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Online Marketing and ROI Measurement

March 13, 2024

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It’s easy to get carried away with vanity metrics when it comes to online marketing. The allure of increasing followers, likes, and website traffic at any cost can be enticing. 

But investing in the wrong kind of growth can have a negative ROI (Return On Investment), wasting both time and money. For example–if you’re buying fake followers in order to get a bigger following it’s unlikely to do anything for your brand and may have negative implications.

In this article, we’ll help you understand the different types of digital marketing ROI so that you can be sure you’re aiming at the right things.

Understanding ROI in Online Marketing 

ROI is the ratio of the net profit of a marketing campaign to the cost of that campaign, expressed as a percentage.

ROI = (Net Profit/Cost of Campaign) * 100%

Online marketing encompasses a broad range of strategies, from social media campaigns to email marketing and pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. Each of these channels requires an investment of time, money, or both. 

Measuring the ROI helps you assess the effectiveness of your marketing efforts and determine which channels are providing the best return. However, it can be difficult to ascertain the right marketing channel if you use a complicated digital marketing mix.

According to Jill Avery, a senior lecturer at Harvard Business School, “It can also be difficult to figure out which incremental profits are attributable to which programs since most companies are using a mix of programs to persuade consumers.” 

Why is ROI Measurement Critical for Your Business?

Measuring your ROI reveals the bottom line by which your business sinks or fails. Is your marketing successful? Are you spending money on things that are net positive for your business? If you don’t understand how much profit (or loss) you’re getting for every dollar spent, it becomes much harder to scale your business profitably.

5 types of roi metrics

5 types of roi metrics

Types of ROI Metrics to Evaluate

Since the success of online marketing hinges on effective measurement and analysis, here are important metrics to measure:

#1. Financial ROI

The most straightforward type of ROI, financial ROI, calculates the net profit generated by a marketing campaign. It considers both the revenue earned and the cost spent on marketing. The formula for financial ROI is: 

Financial ROI = (Revenue – Cost / Cost) * 100%

For example, if a business spends $10,000 on an online marketing campaign and generates $30,000 in revenue, the financial ROI would be:

($30,000 – $10,000/$10,000) * 100% = 200%

#2. Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)

CAC is a vital metric that focuses on the cost of acquiring a new customer through a marketing campaign. This is crucial for businesses aiming to optimize their marketing expenses. The CAC is calculated using the formula:

CAC = Total Marketing Costs / Number of New Customers Acquired 

If a company spends $20,000 on marketing and gains 200 new customers, the CAC would be $20,000/200 = $100 per customer acquired.

#3. Social Media ROI

Social media has become an integral part of online marketing. SMROI measures the return on investment specifically from social media campaigns. It takes into account factors like engagement, lead generation, and conversion rates. To calculate Social Media ROI, you can use the formula:

Social Media ROI = (Revenue from Social Media – Cost of Social Media Marketing / Cost of Social Media Marketing) * 100%

#4. Email Marketing ROI

Email marketing remains a potent tool for connecting with your audience. To measure its ROI, consider factors such as open rates, click-through rates, and conversion rates. The formula for Email Marketing ROI is:

Email ROI = (Revenue from Email Marketing – Cost of Email Marketing / Cost of Email Marketing Campaign) * 100%


Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is a digital marketing approach where advertisers pay a fee each time their ad is clicked. This approach works across platforms and offers a more direct relationship between investment and returns compared to other online tactics, as it allows for precise tracking of ad performance and costs. PPC ROI measures the efficiency of your PPC campaigns in generating revenue relative to the costs incurred.

To calculate PPC ROI:

PPC ROI = (Revenue from PPC – Cost of PPC / Cost of PPC) * 100%

Apart from pen and paper revenue and cost calculations, here are more advanced tools for measuring ROI.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a robust and widely used tool for tracking website traffic and user behavior. It provides insights into which online channels are driving the most traffic and conversions. By setting up goals and e-commerce tracking, businesses can directly attribute revenue to specific marketing efforts.

CRM Software

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software helps businesses manage interactions with current and potential customers. If you integrate CRM with marketing efforts, you can track leads, conversions, and customer behavior throughout the sales funnel.

Social Media Analytics Tools

Social media management platforms like Hootsuite, Buffer, and Sprout Social offer in-depth analytics for social media performance. These tools track engagement, reach, and conversion metrics, allowing businesses to assess the impact of their social media campaigns.

Make Every Marketing Dollar Count

Remember–measuring ROI is not just a good practice; it’s a necessity. By leveraging the power of ROI measurement, you can ensure that every marketing dollar spent contributes to the growth and success of your business.

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