16 Minute Read
Posted by SocialSellinator Team on May 16, 2024 6:45:00 PM


How do you calculate marketing ROI? This is the question every marketer asks to understand if their efforts are paying off.

To quickly understand how to calculate marketing ROI:

  1. Identify Your Revenue: Track the total income generated from your marketing efforts.
  2. Calculate Marketing Costs: Sum up all expenses related to the campaign.
  3. Apply the Formula: ROI = [(Revenue - Marketing Cost) / Marketing Cost] x 100

Marketing ROI is crucial because it measures the profitability of your marketing campaigns. It helps you determine if your marketing dollars are yielding adequate returns. A positive ROI means your campaign generated more revenue than it cost, making it successful.

However, measuring marketing ROI isn’t always straightforward. With multiple channels and touchpoints, determining the exact contribution of each campaign can be challenging.

We will explore these complexities and offer step-by-step guidance to ensure you navigate your marketing efforts with confidence.

Infographic showing steps to calculate marketing ROI: Identify Revenue, Calculate Marketing Costs, Apply the ROI Formula. - how do you calculate marketing roi infographic infographic-line-3-steps

Understanding Marketing ROI

What is Marketing ROI?

Marketing Return on Investment (ROI) is a metric that evaluates the efficiency and profitability of your marketing activities. It's a simple ratio that tells you how much revenue your marketing efforts generate compared to the cost of those efforts.

Importance of Marketing ROI

Understanding your Marketing ROI is crucial for several reasons:

  • Justify Marketing Spend: It helps you justify your marketing budget to stakeholders by showing the revenue generated from your investments.
  • Measure Campaign Success: It enables you to measure the success of your marketing campaigns and make data-driven decisions.
  • Allocate Budget Effectively: It guides you in allocating your marketing budget to the most effective channels.
  • Competitive Analysis: It allows you to compare your performance with competitors and adjust your strategy accordingly.

Difference Between ROI and ROAS

While both ROI and ROAS (Return on Ad Spend) are used to measure the effectiveness of marketing efforts, they serve different purposes.

  • ROI: Measures the overall profitability of your marketing activities. It considers all costs, including production and operational expenses.

Formula: [(\text{Revenue} - \text{Marketing Cost}) / \text{Marketing Cost} \times 100\%]

  • ROAS: Focuses specifically on the revenue generated from advertising spend. It doesn't account for other costs like production or staff wages.

Formula: [\text{Revenue from Ads} / \text{Cost of Ads}]

For instance, if you spend $200 on a marketing campaign and generate $2,000 in revenue, your ROI would be 900%. [((2000 - 200) / 200) \times 100\%]. However, if you only consider the ad spend, your ROAS would be 10x. [2000 / 200]

Understanding these differences helps you make more informed decisions about where to allocate your marketing resources.

Next, we'll dive into how to calculate Simple ROI and how to adjust it for more accurate insights.

Calculating Simple ROI

Calculating Simple ROI helps you understand the basic effectiveness of your marketing efforts. It's a straightforward way to see if your campaigns are bringing in more money than they cost.

Sales Growth

First, you need to determine your sales growth. This is the increase in revenue that can be attributed to your marketing campaign.

Example: If your business had $10,000 in sales before the campaign and $12,000 after, your sales growth is $2,000.

Marketing Cost

Next, calculate your total marketing cost. This includes everything you spent on the campaign, such as ad spend, content creation, and employee wages.

Example: If you spent $1,000 on ads, $500 on content creation, and $200 on employee wages, your total marketing cost is $1,700.

Simple ROI Formula

The formula to calculate Simple ROI is:

[ \text{Simple ROI} = \frac{(\text{Sales Growth} - \text{Marketing Cost})}{\text{Marketing Cost}} \times 100 ]

Example: 1. Sales Growth: $2,000 2. Marketing Cost: $1,700

[ \text{Simple ROI} = \frac{(2000 - 1700)}{1700} \times 100 = 17.65\% ]

This means for every dollar you spent on the campaign, you made a return of 17.65%.

Real-World Example

Let's look at a real-world example from a law firm specializing in housing-related cases. They wrote five blog posts about tenant rights, costing $900 in employee wages and $100 for promotion. The posts generated eight leads, with four converting into clients, each bringing in $2,000.

[ \text{Simple ROI} = \frac{(4 \times 2000 - 1000)}{1000} \times 100 = 700\% ]

This impressive ROI indicates that the law firm's blog strategy is highly effective.

Next, we'll explore how to adjust your ROI calculations to account for organic sales growth and other factors.

