Marketing ROI: 5 Reasons You Aren’t Measuring it

AMR published a study of marketers in North America that showed that only 50% of marketers formally analyze metrics to judge ROI.  To me that’s a stunning statistic.  Only 50%!?  I’m a bit of a numbers nut, I’ll admit it.  I blame my engineering background.  But seriously, half of the marketers out there aren’t tracking any metrics to determine what’s working and what isn’t?

I got thinking about it.  Why wouldn’t you want to measure any metrics to track ROI?  Here’s what I came up with:

1/ You don’t want to spoil the purity of your artistic vision with all of those icky “numbers” – Some days I wish I was an artist and I didn’t have to worry about pesky things like revenue and profit and feeding my children, so I could just concentrate on the beautiful-ness of my lovely marketing. Yeah, OK, no I don’t.

2/ You don’t think it can be measured – I hear this one a lot and frankly I just don’t understand it. Yeah, OK, there might be the odd small thing you are doing that you can’t track but seriously people – you’re driving people to your website, don’t you care how many convert?  You’re trying to get folks to call you, doesn’t it matter how many of them actually buy?  You are running specials and promotions, but you don’t care how many take you up on them?

3/ Your executive team never asked you to measure it – This might be a good reason except that one day you’ll get a new CEO who asks where your metrics are and you won’t have them, just like you won’t have your job a few weeks later.  Or worse, they never ask for it. Ever. Because they don’t believe marketing has any real impact on the business. And it probably doesn’t because hey, nobody every showed anyone any numbers that proved that it did.

4/ You don’t do lead generation – You must not be doing it because if you did then you would be wondering how to generate more business with less money or which tactics work well and which are a waste of money.  Heck you probably aren’t managing a budget at all, at least not one you can justify.

5/ You don’t measure it because your marketing sucks (and if you did measure it you might lose your job). This may or may not be true of course, buy you’ll never know, because you aren’t measuring anything.

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56 thoughts on “Marketing ROI: 5 Reasons You Aren’t Measuring it”

  1. LOL – I would add a 6th one – you don’t do it because it never even occured to you that you should!
    Great post.

  2. I think your last reason touches on the big factor from what I’ve seen – people are sometimes so worried what they’ll find that they never take the time to measure how they are doing. If they can get paid well without it, why bother? Because eventually they’ll be replaced by people who can tie marketing and business together. Marketers need to get in front of that problem before they are asked why they don’t have the numbers. They should be revenue generators, not cost centers. And understanding an income statement doesn’t hurt…

    1. Hi Hakan,
      I agree that the last reason is probably the big one. I can understand the worry – if you show the numbers and folks don’t like the numbers, there is always risk. The problem of course is that not having numbers means that if someone just randomly decideds marketing isn’t working (even if it is), you’re still in trouble.
      April

  3. Great post April! My favorite it #2; too often marketers are either too lazy or too cheap to really do a good job of tracking ROI based on customer acquisition. There are excellent tools and methods out there; marketers who aren’t using them are missing the boat.

    -Michael

    1. Hi Michael,
      Thanks for the comment. Having the right tools can make a big difference (My company uses Marketo and that really makes some of my tracking very easy). Unfortunately many of those tools aren’t cheap and getting buy-in from management to buy them means you will probably have to track whatever you can for free until folks realize you are dead without the numbers so the investment is worth it.
      April

  4. Great post, April. I agree with all 5 and would add these I’ve noticed:

    1) Marketers know purchase decisions are complicated, and often influenced by factors outside the marketers’ control. So, they assume (incorrectly) that measurement must also be a complicated undertaking, and maybe it seems too daunting to get started.

    2) Many marketing departments are too lean and lack the resources (time, money, people, expertise) that they think they need to take on what seems mysterious and complicated.

    3) Lack of a good strategic planning process means a lack of clear measurable objectives, making it tough to know what to measure.

    I’m sure there are more reasons. Maybe a lot of this boils down to a general need to view marketing as more of a discipline than an art form.

    Thanks for the thought provoking post!

    Rick

    1. Hi Rick,
      Thanks for the comment. I agree that sometimes it can look like a lot of work to measure stuff but most of the time once you get going, it really isn’t that much work. It’s also much less work if you do some thinking about what you will measure before you start running campaigns – often measurement can be built in.
      April

  5. Great post! I agree that many of the people that aren’t measuring are just scared that they won’t like what they see if they do.

  6. Fantastic post April. I have seen point 3 -executives don’t believe marketing has any real impact on the business – first-hand at previous jobs. It is a big issue in the manufacturing sector. I would propose a campaign, with the estimated ROI, and estimated cost, and they would just soldier on as usual, paying little attention to marketing.

    For them, it was totally about the product. They would launch a product with little or no marketing or promotion. Our team tried to get buy-in, showcased weekly web traffic trends, showed them how valuable marketing to a certain segment would be. But nothing. They didn’t want to hear it or see it. They believed their product would sell itself. Needless to say, the company is not doing too well today.

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