measurement is not black and white anymore, and marketers need to adopt a modern mindset in order to measure true impact. – Ashley Walters, Empower

6. Measure Consistently

Every dollar of marketing investment should be analyzed to determine if it is effectively driving sales or critical KPIs. Tracking through online sales, leads, traffic, point-of-sale (POS) data or anywhere else needs to be brought into the same tech platform to analyze and determine marketing effectiveness and then be displayed in a dashboard or through a consolidated report. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, HAWTHORNE LLC

7. Conduct Customer Research

Good customer research is absolutely the best way to gain and measure the ROI of your marketing activities. Make research the foundation of your campaigns. Let it inform your strategy. Track your efforts with a comprehensive platform that integrates your contacts with your personas, website, email marketing and campaigns. You’ll be able to see and improve your ROI. – Mary Ann O’Brien, OBI Creative

8. Automate And Integrate

Marketing efforts don’t always show obvious results because they exist early in the customer journey. Marketing automation platforms like HubSpot or Pardot, when integrated with your customer relationship management (CRM), can tie your marketing efforts directly to qualified sales leads and ultimately closed business. Connecting Web traffic to prospects and prospects to closed sales is the ultimate goal of measuring marketing ROI. – Keri Witman, Cleriti

9. Know Where Your Leads Are Coming From

We are in the digital marketing area, so all our advertising is actually tracked. For leads, we know we get X amount from search engine optimization (SEO). We get Y amount from pay-per-click (PPC). We get Z amount from social media. We have yearly budgets and track leads into clients and budget appropriately. Network events and conferences can be harder to track, but usually, you can attribute spikes in leads online to attendance. – Peter Boyd, PaperStreet Web Design

10. Revisit Your Goals Regularly

The first step to measuring ROI is not at the end of a project; rather, it’s at the beginning. That sounds contrarian, but during the planning phase, it’s imperative to align on the goal(s) in order to effectively strategize, implement action, track progress, communicate and pivot as needed, and then measure success. If you don’t define and continuously align on goals, the ROI will be impossible to measure. – Scott Kellner, GPJ Experience Marketing

11. Ask Your Clients

We have clients fill out a quick survey for their personal goals and the brands with specific KPIs, which is quite helpful for referring back to throughout an engagement. In e-commerce, we’ll use cost per acquisition against predicted lifetime value to measure what works across the online touchpoints. Both ways help get at indisputable numbers for what success looks like. – Jacob Cook, Tadpull

In-House Transparency: 13 Pros And Cons Of Full Disclosure

In House Transparency

Original Publication: Forbes

Date Published: January 31, 2019

We’re all aware of the importance of transparency in marketing, especially when targeting younger demographics. People want to align not only with your company’s brand, but also your ethos and mission. Lately, the conversation about transparency has turned inward, with some agencies giving their team members full disclosure of the company’s financial well-being, such as revenue, profit and loss, and so on.

We asked 13 members of Forbes Agency Council to share their own transparency experiences, including if they have taken the transparency approach and are still implementing it or if they implemented it and then chose to stop. Read on for the pros and cons of how in-house transparency impacted their business and culture below.

In House Transparency

1. There’s No Reason To Hide Profit

“Transparency” is too often a buzzword agencies say, but don’t honor. We are an open book. Every budget we send to clients has a line that says “Agency Profit.” Not only does our team have full disclosure on what we make, but so do our clients. There isn’t a business in the world that doesn’t exist to make money, so why hide it from anyone? Our clients love it, and our employees love it. There’s nothing to hide. – Lucas Miller, Shop Marketing and Creative Group

2. Open Communication Informs Better Decisions

We have found it important to provide a certain level of transparency to our employees when it comes to our financial success. We set targets at the beginning of the year, communicate them broadly to the employee base and then provide updates on a quarterly basis. This helps get everyone focused on owning the year with us and making decisions in the business from an informed perspective. – Chris Cavanaugh, Freeman

3. Careful Consideration Is Needed

We have yet to implement this, but we’re thinking about it. Younger professionals appreciate openness and function better knowing how they fit into the business model. If finances are tight, the concern is that it may cause panic among good employees to jump ship. However, if profit is strong then it is easier for employees to understand their value and how they fit into that success. – Katie Schibler Conn, KSA Marketing + Partnerships

4. Share What The Team Will Benefit From Knowing

We have practiced pretty radical transparency with our finances at times in the past. The result is that team members, particularly younger ones with less work experience, totally freaked out. It added stress to their lives. I’m the business owner, so I’m expected to lose sleep sometimes, but not everyone needs to join me. Now I just let them know what they need to know so there are no surprises. – Scott Baradell, Idea Grove

