What you can do now to drive ROI

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The past couple of years have been all about squeezing as much return on investment as possible from every marketing effort. As a result, marketers have a new set of parameters and broad goals for establishing a campaign. The good news for these groups is that there are a number of tools and techniques available to help them achieve these goals.

Using social media
Burger King's Whopper Sacrifice -- where the fast-food giant gave free burgers to any customer who "sacrificed" 10 friends from his or her Facebook profile -- was one of the most infamous campaigns of 2009 to have created social media buzz. One of the biggest ongoing hotspots for marketers will be to find their own way to tap into the vast resource of social media.

Social media accurately gauges consumer brand perception and sentiment, though the avenue for more direct marketing and advertising opportunities is harder to navigate. The key to using social media for marketing and customer acquisition is targeting, which helps ensure that the highly coveted user experience is not affected.

Individual organizations can use several approaches to identify customers through social media; these include post-registration offers, banner advertising, Facebook, CPC, or social media apps. All of these ensure consumer exposure, but which ones deliver measurable and effective results is individual to every organization. Those advertisers that have learned what they need to look for in a campaign should be a step ahead as they explore new avenues of customer engagement -- so by the end of 2010, most will have a coherent social media strategy producing bottom-line dollars.

New techniques for advertisers: Measurement is key
In this effort to boost the ROI from marketing campaigns, advertisers must evolve the metrics they use to monitor campaigns. You need the correct measurements in place from the start of a campaign because they provide important insight into the true value of a campaign and enable valuable insight into how the campaign is actually performing.

Traditionally, conversion rates are the flagship measurement for marketing campaigns; however, there is so much more than can be achieved through online marketing. More and more companies are already looking at engagement-driven measurements for their campaigns. Instead of looking at the black and white of sales, they value the interaction that a consumer has with their brand. This can be acceptance of free samples, sign-ups to newsletters, or more innovative outlets such as free application downloads. These avenues have a very soft sell, but they increase the reputation of and trust in the brand. This activity helps to increase the long-term value (LTV) of the customers that do convert.

Most CRM systems can assess LTV, and once the effectiveness of these brand-building activities can be analyzed, a more in-depth and valuable evaluation of marketing activity can be made. Visibility of the consumers that deliver LTV and the engagement activities that led to that loyalty informs future campaign optimization efforts.

For years, low value but sequential products -- for example, dieting aids -- have placed their campaign success on LTV. However, now there is a need for all organizations -- from Kraft to T-Mobile -- to build a stronger base of life-long customers. Differentiating the campaign activities that generate one-and-done customers from those that lead to loyal customers is the most effective way to boost ROI.

New techniques for advertisers: Partnership structure
Most activity that advertisers can engage in to boost LTV is significantly enhanced by working in partnership with the digital marketers that execute their campaigns. Successful customer acquisition campaigns require collaboration -- of campaign design, lead generation, and sales conversion.

Key metrics will fluctuate over the course of the campaign, but a quick reaction can improve the campaign's performance. Learning from peaks and recreating the conditions that caused them -- or recognizing a drop and turning it around immediately -- maximize the highlights and minimize the lowlights of the campaign.

This approach relies on the advertiser to feed back its measurement information and the marketer to establish where that success or failure has come from. With this information, campaigns can be dynamically optimized. Ongoing review is far more conducive to ROI optimization, and it is empowered by information sharing.

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