Startup Blog

Marketing Holy Grail - Complete ROI Tracking

Posted by Mike Volpe on 1/11/07 3:14 PM

The Internet has long promised to make marketing more of a science and less of an art. Unfortunately this promise has been pretty un-fulfilled. There is still no good way to really measure everything you want using a simple service or tool. I've been doing marketing for a number of years now. When I was at a dot-com startup in 1999, I built models to analyze all of our Internet advertising (banners, text links, and some pay per click with and launched an affiliate program. What I loved about this type of marketing was that you could analyze it and know the ROI on each program. What I did not like was that the majority of our sales were not traceable to a specific marketing event. My dot-com ( also had a print catalog business and retail stores. So, for much of the revenue from those channels, and a good portion of the revenue from the web as well, we had no idea what really caused someone to buy. This problem of tracking marketing ROI gets even more complicated when you understand that people visit your website multiple times and become a lead by filling out a form multiple times and also view your marketing online and offline multiple times. And then what happens if part of the sale is completed offline. My current company, SolidWorks, a 3D CAD software company, does a lot of lead generation through online and offline programs, but all of our sales are completed offline by a great network of hundreds of resellers around the globe. Trying to figure out which particular marketing program (or combination or series of programs) really made someone become a customer is a pretty complicated multivariate analysis, made harder by the fact that it is difficult to get data for many of the variables. At my current company we face many of these challenges and more, and have done the best we can to overcome them, given the tools that exist today. Unfortunately the problem is a big one and we have only scratched the surface. All this brings me back to my first point... There is still no good way to really measure all your marketing activities using a simple service or tool. But the good news is that there are some people working on the problem. Who will build the holy grail of marketing? I'm not sure. But anyone who gets us closer will make marketing more of a science and less of an art, which makes me happy.
Mike Volpe

Written by Mike Volpe

Mike Volpe is a startup advisor and angel investor based in Boston.

Topics: marketing, disruptive

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