5. Transparency Fosters Trust

Prioritizing transparency and integrity internally leads to growth, both because customers see they can trust you to help grow their business, but also because it leads to more engaged, productive and effective employees. We share our financial goals and progress monthly so that our entire team can rally around them. When everyone is aware, involved and invested it leads to success. – Mary Ann O’Brien, OBI Creative

6. Sharing Finances Means Sharing Impact

In 2018 we transitioned to greater financial transparency. We shared revenue and profitability goals at the company and team level. At the six-month update, people seemed gratified to witness the impact their work had made. After the meeting, a junior planner pulled me aside to tell me that seeing the numbers on the page really made her feel that her individual effort had made a big difference. – Joanne McKinney, Burns Group

7. Transparency Goes Two Ways

We subscribe to full transparency and commit to the highest level of trust with the entire team. Giving that level of trust results in getting that same level of trust and respect back. When that kind of trust is inherent to your culture, it’s amazing what you can accomplish. And you can more effectively deal with the challenges when everyone is aware and working together toward the common goal. – Lori Paikin, NaviStone®

8. Employees Earn Their Way Inside

We incentivize employees with a 10% net bonus on any new business they personally secure. If they bring in an account they get to see all expenses related to running that business, so when we write them the big year-end bonus check they know the amount is legit. Writing a fat check to someone who deserves it is my favorite thing in this business. – Sean Looney, Looney Advertising & Branding

9. Profits Are Better When Everyone Shares In Them

We are a fully transparent company. I believe it’s one of the reasons we’ve grown so quickly. Our internal mission is to be the best-paying boutique agency for the information technology industry. When everyone knows the revenue and profit targets they can see that when they are hit, they get better pay and it gets us closer to achieving our internal mission. Profits and work quality have never been better. – Giovanni Sanguily, TRIdigital Marketing

10. Complete Accountability Fosters Communication And Ownership

When companies make the change and open themselves to complete communication and accountability it changes the way that people communicate as well as the attention that they pay to their jobs. What it means is that there is a complete change in the way that companies relate to employees, and employees act like owners and not like those who simply work there. It is also a way to start a dialog. – Jon James, Ignited Results

11. Sharing Gets You Rowing In The Same Direction

Sharing financials and company goals is important to ensure everyone is aligned and sets their sights on the same targets. If all don’t have access, you won’t be rowing in the same direction. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, HAWTHORNE LLC

12. Sharing Opens A Channel To Address Concerns

The executive board hosts a companywide meeting at the beginning of every month to review numbers, goals, problems and successes. During this time of transparency, we talk through any questions or concerns our team may have, providing the response direct from the source and limiting any false speculation. This practice leads to a greater understanding of the business and minimal water cooler talk. – Jason Kulpa, UE.co

13. Tie Your Company’s Financial Goals To Employee Bonuses

About three years ago we started sharing our financial goals, our profits and our “numbers” as often as possible with our employees. That was a deliberate, and critical, shift. We tied our company’s financial goals to individual employees’ bonuses, so our goals are now their goals. When we win, they win. The result? We’re all moving in the same direction. – Matt Moore, OH Partners

15 Challenges Marketers Faced In 2018 (And What They Learned)

Forbes 15 Challenges

Original Publication: Forbes

Date Published: January 28, 2019

The marketing landscape is ever-changing, and it can be difficult to keep up. Even if you’ve been in the industry for years, there are always new trends emerging and and methods evolving.

Those who continue learning and growing will never fall too far behind, but that doesn’t mean they won’t face obstacles along the way. Below, 15 members of Forbes Agency Council share the biggest industry challenges they’ve faced this past year and how they plan to use that knowledge moving forward.

Forbes 15 Challenges

1. A Changing Corporate Climate

The biggest challenge as a marketing agency that has developed over the past year is watching as corporate positions fill up the digital marketing organization spaces that we dominated as agencies in the previous decade. We believe the opportunity that we’ve had in the past five years will be gone. Rather than fighting this change, we are positioning our firm to assist digital officers as a resource. – Evangeline Sutton, Regenerative Marketing LLC

2. The Impact Of Influencers

We have worked with journalists who were bound by the ethics of journalism to tell both sides of a story for nearly 30 years. Now we are working with influencers with large audiences on social media. The problem in evaluating influencers is who they are being paid by, whether they expect to be paid by our clients and what the deliverables will be if they share our clients’ stories and photos. – Nancy Marshall, Marshall Communications

3. Greater Demand For Personalization

The desire for brands to get more personal in communications continues to grow and presents new challenges. In our business, where email marketing is a big part of what we do, we plan to facilitate more personalization through partnerships with companies such as Conversica, which offers an AI attendant that assists in engaging, qualifying and converting more leads for our clients. – Paula Chiocchi, Outward Media, Inc.

