6 Top Cost and Return Factors to Consider when Measuring Marketing Success
From encouraging consumers to stay loyal to particular brands, to reaching a new target demographic, marketing – and the way products and services are sold – has a huge influence on our buying behaviours and everyday routines. Without effectively promoting them, many businesses struggle to put their name and brand in front of the right people, and, realistically, have little chance of surviving in today’s competitive market.
But there’s more to marketing than creating a catchy slogan and designing a unique logo. Marketing is everything that a business does to earn customers and cultivate a relationship with them. It is not an exact art and can often be challenging to quantify, but it is vital for a company’s success. Like most things in the world of business, everything (including marketing) comes down to figures and money!
“Marketing is undoubtedly a huge component of a successful business yet because of the difficulty in attributing sales or success to a campaign, it is often the first area to be slashed when a company’s profits fall. This is a highly illogical step as marketing is an investment to create revenue – yet it still happens.”
One of the biggest frustrations and challenges facing marketers is proving the success of a particular marketing program. Clients want to see a positive impact on their bottom line as soon as possible, but marketers cannot always prove that return.
The biggest question companies have about their marketing campaigns is usually about what return on investment they’re getting for the money they have spent. The phrase ‘Return on Investment’ or its acronym ‘ROI’, is something that is regularly referred to in the finance and investment sector but is, in fact, relevant to all business-related matters.
Its importance in the world of marketing is crucial too. Calculating ROI is a way of quantifying the investment a particular marketing strategy has brought to your business.
At its most basic, your business’s marketing ROI shows how much return (extra profit) your business got on its investment (marketing expenditure). This can be from either the reduced costs from the promotional spending or, most likely, the additional orders/revenue gain. These two factors are often combined, however.
This calculated figure is then put against the costs associated with running the marketing campaign. In other words, you will end up with a positive ROI figure if you make more money than is spent on costs or have a negative ROI if your costs are higher than the reduced costs or additional revenue gain.
But having explained the simplest premise behind marketing ROI, in reality it can get a lot more complicated. With marketing ROI there are many different costs and return factors that have to be examined.
The primary all-important COST factors that you need to consider are:
- Functional Expenditure
These are the actual campaign costs, such as staff rates for people working on the campaign and the dissemination of marketing materials. Other costs in this heading include related business expenditures, such as printing costs, technical costs (e.g. email platform subscriptions and website coding), management time, and the cost of sales.
- Creative Expenditure
These are costs incurred by the creation of brand identity, content, and the conception of marketing ideas. It can also cover the actual work gone into the decision-making process and how the campaign is put into action.
- Supplementary Expenditure
These are marketing costs that are not foreseen when planning a campaign. They can also refer to costs incurred by new marketing information or changes to business practices that are caused by the results of certain marketing campaigns.
The RETURN factors that should be considered are as follows:
- Immediate Returns
This is the most visible and sought-after return from a planned marketing campaign; an increase in sales and contracts acquired as a direct result of the marketing activity. Immediate returns are effectively money in the bank but are not the only benefit.
- Changing Perception Returns
We all know that the main aim of marketing is to make money. But, for some clients, immediate sales gains aren’t the primary goal. By playing a longer game, a clever marketing campaign can change a customer’s perception, opinion, or knowledge of a company with the expectation that this will convert into sales in the future. Here at ME., We like to call this the ‘LEGACY’ that has been achieved. This can take the form of making the audience aware that your company sells a certain product or service, causing the customer to consciously or subconsciously like your company, or even just literally making them aware of your existence.
As valid as this type of campaign is, it is problematic for ROI calculations. The effectiveness of an awareness/perception strategy can be hard to judge because its success is often in the future and it’s tough to directly attribute the change in perception as the cause of a sale.
- Future Business Returns
The other returns factor to be aware of is the potential for sales in the future from the audience attracted by the marketing spend. This is easy to miss out when working out your ROI as again its effects are not immediate and quickly identifiable. You should also remember to factor in referrals and recommendations generated by new leads when working out this figure.
The different factors used in working out your marketing ROI can vary for each business or organisation, but with accurate ROI figures, your company can target marketing efforts that bring you the largest return.
“Doing an ROI review on your marketing efforts is a method that produces hard evidence of its importance while banishing the idea that some people have of marketing as an unnecessary expense.”
One of the other reasons marketers consistently struggle to demonstrate a marketing program’s profitability is because attributing revenues can trail behind marketing activities by 3 to 12 months, depending on your respective industry. Marketing automation is helping to close the gap between sales and marketing and to increase sales attribution, but lag time persists.
Because lag time prevents marketers from understanding the relationship between marketing input and revenue, we must demonstrate ROI differently — through key performance indicators (KPI). Marketers that identify a KPI and understand its relationship to revenue can approximate the future returns of a marketing program through that KPI — and perhaps even redefine a program’s success.
KPIs serve as a special type of metric. Whereas all marketing metrics should help marketers assess their performance, KPIs are intended to provide leading insight into the future impact of marketing efforts on business outcomes. They indicate a change in performance and provide insight on how to influence success.
By learning how KPIs relate to revenue, we can effectively forecast and optimize our marketing activities to encourage a successful result in the future — without waiting for revenue numbers.
To choose an appropriate KPI, look backward in time 6 to 12 months, or perhaps longer depending on your sales cycle and pandemic impact. Your goal is to find a strong correlation between KPI and revenue (or another specific business goal). Because a KPI indicates what your revenue or business outcome will be, it’s essential to reference data with a strong correlation so you are not making decisions based on anomalies.
For example, let’s say I plot the number of product demonstrations that occurred between January and October. If the peaks and valleys of that graph align with sales numbers from May to February, I know there is a correlation between demonstrations and sales. Product demonstrations then become our KPI. With a little calculation effort, I can then estimate revenue 90 days out based on the number of product demos scheduled this month.
“Every industry is different. Your KPIs could be initial sales meetings, product demos, free trials, sample requests, or enquiries – The key is to find yours.”
In an ideal situation, you should measure and track the ROI and KPI’s on all marketing activity so that you can get the highest possible returns by knowing where to target and what is and isn’t successful. For example, at Marketing Elect, we ran our client Poppet Construction’s social media campaign which netted them over £200,000 worth of sales enquiries in just one month. With results like this, you’ll know what channels or message is effective and your entire business can understand why marketing is important as there is evidence to back it up.
If your company does no ROI calculations or has no KPIs, you are effectively shooting in the dark with your marketing spend. Because of this, you have no idea what works, and your budget will be the first thing that is cut when the business runs into tough conditions.
Equally, as we start to see the green shoots emerge in a post-COVID world following a challenging business period, it’s even more important not to waste money on ineffective marketing.
But you can’t afford to not invest money in marketing if you want to grow!
At Marketing Elect and through our sister agency Brand Elect, we immerse ourselves into helping our list of varied clients grow their marketing ROIs and KPI’s to the best of our ability. All of our past projects have brought our clients the marketing success they have deserved, and we are proud to have worked with people from all industries and walks of life.
Our reputation is something we take very seriously. We are highly results-focused and use all of our creative and innovative marketing methods to achieve the best results for your company.
We believe a happy client is a successful client and in turn, our clients become our biggest advocates.