Remember when you first sat down with your shiny new marketing book and spent hours becoming familiar with the vocabulary that would soon make you gobs of money and earn yourself a gold leaf on the family tree? Remember how Return on Investment – ROI for those in the know – became your be-all-end-all marketing guide? It was all very straightforward; send out a direct-mail campaign, reap rewards, record where those rewards were reaped. Purchase a radio ad campaign, reap rewards, and record where those rewards were reaped. And so on and so forth with TV, billboards, newspapers, and more.

That was 10 years ago (or more) and now you’re looking at your marketing stats wondering, why is the ROI gone? How does having a Facebook page for your business bring in new customers? Is anyone listening to radio anymore? Short of polling every customer you have, how can you tell what means of advertising are worth the effort?

Take another look at the term ROI and definition: Return on Investment. What you get for what you put in. Is the word money in there anywhere? No. The first challenge in understanding the concept of ROI in present day is to include factors beyond the money you make at the end of the campaign. Marketing in the 2010s is all about building a community rather than telling people what they need. Everyone has Google in their pocket and can quickly search to find out what they need, who carries the best product or the best price, and then they can order it online seconds later. Your job now is to woo. Your marketing should be a little bit of “You need us!” and a lot more of “because we’re the best friend you’ve ever had!”

ROIA fantastic example of this trend is the explosion of corporate blogging – you’re reading it right now, which is proof that there’s an audience. When you blog, avoid filling the page with sales and advertisement copy and instead offer your readers content with informational or entertainment value. Let them get to know your company and your core values and let them see why you’re their ideal friend in the field. Put humanity in your business. Do the same with social media.

How are you going to measure your return on these investments? Social media analytics will show you click-through rates on your content; that’s the amount of people who read your content then clicked the link you handily provided to your website. From there you can track sales, newsletter signs up, etc. Dust off good ol’ A and B testing by advertising on different platforms at different times, (e.g. Facebook in September, Twitter in October, on the blog in November, via charity auction in December), and see what gets you the best results. The best could be the most dollars, or the most customers, or the most contacts – success is more than just one number! And you really can ask customers where they heard about you. Conduct a survey or include a “How did you hear about us?” field in online order forms.

Create case studies and feed your findings into a sales funnel. Here is where the power of ROI thrives. Over 6 months to a year measure how well you courted customers from a follow on social media to a sale. Successful corporate social media users will tell you that it can take a few years to convert a follow to a lead, but it can be done and those leads often remain brand loyal, which is why companies pour as much time, effort, and money into social media marketing as they do traditional advertising. Bonus: Social media marketing costs way less!

Need some help developing an ROI strategy for today’s market? Contact Jelly Triangle for website and social media analysis by calling 519-624-8888.

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