4 Best Practices for Measuring Marketing ROII

A recent study by Forrester Research revealed that U.S. marketers wasted as much as $7.4 billion in one year on low-quality digital display ads. Overall, marketers estimate that they waste 20-30% of their advertising budgets. This waste represents a serious threat to an organization’s success, which is why it’s so important for companies (and their marketing consultants) to carefully track and measure the ROI of every campaign.

What is Marketing ROI?

ROI stands for Return On Investment. Simply put, your marketing ROI is the amount of business revenue generated by your advertisements, as compared to the amount of money spent on those advertisements. ROI can be positive (indicating that your campaign is making more money than it costs to run) or negative (indicating that it costs more to run your campaign than you are making from it).

How to Calculate Marketing ROI

How to calculate marketing ROI

The marketing ROI formula itself is relatively straightforward. Collecting the data, however, can be challenging. The following best practices should help you monitor the metrics that matter for your marketing campaigns, allowing you to make adjustments and focus your spending on the efforts that generate real revenue for your business.

#1: Structure Your Campaigns So That You’re Always Testing

When it comes to marketing, there’s always room for improvement. When you start a new campaign, make sure you’re prepared to continue testing and evolving as you go in order to improve your ROI. The easiest way to do so is to map out several options in the areas below:

  • Calls-To-Action: What do you want your audience to do? Maybe you want them to provide their email addresses so they can download a white paper or case study. Maybe you want them to sign up for a free trial or make an immediate purchase. Have different options in mind so you can experiment to find out which CTA yields the best results.
  • Ad Copy: Sometimes, it can take some testing to find the right message for your audience, and once messaging has been used for awhile, it can become stale. Vary your ad copy to find the most compelling messages and be ready to change your messaging often enough to keep your audience interested.
  • Ad Creative: does a bright picture draw more interest? A .gif instead of a still image? You’ll never know until you test.
  • Landing Page Design: If you’re sending people to a landing page where they can complete a desired action, you will want to test different versions of your landing page. Consider changing where you place your CTA buttons, including (or removing) a video, and using different images to see which ones perform best.

Before you launch your campaign, think about what you plan to test and when you want to do it. It’s easier to implement changes on a regular schedule versus doing things haphazardly once you have moved on to other projects.

#2: Implement Ad-Level Tracking

Before you launch an on- or offline campaign, think about how you intend to measure your results. Depending on your purchasing process, tracking ROI can be a real challenge. Consider the following scenarios:

  • Do people call your business directly? Call tracking services like CallRail can give you unique telephone numbers to use with each of your advertising campaigns so you know which ones are generating revenue.
  • Are you mailing postcards or brochures as part of your campaign? Generate individual offer codes for each mailing, or ask customers to present the card in person.
  • When all else fails, ask! If there isn’t a clear-cut way to track the results from your ad campaign, you can ask how customers heard about you as part of your on- or offline check-out process.

Online tracking will usually involve monitoring your website traffic using Google Analytics and a combination of trackable goals, UTM codes, and cookies to record where your visitors came from and how they interacted with your website. Some tips to keep in mind:

  • A dedicated landing page with its own UTM code can tell you how users found your site and what they did when they arrived.
  • Other ad platforms, like Facebook ads, use pixels to track ad performance. These little bits of code are added to your website to track what happens when a user visits from one of your ads.
  • Platforms like SalesForce and other CRMs use tags to track how users engage with your website and your offers.
  • E-Commerce tracking in Google Analytics can be used to record transactions completed through your website. Using the above tracking codes, you can determine if a purchase was a result of your ad campaign.

#3: Connect Your Tracking to Google Analytics

Google Analytics for Tracking Marketing ROI

As mentioned, many of the tracking tools you’re going to use to monitor your marketing ROI will operate through Google Analytics. The platform offers conversion tracking, e-Commerce tracking, and metrics like time on site, number of new users, pages per visit, and other data that can indicate whether or not a campaign is performing well.

In order to take advantage of the tracking you set up earlier, you’ll need to make sure that you have goals or conversions (such as lead submission forms) and e-Commerce tracking set up in Google Analytics. Since you’ll likely be using UTM codes to track your campaigns, you will also want to record those codes so you know how those campaigns will show up on the platform.

Before you launch your campaigns, perform some test actions to make sure Google Analytics is recording interactions using your UTM codes or other tracking mechanisms.

