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Why Marketing ROI is a Huge Fallacy for Small Business

I’ve spent my career drilling into business owner’ heads that the only way to prove effectiveness of marketing is to test, track, and measure. But over the years I’ve seen perfectly good marketing not get the credit it deserved. Why? Because it couldn’t be measured effectively.  The cold hard fact of marketing metrics is:  not everything can be measured.  Why?  Because we’re dealing with unpredictable, free-willed humans who, despite Marketers’ best efforts, don’t follow the paths-to-purchase all our research, data, analytics and brilliant marketing say they should.ROI fallacy small business

Let’s look at a common marketing strategy:

Your Potential Client’s (PC) Twitter friend shared a funny meme you or your marketing team posted and she started following you on Twitter. Over the next several months she saw a couple of interesting stories and links you posted. She read a few, ignored most, and didn’t even see about 90% of them. And then…

Week One:  Your marketing consultant added a highly relevant and interesting eBook to your website, and promoted it on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.  Potential Client (PC), sees it on Twitter 3 times before visiting our website to download it; giving you her email address.

Week Two: PC receives an automated email from your company, inviting her to take some other action., she never opens it. She receives emails from you several times per month over the next several months; they either automatically go into a folder she rarely looks at, she looks at the subject line and ignores them and/or deletes them without opening them.

Weeks Three- Forever: PC doesn’t see our social media posts and deletes our emails. She’s too busy to read them.

Week Five: PC notices one of our clever posts on Twitter, chuckles but doesn’t like or share it.

Week Seven: She sees an email subject line from us that sounds interesting, she doesn’t have time to read it so it goes into her “to read later” folder – (that she never gets to).

Week Nine: She’s at a conference and sees our name as a sponsor, it barely registers.

For the next six months:  She deletes our emails without reading them, and rarely notices our Twitter posts.

Month nine:  Lo and behold, she needs what we sell!   What does she do? She automatically does a Google search, not even connecting all those deleted and saved emails and Twitter posts to her need.  Your business comes up in the search (hopefully!), “hey, these guys sound familiar. where do I know them from?” She clicks on your company because it sounds vaguely familiar.  Then she reads your excellent Yelp reviews and calls you.

Prospects Don’t Remember their Own Path to Purchase

is your small business marketing wimpy“How did you hear about us?”  you ask. “Oh, I don’t know, I googled something and then saw you on Yelp” PC answers, completely forgetting or disregarding that the reason she clicked in the first place was because there was some familiarity.  So does that mean all that Tweeting, emailing and eBook writing was a waste of time? Of course not – but in this -and in a majority of cases – it’s forgotten or never mentioned by the PC – and it’s our job as marketers and small business owners to know what her path to purchase was!

If you’re a large business with sophisticated measurement and tracking tools you may have an idea of her path to purchase, but most small business owners don’t have the luxury of affording such in-depth tools. So they jump to the conclusion: “Nothing but Yelp works for my business so why bother?”

Small Businesses Lack the Tools to Effectively Measure ROI

Retailers and big brands spend billions of dollars on technology, predictive analysis tools customer journey mapping, software, data mining and a slew of other tools at their disposal and still it’s an imperfect science, at best. And for small business owners, those tools are luxuries often not afforded in their tight budgets.

The fact is, despite marketers’ best efforts at monitoring and tracking consumer behavior we can’t dig into their brains and memories and see everything that led to them choosing to click on our name and read our Yelp reviews. They can’t even explain it most of the time!

Is Marketing ROI Dead?

So then is marketing measurement and ROI tracking a moot practice for small business owners? Is it something we should avoid altogether? Of course not. But my point is that effective Marketing remains a delicate mix of science, art and pure luck. Marketing is a set of practices and strategies that all work together to drive potential clients to your business.  There is rarely ever one single thing marketing tactic that does it.

For help, contact a Marketing Consultant like Fortune Marketing. We’re here to help you get the tools you need to make smarter marketing decisions! Contact us today for a consultation.

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