ROI and ZMOT – depends on the question you’re asking

ZMOT eBookIt’s just over five weeks since our page on ROI went live, and I got grilled on the topic during Social Media Week. Overwhelmingly, the feedback can be categorised with just one keyword, or one acronym to be precise – ZMOT.

The truth – well perhaps a fraction of it at least

For those unfamiliar with these four letters, they stand for Zero Moment Of Truth, an e-book Google published in 2011.

The follow-up ZMOT Handbook (available at the same URL) summarises the main cause for consideration here. In Section 4.2, Join The Attribution Revolution, the Handbook asks: “What do people see that makes them want to buy?”

The question is answered with reference to Google’s multi-channel attribution capabilities:

Unlike channel-specific measurements, multi-channel attribution doesn’t spit out binary results — paid search or display. It jumps silos to analyze how channels work together. At last, you can tell the CMO how your email, SEO and social campaigns helped a sale that got “closed” by paid search.

As more attribution technology has rolled out, adoption has passed a tipping point. We predict that over the next few years, attribution will become standard procedure in digital marketing departments in the mid-market and above.

Such capability is immensely powerful, of that we are in no doubt. Indeed, we help clients define, set-up and manage multi-channel attribution. But here’s two reasons why ZMOT does not contradict our assertions here.

1. Multi-channel attribution still requires guesswork – or a set of assumptions more kindly – in assigning or designing an attribution model.

2. Multi-channel attribution, as unprecedented and as powerful as it is, still only encompasses a minority of the aspects we sought to address on our ROI page.

If you want to optimise your investment across such aspects as email, SEO, SEM and social campaigns, then this is how you do it. But you must still recognise that this doesn’t include your wider investment decisions. It becomes increasingly obvious when gearing up to become a social business, as if it wasn’t before, that everything an organization does is connected.

So you have a hundred bucks to invest in your business. Once you’ve decided to invest a dozen of those little green fellas in the likes of email, SEO, SEM and social campaigns, you can optimize the heck out of it. But how did you decide on the dozen? Why not fifteen?

Ah, because that would have cut into R&D. Perhaps it would have resulted in a reduced facility to be influenced by external stakeholders systematically (the third of the Six Influence Flows). Perhaps that charitable work you used to describe as corporate social responsibility – until your transition to social business brought the work new meaning – could do with fresh investment? What if investing in recruiting the right calibre of employee takes priority right now over recruiting new customers? What if investing in enterprise collaboration technology is the way to go?

ROI – the big picture

In summary, our page on ROI isn’t necessarily about dividing up the budget between different digital marketing channels as effectively as possible. It’s about determining the overall contribution those marketing channels make in the bigger scheme of things – in the wider scope of all six of the Six Influence Flows.

ZMOT asks: “What do people see that makes them want to buy?”.

The actual question ZMOT answers is: “All other things being equal, what do people see that makes them want to buy?”

A more accurate and useful question is: “All other things being equal, what influences people’s purchasing decisions?”

And the bigger question is: “What is the optimal balance of investments across the business to maximise sales and gross profit in the short-, medium- and long-terms?”

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