#4: Consistently Track and Revise Your Campaigns

Once you have your tracking place, create a regular cadence for reviewing and reporting on your ROI and other defining metrics for your campaigns. Bi-weekly tracking is recommended for monitoring the most important indicators like new leads or conversions, new customers, and overall ROI. Regular tracking will enable you to notice any serious positive or negative fluctuations and take action to improve your campaigns based on that knowledge. It will also create a long-term picture of your performance, so you have a better idea what to expect from month to month and year to year.


Are you struggling to get a handle on your ROI? Do you need better results? Talk to our marketing consultants about your concerns. We’re here to help!

Marketing During Coronavirus

So what’s next?

At this point in the coronavirus pandemic, you’ve no doubt adjusted to remote operations, updated your customers on your status, and you’ve probably even sent out a tip or two about social distancing. But in many ways the hard part is just beginning: seeking growth amidst a slowing economy. So what should your marketing look like during the current pandemic?

Continuing to Market During a Slowdown Will Drive Greater Long-Term Revenue

First, a bit of personal history. I began my career as a marketing consultant at the tail end of the dot-com bubble. When it burst, one of the client projects I did was to evaluate the impact of marketing spend during a recession and I found something surprising:

Cutting marketing activities and spend during difficult times helps in the short term, but significantly damages a brand’s market share in the long term

We know this thanks to some strong historical research using a dataset called the Profit Impact for Marketing Strategy that has tracked companies’ spend in different areas and subsequent market performance since the 1970s. And what the PIMS data says is that, while companies that cut promotional spend usually see stronger returns during a recession, those returns come at the expense of long-term market share.

Marketing During Coronavirus - Average Return for Companies During a Recession Based on Marketing Spend


Marketing During the Cornavirus - the ROI Effect of Cutting Marketing Spend During a Recession

Note: a deeper review of the data is available in this presentation by Michael Johnston.


How Do You Market in Uncertain Times?

Of course it’s one thing to say “keep marketing” and it’s quite another to figure out how to do so in the face of reduced budgets, declining revenue, and general uncertainty. In these situations, digging in to a few core metrics can help you understand exactly where to focus resources and where to cut back on activity:

  • Impression Volume: Fundamentally, you want to keep your impression share as high as you reasonably can in order to capitalize on the fact that others are likely scaling back their activities. These impressions can come from anywhere: email, SEO, organic/viral social, sales touches, etc. The important thing is to make sure you’re not letting your volume of communications to the market slow.
  • Cost per Lead: Of course, not all impressions are created equal. No doubt you have a few low performing marketing channels that are taking time and budget from other areas. Now is the time to review your costs per lead across your various channels and cut out your low performers. Target cost per lead benchmarks for a number of industries from GoConvert appear below (as with any benchmark, your mileage will no doubt vary).

Cost Per Lead Benchmarks

  • Cost per sale: Arguably the most relevant metric to business results is your cost per sale. Here, you’re looking for the cheapest source of leads that convert to sales. What can you do to drive more volume in those channels, and where can you pause more expensive activities?


  • Time to close: Finally, keep an eye on your conversion timeframe from lead to sale. It is very common for decision cycles to lengthen during uncertain times, and you want to be hyper-aware of any changes that will impact your revenue forecasting.

The Most Cost-Effective Marketing Channels During a Recession

With the above in mind, let’s take a look at some of the most effective marketing channels to use during the COVID-19 pandemic:

1. Email: There’s a reason why you’re seeing emails from companies you’d thought forgot about you: early data is showing that email engagement is rising during the coronavirus pandemic.

Marketing During Coronavirus - Email Response Rates Since March from BounceX

March and April 2020 Email Interaction Data from BounceX

With more people in front of their devices for longer periods of time, coupled with the fact that increasing email volume has little incremental cost, this channel makes an ideal platform to stay in front of your customers.

But it’s not just the low cost of email that makes it an ideal tool. It’s the fact that email is the best lead conversion and customer upselling tool you have.

Acquiring a new customer costs five times more than growing revenue from an existing customer

Forrester research noted that growing business from your existing database is five times more cost effective than finding new customers. And there’s no time like a global pandemic to start boosting your marketing ROI via email.


2. Organic Social: As you’d expect if people were stuck inside for longer periods of time, social media analytics company RivalIQ has found that social engagement has increased across its user base.

Graph indicating that engagement rates have gone up correlated to a decline in posting frequency.

Interestingly enough, this growth has occurred in spite of posting frequency actually falling to ~3 posts weekly. The drop in posting is is likely due to many companies not quite wanting to return to normal scheduled activities in light of changing conditions, but the rising engagement indicates that, just as with email, people are spending more time on their social channels.

While organic social media typically doesn’t enjoy the same reach as paid social posts, you can make up for a lower ad budget by interacting more with your followers in order to boost engagement.