4. Maintaining Our Buying Power

We made many systematic changes in 2018 to welcome industry changes. In the planning stages, we updated our systems and training materials. We didn’t, however, fully prepare for the level of attention required to regulate our relationships with suppliers as we grow. When picking suppliers, we learned to check for cues that can help us identify those who can grow and meet our changing priorities. – Ahmad Kareh, Twistlab Marketing

5. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

GDPR was a big industry growing pain; however, having the operations and processes in place to adhere to this regulation make the California Consumer Privacy Act less daunting. It has also opened up a healthy dialog about data, privacy and useful customization across a variety of sectors. – Kieley Taylor, GroupM

6. Standing Out From Our Competitors

Our industry is legal marketing and website design. In our area, we have seen lots of competition come into the market. We plan to face this challenge by producing more educational documents and continuing to set our firm out as industry thought leaders. – Peter Boyd, PaperStreet Web Design

7. Balancing Personalization With Data Privacy

Creating a truly personalized experience while adhering to data privacy and industry regulations proves to be a challenge, like trying to hit a moving target. As we go forward we will be leveraging journey orchestration technology to deliver more relevant customer experiences and a deeper level of personalization than ever before, treating privacy laws as an opportunity to build trust along the way. – Justin Grossman, meltmedia

8. Facebook’s Sponsored Content Changes

At the start of 2018 Facebook once again changed their rules on sponsored content, dramatically shifting how we did business for our clients. We pivoted and ended up with a solution that is exceeding results from before the change. While we’re thrilled with this outcome, we know that we will need to continue to be agile when it comes to 2019, as major platform updates seem to be the new normal. – Danielle Wiley, Sway Group

9. Educating Clients On New Trends

Influencers have become our clients’ nirvana, even though they most often don’t understand how this new “species” works. We have been educating them and pondering their expectations so they know what they can get and how, and what the difference is between an editor, a blogger and an influencer. Parts of our request for proposal now will be dedicated to some education about it. – Sarah Hamon, S2H Communication

10. Addressing The Industry’s Fraud Issue

Transparency continues to be a critical need as the advertising industry recovers from digital ad fraud. We’re heading off potential distrust from clients by being up front about our commitment to fostering an ethical culture at our agency. After applying for and winning an Integrity award from the Better Business Bureau, we now have an independent third party confirming that commitment. – Mary Ann O’Brien, OBI Creative

11. Keeping Up With Emerging Platforms

One of the biggest issues out there is making sure that we know about all of the most recent changes to platforms and to content that needs to be made and consumed. One of the most important things is finding the right content and the right platform. That means that it is very important to ensure that you are using the right platform for the right age group that you are working with. – Jon James, Ignited Results

12. Casting A Wider Net

In 2018, we found that the long-term retainer model didn’t work well for certain smaller startup clients, so we developed a project-based program to allow younger brands to experience our services without committing to a long-term relationship. The program has proven a great success and has given companies the opportunity to achieve public relations and social media goals without an ongoing commitment. – Leslie Licano, Beyond Fifteen Communications Inc.

13. Collecting And Analyzing Data

The amount of data continues to expand exponentially. Programming technology and analytics with a machine learning/artificial intelligence component is and will continue to be key because it will become too much for humans to process in a timely or cost-effective way. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, HAWTHORNE LLC

14. Ensuring Consumer Data Safety And Privacy

Changes in privacy regulations such as GDPR and the California Consumer Privacy Act are impacting how marketing is done. Consumers expect to know what data is collected and to be able to choose what solutions can and can’t collect their data. Marketers must now be diligent at ensuring safety and giving customers the privacy they deserve while delivering meaningful and optimal customer experience. – Alex Yastrebenetsky, InfoTrust

15. Finding The Right Media Tracking Tools

Our media team did a complete analysis of all optimization and tracking tools on the market to confirm best-in-category practices and results. It was an important, but time-consuming, process. We found some brand-new assets in some niche pockets that will help our clients even more. We now need to tell that story in the year ahead in a simple way without giving away the store up front. – Sean Looney, Looney Advertising & Branding

13 Things To Consider When Investing In A Digital Media Platform

Forbes Agency Council

Original Publication: Forbes

Date Published: January 4, 2019

Bloomberg recently reported that Snapchat is experiencing a steady decline in daily users, and its situation isn’t expected to improve any time soon. While Snapchat is certainly far from “dead” – there are still 186 million active daily users, according to Statista — many brands may opt to wait and see if engagement stabilizes before spending precious advertising dollars on the platform.Forbes Agency Council

Snapchat’s downward trend may well prompt second thoughts for many brands that were considering marketing on a digital media platform, including whether to move forward and, if they do, what the best strategy will be. Below, 13 members of Forbes Agency Council share their thoughts on investing in a digital media platform.

