Advertising ROI Doesn’t Have To Be Difficult To Measure
There’s little argument that measuring advertising’s direct return on investment is a lot easier with digital than it is with traditional. Sure, most traditional advertising vehicles will provide you with access to reach and frequency numbers; but too many traditional campaigns fall into the measurement trap of using a linear attribution model to evaluate impression levels and then correlate those impressions to purchases or customer inquiries within a specific time period. At best this time based model delivers a loose correlation (vs. causation) and at worse it’s downright wrong.
Digital marketers run into a similar problem with “last click” attribution models that only emphasize the last point of customer interaction. For instance, if a user clicks on a pay per click ad on Google and then makes a purchase from your e-commerce website, does that mean that 100% of the credit for that transaction should be given to the PPC ad? If you’re running other types of marketing and advertising than no – chances are the customer had multiple impressions across different media before deciding to click on that ad and make an immediate purchase.
I’ll leave the discussion of multi-channel and geometric attribution models to another blog post, but for today’s piece I’d like to pose this question: How can you get a better understanding of how your offline advertising and marketing activities are impacting your bottom line without building a more complex model? Let’s look a 5 easy ways to measure the ROI of your offline advertising.
#1 – Drive Customers To Take An Immediate, Specific Action
It’s a popular tactic among direct marketers, and for good reason. It works. Driving your customers to take a specific and immediate action after seeing your ad or otherwise engaging with your brand will help you understand response rates and get them into your lead funnel so that you can record (and measure) future interactions.
There are lots of ways to do this, here are a few:
- Have customers call a phone number to place an immediate order.
- Tell customers to visit a specific landing page (e.g. mycompany.com/printad) for more information.
- Have customers scan a QR code an immediately interact with a mobile web page.
- Have a timed event at your retail store – such as a flash sale. The amount of attendance can tell you a lot about.
While this won’t address the “last click” problem mentioned above, it will give you a solid sense of response rates – even down to the creative a media type.
#2 – Coupons & Promo Codes
Here’s one that we’re all familiar with. Since their first usage in the 1800s coupons and promotional codes have been an effective way to measure response rates and ROI from traditional media channels. The simple concept of providing a customer with an incentive (e.g. redeeming a coupon or promo code in exchange for a discount) will allow you to not only measure the effectiveness of various media channels but will also allow you to deploy controlled marketing experiments so that you can test different offerings and ad creative.
#3 – Brand Surveys
Brand surveys are a way to measure the change in awareness, affinity and loyalty that customers have for a brand following an advertising or marketing program. Specifically, these types of brand surveys need to be conducted at least twice; once before the ad campaign and once after.
If your goal is to elevate awareness and clearly differentiate yourself from the competition, than these types of surveys are an effective way to measure the impact of an advertising campaign on your customers. Just keep in mind that in order to have a clear understanding in the change in customer sentiment the audience you’re surveying should not have been exposed to tangential messaging during the same time period. Otherwise you risk receiving misleading results.
From a practical perspective, when developing your surveying methodology make sure to consult someone (or a team) with marketing research expertise. There are a wide range of ways to conduct these types of surveys – including online, via mail, by phone or in-person – and to have a statistically relevant result the research program should be customized to meet your organization’s needs and goals.
#4 – Social Media Monitoring
Let’s say you like the idea of the brand surveys but don’t want to invest the resources needed to collect primary data from your customers. How else can you measure the impact of an advertising campaign on your customers? One such way is to monitor social media chatter to see if there’s a change in the amount of discussion related to your brand, product or service.
There are a significant number of both free and paid tools that can help you monitor social media (e.g. Social Mention, Trackur, Radian6, Jive, etc.) but regardless of the tool the idea is the same. Essentially you want to look for two overriding factors:
1. How did the volume of discussion regarding your brand/product change before, during and after your advertising campaign. To do this you need to get a benchmark of discussion frequency before the ad campaign begins. Ideally you’ll want to understand the historical volume over a period of time (say 6 months or 1 year) in order to minimize the impact of seasonality on your benchmark.
2. How did the attitude, or sentiment, toward your brand/product change before, during and after the campaign. The goal here is to understand whether the discussion happening on social media is positive, negative or neutral to your brand.
The downside to using social media monitoring to measure the ROI of your advertising and marketing campaigns is that you’re only collecting data from a highly motivated subset of your customers. I mean, after all, your customer needs to feel strongly about your brand (whether it be in a positive or negative way) in order to take the time to talk about you online. Still, social media monitoring can give you good insight into how your customers have responded to an advertising campaign.
#5 – Search Traffic Volume
Similar to social media monitoring, the volume of search traffic related to your brand – and its change over time – can give you insight into the effectiveness of your advertising and marketing endeavors. Specifically, I recommend that you use Google’s Insights For Search tool and run queries bases around various terms, timelines and geographic regions. You’ll want to look at the trend in overall search volume as well as where the peaks and valleys are. If you can, take it a step further and correlate search volume to traffic to your website, pages read on your website and customer inquiries/purchases.
There’s No One-Size-Fits-All Answer
Ultimately, to get a reasonably complete understanding of the effectiveness of your traditional advertising investments it makes sense to build a multi-channel attribution model. However, as a short-cut, the above measures can give you a basic understanding of what’s moving the needle and providing value. What are your other favorite ROI measures for your traditional advertising?