How to Connect Digital Media Spend to Revenue Results

Digital media spend is likely one of the largest pieces of the budget. But is it being well spent? How can you tell? The media team and their agencies use a lot of new buzzwords to describe where it is being spent, but at the end of the day CMOs want to know exactly how much revenue that budget drove.

Besides content and labor, digital media spend is likely one of the largest pieces of the budget. But is it being well spent? How can you tell? The media team and their agencies use a lot of new buzzwords to describe where it is being spent, but at the end of the day CMOs want to know exactly how much revenue that budget drove.

Understanding the Media Spend-Revenue Connection

Before we jump to answer how to ensure you are tracking the spend, let’s review what we spend the budget on at a high level. This chart provides a simplified view of the most common channels in North America:

Major North American Media Channels
Credit: Pedowitz Group by Kevin Joyce

So let’s agree the media spend can be divided between paid search, promoted posts, ads, retargeting on social channels, and display and banner ads hosted on other advertising platforms. We don’t have to blind ourselves here with which particular advertising technology (AdTech) is being used to target ads, we are just looking to understand how we track media spend to revenue.

In the Old Days, It Was Simpler

10 years ago, most of our digital media spend was display ads and paid search.

Digital marketing 10 years ago
Digital marketing 10 years ago. | Credit: Pedowitz Group by Kevin Joyce

Back then, the expectation was that a prospect gave you their identity after just one click.

But once you paid for the click, and the visitor didn’t fill in your form, you had no further ability to interact with that person. So a lot of your spend was for naught.

But tracking the spend was easy. We used UTM parameters that were picked off by the forms on the website and this enabled connecting a lead source directly to the media spend. If our digital team was smart, we had all the UTM parameters and knew what campaign and ad generated the leads. All that was left to do was carry this info over to our contacts and accounts, and onto the opportunities and we had a media spend to revenue connection. Fast forward 10 years.

Channel Complexity From Digital Media on Social Platforms

The addition of extra channels, including the social channels makes tracking media spend back to revenue more difficult because there may be multiple interactions between a prospect and you, many of them paid for by you before they become known to you.

Digital marketing today.
Digital marketing today. | Credit: Pedowitz Group by Kevin Joyce

So now we can expect that a prospect won’t surrender their identity until they click eight or more times on your ads and content. But there is good news here. When they do click on an ad, or a blog post we are paying to promote, they get a cookie placed on their device. This allows us to target only people with that cookie with very specific ads (retargeting). So, it keeps our costs down, and those retargeting ads lead to forms that capture all the UTM parameters we talked about earlier. Also, if we are using a marketing automation platform, and that was the cookie we placed on their device, then all of their anonymous behavior is recorded and associated with the lead when they finally fill in a form.

Two important things happened in that last scenario:

  1. We got the ability to continue to market to individuals who clicked, but didn’t fill in a form by virtue of the social platforms providing the retargeting feature.
  2. We got to associate all the multiple interactions of an anonymous prospect, to our content, drive by media spend, because we were using a marketing automation platform.

Connecting the dots – media spend to revenue

So now the complete picture for showing attribution for media spend looks like this:

  • The top of the funnel focus is on getting people cookied (no form required here)
    • Once cookied we can track their behavior with our digital properties and content
  • The next step is to retarget those cookied people to get them to a form to identify themselves
    • Once we know who they are we connect their past anonymous behavior to the new lead
  • The next step is to start email nurturing to them with very targeted offers
  • Finally, they warm up, become SQLs, we connect them to opportunities.
  • All the UTM information, and the anonymous interactions captured in the marketing automation platform can associate your media spend with the closed won opportunities.

I simplified a few things, but the key point is this. It is possible to connect media spend to closed won opportunities. The proper usage of UTM parameters and your marketing automation platform can make this possible. Make sure your team can tell you how much revenue comes from the media spend and calculate the lag time.

Why You Must Stop Believing Social Selling Exists

“You need this revolutionary new social selling now or you’ll be left behind. What? You don’t know how to use [insert new technology] to zoom sales? Buy my book, attend my keynote. I’ll show you the way forward!” Revolution they cry! Problem is, the sales revolution they’re selling is marketing — broadcasting on an interactive platform, the Internet. There is no revolution, only evolution.

Who Moved the Sales? Why marketing attribution is so crucial to track, yet so hard to doSocial selling does not exist. Believing it does trains you and your sales force to fail.

Sure, LinkedIn and countless self-appointed “social selling experts” say social selling is a wave — catch it.

But have you noticed their tone lately? Many of these folks talk down to you.

“You are not doing it right, you are not taking it seriously enough.”

Or perhaps more accurately:

“You need this revolutionary new social selling now or you’ll be left behind. What? You don’t know how to use [insert new technology] to zoom sales? Buy my book, attend my keynote. I’ll show you the way forward!”

