Measuring return on investment (ROI) in marketing can be tricky. Organisations recognise the benefits of marketing, such as thought leadership, credibility and brand awareness, but the challenge is to accurately measure the returns.

Experts continue to reveal the barriers that marketers face when asked by the board to demonstrate real ROI on their campaign activities, and the pitfalls in using standardised or free tools for calculating such returns. This perhaps explains why Hubspot’s 2016 survey of marketing managers showed that 43% admitted that proving ROI was one of their top marketing hurdles.

Marketers continue to embrace the science and data side of the “art” of marketing, while senior executives struggle to understand the value. Demonstrable understanding of the ROI is critical for marketing to be fully embraced into the business.

Competition is fierce in today’s digital world, with online marketing celebrated as an essential component for positive customer engagement. As most senior executives are not “Digital Natives”, the ability to prove beyond doubt, what strategies, channels and campaigns are working, in a format that the senior team will understand is fast becoming an art in itself!

How to find true value in ROI

All marketers recognise the importance of calculating and proving online marketing ROI, but sadly many settle on analytics tools that are only ‘good enough’. ROI isn’t something that should be taken lightly. Every channel, customer touchpoint, and marketing system has its own data which makes for a whole lot of intelligence – and marketers should be turning this data into actionable insights for the executive team. Without the ability to measure this data accurately, a business doesn’t have the information to grow its bottom line and achieve an advantage over its competitors.

Thankfully, analytics dashboards are transforming modern marketing teams. Designed to bring all the information together and make the relevant data more accessible, dashboards bring transparency to KPIs and ROI, and deliver the knowledge to inform better marketing spend decisions.

Here are four ways marketers can use dashboards to deliver smarter ROI:

  1. Smart ROI analysis

Many companies are tightening budgets and marketing spend is often the first to be cut. The ability to align marketing activity to the rest of the business and demonstrate ROI is therefore critical. Dashboards help marketers integrate marketing activities with the rest of the business and better align and understand where to dedicate spend. Using a single dashboard system allows comparisons across all platforms rather than relying on individual representations that may not work from the same fixed point, resulting in skewed results.

  1. Smart board reports

The senior executives of a company usually lack the understanding and experience to be informed and this causes them to be a little sceptical about marketing efforts and the costs incurred. Therefore, providing clear statements with accurate campaign data is essential. By plugging in external and internal data sources, dashboards can quickly transform insights and intelligence into digestible reports that provide an overview of the entire business and how each department’s return fits together.

  1. Smart content definition

With data being fragmented, it can be difficult for the board to understand which content and platforms are providing the best ROI. The ability to see information clearly and quickly has the power to transform how marketing departments work. This is especially crucial in an age where digital audiences are notoriously fickle, with consumers falling out of love with channels overnight. With real-time information at every touchpoint, data analysis can assure marketers they are communicating the right message to the right audience at the right time.

  1. Smart predictions

Predictive analytics use historical data from previous campaigns to forecast and model future campaigns.  Using this approach can help marketing teams identify key trends and hot spots, to inform campaign decisions.  Analysing the performance month-on-month, or year-on-year enables marketers to learn (and communicate) vital lessons about a campaign’s effectiveness.  Future campaigns are therefore created and targeted to achieve the optimum results.

It’s now the reality that successful marketing in the digital age is data-driven, and dashboards can provide the route to real ROI. These smart intelligence tools take the guess work out of campaign analytics, meaning marketers give more than ‘good enough’ insight on spend to senior decision makers forecasting and investing in their company’s brand.

The insight that dashboards provide can result in a positive difference in driving the strategic importance of marketing – demonstrating true ROI in the growth and effectiveness of a brand.

Ready to deliver smarter ROI in marketing? Take a customised approach, as standardised or free analytics tools will only get you so far. The chances are that, without custom business intelligence dashboard software, you are missing out on the advanced functionality that could boost your business operations, employee productivity and profitability. With that in mind, can you really afford not to choose a customised approach for measuring ROI?

Archana Dhankar

Archana Dhankar


Archana Dhankar, Head of Marketing, Dynistics