Calculating Campaign Attributable ROI

When calculating marketing ROI, it's important to distinguish between sales growth driven by your marketing efforts and sales that would have happened organically. This helps in getting a more accurate picture of your marketing campaign's true impact.

Organic Sales Growth

Organic sales growth refers to the increase in sales that would have occurred without any marketing efforts. Ignoring this can lead to overestimating the effectiveness of your campaigns.

Example: If your business typically sees a 10% increase in sales year-over-year due to factors like market growth or brand loyalty, this organic growth should be accounted for when calculating marketing ROI.

Adjusted Sales Growth

To get a more realistic measure of your marketing ROI, you need to adjust your sales growth by subtracting the organic sales growth. This provides the adjusted sales growth, which is directly attributable to your marketing efforts.

Formula: [ \text{Adjusted Sales Growth} = \text{Total Sales Growth} - \text{Organic Sales Growth} ]

Example: Suppose your total sales growth is $10,000, but $2,000 of that is from organic growth. Your adjusted sales growth would be: [ 10,000 - 2,000 = 8,000 ]

Critical Assumptions

When calculating campaign attributable ROI, several critical assumptions need to be considered:

  1. Baseline Sales: Establish a clear baseline of what your sales would look like without any marketing efforts.
  2. Time Frame: Ensure the time frame for organic growth and marketing efforts are the same.
  3. External Factors: Account for external factors like seasonality, economic conditions, or market trends that might influence sales.
  4. Multi-Touch Attribution: Understand that customers often interact with multiple touchpoints before making a purchase. Using a multi-touch attribution model helps in distributing credit accurately among various marketing channels.

Example: A user might see a Facebook ad, read a blog post, and then convert through a Google search six months later. Without multi-touch attribution, you might incorrectly attribute the sale solely to the Google search.

By adjusting for these factors, you can calculate a more accurate marketing ROI:

[ \text{Campaign Attributable ROI} = \frac{\text{Adjusted Sales Growth} - \text{Marketing Cost}}{\text{Marketing Cost}} ]

Example: If your adjusted sales growth is $8,000 and your marketing cost is $1,000, the formula would look like this: [ \frac{(8,000 - 1,000)}{1,000} \times 100 = 700\% ]

This figure shows a more realistic ROI, considering both organic growth and marketing efforts.

Next, we'll discuss the challenges you might face in measuring marketing ROI accurately and how to tackle them.

Challenges With Marketing ROI

Measuring Marketing ROI isn't always straightforward. There are several challenges that can make it difficult to get an accurate picture of your marketing efforts' effectiveness. Let's dive into some of these challenges:

Time Period

One major challenge is the time period over which you measure ROI. Marketing efforts often take time to show results. For example, a blog post might not generate leads immediately but could attract traffic and conversions over several months.

  • Example: A law firm writes five blog posts about tenant rights, spending $1,000. If these posts result in leads over six months, calculating ROI after just one month would give an incomplete picture.

To tackle this, consider measuring ROI over a longer period, such as six months to a year, to capture the full impact of your marketing efforts.

Multiple-Touch Process

Customers often interact with multiple touchpoints before converting. They might see an ad, read a blog post, sign up for a newsletter, and then finally make a purchase.

  • Fact: According to HubSpot, using tracking URLs can help you see how many visitors come to a landing page directly from a blog post or ad.

However, attributing ROI to a single touchpoint can be misleading. Use multi-touch attribution models to assign value to each interaction a customer has with your brand.

Soft Metrics

Soft metrics like social media likes, shares, and comments are important but don't directly translate to revenue. They can, however, indicate brand awareness and engagement.

While these metrics are valuable, they should complement, not replace, hard metrics like sales and leads when calculating ROI.

Brand Awareness

Brand awareness is another tricky area. Increasing brand awareness can lead to higher sales in the long run, but it's hard to measure its direct impact on ROI.

  • Statistic: 82% of marketers who blog see positive ROI in their Inbound Marketing strategy, according to HubSpot's 2018 State of Inbound Report.

To measure the impact of brand awareness, look at metrics like branded search lift, which shows an increase in search queries for your brand. This can help you understand the indirect benefits of your marketing efforts.

Next, we'll explore other ways to measure ROI, especially for campaigns aimed at generating sales leads or non-sales conversions.

Measuring ROI in Other Ways

Sales Leads

When your marketing campaigns are designed to generate sales leads, the focus shifts from immediate sales to potential future revenue. To measure ROI in this context, you need to estimate the dollar value of each lead. This involves multiplying the number of leads by your historical lead-to-customer conversion rate and the average sales price.

