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Picture: 123RF/SCYTHER5
Picture: 123RF/SCYTHER5

The average marketing executive in the industry today likely spends a fair amount of time weighing up the return on investment (ROI) for platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Google, as well as influencer marketing. But the thing about ROI is that it’s a balancing act and I’d wager that many are focusing more on the “return” than on the actual investment.

Accurately quantifying the ROI on any marketing solution is an imperfect science. Barring interrogating every customer on exactly how they decided to choose your services, figuring out how effective different marketing methods are can be surprisingly hard.

This becomes doubly difficult when you expand the customer journey all the way from them first becoming aware of your product to the customer loyalty feedback loop long after. 

In a world of hyper-personalised marketing and the Protection of Personal Information (Popi) Act, a like (or several) is simply not enough. The most successful brands are those that have invested real time, effort and money in building a relationship with their customers.

The most recent generation of marketers might believe that they’re living in the golden age of marketing analytics, given the amount of tools social media provides for those advertising on their platforms. While it’s true that people have never been able to target advertising with the level of precision they can now, or track the e-commerce journey from the customers’ very first click, the most valuable marketing tools are potentially being overlooked.

Most tools allow for a brand to see how many eyeballs are on its ads, or how many click all the way through to purchase, but this data misses the most important step in the process: consideration. Understanding what exactly triggers the difference in mindset from being aware of a product or service and actually seeking it out is crucial to expanding your customer base.

When it comes to measuring consideration, there are very few tools that can do this effectively – it’s almost as if this is a missing part of the funnel. We know that the biggest influencers are great at the “awareness” stage of the marketing funnel – but they’re nowhere near as good as micro-influencers at motivating the customer towards the “acquisition” stage. What’s the difference? 

The difference is simple: it’s a relationship which feels authentic and meaningful. And for brands this translates into owning a share of mind, rather than just getting their product in front of potential customers.

How do brands serve up information in a neutral way? How do they share their purpose? We know that brands that are purpose-led outperform those that aren’t. People want to feel like a brand has invested in something, whether it’s in them, its people, the community it operates in or the environment.

To truly get the best ROI on your spend and ensure your brand’s longevity, you need to be spending your money on getting people interested in what you’re doing – and not just being aware of it. And that takes far more than simply blowing the budget on ad spend or a mega-influencer.

There is a massive need to glue together different data sources that can then inform the creative work, content and other marketing initiatives to drive transactions and relationships – and brands should be investing in both.

Most brands already know what drives a transaction, but very few truly understand what drives a relationship. We need to remember that acquisition is not the last step in the funnel – advocacy is, and we aren’t going to get there without investing time and energy on the consideration phase.

Glenn Gillis is the CEO of Sea Monster, a Cape Town-based animation, gaming and augmented reality studio.

The big take-out:  Marketing ROI should focus less on the returns, and more on the investment.


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