Why Agile Works Best to Realize Digital Marketing ROI

Forecasting Digital Marketing ROI initiatives can prove very tricky for a variety of reasons especially for long running campaigns. Using the Agile concept of Progressive Planning works best both in the ROI estimation and realization process of Digital Marketing campaigns, here is how;

Estimating Digital Marketing ROI is Easier Said than Done

 In theory, measuring ROI is a straightforward process, one just needs to divide the net value the Digital Marketing campaign expected earnings (Return), by the value intend to be spent on the campaign (Investment). When the ROI value is more than one that means the investment is paying off:

roi equation

When it comes to marketing in general and Digital Marketing in particular, forecasting and measuring Digital Marketing ROI can get very tricky. The gain from investment can come in multiple forms, some are easily quantified and some are not. For example, in the case of well-established Business to Consumer websites offering online selling options the increase in online sales volume will be a good way to measure the return on investment. However, in the B-to-B (Business-To-Business) area, and especially for small to medium business, the return on Digital Marketing normally comes as a lagging factor. The results of a Digital Marketing campaign take time to materialize which makes it difficult to predict because of the dynamic nature of the digital marketing process and the multiple factors that impact the return.

Types of ROIs

Digital Marketing ROI can be realized in both tangible and intangible way including:

Direct Sales:

Mostly applicable to B2C businesses that offer direct selling option, this is perhaps one of the most predictable kinds of return, especially when historical records and the online presence is already established, check out our article about “Assessment of Online Presence”. In some cases the Digital Marketing campaign can be seasonal, or it could be an all-year campaign that takes multiple shapes each season.


Indirect Sales:

The Digital Marketing campaign will generate indirect sales though partners, other websites, resellers or any other channel. Forecasting the ROI for this type of return can be challenging due to the difficulty of directly linking the indirect sales to the digital campaign. Especially when we take in into consideration that the Digital Marketing build up overtime and may not result in an immediate increase in sales.


Lead Generation: 

In a previous article “A Digital Marketing Strategy that Works for Your Business” we took a deep dive in to converting your existing online presence in to a Lead Magnet, This is certainly an area where Digital Marketing thrives over other conventional marketing.With Digital Marketing,one can directly measure the number of leads generated and use this data to forecast future figures.The longer you run your campaign the larger your data set will grow and your forecast will become more accurate, for the sake of ROI calculation, a certain dollar value of the lead needs to be assumed.Of course the value will vary from one industry to another, it is essential to set a targets (KPIs) for the Number of Leads Generated and Lead Conversion, review continuously and adjust these targets to gain better results.


Brand Awareness:

Traditionally, estimating ROI for brand awareness campaigns poses a challenge because the returns in terms of increased sales can’t be easily linked to the awareness campaign, in traditional marketing the advertiser has no way to know if the receiver is interested in purchasing the product or service being advertised. Greenberg and Kates describe this as the marketing “clutter”:

“Under this old paradigm, marketing was about pushing your message to consumers, and getting them to hear it. Your competition was other brands’ messages, and the marketers’ job was to cut through this background clutter present in the marketing universe.” 1

                                            Strategic Digital Marketing- Eric Greenberg, Alexander Kates

Digital marketing provides a great opportunity to overcome the shortcoming of traditional brand awareness campaigns by directly targeting people who are searching for the advertiser’s product or service in the geographic area. That means that the marketing message will be displayed to a person who is both interested and considering to become a feature lead. There for in Canada.Id we use s simple formula to measuring the “Return” on brand awareness campaigns by simple counting the number of impressions and multiplying it by a factor representing the cost of a single impression.


Social Media Presence:

Social media took marketing to whole different level by introducing the concept of direct interaction not only between the marketer and the clients, but also between clients themselves. In addition to that, social media broke all the boundaries of geographic location, the right piece of content can reach millions of people worldwide simply through people sharing with their social networks. The potential of social media goes beyond branding, messaging and lead generation to be the main tool that can measure and improve customer satisfaction and to get the customer to be directly involved in developing new products and services. Thus, trying to put a simple ROI figure undermine the potential that social media promises. Blanchard puts this well in his book Social Media ROI:

“I’m often asked, what’s the ROI of social medial? To which I answer, you can’t measure what it is you do not value or know to value.”

Social Media ROI – Olivier Blanchard

There are of course ways to assess the social media presence, I explained some of those in my previous article “4 Simple Steps to Evaluate the Online Presence of your Business”. Nevertheless, when it comes to social media, setting measureable goals and striving to achieve them works much better than attempting to framing the process in an ROI measurement.

Taking The Agile Way!           

Agile is a project management philosophy that originated from software development, the idea soon found its way to other types of projects, especially intellectual projects like marketing. Agile uses an iterative approach to achieving project goals, every iteration has specific goals and it builds on the previous iterations’ achievements. Agile calls this “Progressive Planning”, it allows a quick response in changing priorities and market conditions.


When it comes to digital marketing, Agile concepts have a lot to offer, for example by utilizing the concept of Progressive Planning will allow the marketer to set short term goals for the upcoming marketing cycle (iteration), build on the lessons learned from the previous iteration to better fine tune the campaign.


Medium-to-Long term goals are set in the Release Plan. Agile iterations are normally short (1-2 weeks), each “release” comprise of multiple iterations, a release is normally (3-6) months. Each release will have its goals that are prioritized in the iterations. At the end of each iteration and release the team will review the goals achieved and the ones that did not, make decision on the tasks that needs to be following iterations and revise the next release goals.

Envision elaboration validation and iterative stages on digital marketing

Envision elaboration validation and iterative stages on digital marketing

In Canada.id we follow the Agile methodology to define and achieve the Digital Marketing goals, the campaigns implemented in multiple iterations (stages), each stage will get the marketer closer to reaching the strategy objectives, digital marketing results will start to build up incrementally with every state, the following stages are commended for a successful strategy:

The first stage we call the Envision Stage builds the foundation for the following stages.
The Envision stage includes understanding the marketer’s products and culture, assessment of the online presence, developing landing pages and content, and most importantly setting the goals of the following release. The goals include a number of leads generated, page views, social media interactions and many others.

At the end of each iteration, the team will review what have been achieved and make the required tweaks get us closer to achieving the goals set for that stage.


Putting it All Together


Measuring Digital Marketing ROI can be difficult but its not impossible, especially on short-term basis. The returns from Digital Marketing can take many shapes and forms. Developing a sound Digital Marketing Strategy is the first step towards realizing the ROI, the strategy should follow a gradual step-by-step approach targeting an incremental benefits realization and return on investment. The strategy will define the marketer’s long term goals of Digital Marketing.


When it comes to planning and implementation, we have found the following the combination of the famous concept Continuous Improvement (Plan-Do-Check-Act) approach to review and enhanced process and results. Combined with the Agile concept of Progressive Planning works best to set, refine and achieve the strategy goals.


About the author: Sarmad Nasir, MSc, PMP, ITIL Senior IT Project Manager

Dynamic and accomplished professional with extensive experience in enterprise solutions design, implementation and project management. A personality with strong business acumen, excellent inter-personal relationship, possessing strong leadership and team building capabilities

Specialties: Information Technology Project Management, Program management, System and Business Analyses