All marketing is integrated, even if it is unintentional, poorly done or working against itself. Marketing activity does not happen in a vacuum void of other influences.

What is the ROI of your social media activity? What is the ROI of search? What is the ROI of TV? Most marketers don’t actually know.

Traditional marketing organizational structures and measurements are built around individual components. Integrated marketing measurement requires focusing on the final outcome.

Imagine if you took the best individual ingredients, judged on their own merits, and made lasagna. Here are some of the ingredients my lasagna would have:

  • Blue Cheese and Very Sharp Cheddar
  • Spicy Pork Sausage
  • Tomato Sauce with extra Basil and Fresh Tomatoes
  • Noodles (actually, I prefer corn tortillas and a Mexican style lasagna, but we will keep a little tradition here)

Each individual ingredient is excellent, but the combination is horrific. (No, I’m not going to try it). By focusing on the ingredients, I created something far less valuable than its ingredients.

Like lasagna, marketing needs to be judged by the overall outcome, not the individual components.
If your effort to improve an individual part of your integrated marketing mix isn’t improving the whole of your integrated marketing or your understanding of your marketing, then it has no ROI.

Here are two examples that will be familiar to people involved in online advertising in the last decade:

1. Search attribution. Search can be prompted by, and therefore often captures the response to, other online and offline marketing. The ability of online advertising and TV to lift search results is well documented. DRTV or online display campaigns managed in a silo may be prematurely cancelled. Likewise, search may receive larger budgets because it appears to be far more cost effective than it actually is.

2. Viewthrough tracking. If a company begins using an ad network and includes viewthroughs in their tracking, performance can be dramatically overstated. I once worked with a client that was seeing flat revenue, but the online marketing group, based on viewthrough tracking metrics, was claiming they had increased business by about 20%.

If you are measuring marketing activity in a silo, you are not measuring ROI. In fact, the measurement may be dangerous, providing bad data and leading to bad decisions. Measurement of individual marketing channels or activities provides information, not results. [Tweet]

So you want real social media ROI? Focus on the lasagna.

Thanks to Joellyn Sargent (@BrandSprout) for the the lasagna analogy and inspiration for this post!

Your Turn

Do you measure marketing through to the bottom line? Or are you confident measuring marketing activities individually moves your business in the right direction? Share your reaction in the comments below or with me on Twitter (@wittlake).