You probably have several different goals in mind for your marketing plan: increasing traffic, getting more leads, building your brand. But at the end of the day, what matters most to you? The answer has to be your Return on Investment (ROI). All of your marketing efforts should be based on clear, goal-oriented metrics, and how they relate to your bottom line.
With so many marketing tools at your disposal today — and a shift in buyer responsiveness from outbound to inbound marketing — it’s not always easy to lay out a plan to capture the ROI of a given campaign or program.
These five tips will help you focus your strategy on a metrics-driven marketing program – one that can deliver tangible, measureable results based on sales goals and objectives. Knowing how to measure and capture ROI helps you gauge your program’s success – and more importantly, gives you an organized, ready-to-present package for your CEO and executive team.
Identify: Set your goals up front
“Return on investment” (ROI) means nothing without targeted goals and benchmarks. The very first step to capturing ROI is assessing your current marketing plan and determining what you’d like to improve. These metrics are your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) – the markers on your roadmap to more business. KPIs are typically “big-picture” measurements – things like, traffic to your website, leads generated or customers converted from leads.
Depending on your goals, KPIs can also be more specific. For instance, other ways to measure your company's success include upselling existing customers, increasing e-commerce orders or improving conversions from emails or blogs.
Attract: Add Inbound Marketing to your playbook
Traditional outbound marketing and ROI don’t go well together for a few reasons:
- It can be hard to track how effective offline outbound ads are
- Online outbound advertising like display ads or paid search can get costly
- You very rarely get a strong ROI from outbound advertising!
Inbound marketing works a little differently to attract leads — it leverages useful customer-focused content that encourages prospects to build a relationship with your company. It inverts the model of advertising that attempts to reach buyers when they’re engaged in other activities, and seeks to be more relevant to their needs and bring them looking for you. This is much more efficient for your sales cycle and your bottom line:
- Your content appeals to customers at all stages of the buying cycle.
- Your content is generally hosted on your site and gets you found by buyers – no costs for clicks or impressions.
- Your content creates a relationship and brand loyalty, which naturally fosters repeat business.
Convert: Turn visitors into customers – and advocates
With inbound marketing, attracting customers to your site is only the first step in the sales process. Unlike outbound marketing, where you’re only addressing a narrow cross-section of buyers ready to make a purchase — inbound marketing appeals to a broader audience. With a greater potential to draw buyers into your sales funnel, you get a better ROI from your content.
Once buyers find you through inbound marketing, they’ll likely want more – more of your voice, more of your content, more of your brand. There are a few ways that you can provide this — and make sure that they’ll think of you when they do reach that ready-to-buy stage:
- Email nurturing
- Regular content updates
- Cross-platform promotion
Measure: Set up your measuring toolkit
Based around your KPIs, the Measuring step is the most important in quantifying the results of your program. However, your KPIs are just the first step in determining your actual ROI.
You may want to include a number of other factors to make your ROI calculation, including:
- Cost of overall marketing program
- Cost per lead
- Cost per sale
- Overall length of customer relationship (are you getting repeat business?)
You’ll also have specific metrics for each campaign — ones that you can analyze to improve your numbers. Email marketing, for instance, can show you how many people opened your email, what they clicked in it, and whether or not they pursued more information from you. Social media tracking can show you what time of day is best to post, depending on past performance.
Report: Use your findings
As with any new system, it can be difficult to get other decision-makers on board. The best way to prove the benefits of inbound marketing? The bottom line.
A solid inbound marketing plan will ideally affect both sides of the ROI equation – not only will you see leads coming in more consistently, and converting more often to sales, but you’ll also see your overall acquisition costs decreasing.
The old methods like display ads, Google AdWords, and purely promotional email campaigns can be costly, time-consuming, and inefficient. New marketing programs built around inbound marketing and high-quality content create resources that you can continue to use and repurpose for new audiences.
The tracking and reporting tools at your disposal will enable you to show tangible, goal-focused improvements in your marketing program. There’s no better way to answer questions and alleviate concerns than with hard facts. Inbound marketing arms you with those facts – real results, and real business.
Inbound is proven to work
If you aren’t yet seeing the results you want, work back through each step:
- Set new goals — perhaps more short-term improvements, or adjusted expectations.
- Continue to create quality content — the best content lives on via your website or other outlets to ensure that you keep getting found.
- Engage with your prospects regularly — remember that inbound attracts buyers at all stages of the purchasing cycle, so they just may not be ready to place an order yet.
- Review your metrics and measurements — study what worked, what didn’t, and adjust your methods accordingly.