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Measuring ROI from Digital: How Does Your Company Stack Up?

One of the biggest challenges for financial service companies is identifying how the sale of a service or product is facilitated. Without understanding why customers buy when they do, firms can lose an important market advantage. This attribution trail has become even more difficult to map as the channels through which customers engage continue to grow, from offline to digital.
During our recent Hearsay Summit, where more than 110 decision-makers from top global firms gathered in our Silicon Valley hometown, we held a series of peer-led roundtables to answer the following:

  • What challenges do teams encounter when trying to demonstrate the value of digital technologies and channels?
  • How do they connect that to achieving the firm’s overall business goals of increased revenue, lowered costs and time efficiency?

The 4 Levels of Digital Maturity and Hearsay’s ROI Hierarchy of Needs

For additional context, we discussed our ROI Hierarchy of Needs. This pyramid was built based on our financial services expertise, and correlates an organization’s digital maturity with how far along they are in measuring attribution from digital assets.
Given our company’s 100-percent focus on financial services, we find that most firms start their attribution journey by collecting anecdotes, then quickly progress to ROI surveys of the field. After these are challenged as inadequate, organizations move to measure via a single variable or multi-variable quantitative correlation analysis, and then follow this with field experimentation or consumer journey mapping through technology.
Our roundtables revealed that while most firms currently measure ROI through surveys and anecdotes, many are increasingly measuring more quantitatively through correlative studies or through highly integrated technology ecosystems.
However, successfully executing either a quantitative analysis or building out an attribution map posed a number of challenges. We discussed some of the largest challenges through our three key ROI topics:

Online Versus Offline Marketing: How Do You Measure Them Differently … or Not?

  • Current Assessment: Online marketing provides greater transparency into the efficacy of content and marketing strategies as more data on consumer interactions can be tracked. This means that marketers have larger data sets of higher quality, which allows for better A/B experimentation and more detailed conversion analysis.
  • Challenges: Financial service marketers still struggle with digital assets being measured by KPIs that offline marketing has traditionally used (e.g., total views), instead of more meaningful conversion metrics. Additionally, marketers are often asked to prove the value of digital channels immediately because of the wealth of available data, whereas offline marketing is given time.
  • Solution: Remind leadership that revenue impact – as with any investment in marketing solutions, whether offline or online – comes with time. Position leadership away from vanity metrics that don’t tie to conversions, and instead focus them on metrics that are closer to the point of sale – such as social media-to-website redirects, website lead form entries, or the number of net new meaningful customer interactions on social media per month.

Technological Versus Brute Force Measurement: How Is Your Firm Moving Closer to Isolating Digital Attribution? 

  • Current Assessment: Most financial firms are still taking early steps in the digital transformation process (e.g., purchasing and deploying technology for the field). Of the companies that are further along in this process, roughly half are investing in data analyst resources to conduct large-scale correlative analyses, while the remainder are building a highly integrated technology stack to track a consumer’s purchasing journey.
  • Challenges: Due to the highly cross-functional process of conducting either a large-scale quantitative study or changing a current tech stack (likely to involve marketing, sales, data science, procurement, leadership, etc.), measuring attribution is a lengthy and multi-year process. Resourcing, project management and organizational silos all pose significant challenges.
  • Solution: Establish KPI metrics early on, and collect data from day one. Establish a multi-year value attribution plan that ultimately leads to conducting a quantitative study or investing in an integrated digital ecosystem by year two or three. Evaluate the benefit of a CRM as a centralized database through which to standardize data and track consumer behavior across multiple channels.

Data Overload: What Kind of Data – and Data Infrastructure – Is Needed to Measure ROI More Easily? 

  • Current Assessment: While all organizations acknowledge that collecting data is very important, each firm struggles with similar data gathering challenges and how to ultimately use this data later on. Without clearly allocated quantitative resources, marketing teams have had to primarily prove “ROI” through anecdotes or surveys, which are often challenged and less consistent than a quantitative conversion model.
  • Challenges: Creating a uniform data environment from which to model digital marketing conversion has been made difficult due to finserv M&A activity over the years, disparate technology ecosystems, and a lack of transparency into where data lives due to company silos. Additionally, organizations often do not have a clear framework for what types of data they should be collecting, or the systems of record where data should be stored.
  • Solution: Collaborate with a quantitative resource/team (preferably with strong sales connections) as early as possible in every digital marketing initiative. Establish clear KPIs that align with your top, bottom and operational efficiency goals. Investigate whether marketing data – both corporate and field efforts – can be systematically merged with sales data through CRM integrations.

For more, learn how the CIO and CMO of American Family work together to drive results-oriented digital innovation: