The Gist

  • Broader perspective required. Focusing solely on outcomes can lead to missing important insights and actions required to achieve success.
  • Alternative metrics for success. Return-on-effort (ROE) analysis provides a more agile and nuanced approach to measuring campaign success.
  • Deeper understanding for sustained achievements. ROE allows teams to prioritize work and focus on what matters most, leading to strategic insights and long-lasting results.

It’s a human tendency to fixate on outcomes. One area where this is particularly prevalent is within the pop fitness industry, where success is often conflated with procuring a dramatic "before and after" set of photos. What this approach misses, as professionals in the field know, is an appreciation for and explanation of the actions required to get from a suboptimal state to a stronger, more effective one.

This tendency to focus only on outcomes is prevalent within the sales and marketing world, too. The traditional approach to marketing campaigns sees content teams expending enormous effort creating and deploying content and then, in retrospect, examining results to see if all the hard work was worth it. But what if, like so many other traditional approaches these days, this view of determining the return on investment of your marketing content and campaigns is fundamentally flawed? (Hint: It is.)

ROI on Content Ops Isn’t the Full Picture

Establishing ROI on content operations tells an organization a lot about effective process and campaign management. It also gives insight into risk mitigation and can provide a holistic understanding on campaign monetization. However, the information doesn’t provide the full picture of what worked, what didn’t — and why. Knowing how each element of an energetic content teams’ output is used and to what effect is no longer a luxury from a marketing perspective, it’s a necessity.

In a tech-driven era, consumers want engaging, customized experiences and prompt support when engaging with brands. These expectations are only growing, making customer experience a primary metric of success for many marketing organizations. Customers want content that provides a comprehensive narrative that keeps them satisfied from start to finish.

This means content teams need to be more agile than ever in their approach to campaigns, allowing the subjective dimensions of customer engagement to inform and optimize their approach in real-time. Instead of trying to measure content performance after-the-fact, content teams should adopt a return-on-effort approach to keep track of their adaptive efforts as part of their success-measuring framework.

Related Article: Why Your CX Investments Might Be Seesawing With Customer Satisfaction and ROI

Marketing ROE: Just What Is It and Why Does It Work?

A return-on-effort (ROE) analysis weighs performance metrics (like sales and revenue data) against the number of person hours required to achieve those results. Essentially, it combines the best of what ROI offers and the “sweat equity” that went into reaching those metrics — including those that ensured an optimal customer experience.

ROE provides marketers informative data at a granular level, allowing for intelligent pivots and adjustments in real-time to drive desired outcomes based on customer sentiment and engagement. It’s a more agile, moment-to-moment approach that takes into account the nuances of customer experience — the importance of which cannot be overstated — rather than assessing the campaign from a linear stance that defines the business bottom line as being the only metric of interest.

Learning Opportunities

ROE puts into perspective how time, energy and creative yield can be leveraged in a way that’s most sustainable. A campaign can be incredibly successful by ROI standards, but when spend and resources are factored in — time, people, energy and costs — a fuller picture emerges in which the financial performance achieved is not always commensurate with the sweat equity it required.

Using ROE, teams can make data-driven decisions to prioritize work and focus on what matters most. Instead of being task mongers, they become strategic problem solvers focused on ensuring marketing efforts deliver business results. The goal shifts from simply checking the broad boxes of content output to carefully creating, prioritizing and fulfilling the more granular boxes of content impact. The data derived from proper use of ROE is optimized for both hardworking creative teams as well as for the consumers they’re interested in reaching, allowing for strategic insights that would be easily missed using a less responsive framework.

Related Article: The ROI of Investing in Customer Service Training

The Right Metric = the Most Effective Plan of Action

Marketing ROI is important for measuring the return on the financial equity a company is putting on the line, but it doesn’t take into account the amount of sweat equity that’s been invested nor how that hard work is segmented and enacted across the lifetime of a campaign. ROE is a tactical measurement that allows teams to see the effort (time, money, resources) that went into creating content and campaigns and then see at a glance if the returns were worth the energy.

Just as with a fitness regime that must take into account an individual’s body type and ideal thresholds for muscle mass, body fat and so on, the effectiveness of your content operations shouldn’t be measured by a final sales number alone. ROE provides organizations with the data-backed, actionable insights that allow them to use their strongest content in the most effective ways possible, moment to moment, to achieve long-lasting, foundationally solid results.

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