Measuring return on digital investments

Many companies struggle to measure return on investment (ROI) for digital projects. This can cause problems for organisations seeking funding for digital projects.

As a result, a high proportion of projects are developed without a positive business case (or even with no business case at all).

A problem highlighted in larger organisations is that digital impacts on a number of different parts of an organisation, such as marketing, IT, customer interactions, internal processes etc. It can even impact on how a business is run. This requires the involvement of a wide range of functions in a company, something that is typically difficult to achieve in traditionally-structured organisations.

In addition, digital technologies can introduce a whole new language to an organisation, which some stakeholders may find difficult to understand. 

So how can you ensure ROI on digital investments?

Here are a few steps that will help you ensure that you’re getting value from your digital projects:

1. Planning - I can’t state strongly enough how important this stage of a project is. It sounds obvious, but you need to plan in the right way to make sure you’re getting the right returns. This includes understanding the broader impacts of the project (not just the obvious project goals).

2. Understand your audience - Create audience personas, and develop content to address the needs of each of these groups. We always develop user stories to make sure we cater for all the desired interactions of each user group.

3. Research your competitors - What’s working for them, and how can you do it better? 

4. Operate in the right places - Find out where your audience spend time, including social media platforms and other online media.

5. Measure performance - Constantly measure campaigns to see how they can be improved. Use all the tools available (website analytics, social media stats etc.) to build an accurate picture of how your content is being consumed. Compared to traditional marketing channels, there are a wealth of tools available for reporting & analysis. Use them.

6. Attribute results correctly - This is where a lot of companies struggle, and for good reason. With so many potential interactions in a digital campaign, it can be tricky to assign the the results in a useful way. Don’t just attribute everything to the final interaction prior to conversion. Social media can have an important impact over a long period of time, but the results are not instant and are difficult to measure, so accurate attribution is crucial to working out what's working and which channels are under-performing.  

7. Be consistent - Make sure all your activity is executed consistently (in terms of how it looks, tone of voice and frequency). Any large gaps in activity will have a negative impact, so keep posting new content to keep the audience engaged. 

Measuring ROI in the digital age requires a combination of art & science (and it can take some time to get it right). However, if you want to make sure you're assigning your budgets effectively, it's an essential part of the marketing mix.

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