All the talk about marketing ROI is BS

According to social media guru David Meerman Scott, trying to measure traditional marketing ROI is a waste of time. His e-book “Lose Control of Your Marketing” brings some interesting thoughts to light about the old techniques of offline ROI measurement and the new world of online marketing. Here’s what we think bubbles to the top of a 30-page document that’s worth a read:

• Sharing ideas, telling stories, and creating interest are more important than capturing lead information.

• The old rules of measurement don’t apply to the new world of online marketing. (i.e. number of business cards collected, email addresses captured, or folks that filled out a form on your website)

• The very act of tracking leads prevents great ideas from being shared. Today, most people know that providing information (in exchange for a white paper for example) only leads to unwanted phone calls and email solicitation … so most won’t even bother.

• Obsessing over precise ROI measurements causes marketers to become cautious and boring

The New Metrics

Here are some NEW metrics to consider in determining whether your Twitter, LinkedIn, and other online marketing efforts are paying off.

• How many people are downloading your stuff?
• How often are bloggers writing about you and your ideas?
• Where does your company appear in search results for important search phrases?
• How many people are getting exposed to your ideas?
• How many people are engaging with you and choosing to explore your offerings?

As the tools of social media have changed the world of B-to-B marketing, many organizations continue to implement the command-and-control (and measure) methods of the past. They spam customers with so-called “free offers” or pay a PR agency big bucks just to score a few press “hits.” Many folks create valuable information, and then prevent those ideas from being shared by using subtle coercion tactics (lead forms) to capture phone numbers, email addresses and other information. Think in terms of spreading ideas, not generating leads and measuring ROI. It’s time to give up control, stop worrying about ROI, and freely share your views.

The New Reality

We no longer control the sales process. Rather, our potential customers control the buying process … we need to forget about the old measures of ROI and start publishing information that our customers can use and share with others … which will ultimately lead them to you!

Lose Control of Your Marketing

Marketing ROI is BS

Marketing ROI is BS


  1. Lindsay Garrison says

    The two concepts are not mutually exclusive.

    For example, Hubspot promotes inbound marketing (online marketing) very successfully with ROI and metrics as a core deliverable. And as they eat their own dog food, they capture basic lead info before they give away their goodies. Yet, I can’t think of another company more generous with the depth of knowledge that Hubspot shares for free.

    In exchange for an email address, a few datapoints about my company, and a follow-up call, I’ve taken advantage of their free webinars, whitepapers, ebooks, training materials, podcasts,

    That requirement doesn’t’ feel like coercion, it feels like a fair exchange. I suggest it’s the followup steps in the cycle that businesses need to make sure is BS-free. When I decide to revamp my marketing to include inbound marketing campaigns, they’ll be on my short list of one to contact because of how freely they share their knowledge and how professionally they have treated us as a potential prospect.

    As a business owner I want to know who shows interest in our CRM consulting services and what has driven them to our offering. I can’t see how it’s coercion, subtle or not, to ask someone to provide a minimal amount of information. Anyone is free to vote with their browser and not play. If they have sufficient interest to provide information, it’s then our job to use that information in a professional and respectful manner to gain new business.

    Marketing has changed drastically thanks to social media. IMHO, the model of capturing leads and tracking the success of various campaigns and sources that drive business to a website is smart business (SB not BS, eh?).

  2. Brigitte Casemyr says

    gee, that reminds me of the late 90’s, where counting eyeballs were all the rage, and nobody (but me!) cared about legitimate ROI tracking…… Maybe I’m too quick in responding to your post, but I could not disagree more with you. You seem to proffer a 1-sided view of the ‘new’ online marketing where simple exposure is all that matters. Tell that to a CFO who wonders what he gets for a $10,000 monthly investment! I can assure you that you’ll quickly want to start counting leads, closing rates, upsales etc.

    I don’t dispute the value of putting information out there, and tracking who’s reading/sharing/reposting, etc., but that’s only one small part of the equation. Bottom line: you need both set of activities in order to ensure that you get value for your investment. And at the end of the year, you better have results showing value of new customers, increased sales to existing customers, and not just number of retweets.

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