That ROI Stuff – linking business objectives to communications objectives

What IS your ROI and how is that helping you make money?

Let’s just assume that everyone in business is doing some communicating. With customers and potential customers that is. After all, it’s rather difficult to sell your products or services without some sort of communication taking place. But in today’s ROI world, you need to be sure that your communications investment is bringing you something tangible.

You need to do two things: tie your communications efforts to your business objectives, AND define your communications goals. I’d argue that everything you do has the ultimate goal of making an eventual sale, but defining communications objectives along your customer’s journey will help focus your efforts. How can you know you are being successful if you don’t know what your objective is?

For example, your business objective might be to increase sales of a specific product in the final quarter of the year by 25%. For a consumer product the accompanying marketing activity might then include a holiday promotion, with communications focused on a social media sharing campaign. Here’s the critical part: the social media campaign needs its own objectives. In this case something like “week on week increased engagement with the campaign’s landing page September 1 to December 31”. This is totally trackable and can be directly attributed to the social media activities. Notice it doesn’t say anything about the number of likes or shares, although those do make you feel good.

Shonali Burke, who’s built a business on the measurement of social PR, states in her Social PR Virtuosos course that you need to work backwards to work forwards. I’ll add to that; look at the end result you want to achieve, then work backwards from there to determine the most effective (meets objectives) and efficient (most profitable) means to accomplishing that result.

Daniel Kehrer wrote in Forbes in 2015 that “Calculating MROI [marketing return on investment] oblivious to the business objectives context is like trying to keep a game score without even knowing what sport you’re playing – a fruitless endeavor to be sure.”

It seems fairly obvious, but is all too often missed. You need to know where you want to go before you start planning how to get there. And then you need to know if what you are doing is working. If you can’t assess your activities, how can you make tweeks to ensure ultimate success?

Calculating your actual ROI to satisfy the folks in accounting, that’s another post for another time.