As marketers, it’s easy for us to develop tunnel vision when it comes to ROI. How many qualified leads do we have? How many followers are on Twitter? How many sessions have we had on the website this month?
Now don’t get me wrong; this information is vital, but make sure you don’t overlook some of the more intangible criteria that can significantly impact your ROI.
ROI: The intangible benefits
It’s impossible to quantify how much trust you’ve accrued with your customer base. There isn’t a singular clean metric that lets you know what your customers really think of you. In fact, the only time many of us sit up and take note of trust is when it evaporates.
Trust can take years to build up, but it can be obliterated in an instant. Today’s social media savvy consumers keep a close eye on their favourite brands. If any of them do anything to breach that trust, then the consequences can be severe.
However, if you carefully cultivate trust with your consumers, then over time, you’ll start to see the benefits. Your business can build a loyal group of brand advocates who won’t just keep purchasing from you; they’ll convince others to do the same.
Building trust isn’t an exact science and it can take time to accomplish. What works for one business might fail for another. It’s a test of how well you know your audience. Being transparent with your decision-making and cultivating a community of engaged users on social media are just two ways you can sow the seed of trust.
Are you seen as a leader within your specific industry? Customers are more likely to gravitate towards the businesses that they see as the experts. Imagine you wanted to buy tropical fish. Would you buy them from the local pet store that specialises in exotic fish or a mystery Facebook user you’ve never met before?
In addition to the fish, the local pet store will also know the food you should use and the right chemicals to have in the water — everything you need to be the best possible tropical fish owner. The same applies to every other industry. Customers want convenience and that means they choose the option where they can get the product and all of the additional relevant information they might need.
Like with trust, it isn’t easy to measure how your customers perceive you and whether or not they deem you to be thought leaders within your industry. All you can do is ensure that extra relevant information is easily accessible, so users don’t have to head elsewhere.
This is a key pillar of the inbound marketing methodology. The process might not provide the immediate results demanded of you, but the long-term effect is a positive one.
Some might argue that brand awareness is, in fact, a tangible benefit we can measure. They’d point to social media followers, Google Trends data and Google Analytics as key metrics that show how popular you are as a brand.
I’d disagree slightly and say these give good insight, but they should be taken with a huge pinch of salt when it comes to actual brand awareness.
Take social media followers, for example. A brand might have 35,000 followers. That might sound like a lot, but how many actively engage with posts? How many are bought? How many only follow as part of a competition or promotion? Knowing the number of followers or how you’re performing on Google Trends is nothing without context.
So what can you do to improve brand awareness? Seek out the people you see as ideal customers and create content they want to see. Ask existing customers how they heard about you and if they enjoyed their experience. This may be a slower process that doesn’t yield immediate results, but the invaluable data you’ll gather can be harnessed to make genuine long-term improvements.
Staff morale and productivity
Sometimes we get so focused on our customers; we forget to consider our own employees' impact on ROI. It’s by no means ground-breaking to say that the happier and more productive your staff are, the more you’ll see growth as a result.
The temptation can often be to throw money at our marketing to achieve the quickest possible wins. With tight deadlines and impatient directors, it’s easy to see why marketers invest heavily in strategies like PPC and social adverts.
We aren't suggesting PPC isn’t a valuable tool, just that it’s as essential to think about internal investment too. Are staff finding it easy to work productively? Would new software or equipment remove the challenges they’re facing and lead to greater efficiency?
Staff feedback surveys and project management systems are good tools for measuring whether or not things are improving. What’s harder to see is the direct impact this will have on overall ROI, but, as with the other points we’ve touched on, it shouldn’t be overlooked.
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