Moving from ROI navel-gazing to smarter journeys

Global spending on media is expected to reach $2.1 trillion in 2019, an increase of $500 billion since 2014. It’s hardly surprising that with so much more money being spent on marketing, businesses are asking questions about what they are getting in return.

The challenge being that many successful marketing programmes may only demonstrate their full return on investment (ROI) after several years. While every investment promises increased ROI, a CFO might see marketing expenses on the balance sheet but has to wait several months for cash flows and assets to build up.

Subsequently business leaders often want to see a significant, short-term return on investment from new programmes and marketers must focus on fulfilling urgent needs.

However, marketing also needs the opportunity to do more for a brand. Programmes should be just as focused on building lasting value and smarter customer journeys that drive loyalty.

Higher level thinking

It’s time for businesses to realise if they genuinely want to improve marketing, and ultimately business performance, they must focus on the customer experience. Get this right and marketing ROI rights itself.

Inevitably this starts with how the marketer leads customer interactions in an immediate sense, optimising the customer journey across digital touchpoints.

customers do not think in terms of channels

Customers do not think in terms of channels; instead they think in terms of overall experience across whatever sites, devices and apps they choose. Issues and breaks in this journey negatively impact on businesses through increased drop offs, decreased completions and reduced NPS scores.

By identifying breaks in the customer journey, and understanding where delays appear, technology can be applied in the right way to help transform both simple and complex customer journeys.

Determining which journeys demand high engagement and where low engagement will suffice, and how each requires different technology, will help to create the perfect balance between experience and cost.

Off the ROI radar

The ‘Single Customer View’ allows advertisers to improve service levels, retention, conversion rates and even lifetime value. Its insights from existing customers can also help to drive organisation transformation so that communication between teams, like customer service and marketing for example, is stronger.

However, it is important for marketers to understand the increasing value in the ability to deliver tailored communications to everyone, not just those already in the customer database. To this end, non-converting data can often provide the best insight.

While this might appear as a sunk cost to the wider business, generating a ‘Single Consumer View’ of every journey provides a barometer for what marketing activity is and isn’t working. It can reveal a better understanding of marketing efficiencies, wasted ad spend and consumer preferences - the only way to ensure you are engaging audiences to make sales in the future.

Realising the full value of marketing data

Crucially, this wider consumer data can be used far beyond the immediate sales role. Building loyalty and reputation by transforming the overall experience customers have of the brand raises questions about business policies, cross-functional priorities, and how to invest in innovation.

marketing’s role must be seen as understanding the customer

Without a quantified link to value and a sound business case, such efforts often can’t show early gains, build momentum among functional executives, and earn a seat at the strategy table. They stall before they ever really get going.

This is where marketing’s investment comes into its own. Attribution technology allows brands to generate a complete view of what drives consumer behaviour so that they no longer face blind spots when consumers move from one channel to another. They can see what works, and what results in a purchase, as well as understand what isn’t working and therefore what is a waste.

Marketing limited itself when it became a department. In future, marketing’s role must be seen as understanding the customer to redefine audiences, channels and strategies for the whole business.

The key is to remember that while marketing expenditures hit the Profit & Loss immediately, chasing ROI is navel gazing. Every pound you spend today must be used towards building your brand as an asset for the future.

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