How To Get A Positive Return On Your Marketing Investment

Calculating return on a marketing investment (ROMI) is something of an art form. Unlike capital investments, which have a fixed, upfront cost and clear results, marketing investments evolve over time and have both empirical and intangible results.

It’s no wonder that 80 percent of marketers have trouble proving the business value of their spending, campaigns, and activities.

But even if you haven’t nailed down a formula for ROMI, your investment decisions should still hinge on their ability to yield positive results. To be clear, we’re talking about investments either in specific marketing programs (paid media, email nurturing, inbound) or in new marketing technology, such as a marketing automation platform. Consider what value the investment could add to your brand, and whether that value would be direct profit (leads, conversions) or qualitative.

If you follow the logic, you’ll likely encounter these two fundamental questions:

  • What kind of marketing investments are more likely to pay off?
  • If my investments are already failing, what practices can turn them around?

Give it Some Elbow Grease?

It isn’t enough to just feed more money or time into your existing projects, especially if they aren’t performing well. That’s like flooring the accelerator when your vehicle is clearly stuck in the mud. It also falsely simplifies prospect behavior: people don’t just want to be engaged for the sake of it; they want to be engaged in relevant, timely, personalized ways.

Image Credit: Rand Fishkin

If you’re lucky, a prospect will convert after several, meaningful encounters with your brand across multiple channels (email, social, SERP, mobile). But marketers are eager to “hack” the process. They want to know the shortcuts for turning prospects into leads, and leads into contracts, and that’s not necessarily a bad instinct. Really, it’s about capitalizing on investments.

Here are six key strategies that can help you turn efforts into results and ensure a positive return:

1. Publish Keyword-Driven Content

Keyword research is one of the best ways to influence your site traffic — not just in overall volume, but in quality. If you publish content optimized for high volume, low-difficulty phrases, you’re more likely to rank on page one of the SERPs, which of course means more site visitors. You can go a step further by making sure this content (whether a blog post, a whitepaper, or a landing page) targets prospects that are closer to making a purchase, i.e. further “down the funnel.” By doing this, you’re marketing to prospects that are the easiest to access and the most likely to convert.

2. Use A/B Testing

Regardless of what medium you’re working in, some tactics work better than others. A/B testing (sometimes referred to as “split testing”) is the process of comparing alternate versions of a similar asset and deciding which yields better results, without guesswork. Marketers can run A/B tests on everything from web layouts to titles, subject lines, blog posts, and emails.

3. Practice Social Marketing

If you aren’t leveraging social media as one of your primary marketing channels, you’re missing out on a lot of influence and opportunity, not to mention valuable insights about brand sentiment, advocacy, etc. Some businesses even use social as a direct source of leads, and since those leads are qualified by their interests, firmographic info, and communication history, they have a high chance of converting. According to HubSpot, social media has a 100 percent higher lead-to-close rate than outbound marketing (telemarketing, print, batch list emails, tv/radio).

4. Top Your Competitors

Although this tactic is admittedly more reactive than others, it will help you siphon traffic back onto your site and into your lead generation programs. Do some research on your competitors (these are the companies clients choose instead of yours, which often means they have the same target audience). Find out what your competitors are doing with their marketing strategies, and do it better. Create better content assets; make your emails more personalized; design a better site UX. You get the idea.

5. Invest in the Right Technology

There are thousands of software solutions for marketers, from email marketing to social analytics, web tracking, and content management. If you’re looking to bring all of these functions together into one system, you’re probably looking for marketing automation software. The best marketing automation software for B2B companies is usually built around the lead generation process, designed to help you run programs across multiple channels, create custom rules and triggers, and ship more qualified leads to sales.

A marketing automation platform can also provide insights about campaign effectiveness through diagnostic tools and reporting (closed-loop reporting, visitor tracking, surveys, and content engagement metrics). Having this constant awareness of where your programs are succeeding and failing lets you make incremental corrections and reassess your overall strategy.

Ultimately, flexibility and spirit of reinvention is the best way to improve return on your marketing investments.


This is a guest post from Aleksandr Peterson. Aleksandr is a technology analyst at TechnologyAdvice. He covers marketing automation, CRMs, project management, and other emerging business technology. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

Photo credit: flickr user csumb

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