3. SEO: how many of you would have turned to search engine optimization in response to a pandemic? While SEO is generally not thought of as a fast-acting marketing channel, the fact is that people can only be glued to the coronavirus news for so long before they’re going to return to their normal browsing habits. And with more people stuck inside with nothing to do, overall search volume is skyrocketing.

Web browsing has increased by 70% according to one media study

There’s never been a better time to freshen up your site’s content, push out that white paper, or make sure that your metadata is as cleaned and optimized as it can be. Google ranks sites based on recency of updates (among many other factors), and you don’t want to be losing impressions because someone else posted a more current blog.

What Should Marketers Say During Coronavirus?

You’ve probably seen (or sent) a version of the “standard” pandemic response email dozens of times by now: a few vague platitudes about being “in this together,” a note on operational changes, and maybe a discount offer or two. But now that we’re more than a month into social distancing, there’s not much new most brands will be able to contribute to the pandemic conversation and market research studies have shown that brands are not seeing advertising damage their reputations during this time, so it’s more than appropriate to return to your “normal” campaigns.

Marketing During Coronavirus - Consumer Advertising Attitudes

It’s appropriate to return to “normal” marketing messages, provided you recognize the “new normal”

An understanding of how your target audience’s needs have shifted, and how your value proposition will need to adjust to meet those needs, is your best friend when developing your ongoing “corona campaigns”. Here are a few messaging tips for how to shape your marketing messages during COVID-19:

1. Keep Practicality and Direct Action at Your Message’s Core

The majority of consumers and businesses are tightening their belts during this uncertain period, so your messaging should stay focused on the very immediate, practical benefits your call to action will deliver. If your product or service is discretionary, what are some ways in which it can help your customers deal with the current situation? How can you help their peace of mind?

If you’re offering a more “essential” product or service, how will your customers access it? What does the process look like? Focus on the details of your offer, as opposed to awareness-based campaigns. A recent Coronavirus Trust Barometer report from Edelman provides guidance on the specific tone to strike:

Marketing During Coronavirus - Consumers' Messaging Expectations


2. Use Deals and Discounts Sparingly

Offering deep discounts is a double-edged sword: you might need them to encourage purchase from an otherwise reluctant audience, but that same audience will remember that low price down the road and come to expect it. Two industries stuck in this cycle are the automotive industry with its 0% down financing and fast food chains with their dollar menus. You can counteract this issue with limited time offers, but you’ll need to be judicious about deploying your doorbusters. You may create long-term price concerns that are difficult to overcome.

In these situations, it might be more appropriate to offer additional incentives with purchase such as free support, other giveaways, product tie-ins, and more rather than an initial heavy discount.

3. References to the Pandemic Should Come With Action That Can Help

If you are still referencing the COVID-19 pandemic in your marketing, consumer mood has shifted from desires for information to expectations for action. And those brands that are taking action: raising money, making donations, shifting production to meet PPE demands, are the ones best-positioned to earn future business:

Marketing During Coronavirus - Future Impact on Brands

Think of Twitter’s CEO donating $1 billion to coronavirus relief, or Nordstrom retraining its tailors to make PPE. These are the actions that consumers expect.


Marketing During Coronavirus Will Take Caution and Patience, but it Will Pay Off

We hope that this post has been helpful as you gather yourself for the next phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. If you’d like to schedule a conversation about exactly how you can keep marketing during these uncertain time, please contact us.

What does a marketing consultant do?

Companies hire marketing consultants for many reasons: to support initiatives outside their existing team’s scope, to bring an expert perspective to a particular challenge, or to improve execution in daily operations. The job requirements can be quite broad, which is why so many marketing consultants spend so much time clarifying their scopes of work!

But in our experience, the most important thing a marketing consultant can do for you is rarely one that’s included in an RFP: build an achievable path to reach your objectives and mature your business.

Doing so requires evaluation in areas you might not consider to be within your initial scope, such as:

  • Audience fit and market position
  • Software and process infrastructure
  • Team composition and skillset
  • Database management and segmentation
  • Brand and creative review

That’s why in today’s post we’re looking at what, exactly, a marketing consultant SHOULD do for you.

Market Research & Marketing ROI Evaluation

1. A marketing consultant should gather data to help you understand what the numbers say about your business.

What Does a Marketing Consultant Do? Market ResearchUnderstanding your customers’ needs and assessing and how well you’re meeting them is a foundational concept for every marketer. Gathering this data will help you understand areas such as the following:

  • Growth Opportunities:
    • How big is your market?
    • Who are your competitors?
    • What untapped needs might exist?
  • Marketing ROI:
    • What return are you getting on your marketing investments?
    • What return should you expect to get from new campaigns?
    • Where are your highest-revenue leads coming from?
  • Brand Competitiveness:
    • What does your target audience think about your product or service?
    • Does the brand experience you deliver match the brand experience you want to deliver?
    • How visible is your brand online?
    • Is your value proposition clear and compelling?

