How do you measure return on investment for your marketing?

As a client, I’ve asked marketing agencies how they are going to tell me whether the investment in their marketing activity has been successful – After a good 5 minutes of explanation into nothing in particular, the question is skipped over and we move on.

As an agency in the past, I would have come up with some great ideas to follow up on a brief, and then when we were asked about our success factors, we might have skirted round the question. It felt difficult and wrong, but we didn’t always have a good answer and the client themselves was not always clear on what they wanted to achieve.

Then, when I started Digital Glue and I started talking to clients it became more obvious to me. Marketing is an investment.

Let’s repeat that again – Marketing is an investment

In any other investment situation, we evaluate the success or failure of that investment on the return.

Sounds simple, and in truth it is. If you are investing in marketing activity, what is the return? How many new business opportunities does each element of marketing activity create, and how many of them turn into new customers? How much money will this marketing investment make for my business?

Very often when I start working with clients, we spend a great deal of time before we start activity, ensuring that we know how we can actually measure the activity. In a lot of cases, this involves changing system internally to ensure that we assess where business comes from as a matter of course.

So, what are the steps in tracking the effectiveness of marketing?

Step 1: Set the objectives

What is it you are trying to achieve, by when, and how does this objective contribute towards the overall goals of the business? This should be the basis of your marketing plan, if you need some advice on writing an effective marketing plan, check out our previous blog post.

Step 2: How will it be measured?

What does success look like, and what tools are we going to use to track whether it has been successful? This could be financial metrics, however dependent on the overall goals, there may be other factors.

Step 3: Test

If we’re trialling a campaign, then let’s make sure it’s going to work before we roll it out to all our potential customers. With email marketing that could be testing subject lines and layouts with a small group to ensure that we get as many ‘opens’ as possible, or with advertising we can test offers in smaller magazines or websites for short periods before rolling out a more complete campaign. It’s a basic concept – but fail small!

Step 4: Do it

Make the investment, and create the marketing.

Step 5: Measure!

Did it work? Did you achieve your goals?

Step 6: Refine, review and do it again.

Typically, I say to clients that for every pound they spend on marketing, they should be looking to multiply that by at least 3 times. If your marketing investment isn’t returning for you, then get in touch. Ask us about our marketing review to assess your current marketing.


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