Nicole Moreo Nicole Moreo
We need to redefine ROI. With PwC’s 19th Annual Global CEO Surveystating that “76 percent say that business success in the 21st century will be defined by more than just financial profit,” as well as an influx of consumer behavior data that doesn’t always funnel directly to a sale and a trend toward obsolete data systems that can’t seem to work together, that need has never been more urgent.

Recent conferences and events have offered up new terms and metrics ROE (Return on Engagement) and ROCX (Return on Customer Experience), among others. However, these all still seem to limit us to one form of data over another rather than providing a holistic picture of results.

O'Dwyer's September '16 Beauty/Fashion & Lifestyle PR MagazineThis article is featured in O'Dwyer's Sep. '16 Beauty/Fashion & Lifestyle PR Magazine

If CEOs recognize that not every variable of success is tied to the financial bottom-line, and they recognize there is a gray area, why are marketing communications professionals still being held to this measuring stick? The true meaning of “ROI” has become diluted and creates obstacles that are increasingly hard to overcome.

Google recently released a study on “micro moments,” which offers a new way to look at this. According to Google, “Mobile has forever changed the way we live, and it’s forever changed what we expect of brands. It’s fractured the consumer journey into hundreds of real-time, intent-driven micro-moments. Each one is a critical opportunity for brands to shape our decisions and preferences.”

The value is in how these “micro moments” integrate into a customer journey from awareness to advocacy, the latter being the key performance indicator to strive for. If we are to measure that journey, we have to be able to show success at every micro moment along the way.

So, what does this mean for measurement and evaluation? It means you can’t jump into simply reproducing the same media measurement reports that you have always done and expect to show value that resonates with management. We need to show value both in the micro and macro moments and have an honest conversation on how we define “ROI.” To start, we need to ask the right questions. For example:

Six months, a year from now, what does success look like? If we succeed, how did we help the business? Who are the audiences we need to reach to help achieve this goal? What touch points do those audiences have with our business/goal?

These questions help us move beyond the legacy expectations and into discovering what actually matters and how can we really prove our value as communicators and marketers. We cannot rely on a share of voice pie chart. Media is definitely an important touch point, but it is not the only one. By asking the right questions up front, and then creating a measurement framework, teams can work together to find the meaningful measurement milestones.

If you ask these initial questions you will have a map of every touchpoint you need to measure, and it will help visualize and define where you need to define a conversion KPI (key performance indicator). A conversion is an action that shows a shift towards advocacy. These conversions can be anything from a download of a white paper, a share on social media, or a completed web form to a shift in brand recognition, an increase in employee engagement, a key message placed in a top-tier publication, etc.

However, it’s important that they all map back to the journey your audience takes based on your initial questions. That journey is how you make advocates for your brand. That journey is your ROI. Showing management that we have tracked conversions to making audience members advocates is where the value lies.

It’s going to take time to make people realize that a simple pie chart showing share of voice in percentages isn’t enough. But, if we can take that pie chart, and provide insight into the “micro-moments” that make up the percentages, then, we might have a chance of really proving our worth and finally overcoming the large obstacle that is “ROI.”

Need help getting started? September is AMEC Measurement Month. AMEC, the International Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communication, is hosting free events, webinars, Twitter chats and more on measurement.

Measurement Month is a global initiative. The events are open to everyone throughout the month, but the North American chapter is focusing on events the week of September 19. Follow #AmecMM and @Amecorg for updates and measurement discussions!

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Nicole Moreo is Director of Peppercomm’s Research and Insights division.