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What’s Your Marketing ROI? Know the Formula

When I was in college, my mother recruited me to help her send direct mail pieces to potential customers. She sold cars at the local Lincoln Mercury dealership, and snail mail was really the only budget-friendly marketing option back then. She would gather mailing lists from the chamber, our Lions club or other places, and my job was to customize letters using our fancy word processing typewriter, stuff the envelopes with a tip in card of some kind, lick the stamps and take the letters to the post office.

It was a lot of tedious work, but she told me that if just one or two people out of a hundred letters we sent came in to look for a car, it was worth the effort and expense. My mom was an exceptional salesperson, and once she had a customer buy a car from her, they came back for their next one and referred all their friends and family to come and buy from her too.

While my mother didn’t get a degree in marketing or sales, she was keenly aware of her marketing ROI and knew that the two best investments were the top of the funnel to get an opportunity and the bottom of the funnel – taking care of her existing customers and maximizing the face-to-face meeting experience.

When a customer came in for service, she would chit chat with them about their kids, their dog, news of the day – anything to reconnect and reinforce the relationship. They weren’t buying a car that day, but they would be eventually… and it was going to be from HER.

Fast forward to today.

Top of the funnel activities – social media, advertising, direct mail, website optimization and others – remain some of the most expensive and hardest to track ROI. Yes, you can track cookies, open and click-through rates or ask questions about how a customer came to you on a survey, but at the end of the day, does it really matter if your click through rate was off the charts if you aren’t closing any deals?


When counseling potential clients, we look at the most glaring and budget-friendly programs at the top of the funnel we can fix first. These could include putting their social media program on a regular care and feeding program, tweaking the website or getting an impactful email marketing campaign started.

But then, we must pivot to the bottom of the funnel activities that will have the biggest impact on revenue generation. After all, even the best-executed top of the funnel programs fall flat on their face if your sales team shows up with presentation that looks like a bag of day-old donuts. Therefore, we must take a hard look at messaging and the elevator pitch, the sales presentation materials, networking events or the follow-up protocols and approach.

Ultimately, your existing customers and employees will be the absolute highest value marketing program, yet so many organizations don’t place the same marketing emphasis on customer care or employee appreciation.

Maybe I just need to introduce them to my mother ❤.

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