Digital return on investment or measure for measure?

30 Jul

“What does a successful digital campaign look like?”

This is one of those questions you get asked on a daily basis and my usual answer is: a successful digital campaign should challenge and favourably evolve people’s perceptions of a brand and strengthen their relationship with it. Sometimes this means drip-feeding bespoke and appropriate, ownable content and functionality in small and frequent evolutions rather than doing everything at once. The consumer benefit and takeout might be to help and enhance experience through rewards and utility, or the campaign could aim to affect the culture we operate in but either way it should aspire to be a longer term, longer lasting impact endeavour rather than a short term initiative or awareness spike.

It is about then that the practical cynic in me kicks the evangelist in the arse and says “how do you measure that, what’s the ROI?” 

Whether a campaign is brand or direct response led it is important to establish and agree KPIs use these to measure success. Digital campaigns are uniquely measurable but not all measures are equal and indicate true effectiveness.

Traditional digital measures of effectiveness such as Click Through Rates (CTR), Open Rates, Page Views and Dwell Time are an important base for measuring ROI but they are a starting point. The whole consumer journey should be considered and tracked. Search, SEO and video search optimisation performance measurement and tagging should underpin all digital activity: especially as digital marketing evolves beyond “marketing web”, linear campaigns built around self-contained websites, and becomes more about distributed digital conversations.

Getting a deeper and more insightful picture is vital – especially in the more established (or par for the course) areas such as online advertising.

In terms of online advertising two traditional metrics that are often used as KPIs are CTR and Sale, however, these metrics should not be the start and the finish of defining campaign success. Prior to CTR it is important to measure or research Audience Mindset, Exposures, Relevancy Of Message and Interaction rates; equally between CTR and Sale it is important to consider and measure Landing Page visits, Clarity Of Offer and Ease Of Datacapture. Understanding these aspects of a campaign will define effectiveness and allow for optimisation of the entire consumer journey. Indeed through the use of Spotlight tags and other tools we can define the wider ROI of a digital campaign more accurately in terms of Cost Per Sale (i.e. including sales that are not attributed to straight clicks), Persuasion Rate (Increases in other channels’ sales off the back of campaign activity e.g. interactions with rich media driving search volume) and Cost per Acquisition.

This shows that the success of a direct digital campaign is perhaps more accurately measured through analysing Conversion Rate rather than Click Through Rate. As Eyeblaster put it: a low or high CTR often does not necessarily correlate with a campaign’s overall objectives. Conversion rate provides a more accurate measurement of success and by focusing on CTR alone, we are sometimes missing 2.5x the actual data we need to analyze the overall consumer journey”.

While these measurements provide greater insight into the ROI of more direct or acquisition led campaigns it is important to consider the wider brand and advocacy success of a digital campaign, especially as campaigns evolve to become distributed conversations in the social arena. ROI and success can be measured in these areas as well via metrics like Net Promoter Score and Sentiment Tracking. 

In short, how do we measure fans – the people who will decide whether our campaigns and brands become part of culture?

And this is what I plan to explore in the next post… Social Media ROI and the spectrum of online relationships

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