Let’s talk a bit about improving marketing ROI today. How do you improve your marketing ROI? First and foremost, decide whether the outcome you want to measure is financial. A non-financial outcome, by definition, has no ROI because ROI is a financial formula. For example, if your goal is to get elected to political office, the outcome is either you are or are not elected. Unless you count bribes and “favors” as your actual outcome, you cannot by definition measure election to office with an ROI calculation. You can determine how much you spent to achieve that result, but that’s it.

So, assuming that our outcome is financial in nature, what comes next? Let’s go back to the Line of Sight Digital Marketing formula.

Mathematical version of line of sight

We know that net profit comes from margin times volume. To improve ROI, we can either move the margin lever up or the volume lever up.

There are two ways to move the volume lever up. We can either convert more people (increase action) or grow audience. There’s a catch with growing audience: without more investment of resources, you plateau fairly quickly with audience growth. You can invest more time or money to grow audience, but you have to watch your numbers like a hawk so that increased spending on audience growth doesn’t actually reduce your ROI.

The place you can move the needle much more is action. When you look at the numbers surrounding action, from clickthrough rates on emails to conversions on your website, you’re often looking at single or low double digits. We may say that a Twitter DM campaign has a highly successful conversion rate of 4%, but when you think about that, you’re effectively saying 96/100 people aren’t buying. An email campaign might have an open rate of 10%, but that’s saying 90/100 people never laid eyes on your email. There’s a tremendous amount of growth there, and is probably the first place you should look for moving the lever up on the volume side.

There are two ways to move the margin lever up. We can either increase income or reduce expenses. There’s a catch here as well! Imagine a rubber band holding these two levers together. Pull income up hard enough and the expense lever eventually comes with it. Logically, this makes sense – if you make some kind of good or service, you eventually need to hire more people to help you produce it if you want to grow your business beyond your capability to do it all yourself.

The converse is also true. Drag the expense lever down hard enough, and the income lever comes with it. You can only cut so far in expenses before you reduce your ability to create income. Logically, this also makes sense – fire everyone and you’re out of business.

As a marketer, there’s a good chance you will have little ability to change the pricing of your products and services. There’s a good chance you will have little ability to change what your company spends on salary, benefits, and other large expenses as well. Thus, if you have a directive to increase your marketing ROI, focusing on the margin side of the house is likely going to be a long and difficult uphill battle. Make changes where you can for easy increases in income or decreases in expenses, but then turn your attention back to conversion and audience growth, as these should be your domains.

Improving your marketing ROI means measuring your margin and volume, plus the subsequent subcategories. Keep an eye on your key performance indicators and attaining improved ROI should be within your reach!


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