Measuring investment in digital marketing: Interview with Burson-Marsteller

By Chris Lee

The emergence of digital platforms has certainly demanded a significant shift in mindset in recent years, especially for those deep entrenched in ‘traditional’ forms of marketing. Although the signs are positive that digital marketing spend is rising, as highlighted by this recent Econsultancy report, many marketers will still need to be able to account for digital marketing spend in internal reviews.

Heleana Quartey consults at the Design, Digital and Brands practice of communications firm Burson-Marsteller, and NMK caught up with her to discuss the costs involved with digital marketing when compared to more traditional methods.

Point of difference

The first thing to remember when marketing over digital channels is that it’s not necessarily cheaper, Quartey believes, as the time needed to invest in a social media campaign can sometimes match the printing and production costs associated with traditional means. The main difference is that those campaigns will be more targeted and therefore more effective, so the funds that are spent have a greater chance of converting into sales, she told NMK.

“For example, online marketing using tools like Facebook Ads and Google AdWords offers targeting methodologies that ensure that those who see your ads are the ones most likely to buy, rather than the more ‘scattergun’ strategy of direct postal mail and ambient campaigns,” Quartey said. “Campaigns can scale multi-nationally with greater ease, especially when marketing via large social networks like Facebook. It is also hard to track conversion through traditional means where as online approaches make all of these processes clearer.”

Marketers are also helped by the relatively low entry fee to accessing social networks and developing online communities, allowing firms to scale up digital campaigns at their own pace, Quartey added.

Formulaic approach

So when it comes to measuring the return on investment (ROI) of digital campaigns, what formula does Quartey recommend? And what tools should digital marketers use to measure that return on investment?

“This depends entirely on what the client considers ROI to be,” she advised.

Quartey believes that when assessing return on investment, companies should assess their immediate ROI and their ultimate ROI goals and use specific tools accordingly.

With immediate goals, she recommends:

• Attitudinal change towards issue/product/service: sentiment analysis tools

• Increased website traffic: Google Analytics

• Community or fan page sign-ups: Facebook analytics

• Influencers speaking positively about your brand: sentiment analysis tools

With ultimate goals, Quartey recommends:

• Behavioural change towards issue/product/service: Facebook and other community polls

• Increased sales of a product/service: calculate spend on project versus money spend at quarterly stages

• Repeat business/increased customer loyalty/more effective cross-selling: calculate spend on project versus money spend at quarterly stages, analyse any email marketing and try social CRM (customer relationship management) tools

“Being social isn’t something that brands need to treat as a standalone, campaign driven initiative; rather, it is something that needs to be an integrated part of external comms,” Quartey concluded. “As such, resourcing social media capabilities internally is essential. Many organisations have taken the initiative to employ social media managers that work alongside the marketing and PR teams for this reason. That said, in terms of workload, content generation, dissemination, dealing with inbound comms, listening, crisis alerts, policymaking all takes time that often requires agency support.”

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