In the world of creative, we often find ourselves torn between the notion to push our creative limits and the necessity for strong performance and results (revenue). After all, form follows function, right? We know how fulfilling it can be to produce work that you’re really proud of, but clients are mainly focused on the metrics that are moving the bottom line of their business.
We are living in a data-driven world and it is often hard to attribute the impact creative has on our campaigns because design is subjective and so many moving parts go into the making of a successful campaign. Well performing campaigns are a combination of data-backed decisions and creative thinking that are designed to not only reach your target audience, but also convince them to commit to your business. You can’t have one without the other.
Great design is what draws a customer’s eye; it helps make products and services more compelling, more enjoyable to use; and makes a product feel relevant in a landscape that is constantly changing.
So, it begs the question: How do you measure ROI of creative services?
It is important to be able to measure the ROI of creative for a variety of reasons:
- You need to provide clear evidence of the impact you’re making on the client’s revenue and investment
- Decision makers need to know the value of design in order to invest in it
- You can clearly outline business objectives & set expectations
How To Measure It
A big advantage we have in the digital world when it comes to measuring ROI, is the multiple data points and tracking softwares we have at our disposal. The levels of sophistication our analytics possess allow marketers to perform deep dives, compare data, benchmark campaigns & metrics, and ultimately tell a story of where, when, and how important information such as revenue, traffic, repeat visitors/customers, ROAS, CPA, and conversion rates are determined.
You can set benchmarks within your analytics to track the duration and success of each campaign and break down what was done differently across each campaign. Your analytics can tell you one was successful in drawing an audience in but ultimately they wouldn’t convert, while the others did not have as much initial traffic but a higher conversion rate. This then allows you to blend those two into a campaign with a higher ROI.
In order to set yourself apart and make sure that creative is getting the recognition it deserves, you must:
- Be able to navigate and use your analytics to your advantage
- Be very clear on what the goals of each campaign are from the start
- Determine how each contributing factor is affecting your goal(s), and to what extent
Design has the ability to make a big impact on brand awareness and brand loyalty. Although design is only a part of your overall brand, it plays an integral part in delivering your message to potential customers. Brand perception and ultimately brand loyalty are directly affected by your design and messaging. Customers respond well and often trust what you are trying to sell if your brand, website, and campaigns are buttoned up and presented in a way that is attractive to them, but also reflect your core message.
It is much more cost effective to create repeat customers than it is to continuously create new customers. The more brand advocates you can create, the more revenue you can generate while hopefully cutting the costs of finding new customers through free word-of-mouth advertising.
Let’s use Apple as an example. The tech giant is often bashed by it’s competitors for having lower grade technology, yet they continue to dominate the market. How do they do this? They invested the time, energy, and brainpower in design, aesthetics, presentation, and UI to develop some of the strongest brand loyalty the modern world has ever seen.
There are 2 very common ways to A/B test how creative is affecting marketing:
Known as Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO), it is the art of testing how visitors interact with your web page. It tracks where they click, where they are scrolling, and how much time they spend on your page. There is sophisticated software that allow you to A/B test pages between audiences to see which performs better based on the design and messaging.
Simple changes in a pages design and UI can be the difference between thousands of dollars in revenue that your website would be missing out on.
If you are like many successful online businesses, you are investing in paid advertising. Whether that is through paid platforms such as Google or utilizing the many facets of Paid Social Media advertising, you are aware of the time, cost, and benefits that these platforms present. It is here that creative has the biggest opportunity to measure ROI as it plays a very important role in getting your target audience to stop scrolling through their monotonous feed and actually click on your collateral. Essentially, It is up to your strategist to cook up creative ways to find the customers and your design to drive a user to click on your ads.
You can easily run the same campaign with the same targeting and budget, but test the messaging and creative to see which performs the best. The design and messaging of your ads are the most malleable and risk adverse factor that can affect the CPA and ROAS. You then continue to optimize, optimize, optimize as you collect more data.
“Data tells you who your audience is, what they want, and where they are. Creativity is how you reach them.”
There are other intrinsic metrics that should also be considered such as social media following, engagement, and revenue by channel. Social Media is quickly becoming the king/queen platform for brands to connect with their customers. Instagram profiles are turning into gold mines for ecommerce brands that invest in the look, feel, design, and message of their account. Your ability to interact with your customers on a social level, let alone evoke some sort of emotion when viewing your content, can influence not only your brand but your revenue as well.
Dollar Shave Club and MVMT Watches are great case studies of what you can achieve with a well thought-out and creative approach to social branding and selling.
If you haven’t figured it out by now, proving the worth and specific ROI to clients, decision makers, and stakeholders is not going to be an easy task. It isn’t easy to convince data-driven individuals that creative is subjective and cannot always be boiled down to a data point. You just need to be creative in your approach and really dig into the data you have available. A small, but important piece of advice would be to educate stakeholders on the necessity of creative and its emotional appeal to customers for the long-term success of a business rather than short-term wins.
The increasing importance of social media and experience-based products means design is more important now than ever before. With creative thinking and thoughtful engagement with technology, meaningful ROI for your creative input is possible.