Measuring the effectiveness of marketing communications is a science unto itself. MROI has become a commonplace term in any and every strategic marketing planning conversation and document for years now. Proving the effectiveness of a full campaign or individual tactic is just smart business. Proving that it will work before a launch is an entirely different story though, yet that is often how budgets get allocated and initiatives get green-lighted.
Fun Video on Science and Measuring
Forbes recently published a take on a white paper from the Marketing Science Institute in which the authors explore 5 case studies and eventually posit:
“…as a concept, MROI is valuable as it recognizes marketing spending as investment and imposes rigorous criteria for marketing accountability. However, there is no single MROI definition that holds across all business decisions; instead, MROI needs to be carefully defined in each decision-making context so that its use serves the business objectives of the brand or the firm.”
McKnight Kurland is often asked about measuring campaign success and tracking MROI. Our approach to measurement and success metrics clearly aligns with the The Marketing Science Institute’s position. Our process defines specific and unique success metrics in the first phase of every project. We determine the long-range goals and objectives to which we build our plan around. Within each plan are also clearly stated program and tactic measures of success. These are used to continuously monitor, evaluate and refine ongoing activities. These measures are determined in conjunction with our clients and based upon our experience with similar projects, prior program results and marketplace analysis. We also establish a reporting methodology that aligns with client needs.
3 Steps that Maximize ROMI
So how does a smart marketer ensure success before the start of a new campaign? I believe there are three key factors. First and foremost is to define what success means. This may seem obvious but you’d be surprised how often this is generically stated or dealt with too broadly. The task should be to answer: What is the measurable outcome we are looking for at the end of this initiative? It might be a specific member retention rate, event sponsorship amount, engagement metric or overall sales goal.
Second—and just as important—is to decide what measures of success are critical to every phase of the initiative. This is the one step that will take the project from a “cross your fingers and hope for the best” trial into a trackable and accountable process. Determine what milestones—when accomplished—will build a positive trajectory toward the ultimate goal. Think of this as paving the road to success, by laying one brick at a time heading in the right direction. For example, during the discovery phase of the project, our team often will want to define things like:
• Who needs to be included in the interview process from a politically correct standpoint? (early team buy-in)
• What level of research/analysis is required for Board acceptance? (evidence-based confidence)
• What deliverable(s) is expected first and when? (early win)
• What responsibilities fall directly on the internal team? (smart utilization of available resources)
Third, as you might expect, is to determine the detailed measures of program and tactic success for every element of the plan. This is where a dashboard becomes a handy tool for seeing real-time results as well as cyclical or seasonal trends. Determine what is important and what is actually measurable. Some data may not be directly trackable to your overall goal, but may support an objective of awareness or exposure.
This ‘rule of three’ MROI strategy is how we’ve approached our engagement with INCCRRA and ExceleRate Illinois. We first worked together to understand the ultimate program goal (a 5-year initiative). Next, we dug in to how we could ensure a successful long-term partnership through multiple organizational input, review and approval stages. Then developed a detailed plan with reporting metrics at each stage. View the case study here. Some highlights of this program’s success are:
• Executed a simultaneous segmentation strategy
• Brokered numerous strategic partnerships with existing organizations
• Reached nearly 1 million people through Facebook
• Delivering more than 5000 search results per month
Our belief is that McKnight Kurland’s success in maximizing MROI for our clients lies in both our unique ability to define success, and to craft strategic communications that resonate with the defined audiences.