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Marketing ROI: Don’t Miss this Critical Consideration

Marketing ROI: An Essential Tip

Marketing ROI is a hot marketing topic and regular point of discussion with our clients. Of course the pure definition of all marketing efforts is to drive sales. If the cost of our marketing efforts outstrips all income generated, then what’s the point? That is why Abra’s marketing programs always have a measurement component to track results and return on our client’s marketing investment, as should yours.

That said, it’s important to look at marketing ROI with some greater understanding than simply the exact sales generated by each component. The reason I write this article is because I’ve seen clients make the mistake of canceling a marketing initiative because they are not seeing a return on that component of their marketing efforts. They are looking at each piece of their marketing program and expecting each to pay for itself with a tracked return.

My argument is that marketing does not work this way.

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Marketing ROI: Your approach to marketing should not be unlike a comprehensive training program. Pictured is the author (on right) at the Junior National Cycling Championship Road Race, 1985.

There are three marketing concepts that explain why this approach is counterproductive and can hurt your marketing:
1. Successful Marketing Programs Have Complementary Components
2. Marketing is Cumulative
3. Marketing will Never be Completely Measurable

Let me start with the analogy of an athlete.
I was a pretty serious bike racer in high school, becoming a Cat 2 racing criteriums and road races throughout the Midwest. To be successful I invested in a variety of activities:
• Training daily of course, riding 40-75 miles per day, 20 miles on “rest” days.
• Learning about and using the best diets
• Pursuing optimal sleep schedules
• Working to have the best gear
• Competing in races
• Education: spending time with peers, reading, attending camps at Olympic Training Center, etc. to improve my training, racing strategies, etc.

So which of these activities provided the best ROI for my success?

Successful Marketing Programs Have Complementary Components

The point is I had to have all those things working together. And so it is in marketing. A successful marketing program has a variety of initiatives that work together to be successful. As with working to be a successful athlete, it doesn’t make sense to measure which piece is most effective as the effectiveness of the effort comes from all the pieces working together.

Marketing is Cumulative

There is also a time factor to a successful marketing program. Back to my athlete example, none of those activities generated results overnight. It took months, years of them working together to build results. Abra Marketing has gained clients who came to us after years of us being the marketplace, first maybe seeing an ad, then meeting us at a networking event, then hearing about our work, then finding us online. As you look at each marketing initiative, consider how it is working as part of your overall marketing program.

Marketing will Never be Completely Measurable

One thing I’ve learned in over 25 years of marketing is that you can only measure so much. Customers may report that they found you through a tv ad, or you may track that they clicked through a campaign. But most customers come from multiple touch points that have built over time. They saw an ad once or multiple times. Then a friend mentioned you. Then they saw a news story. Then they had a need and went to search online and there you were. And your website and the staff that answered the phone resonated with them. There is just no way to completely track marketing ROI.

I had conversation with a client recently where we asked ourselves: over our past 8 years of working together, what was the most effective marketing activity/project? We came to one conclusion: it was all of it. It was the fact that every month we got out there and did what we thought best on multiple fronts and it all worked together to build the results we have now.

How to Use Marketing ROI

So do what you can to track your marketing efforts. But be careful in how you analyze that data. You must go into marketing with some understanding that everything must work together over time and just because it cannot be tracked, does not mean your marketing investment is not paying a healthy return.

Track as much as you can. What we strive for is a marketing program where we have enough trackable net profit to verify the program is paying for itself and ideally yielding a marketing ROI. Beyond that, accept that there is always unmeasurable return on our marketing investments and have confidence and faith in the value of well-chosen marketing efforts that they will ultimately grow your business.

Abra Marketing a Santa Rosa digital marketing agency serving clients in Sonoma County and the greater Bay Area since 1999.