Anyone who creates marketing campaigns will eventually have to answer the question “What’s the ROI?” Measuring the return on investment from marketing efforts starts with the attribution question of trackability. If you’re not measuring, you’re likely missing crucial metrics that could inform your strategy and ROI from marketing.

You may not be seeing an ROI on marketing because of how you’re measuring it or because you lack key communication elements. Numbers play an important role in the stories you’re trying to tell, but you also need good marketers to give those stories a clear and convincing voice.

In addition, many business leaders don’t understand the nuances of marketing. It’s more than just paid media and much more than just posting a photo on Instagram every day.

Read on for advice on improving your marketing and measurement for better ROI.

Connecting Your Brand To Your Audience Through Storytelling

Marketing strategies that neglect to utilize storytelling in promoting a brand will only have a limited impact on brand growth. There are many forms of storytelling, including photography, videography, blogging, podcasts and social media. The key is to learn what’s most important to your target audience and connect your brand to those people through channels that resonate best.

Broadly speaking, Generation Z and millennials value photography and videography most. Older millennials, Gen X and older generations often prefer to read about brands through blogging, the news and sometimes through video. Your product or service and your audience will help you determine which storytelling styles and platforms are best to reach and appeal to your target audience. You might realize that the best style or platform is something you know nothing about and that you need to hire a full-time professional or an agency.

The most important things to keep in mind are approaching your target audience where they are at and memorably telling your brand’s story. If you can execute those things, your brand is more likely to see ROI from your marketing efforts.

Evaluating Your Marketing Efforts Periodically

Tracking your marketing efforts is relatively simple, as long as you know what gateways and avenues you have set up that funnel clients to you. These avenues can be to your website or directly to a sales representative. The most common gateway is a call to action (CTA). Understanding what type of response you are trying to generate with a CTA will also determine how you track what you’re spending.

Once you know the type of response you want, you can simply divide the total advertising spend for a given time frame by the number of responses, which generates a cost-per-response metric.  

Keep in mind that, with good storytelling, your CTA might have more than one step. If the story is told through writing, for example, your CTA will likely be “Read more,” requiring your audience to read about the expertise you’re providing before they click on a link to learn more about you.

Another factor to consider when determining ROI is time, specifically the length of the average sales cycle. With storytelling-oriented marketing, clients need to commit to their marketing campaigns long enough to get the data that will show their true ROI. 

Promoting one story, regardless of format, isn’t likely to generate a massive amount of sales in a cluttered market, as stories are constantly being told by countless people and brands every day. As such, the No. 1 marketing storytelling tactic is consistency.

Audiences who come across one of your stories for the first time might enjoy it or even relate to it. However, it’s unlikely that they’ll immediately consider buying from you — at least, not until the third or fourth time they connect with your content. Remember that effective storytelling in marketing requires giving your audience an experience they will remember. This is why visual marketing — like broadcast and influencer marketing on social media or YouTube — is often most effective.

During your campaigns, you should regularly evaluate and assess the stories you’re telling through your brand — even as you’re launching them. Content posted on modern platforms has a short life cycle. There is an extremely limited amount of time to be relevant and to evaluate performance. Preparing and planning remain crucial to marketing campaigns, but remember that you’ll likely need to make periodic changes — say, a month into its launch.

Monitoring for Signs Your ROI Is Improving

Monetarily speaking, the general standard for good ROI in marketing is a 5:1 ratio; You want to be making $5 for every $1 you spend. However, given the average sales cycle, your ROI may take more time than you’d like. The key to improving that is consistency.

Nevertheless, there are signals that you can monitor even as you wait for all the data to come in. These signals vary depending on what type of marketing you’re using (social media marketing, TV and radio marketing, email marketing, Google Ads, public relations, etc.). 

For example, social media marketing has different metrics to measure impact than TV and radio marketing. With social media, you aren’t tracking calls. While you can track links, most of your time will be spent tracking impressions, likes, followership, viewership, comments and shares. Each of these metrics provides different insights and relates to the marketing cost differently, and you need all of them in order to see a stronger ROI. For instance, if you notice that you’re gaining a lot of followers but don’t have a lot of likes or comments, this suggests that you have poor engagement. In essence, people aren’t bothering to look at your service or product.

Engagement is an umbrella metric that is composed of several data points, such as likes, comments and shares. When you can track your marketing’s level of engagement with your audience, that will give you a good estimate of what to expect from your ROI.

Creating a Marketing ROI Checklist

When developing your marketing plan, you should include a checklist that includes the steps to measure the ROI of your plan. Include what metrics you’re using to define success, as these are what you need to track. Some of these checklist items include:

  • List the CTAs and other gateways you have set up that lead to your service or product, so you can monitor and track, figuratively, who is walking into your store.
  • Establish your spending ratio goal in order to not only stay informed and on budget, but also to track the success of your marketing spending.
  • Establish a timeline of how long your campaign will run, along with checkpoints to actively evaluate and assess how your campaign is going. If you wait till the end of your campaign to analyze its impact, you will end up wasting time and money.