What No One Tells You About Marketing ROI

Is ROI a misleading measurement?

Is ROI a misleading measurement?

ROI is commonly considered the gold standard metric to assess the success of your marketing efforts. But, when it comes to B2B marketing, is ROI always the best measurement? Or is it misleading? This blog digs into how to apply ROI to get the most accurate read on your marketing’s success.

Who doesn’t want to get the biggest bang for your marketing buck? And historically, to measure the success of your marketing efforts, people turn to the go-to equation, Return on Investment (ROI). Sounds easy enough, right? But, in reality, it’s not so easy. While ROI can be a helpful metric, it can be misleading — especially regarding the B2B sales cycle. When using ROI to gauge your marketing initiatives and investment, there are many things to consider. But first, let’s take a step back.

What is Marketing ROI?

At its most basic level, marketing ROI compares the money you spend on your marketing efforts with the revenue you gain from it. Essentially, the more sales you make, the more successful your marketing efforts are.

Tuna-Traffic-Marketing ROI-Equation

84% of marketing professionals are pressured to prove ROI to justify marketing spend or budget increases. Yet, 4 out of 10 marketers state that marketing, sales, and finance aren’t aligned on what successful ROI looks like.

Source: Uptempo

So, what do you need to consider when determining marketing ROI?

1. Slow Down, You Move Too Fast

LinkedIn’s research shows that 77% of marketers attempt to measure marketing ROI almost immediately — within the first month of a campaign. And that may not be wise. Why? Don’t you want to know how well your marketing drives B2B sales? Of course, you do, but a full and accurate return on a campaign can’t truly be realized until after the sales cycle is complete. A typical B2B sales cycle is closer to 6 months (or even longer) than mere weeks.

Measuring Marketing ROI Too Quickly


2. Remember Short vs. Long

So, what are you measuring when you look at first-month returns? You’re measuring short-term performance by assessing Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), like Click-through-Rate (CTR), which is the percentage of visitors who click on your paid advertising after seeing it, and Cost-Per-Click (CPC), how much it costs on average to get one click on a paid ad. This is essential data, giving you an immediate snapshot of what happens during a sales cycle. KPIs are ideal for measuring short-term impact and should be used as a forward-looking predictor of performance. But, KPIs may not capture the real impact and long-term value of your marketing.

If your campaign were a book...


Source: LinkedIn

Marketing ROI isn’t a sprint; it’s a marathon that is a trailing indicator of past performance. Continue optimizing your short-term performance by reviewing KPIs, but rethink your marketing ROI using a long-term mindset. That means defining and measuring your marketing ROI over the entire length of your sales cycle.


3. Don’t Forget About What Can’t Be Measured

We’re forgetting about a whole category of marketing — all of those efforts where there isn’t a straight line from visibility to sale, but there are clear benefits. For example, brand marketing — creating a brand presence and cultivating brand credibility and trust. Brand marketing takes time, with no quick fix or direct line to closing a deal. So it’s relatively impossible to take these type of efforts into account when measuring ROI.

Beyond building brand awareness and recognition, what else falls into this category? How about marketing efforts that improve customer retention or increase customer lifetime value (CLV), the amount a business earns from the average customer throughout their relationship with the company? It’s tough to put a precise number on these types of marketing efforts and calculate ROI.

Getting the Biggest Bang for Your Marketing Buck

The key to calculating marketing ROI is to go about it wisely so that all of your marketing efforts can be measured in a way that truly gives you the biggest bang for your marketing buck. We can help you do that.

Get the Biggest Bang for Your Marketing Buck

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Tuna Traffic Lori
Written By

Lori Weisberg

Lori lives by the mantra, “It’s not what you say; it’s how you say it.” As Director of Content and Client Strategy, Lori is the wordsmithing wind beneath many of our clients’ wings. Known for capturing our clients’ brand voices with compelling clarity and consistency, she also is a frequent Tuna blog contributor. When not perusing a thesaurus, Lori can be found adding more zing to her arrabbiata sauce or searching for an easier way to pill a cat.