Revolution they cry!

Problem is, the sales revolution they’re selling is marketing — broadcasting on an interactive platform, the Internet.

There is no revolution, only evolution. Believing there is a new selling paradigm risks your team’s ability to adapt.

Are you willing to risk it? Are you risking it right now?

We Should not Name This a “New” Strategy

There is nothing new about sales — other than customers having better access to information, more quickly and easily. There is no need to invent a fancy new name for sales as it evolves.

“But Jeff, you’re wrong: Giving this new strategy a name could help explain this new skill set in sales operations internally, to management. Especially if the company is still a bit behind in evolution when it comes to sales approach.”

But are you behind? Behind in what? Knowledge of how to work the tool?

Working a new tool like LinkedIn or Twitter is not making anyone successful — despite the marketing claims of companies and expert gurus who have a stake in the game.

Using the term “social selling” is, so far, most helpful to those selling tool-focused education or rah-rah cheerleading fodder themselves. These are the instant experts whose qualifications rest on “I use LinkedIn a lot.”

Literally anyone can be a part of this club.

Here’s my beef with this situation: In the end, I’m witnessing less emphasis on sales techniques that work for sellers, and more emphasis on how to use tools.

I suspect this is because the people involved don’t have (or practice) good, traditional sales skills!

The result: A lot of sales people practicing marketing on LinkedIn. Farming with it. And failing to start conversations. They’re pushing posts, updates, comments, etc.

Use Social Media and Email to Get More Customers and Keep Them Coming Back

Apathy kills more customers than bad service and poor quality products combined. Loyalty is inspired when people are interested, engaged and valued. The top priority of every business that wants long-term growth and profitability is acquiring customers and keeping them coming back. Focusing on one without the other is a recipe for disaster.

Apathy kills more customers than bad service and poor quality products combined. Loyalty is inspired when people are interested, engaged and valued. The top priority of every business that wants long-term growth and profitability is acquiring customers and keeping them coming back. Focusing on one without the other is a recipe for disaster.

Customer acquisition without retention is expensive. Costs typically run $25 to $75 per customer depending on the industry and competition. Three or more orders are required to break even. Profitability and growth come when people continue to buy year after year. Companies that excel in acquiring customers but don’t retain them will eventually crumble under the high costs.

Retention without acquisition is equally dangerous. Natural attrition will eventually leave the company without customers. When people complete their buying lifespan, they leave. Replacements are vital to keep the company moving forward. Companies without a stable of new customers coming in on a regular basis are dying. It is only a matter of time until operating costs exceeds revenue.

Apple is a good example of a company that has a good balance between acquisition and retention. The company keeps people coming back even when the products offer less performance than those from competitors. Loyalty remains high even after “antennagate” in 2010 because people are so emotionally invested in Apple’s culture leaving is harder than staying. Any company without a customer cult-like obsession for its products would have suffered irreparable damage from a similar challenge.

What if your company isn’t Apple and has little hope of creating an obsessive fan base? How do you continuously acquire customers and keep them coming back? Creating an integrated strategy that uses the best features of individual channels to connect with people and provide an engaging experience is the key to your success. Start by combining social activity with email campaigns and expand from there. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Let people know that you value their business. Neglect is one of two components that make it easy for competitors to snag your customers. Use custom emails to keep the connection between customer and company strong. People know the difference between “personalized” (insert name here) and “personal” (specific messages about orders or challenges). The same technology that creates personalized messages can create personal ones. Make the effort to send custom emails that invite a two-way conversation on a regular basis. Most people won’t respond, but you will still plant a seed that can grow into loyalty.
  • Keep things interesting. Boredom is the second component that opens the door for competitors to steal your customers’ attention with flashy ads, deep discounts, and the promise of something new. Shake things up by injecting new templates in your email campaigns and offering fun activities on your social platforms. After receiving the same format multiple times and repeatedly seeing the same types of posts, people miss the message because their mind tricks them into thinking they’ve seen it before. Avoid this by injecting fresh looks and participation opportunities.
  • Have a plan that moves people from participating in social communities to subscribing to your emails and vice versa. An email sign-up page on Facebook and links to your social platforms at the bottom of emails is not a plan. You need specific calls-to-action that include good reasons for people to move between channels. The process needs to be easy and fun. The more fun you make it, the more likely they will respond.
  • Reward people. Use great offers to get people to convert from prospect to customer. Provide even better benefits for long-term loyalty. Create a special club for people to join when they’ve placed their fifth order or reached a sales benchmark to encourage them to keep coming back. Include membership in private groups on social platforms and exclusive email messages. Let the people who provide the most benefits to your company receive the best offers first.