ROMO: a new era needs new marketing metrics

I was fortunate enough to attend the TechTarget Online ROI summit in San Francisco recently. I can definitely recommend this event as one of the best places to meet like-minded individuals if you happen to work in tech marketing.

ROMO: your flexible friend
In the opening presentation, TechTarget’s Marilou Barsam, SVP of Client Consulting and Corporate Marketing highlighted what she sees as the big changes in online marketing to IT professionals. She brought up the interesting point that the metrics we use to measure campaigns do have a significant impact on the way we plan, execute and decide whether or not we see our campaigns as successful.

We are now developing campaigns more as interactive spaces rather than just simple point-and-click download documents. Throw social media into the mix and you have much more immersive experiences for the audience. For a given topic (say SOA integration), you may have video demos, blog posts, white papers and standard web pages. All work well to generate awareness and promote engagement, but cannot easily be measured using old school direct response techniques. You need metrics that measure engagement and awareness. This is the move away from ROI (return on investment) towards ROMO (return on marketing objectives). This metric is more fluid and can be adapted to the situation.

As far as I can tell, Marilou is advocating a move towards the metrics used by the media industry: average time on site, returning visitor ratio (and what those visitors who visit regularly do) and average page views per visit. Video and audio content introduce their own demands: rather than just clicks, you need to know the length of time people spend on these media. This makes particular sense for campaigns that are driving either awareness or interest. The one drawback I see in moving to this more flexible ROMO framework is how to compare different campaigns. If you aren’t using consistent metrics site-wide, then how can you gauge relative success?

Marketing is oh so passe, dahling
Somewhat related to ROMO is the move in marketing content towards media models. The argument here is that the straightforward logic (that underpins so many marketing campaigns targeting IT professionals) is becoming increasingly irrelevant. The campaigns that win out are the ones that include both logic and emotion. In this context, drama and humor have a strong part to play.

I suspect we’ll see this trend play out in the next few years. Company websites will start to borrow more from online media sites – both in terms of the type of content on offer and how that content is presented. For instance over the last few years we have seen a proliferation in video footage, blogs, podcasts – just for starters, all these tools need to be more fully integrated into corporate websites.

2 thoughts on “ROMO: a new era needs new marketing metrics”

  1. Hello Daryl-

    I am a member of Marilou’s team at TechTarget and I came across your post. I am glad that it looks like you got alot out of the event. In terms of Marilou’s comments regarding ROMO, it looks like you are looking for a bit of clarification here. Your question regarding relative success is valid. We are not advocating ROMO be an objective analysis. ROMO by its very nature needs to be a subjective analysis, so the problem of comparing different campaigns persists. The key is not to compare different campaigns against each other, but compare each campaign to what you specifically you want to get out of the program. This involves looking at a combination of traditional and newer metrics models.

    This is precisely the point you astutely make in your post about campaigns that include both logic and emotion. Newer media formats give you the opportunity to move beyond the traditional and to really get to the bottom of what makes your prospects tick.

    Great post. look forward to reading more in your blog moving forward.

  2. Thanks for the clarification, Garrett. As our media gets richer, we definitely need richer ways of measuring its effectiveness.

    I’m interested in looking more into media measurement models. How big online media properties (such as yourselves?) really figure out what is the most effective content, especially given that this could be expressed in different ways – ie. how long a video has been watched, how many comments it gets (with sentiment analysis)… the list goes on.

    I’m sure we as marketers will need to understand this more as time goes on.

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