How has COVID impacted marketing ROI?

How has COVID impacted marketing ROI?
And how to re-stabilise marketing return

There won’t be a marketer reading this who doesn’t have the odd sleepless night or difficult meeting with senior leadership on the wonderful topic of ROI. In fact, according to leading platform HubSpot, 40% of marketers say that proving the ROI of their marketing activity is their number one challenge.

Of course, we all want to make sure that we get a decent return for all the blood, sweat and tears that goes into marketing, so why is it so difficult to maintain and prove. The simple answer to that is marketing has become increasingly complex and operates within an evolving, ever-changing ecosystem which is based on human behaviour of all things! Yup, that means that as people shift the way they do things; buying online or surfing the web, this impacts your marketing performance. The reality is your ROI is not a static thing, no matter how many times people use the word automation, marketing KPI’s are not things you can set at the beginning of the year and sit back to watch.

And worst still, in the context of the VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) environment we operate in, humans are forced to change constantly. In fact, if you’re not sure how fast we change, consider that in the last 60 seconds, Google has received 6,000 completely new and unique searches, that’s 6,000 new questions people are asking or new problems they’re trying to solve. So, it goes without saying, that global crises like the COVID pandemic have caused huge shifts in human behaviour and that will have impacted your marketing return.

COVID impacted marketing ROI - change is constant

So, let’s think about how to re-establish your marketing performance and steady the ship.

To start with you might have some obvious hunches as to what’s shifted, for example, with extensive working from home, printed DM to office addresses are unlikely to be getting the cut through it was before. However, don’t fall into the assumption trap just yet, just list it as an activity to review. You may have insight that there’s been an increase in LinkedIn (there has, by the way, a 26% spike in the channel during the first two months of COVID) and this may have affected your paid media and you may already have noticed more leads from this channel.

You’ll also know where you spend the most, so start by reviewing these two areas (most likely to have been impacted by change / most budget heavy) and take yourself back to basics, what is the data showing you. Don’t get stuck at the vanity stats though, click-throughs, cost per click etc. – what you really need are the sanity stats, how many leads/converted customers/revenue, did each activity bring.

And remember, this isn’t simply an exercise on what to stop doing. Marketing is like a graphic equaliser, to optimise your ROI what you’ll need to do dial activity up and down according to how it’s performing in the current landscape.

COVID impacted marketing ROI - current landscape

When we’re looking at behaviour change it’s worth considering, whether the way people are buying from you is changing or whether their demand for your product has changed. In general, desire doesn’t change in times of recession or crisis. What changes is the way they can access what they want: do they need to buy in instalments, wait for a special occasion, justify the purchase, so making your marketing activity regain its ROI might be about the channel or it might be about tweaking the message.

If you’re disappointed with your return on marketing budgets, talk to us and perhaps we can help you re-invent your approach.