Slackershot - Spare Change

Do your marketing ROI calculations sync up with the reality of your company’s bottom line? Or have you put together an ROI calculation and found your net revenue projections falling short? Chances are, you’re missing some key ingredients in the calculation of ROI, especially on the I part, investment.

Recall that ROI is a simple math equation: (Earned – Spent) / Spent. Your revenue is offset by your investment.

What do you spend money on that fuels your marketing? For most marketers, we think of only campaign spends, like ad budgets or the price of a marketing agency. However, if you wanted to build a complete, thorough picture of ROI, you’ll need to detail three kinds of money: system, hard, and soft.

Let’s look at these three kinds of money through the lens of a Google AdWords campaign.

Hard Dollars

Hard dollars are actual money paid out. If you run an AdWords campaign, hard dollars would be the money you pay to Google to make the ads appear. This is the most common ingredient in ROI calculations.

Soft Dollars

How long did it take you to write your AdWords ads? How long did it take your creative team to put together some display images? How long did it take you to load the ads into the system and hit go?

Time is the greatest source of soft dollars. You account for it by what your effective hourly rate is, and add that to investment. For example, suppose your salary is $50,000 per year. Your hourly equivalent rate is $24.04 per hour. Thus, every hour you spend on AdWords adds an additional $24.04 to the cost of your campaigns.

System Dollars

You don’t just imagine an AdWords ad and it appears. You created that ad on a computer, using electricity, with an Internet connection, possibly at a desk inside a building that you pay rent on. If you work at a company, all the benefits like insurance, office perks, etc. add up to your total cost as an employee. If you’re self-employed, the money you spend on yourself in a work context adds up to your business expenses.

Those system dollars create the environment needed for you to do your work. What do they cost? The easiest way to calculate system dollars is to simply divide the operating expenses of employees (less salary and cash benefits) by the number of employees at a business level, and then add that to the effective hourly rate.

For example, if your business spends $10,000 a year in system dollars to maintain the desk, computer, etc. and your salary costs the business $50,000 per year, that puts your effective cost at $60,000 per year, or $28.85 per hour. Every hour you spend on AdWords should add $28.85 into the campaign cost.

Add The Dollars Up

While this one example may seem like overkill to compute the ROI of an AdWords campaign, you must apply this methodology to all your marketing ROI calculations. Once you’ve accounted for hard and soft dollars, ensure that you’ve accounted for system dollars and you’ll have much more accurate ROI calculations.


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