In this age of social media, debate and discussion have become the new normal. In marketing, it's fashionable to speak about return on investment (ROI) and accountability. However, building real accountability into marketing is rarer than providing an intelligent perspective on it. Here's why:
- Metrics to measure the effect of marketing/advertising efforts are often not available
- Marketing is Art+Science. Trying to quantify everything in marketing would be futile.
- There are no penalties for not knowing marketing ROI
Why is Marketing ROI important then?
The objective of measurement is to establish input versus output; to know what drives the desired marketing and business outcome.
Five Steps to Effective Marketing:
1. Identify your destination (goals)
2. Determine how best to get there (strategy)
3. Get started (tactics)
4. Measure progress (reporting/analysis)
5. Make course correction as needed (continuous improvement)
Here are three types of approaches to data:
1. Set up data gathering systems - primary research/trade feedback/brand sales/syndicated data. Good data takes time and effort to establish. Data builds benchmarks/metrics/ learnings. Start now.
2. Scramble whatever data can be made available in the current ecosystem - something is better than nothing.
3. Adopt ROI processes that work in tandem - measuring output/results isn't a separate project but happens along with the roll-out/commercial exposures.
The last one, is a new-age solution that works when you set up online/telephone/interactive/automated response measurement devices. It typically relies on consumer initiated responses and avoids post-facto data gathering (post-campaign ad/brand research) that's fraught with inaccuracies, investment of extra time, etc. We're leaning towards consumer initiated responses.
Arguably, that's one of the most quoted phrases of 2016. In the context of marketing, here are six navigation clues:
1. Look before you leap: Ensure you are clear about what defines success before you write the brief to be shared with your marketing partners.
2. Look for technology solutions to data gathering: Since any offline consumer research sets you back by two to three weeks, look for tech-enabled solutions that deliver instant bliss...err, data. You could use online panels, app-enabled research or tablet-enabled questionnaires at checkout counters...all you need is imagination. Few examples:
a. Department store brands are using Tally Counter or Hand Clicker handed to the door security to count unique footfalls.
b. Picture mapping technology is enabling cameras in-store brands to count unique footfalls Pan-India.
c. Broadcasters are mapping feedback from online panels against people meter data.
d. E-commerce and technology brands are using their own apps for direct customer feedback.
e. Apparel, lifestyle, jewellery, automobile, consumer durable and electronics brands are getting non-intrusive, self-administered, tablet-enabled in-store feedback at company owned or exclusive outlets.
3. Every company has 'check points' - a footfall counter at the front door; an FMCG company has stockist-to-retailer records; a 5-star hotel has room occupancy; an automobile company has customer call-ins at dealerships or a toll free number; a B2B brand has 'traffic to website'; a consumer durables brand has customer calls or walk-ins to dealer stores...as long as there's a will to measure 'response of the business to marketing inputs', there will always be a way to get 'some' data.
4. ROI in motion: Technology is bridging the time-distance-process gap between input and output. Focus on real time data. Tools to do so include RFID/scanner data and cloud-based telephony. Enabling e-commerce on brand websites helps correlate online and offline marketing efforts with online customer behaviour. Broadcasters are using smartphone panels to analyse TV viewership of smartphone owners, delivering mobile impressions to specific viewer segments and checking back on TV viewership gains among those exposed to the mobile campaign. This enables re-targeting on mobile for product or service brands that are active on TV.
5. Scramble data solutions: If evolved input-output analysis using econometrics is eluding you, make sure good old MS Excel comes to your rescue. Use simple correlation, regression, empirical-graphical evidence to map output. For instance, map primary or secondary sales versus TV GRPs for FMCG brands; footfalls versus number of print ads for durables, apparel and store brands; and map number of call-ins plus appointments secured plus test-drives taken versus number of print/radio ads for auto brands.
6. Keep it simple: You will be swamped with data that's not comparable or 'assimilable'. Input data for different media would have different metrics; like GRPs for TV; reach/OTS for print; maybe traffic data for outdoor media and gross impressions or clicks for online. Just keep it all simple. One way is by aiming for a 'rupee input' versus 'rupee output' grid. If that's not always possible, keep as many rupee parameters in the equation as possible.
In sum, if you want to start checking/reporting ROI, don't get caught up with where to start, don't assume that any internal or external data is useless and don't keep waiting for the 'best data'... just build a feedback loop that helps optimise marketing investments.
(Manas Mishra is co-founder and managing director, Mediant Communications, a new-age media and communications agency)