Measuring ROI: how real-time analytics solves marketing’s greatest problem

When a campaign's success hangs on ROI measurement, marketers cannot afford a data delay. Enter real-time analytics.

Legacy systems aren’t fit for today's audiences, says Scuba Analytics CEO Tony Ayaz; so here’s how real-time analytics can step in…

As the media landscape evolves at velocity, one problem remains: how to validate spending. ROI is the golden metric, yet 21% of marketers say that capturing it is their biggest challenge. As today's audiences flit between devices and platforms, measuring return is getting only more difficult.

Marketers are responsible for persuading consumers to complete specific actions, but also for demonstrating ROI to stakeholders and investors. The problem is they are being held back by old data that doesn't allow them to understand and respond to their audience's behaviour across increasingly fragmented journeys.

Imagine you’ve partnered with an Instagram influencer to promote a handbag from your retail brand’s website. It’s morning and the consumer ‘likes’ the post, then scrolls on. At lunchtime, they use their laptop to research the bag on your website. That evening (having convinced themselves it is worth the spend), they grab their phone to make the transaction on your brand’s website.

The Instagram campaign was a success, but proving so involves stitching together multiple data points. Legacy systems can take days or even weeks to accomplish this. In the meantime, whether your campaign is worth the investment is anyone’s guess.

The problem with legacy systems

There are thousands of excellent tools to measure audience behaviour: CDPs, web analytics, CRMs, DMPs – the list goes on. However, they traditionally operate in silos, giving marketers disparate glimpses of the full picture.

Piecing together information from different customer touchpoints often falls to analysts, creating organisational bottlenecks and information that’s over a week old by the time it reaches marketing teams. This stale data adds wider contextual value, but does not provide marketers with insights on what the audience is doing right now.

Legacy systems are great at understanding individual channels but are unable to capture the full complexity of user journeys. Returning to the handbag campaign, legacy analytics might reveal that though our fashionista ‘liked’ the Instagram post, they didn’t click through the CTA. In a vacuum, the data risks misleading decision-makers.

Continuous intelligence: A 360° customer view

To address these problems, the marketers must move to a continuous intelligence [CI] model – which builds a 360° real-time view of amalgamated data streams that informs decision-making. Not only can this help define ROI, it can increase it in the following ways:

  1. In-the-moment action

Historic data is useful but it can’t change what's happening in the moment. Customers expect a polished experience and relying on a monthly or quarterly report means marketers lose out on spontaneous opportunities to upsell, recover abandoned baskets, or offer a timely discount.

CI enables marketers to increase customer satisfaction in real-time. If a user is hovering too long on a product description, can a chatbot step in to help out or offer money off?

  1. Cohesive analysis

Multiple reports from different tools make ROI calculation a challenge and often inaccurate. A unified 360° view enables marketers to manage KPIs in real-time, even when they span multiple departments or marketing channels. It is through the power of continuous intelligence that they can find the correlation between an Instagram post and a handbag sale on a brand’s website.

  1. Rapid testing of new ideas

Imagine you want to experiment with a quick change to a campaign and have to wait a week for traditional analytics to report on the results. If the tweak hasn't worked, the result is potentially seven days of damaged revenue. Real-time analytics drastically shortens the test cycle, preventing wasteful spending and preserving ROI.

  1. Optimisation of content

What are the audience actions at this exact moment? Real-time analytics enables brands to answer questions like these and optimise content that's performing well or is particularly timely. For example, a sports website could automatically flag and detect trending topics, such as a football match result, and promote relevant content to its users.

  1. Efficiency empowerment

Real-time analytics reduces bottlenecks by empowering marketers to make decisions without reliance on other departments. They can identify and respond to trends rapidly, for example releasing a product fix or pushing more resources into a popular campaign.

By adopting Continuous Intelligence and real-time analytics, marketing teams are finally empowered and given the agency to not only optimise their campaigns based on in-the-moment consumer behaviour, but also crucially, to demonstrate the impact of their investment on overall brand success.