Usefulness. Quality. Relevance. Context. Preference. All of these attributes are highly sought in successful marketing programs. But they are elusive in terms of measurement. Here’s where we’re looking at more than click-thru rates, likes or sales to gauge impact. We’re attempting to find quantifiable data to measure happiness, loyalty and advocacy.
These are the intangibles of marketing — the stuff of experiential and anecdotal evidence. Measuring the intangibles is where we encounter return on objective (ROO). While return on investment (ROI) is commonly used, it can’t measure the intangibles. ROO is how we measure impact when we can’t tie our efforts directly to hard numbers. Those thousands of likes on Facebook and that 3.4 percent growth in sales year over year don’t tell the whole story. What’s driving those likes? How can we sustain that growth?
ROO can help your sales team do its job better. I recently helped a client in this regard. We wanted to find the best way to deliver information to the sales team. Were we choosing the right way for the team to see it? Was it useful? Was the timing right? Did the team know it was there?
Even with hard metrics such as number of downloads, we had to ask questions to know what was behind those numbers. Surveys of end users of your communications are ideal, but sometimes your audience is just too busy for that. Personal emails can do the trick, but it must be engrained in the culture for team members to articulate what they do or don’t like and to understand the importance of ROO.
Measuring ROO doesn’t only happen after the fact, though. You have to plan to look for it. Gathering this information takes a change in mindset, approach and expectation of results. There’s some legwork to do, and you won’t find the answers using set-it-and-forget-it tools such as Google Analytics. Here are four considerations as you do the seemingly unthinkable: measure the intangibles:
- Set benchmarks. You’ll never know how far you’ve come unless you know where you started, so lay the groundwork. Whether you can get responses best via surveys or emails, the most important thing to do is ask. Again, it may take a shift in culture to drive home the importance of the sales team or channels responding to your questions. If they’re too busy, use team meetings to get the answers you need. You’ll get real-time information and be able to make agile adjustments.
- Understand your audience. ROO is a planning model for learning everything you can about your audience members to deliver what they want, when they want it and how they want it. It’s their emotions and preferences we’re measuring, so all opportunity starts with them. Ask, listen, set and adjust your plan according to how they respond to any questions.
- Effect real change. If you’ve done your homework correctly, you won’t be doing the same things you’ve done before — things that haven’t worked. This is how you’ll effect real change. If you’ve analyzed the plan after you’ve created it and realized what you’re talking about in the market isn’t resonating or you need to reprioritize, then spend more time talking about Message A so they get Message B better. You can course-correct for the planning structure if you need to.
- Don’t make it harder than it has to be. All of this is done in the name of making sure you’re just plain useful as a marketer. The audiences for whom you’re measuring want to be helped in order to do their jobs better, and you’re in a unique position to do just that. Help them help you. As for the metrics themselves, you’ll be getting to the “why” as much as the “what” in measuring the intangibles. Your insights will come more naturally from experience, so the time to get started is today.
All of these tips will help ensure marketing stays relevant to sales. Measuring the intangibles creates an opportunity to demonstrate that marketing is there to give a strong boost to sales. On the job is the same as in life: Everyone has a preference for doing things. As a marketer, it’s your job to dig in and find out what that preferred way is. And it’s not just sales — you can apply these lessons with channel partners and customers, as well.
In the end, measuring the intangibles is cultural. Demonstrate to leadership it’s all about knowing what’s working and what’s not to get buy-in, which will reinforce its importance with your peers. You’ll help foster a culture of intense collaboration and ultimately make it easier for everyone involved to do great work.