Example: If you generate 100 leads, have a conversion rate of 10%, and your average sale is $1,000, the estimated value of your leads is: [ \text{Lead Value} = 100 \times 0.10 \times \$1,000 = \$10,000 ]

ROI Calculation: If you spent $2,000 on the campaign, your ROI would be: [ \text{ROI} = \left( \frac{\$10,000 - \$2,000}{\$2,000} \right) \times 100 = 400\% ]

Hybrid Campaigns

Hybrid campaigns blend sales and non-sales goals, like generating email sign-ups or social media followers. These campaigns often use non-sales conversions as key performance indicators (KPIs).

Example: A mortgage broker runs a campaign offering free monthly real estate reports. Prospects sign up by providing their email addresses. Over time, the broker tracks how many of these sign-ups convert into paying customers.

To calculate ROI for hybrid campaigns, you'll need to track the conversion rate of these non-sales actions into actual sales.

ROI Calculation: If 500 people sign up, and 5% (25 people) eventually purchase a service worth $2,000 each, the revenue is: [ \text{Revenue} = 25 \times \$2,000 = \$50,000 ]

If the campaign cost $5,000, the ROI is: [ \text{ROI} = \left( \frac{\$50,000 - \$5,000}{\$5,000} \right) \times 100 = 900\% ]

Non-Sales Conversions

Non-sales conversions such as social media engagement, website traffic, and brand awareness can indirectly boost future sales. While these metrics don’t offer immediate financial returns, they can be vital for long-term growth.

Example: A company runs a social media campaign and gains 1,000 new followers. These followers may not purchase immediately, but increased engagement can lead to higher trust and eventual sales.

Measuring Impact: Track metrics like branded search lift and average position in search engine results to see if your brand awareness efforts are paying off.

ROI Insight: Although it’s challenging to quantify, you can use tools like Google Analytics to track how increased brand awareness correlates with long-term sales growth.

Case Study: Written Content

A law firm focusing on housing-related cases writes blog posts about tenant rights, including tracking URLs for free legal consultation requests. They spend $1,000 on the campaign and gain 8 leads, 4 of which convert into clients, each worth $2,000.

ROI Calculation: [ \text{ROI} = \left( \frac{(4 \times \$2,000) - \$1,000}{\$1,000} \right) \times 100 = 700\% ]

This example shows how content marketing can generate both immediate and long-term ROI.

Next, we'll dive into how to improve marketing ROI by defining clear goals, leveraging analytics tools, and more.

Improving Marketing ROI

Defining Clear Goals

The first step to improving your marketing ROI is to define clear, specific goals for each marketing channel. Ask yourself:

  • What are you looking to achieve?
  • Are you aiming for more Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) or Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs)?
  • Do you want to increase brand awareness or social media engagement?

Your goals should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. For example, instead of saying "increase social media engagement," a SMART goal would be "increase Instagram engagement by 20% over the next three months."

Determining Cost

Next, calculate the various costs involved in your marketing efforts to get a clearer measurement of ROI. These costs can include:

  • Software and website setup: Domain names, SSL certificates, hosting.
  • Marketing efforts: CRM systems, ad spend.
  • Personnel: Full-time employees, marketing consultants, agency fees.
  • Overhead: Distribution channels, inventory, storage.
  • Production costs: Content creation, video production, etc.

If you're launching a new marketing channel, give it time (6-12 months) to reach efficiency before lumping in all salaries and overhead costs. This will give you a more accurate ROI measurement.

Leveraging Analytics Tools

Analytics tools are crucial for unifying disparate data and providing clear insights. Tools like Google Analytics, HubSpot, and specialized ROI calculators can help you measure your marketing efforts more accurately.

For example, HubSpot offers an ROI calculator that simplifies the formula, making it easier to understand the impact of your campaigns. Using these tools, you can track metrics like customer lifetime value, conversion rates, and the number of quality leads.

Examples of Marketing ROI in Action

Email Marketing

A local cat daycare offers a weekly e-newsletter. A cat food company pays $100 to place an ad linking to their product page. They track 50 visitors from the newsletter, 20 add items to their cart, and 17 make a purchase.

ROI Calculation: [ \text{ROI} = \left( \frac{(20 \times 0.85 \times \$20) - \$100}{\$100} \right) \times 100 = 240\% ]

This high ROI indicates that the cat food company should continue investing in this newsletter.

Written Content

A law firm focusing on real-estate cases creates five blog posts about tenants' rights, spending $1,000 on content creation and promotion. They generate 8 leads, 4 of which convert into clients, each worth $2,000.