Many organizations will have this information readily available. A good marketing consultant should ask to review your past market research and campaign performance data to build their understanding of your organization. If you don’t have this information readily available, you may want to consider including it in your scope.

Branding and Design

2. A marketing consultant should assess gaps in how you want to be seen by your audience vs. how they experience your brand. 

What Does a Marketing Consultant Do? Brand DesignOnce you understand exactly what your audience is looking for, the next step is to clarify your value proposition and ensure that you’re communicating it clearly and effectively. For a marketing consultant, this means conducting a brand evaluation.

And while many marketers still think of a brand as a logo and color scheme, your brand encompasses every message, call to action, and paragraph of copy you put out into the market. Each communication should work to emphasize the unique benefit you provide to your customers, while every interaction should make good on your brand promise.  If they don’t, it’s time to revise your branding.

A rebranding typically includes:

  • Crafting an identity package that includes logos, fonts, colors, and iconography
  • Revising your websites, landing pages, email templates, digital and print ads, and other campaign assets
  • Designing materials for trade shows, presentations, and other marketing opportunities
  • Verbal identity materials such as copy bibles, elevator pitches, differentiation statements, and more

Branding also includes designing an ideal customer experience, creating strategies to address complaints, and ensuring that your organization receives constant feedback on any shifts in market needs. As this can be quite a large initiative, a good marketing consultant will be able to help you identify where to focus first for maximum results.

Marketing Strategy

3. A marketing consultant should identify the most effective way to reach your audience given your existing resources. 

What Does a Marketing Consultant Do? Strategy and ExecutionWith your brand in place, it’s time to think about how you’ll reach your audience. This is where executive planning sessions and corporate missions meet the reality of available resources. At this stage, your marketing consultant should help you:

  • Identify strategies to break through the market clutter and capture your audience
  • Set goals for your campaigns and determine which performance metrics matter most
  • Segment and prioritize your target audiences
  • Forecast ROI based on budget and campaign opportunities
  • Create unified themes and messaging
  • Identify any operational needs that will be required to deliver on the above

This last point is, in our opinion, one of the most critical yet often-overlooked components to successful marketing. Everyone will have lofty goals in a strategic planning session, but your consultant’s job will be to bring those down to earth and identify whether you have the staff, budget, or tools to accomplish your goals. If not, they’ll need to be built before your campaign is put into motion.

Campaign Execution

4. A marketing consultant should help identify what’s working and what isn’t and lay out a plan for improvement.

What Does A Marketing Consultant Do? Marketing ReportingWe’ve finally arrived at the point where most companies hire a marketing consultant: campaign execution and evaluation. While proper attention to the previous activities we’ve discussed will help your campaigns achieve stronger results, every plan will need to be adjusted based on market response.

During campaign execution, you should expect your marketing consultant to approach things from an analytical perspective. Modern marketing generates a significant amount of data, and testing and measuring different executions and messaging will be critical to optimize your campaigns and generate positive ROI. Your consultant should walk you through the following:

  • How have past campaigns performed?
  • Where do your most profitable customers come from?
  • What messages will go to which audiences at what times (the campaign calendar)?
  • How will effectiveness be tracked?
  • What are our leading campaign indicators?
  • How will progress be reported?
  • What benchmarks must be hit for optimal performance

With these items clarified, it’s time to dig into the nuts and bolts of channel-by-channel marketing to build your media/advertising plan, push that message into the market, and keep a close eye on initial performance.

Your marketing consultant should provide benchmarks for ideal performance in your chosen channel, along with leading indicators required to generate a positive ROI. Your campaigns should include a number of testing elements to identify things like the most effective calls-to-action, the best-performing creative, etc. that can be leveraged and amplified as campaign performance data comes in. And if poor performance is observed, it should be acted on immediately.


Conclusion – What Exactly Should a Marketing Consultant Do?

To sum up, your marketing consultant should help you:

  • Gather data and help you understand your performance
  • Assess brand message and experience gaps
  • Identify the most effective approach to reach your audience
  • Continually improve your marketing based on observed performance

We hope this guide has helped you understand exactly what a marketing consultant does and how they can help. If you have any questions or would like to discuss an engagement, contact one of our expert marketing consultants today.