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How To Measure Inbound Marketing ROI

The digital age of marketing can bring about questions that lead to more questions. Buzzwords permeate the field, and marketing agencies trip over understanding the endless marketing concepts—inbound, outbound, analytics, metrics, funnels, leads, traffic and ROI.

The truth is, familiarizing yourself with the bounty of strategies and tactics to succeed in driving online business your way is essential, and ROI (return on investment) is one of the foundations of inbound marketing.

ROI is about evaluating the effectiveness of your marketing efforts. It’s a tool that allows you to fine-tune where you want to continue to feed your funds, and what area they may need to be reduced or cut. It’s an assistant in analyzing and monitoring what is happening in your business’s inbound marketing.

We’re here to show you how you can measure marketing ROI in five different areas including awareness, engagement, demand generation, lead generation and sales.

So dust off your calculator… you’re going to want to assess your marketing ROI on a regular basis to keep on top of your marketing goals and budget.


Awareness is where it all begins. This is where a prospect will become aware of your product/service.

There are several things you can measure in this stage. Look at your number of social media mentions—break it down by platform if you want. Assess website traffic, PR and how many people clicked, viewed, visited or talked about your brand. A strong, concrete measure is the number of subscribers, followers and fans your brand is bringing in.

Although measuring ROI in the awareness stage isn’t an exact science. Most of the marketing world would agree that the earlier you begin to measure your ROI, meaning even at the awareness stage, the more likely you are to find ways to plug holes in your funnel. You most likely won’t get concrete numbers, but you’ll definitely get impressions to work from.


Engagement is the time where consumers get drawn in, they spend time perusing and reading, interacting and subscribing. This is an area where marketing ROI information can be very useful. To draw potential customers down the funnel, what happens during the engagement stage is valid, and the ROI data can be a map for your marketing team to follow.

What exactly can you measure during engagement? Can you look at comments, retweets and shares? Absolutely. But that’s only a piece of the whole picture. It’s about how much time people are spending on your site and overall participation from leads.

In the engagement stage, calculate things such as how many people signed up for a newsletter. Did they remain signed up after reading it, or did you lose them? This can tell you how engaging your content is and whether you need to invest more into it, drop it or leave it as is. Look at which messages or content produces the most action. Probably the most important thing is to remember to stay engaged with loyal customers—they are often the bread and butter of businesses.

Measuring the ROI of engagement is a very effective step. This is where you open the lines of communication and there is extremely accurate information to be found.

Demand Generation

A critical part of your marketing focus is demand generation. Simply put, this means to drive awareness, interest and consideration to your company’s services and products. The definition can get far more complex because it involves multiple layers and strategies.

Basically, you will use many marketing components to provide a solution for consumers…in other words create something they need. Demand generation spans all of your marketing strategies to build company-to-customer relations and works to keep people coming back for more.

When it comes to measuring demand generation you should look at a few things. Gather user feedback through surveys or research studies. When in doubt, pick up the phone. Track and collect data using Google Analytics, which gives detailed statistics about traffic, conversions and sales. The key comes down to understanding what your potential customer’s needs are, and creating brands/products/campaigns that fulfill them.

Lead Generation

Ask four different companies what a lead is and you’ll probably get four different answers. Is a lead someone who is sales-ready or interested? Where do they come from—the website, social media, referrals? Determine what a lead means to your company and assess it from there.

Assessing your marketing ROI can come in handy in determining leads and lead generation for your business. You can measure where the most successful leads came from such as, a webinar, social media campaign or e-mails. Look at where generated leads were a dead end and how those might be nurtured to become successful. Measure costs per lead and costs per sales. Calculate the conversion ratio from leads to sales.

Lead generators are your e-mails, social media campaigns, videos, webinars, coupons, forms and calls-to-action. Decide which are best for your business so you can adjust your lead generation methods so they are optimal for your company.


Marketing ROI needs to include sales. Without that knowledge, everything else is a moot point. It comes down to your sales total and how much you invested to produce those sales.

The simplest ROI formulas are:

  • (Revenue – Cost of products sold)/Cost of products sold
  • (Earnings – Initial investment)/Initial Investment

For instance, take the amount of sales you made in a month and then look at the cost of the products sold as the cost to produce plus how much you invested in marketing.

There are multiple formulas to use in tandem with the base ROI formula, including conversions and analytics. You don’t necessarily need to use all of the variables like time or overhead costs, but some can be helpful. As a business you’ll need to find what works best for you and calculating your ROI.


Is there anything that we missed about marketing ROI? Let us know in the comments below!

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