1. Positive Return On Investment (ROI) Should Happen Within Two Weeks

Determine your reach and frequency first. How many consumers are you really reaching via Snapchat? Then calculate your ROI on your ad spend. If you are not seeing a positive ROI within one to two weeks, remove the media and allocate the past spend to a testing budget, but do not continue on the medium. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, HAWTHORNE LLC

2. Timing Is Critical

The unsuccessful Facebook purchase of Snapchat was the pivot point. The acquisition was the preferred but not the only means for Facebook to provide the same or better offer, and it has the user data to edge out the competition with better personalization options. Snapchat made some investors money who saw that writing on the wall and got out quickly, so it is as much a matter of when to invest as in what. – Elizabeth Jean Poston, Helios Interactive, A Freeman Company

3. Consider The Platform’s Unique Audience

Snapchat offers a very addressable audience and, in some cases, an audience that is relatively tough to find in other places. What is most important for you to consider is if your target audience has sufficient scale and delivers performance above a point of diminishing returns. – Kieley Taylor, GroupM

4. Take A Holistic View Of Customer Trends

Just because the overall Snapchat user base is changing does not mean that their core users have migrated to another channel. As a brand, it is crucial to have an always-on understanding of customers, including their device and social preferences. When brands invest in a customer data platform, it gives them a holistic view of their customers’ actions, which can enable data-driven investment. – Preethy Vaidyanathan, Tapad

5. What Matters Is Where Your Brand’s Audience Is

Before worrying about a platform that feels like a media “ought to,” brands should first step back and determine if their target is even engaging there. Snapchat may have been a trend darling, but if a brand’s consumers aren’t interacting there, there’s no point in chasing it in the first place. If they are spending time on the platform, the dip in numbers doesn’t matter anyway. – Mimi Lettunich, Twenty Four 7

6. Think Long-Term, Not Short-Term, Viability

When there is a decrease in revenue in a tool and an application like Snapchat, it is very important to make sure that all of the long-term viability assessments of the tool have been looked at. What that means is that before you are putting your money into an application, you want to know that it is going to make a recovery. – Jon James, Ignited Results

7. If It’s Working For You, Stick With It

An “investment” really has nothing to do with the number of daily users, it has to do with the change in key performance indicators for your brand. While growing and massive social media platforms provide a wide audience, they also add the challenge of competition and cost. If Snapchat continues to build awareness, engagement, growth and a return on investment, by all means, continue to use it! – Douglas Karr, DK New Media

8. The Audience Is Waiting — Build A Smart Package

Snap reported 191 million users earlier this year. Instagram has hit 1 billion. There’s no need to wait on either platform. The eyeballs are there. You just have to get a pulse on the best way to engage on each, then develop smart creative and negotiate the best package. There’s a certain amount of parity between both, but one group is way more ad-friendly. – Sean Looney, Looney Advertising & Branding

9. Ignore Industry Panic

Snapchat has gone through waves of popularity and waves of decline. Although ROI should be your chief metric, be sure that you’re not jumping too fast in the natural cycles of popular social media platforms. If Snapchat comes out with a new feature or method of organization that brings users back in droves relatively quickly, you might feel silly for panicking too early. – Brandon Stapper, Nonstop Signs

10. There Is No Silver Bullet

Many people believe that marketers know the silver bullet. In actuality, the best marketers seek to understand their audience well and fire 10 arrows all in the same direction, knowing only a couple will hit the target. Channels come and go. Facebook is already losing its golden-child status. Don’t be surprised, do what good marketers do: Seek to understand your audience and be flexible. – Jesse Marble, Magneti

11. It Might Be A Great Opportunity To Reach Young Consumers

There is still a strong user base on Snapchat that is desirable (Gen Z and younger millennials). You might be able to get a better deal and reach your ideal, hard-to-reach young consumers. – Tom LaVecchia, MBA, X Factor Media

12. Move Around Media Dollars To Find What’s Effective

It’s not about whether a platform is in growth or decline, but whether it provides the best opportunities for your brand to reach your audience. You may leverage that platform while it’s trending, but decide if it’s the most effective medium. Because you can easily move your strategy with media dollars, brands aren’t committed to platforms long term and have the freedom to move to new channels. – Danny Fritz, SBX Group

13. Favor Steady Engagement Over Swift Monetary Return

As long as you’re seeing engagement and a strong following that’s not disassembling your budget, then it’s always worth it to keep investing in a platform. It’s important to remember that with digital media platforms, your monetary return takes time to establish. – Jordan Edelson, Appetizer