What do CMOs and CEOs from Kansas to Kuala Lumpur have in common? They all want to discuss marketing ROI. What does it look like? How do we measure it? How in the world do we achieve it; and why is it so elusive for some? After working with hundreds of clients, and analyzing thousands of campaigns, here are the top five reasons I’ve found why marketing doesn’t always produce the desired results.
1) It isn’t integrated. There are no successful standalone tactics which result in long term ROI. If your SEO team isn’t coordinating with the content team; if the social media department isn’t regularly leveraging any PR your company receives, or the email marketing department has no idea what your new TV spot looks like, you are never going to be able to squeeze all the juice out of the proverbial orange. Every blog post, every piece of news, every event should be leveraged and distributed across multiple platforms. For example, let’s say your company is exhibiting at a trade show. If you aren’t conducting a digital PR campaign beforehand, live tweeting at the event, and then following up with the attendees with a webinar or a targeted email campaign or a LinkedIn ad campaign, you are leaving money on the table. If it sounds like more work, that’s because it is. The first thing you have to stop doing is comparing today’s results and the effort it takes to get those same results to past experiences. Recently while having breakfast with a Fortune 100 CEO, I asked her “wasn’t it nice when you knew one well placed TV ad (before TiVo) could help you reach 80% of your target market?” She smiled nostalgically and said, “Absolutely.” And then we both agreed that would never happen again. Anything less than an integrated approach to today’s marketing is a surefire way to assure poor ROI.
2) It isn’t consistent in its execution. There are no short-cuts to achieving a sustainable marketing ROI. Consistency isn’t sexy, but it is what get results. An email blast every once in a while, a blog which launched but no one was truly accountable for it so it languished, and a Facebook page which an intern started (who has those logins again?) are all too common issues. I recently spoke to a new client who informed me that they had been following our company for two years without ever reaching out! It took them two years of exposure before they engaged us, and this isn’t a rare occurrence. I’ve long admired Robert Middleton of Action Plan Marketing, who has consistently sent out a valuable email every week for the last seven years. No exceptions. And, it has paid off. He runs a very successful business fueled by consistently providing valuable content. Regardless of what you sell, consistency is what drives results.
3) “Oh, look a squirrel!”. When you “pivot” more than an overzealous toddler in a ballet class, you may be guilty of what I call the “Oh, look a squirrel” syndrome. This is when someone says, “let’s launch Tumblr!” in spite of the fact that the audience is baby boomers or he or she asks “why aren’t we on Pinterest yet?” even though the year-old Twitter account hasn’t seen a recent tweet in months. The world of technology can be fascinating and alluring, but you have to know which tools help you get ahead and which can actually hinder your overall efforts. Switching gears before a strategy, platform or process has a chance to fully mature is just plain imprudence. Though it seems to be going out of style lately, the one cure to this syndrome is patience, which similarly to consistency, is a crucial ingredient for ROI.
4) Insistence on a linear ROI. If none of the above apply to you, think about how you are actually measuring ROI. Today’s consumer is complex. Marketing to them is complex. Why then the insistence that measuring ROI should be simple or linear? In today’s multi-touch marketing world, are you mistaking the final touch point as the only point of conversion? You have to make sure that you are considering the multi-faceted nature of today’s marketing as you measure ROI. A recent article on marketing for tomorrow from McKinsey summed it up best:
Most direct-sales companies (retailers, banks, travel services) measure the performance of their spending through isolated last-attribution analyses that look narrowly at what consumers do after confronting a search link, an e-mail, or an advertisement. Branded-goods companies try to throw all of their media spending together into an econometric model assessing the effects of their media mix. In the world of on-demand marketing, where multiple interactions take place along multiple journeys, last-action attribution explains only part of the impact of media spending, and media-mix models fail to account for touches and costs outside of paid channels.
5) Could it be your product or service? (Think hard). This one is the hardest reasons to accept, but if no amount of marketing seems to make a difference, you may have to ponder some bigger questions. What differentiates you from your competitors? Is the product really that good? Despite the brilliance of your product, is the marketplace ready to consume it in large enough quantities? Is it time to make some internal business model changes? The marketplace is more competitive than ever, and it may be time to do an audit of your offerings. Marketing is not a panacea for a mediocre product or service. This new media age of transparency demands business excellence.
Shama Kabani is a business strategist for the digital age, and serves as founder & CEO of The Marketing Zen Group, an award winning full service web marketing & digital PR firm. She is also the author of The Zen of Social Media Marketing (3rd edition). Connect with Shama on Twitter and Google+.
This article was written by Shama Kabani and Contributor from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.