What I find missing from many ROI calculator equations is any mention of the work needed on the front-end of planning and executing a marketing campaign. Before anyone can tell you what activity is the best to invest in, they should able to speak to the most pressing question every person should ask: why?
Why choose an email over a web advertisement? Why target 500 customers vs. 5000? Why is the campaign built to cover one month vs. one quarter, or the entire year? If there is not a sound reason, based on the ideas mentioned above, then it begs another question—why am I even doing this?
The end goal of most campaigns is to increase sales. While there are certainly many campaigns geared at increasing overall brand awareness, signing customers up for some type of loyalty program or another type of qualitative metric, sales is often the driving factor.
Some things to consider as best practices on predicting ROI and presenting expected results on the front end include knowing the timeframe of the campaign you want to launch. This allows you to set a baseline when measuring results. If you are running a one-month campaign in December and you want to increase sales, you would use the sales from November (any trends being taken into account, of course, for seasonality), or use the sales from December of the previous year. To accurately define your baseline, you must have identified a target audience first. Also, knowing your customers is extremely important. What trends can you identify—like average order size, seasonal buying patterns and geographic regions. These all play a key role in developing your campaigns and predicting ROI.
There are obviously some assumptions that are made long-term, but if you have done your research and built a solid plan based on that research, you will be more successful in not only predicting ROI, but delivering on it. Marketo has done a good job of describing how to use analytics to build better marketing proposals and can serve as a great resource.
Tom Mayhew helps manage the Tech Data Cloud and Service Provider go-to-market strategies, and works closely with vendor partners to identify, understand and act upon market trends to build out more successful marketing plans.