ROI Calculation: [ \text{ROI} = \left( \frac{(4 \times \$2,000) - \$1,000}{\$1,000} \right) \times 100 = 700\% ]

Given this high ROI, the firm might consider increasing the frequency of posts or adding video content to further boost results.

Paid Social Media Promotion

A lifestyle publication offers a one-month free trial to boost $10/month subscriptions. They create an Instagram post with a tracking URL leading to the free-trial page.

By tracking conversions from the Instagram post, they can calculate the ROI and decide if this strategy is worth continuing or needs adjustments.

Next, we’ll address some frequently asked questions about marketing ROI, such as what constitutes a good ROI and how to account for organic sales growth.

Frequently Asked Questions about Marketing ROI

What is a good marketing ROI?

A good marketing ROI can vary depending on your business goals and industry. However, a general rule of thumb is:

  • An ROI above 2 is considered acceptable.
  • An ROI above 5 is considered excellent.

For instance, if you spend $1,000 on a marketing campaign and it generates $5,000 in revenue, your ROI would be 4:1, or 400%. This is typically seen as a very successful campaign.

How do you account for organic sales growth?

Accounting for organic sales growth is essential for a more accurate marketing ROI calculation. Here's how you can do it:

  1. Calculate the average organic growth: Look at your sales data for the past 12 months to find the average monthly growth rate. For example, if your sales grew by 4% per month organically, you need to factor this in.

  2. Adjust your sales growth: Subtract the average organic growth from the total sales growth during the campaign period.

  3. Use the adjusted growth in your ROI formula: [ \text{ROI} = \frac{\text{Sales Growth} - \text{Average Organic Sales Growth} - \text{Marketing Cost}}{\text{Marketing Cost}} ]

For example, if your sales grew by $15,000 in a month due to a $10,000 marketing campaign, and $600 of that growth was organic (4%), your formula would be: [ \frac{15,000 - 600 - 10,000}{10,000} = 44\% ]

Can marketing ROI be negative?

Yes, marketing ROI can be negative. This happens when the cost of the marketing campaign exceeds the revenue generated from it.

For example, if you spend $1,000 on a campaign and it only generates $800 in revenue, your ROI would be: [ \frac{800 - 1,000}{1,000} = -20\% ]

A negative ROI indicates that the campaign was not financially successful. However, it's important to consider other factors such as brand awareness and customer engagement, which might not show immediate financial returns but can be valuable in the long run.

Next, we’ll conclude with how SocialSellinator can help you continuously improve and make strategic decisions based on marketing ROI insights.


At SocialSellinator, we understand that calculating marketing ROI is just the beginning. The real value lies in using these insights to drive continuous improvement and strategic decision-making.

Continuous Improvement

Marketing is not a "set it and forget it" activity. It requires constant monitoring and adjustment. By regularly calculating your ROI, you can identify what's working and what isn’t. This allows you to scale successful campaigns and tweak or eliminate underperforming ones. For example, if you notice that your blog posts generate high ROI, you might decide to produce more of them or invest in higher quality content.

Strategic Decision Making

ROI insights empower you to make informed decisions about where to allocate your marketing budget. Instead of relying on gut feelings, you can use data to guide your strategy. For instance, if your social media ads show a higher ROI than your email campaigns, it might be wise to shift more of your budget towards social media.

Moreover, understanding the nuances of ROI helps you set realistic goals. Knowing that a 300% ROI is a good benchmark for new campaigns can help you decide whether to pursue a new marketing strategy or stick with proven methods.

Partner with SocialSellinator

Navigating the complexities of marketing ROI can be daunting, but you don’t have to do it alone. At SocialSellinator, we specialize in helping businesses maximize their digital marketing returns. Our comprehensive services include social media management, content marketing, SEO optimization, and more.

We use advanced analytics and data-driven strategies to ensure you get the best possible results. Whether you're looking to improve your current campaigns or explore new marketing avenues, we’re here to help you every step of the way.

Ready to unlock the hidden formula for maximizing your digital marketing returns? Partner with SocialSellinator today and turn your marketing investments into profitable returns.

By focusing on continuous improvement and strategic decision-making, you can ensure that every dollar spent on marketing contributes to your business’s growth. Let SocialSellinator help you navigate this journey with expertise and precision.

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SocialSellinator Team

SocialSellinator is a full-service digital marketing agency for startups, small and mid-size B2B/B2C businesses. Our clients benefit from increased brand awareness and leads, created by our data-driven approach to social media marketing, content marketing, paid social media campaigns, and search engine optimization (SEO).