Written by Tanesha Stafford, co-founder, Armchair Marketing & Leebot 
Updated Friday, 9th August 2019.

“Explain it to me like I’m a 5 year old” ????my mate Jimmy said.

As the co-founder of one of the UK’s most exclusive automotive advertising agencies, working with some of the worlds best automotive brands, it might actually surprise you to know that even the biggest and best spenders i’ve worked with are challenged when it comes to reporting ROI to key stake-holders.

These are some of the smartest people I’ve worked with, so is it lack of knowledge?  Not a chance.  Some of these guys can make the kettle boil with a spreadsheet and could rival Carol Vorderman herself.

“ROI means that if I give you money, you give me more back – but you can keep a nice wedge for yourself”  I told Jimmy, my sounding board for things I don’t want to complicate.

Simple enough, right?

But here’s the catch…

ROI is variable, bendy, tricky and if you do it correctly, you might never see the light of day again, ever.

Is ROI important?
You bet.

Who does it well?
Usually the global giants.

Do they get it right?
Nope.  Take Google for example.  50,000 of the worlds brightest boffins – and they can’t figure out how to track a person who clicks a Google advert into the store where they make their final purchase.

So if the world’s biggest brains are putting some guess-work in, allow humble ol’ me to give you categoric, definitive permission to not beat yourself up over something that isn’t yet possible.



So how do you make awesome decisions and keep your key stake-holders on the same page?

A little while ago, I introduced some terminology into new client meetings, that seemed to get pulses racing (well, some people giggled and said it was a good way of looking at it).

“What most people need, is not detailed ROI, but… ROI Sign Posts. “

ROI Sign Posts

So allow me to show you just how we walk down the funnel with some of the biggest and best and I *hope* it gives you some insight on how best to communicate to your key stake-holders, and help them to understand what’s hot, and what’s not.


If you want to understand true value of your advertising investment:

  1. Look holistically at the full impact and communicate it to key stake-holders.
  2. Use common sense.  Seriously.
  3. List the channels who’s performance you know the least about (because it’s 2019, and you don’t need to fly blind anymore).  Relegate one or two, exchanging the advertising budget into channels that perform statistically well.
  4. Reduce any channel that can’t be tracked or measured.
  5. Understand which channels give you true value, and which channels hold back a bit of the value for themselves (some will send you enquiries, but wont send you the website visitor, so that they can look around at all of your products).

There’s a lot of leaked value in reporting.

A light and un-representative ROI measurement looks like this:
Advert cost: £1,500
Website Visits: 1987

You can go really sophisticated, but this is where I recommend ROI Sign Posts:    Advert cost: £1,500
Website Visits: 1987
Local Impressions: 33,450
People who engaged with the adverts: 45,897
Total cars for sale viewed on website 1987
Time on site: 2.32
Map views: 141
Page prints: 32
Email alert sign ups: 14

  • Which one do you think provides the best insight to make a financial and data-driven decision?
  • Does it make sense that people would download or print a map to drive to see you as ‘footfall’ into your dealership?
  • If 9 out of 10 journeys begin online, and 9 out of 10 take place offline (Comscore, Yahoo, Google), isn’t it a sensible conclusion that the more you advertise online, the more likely you will see people offline?

The leaked value can mean that it’s hard for the key stake-holders to make decisions – and I don’t blame them – the internet is already complicated enough.

Here’s a few focus-areas I use to help my customers to better figure out what’s working, and what advertising stinks.

People who engage with your advert:
Just because someone didn’t click your advert, doesn’t mean that it didn’t work.  Have you ever seen a brand, taken no action, and then later recalled that brand when it’s time to shop till you drop?

Website Visitors:
Getting visitors to your website is important, but it’s also important to understand how they are interacting with your website. Website analytics (the tracking of traffic to and on a website) helps website owners understand their online customers, potential customers and their interactions with their site.

Conversion rate:
Conversion rate varies from company to company.

We actually made a bit of science tech stuff to see how conversion rate varies from business to business.  It’s free.

You can try it here: ROI Predictive Model

Things that effect conversion rate: 

Sound familiar?  I often spend time helping marketing teams communicate to website development teams about the urgent need to improve the website experience overall.

Use good, common-sense judgement to determine ROI – focus on reducing any channel that can’t be measured, they are the easiest wins to get more bang for your buck.

If you focus too much on a few statistics, you will be losing sight of the variables.

6 variables that effect advertising performance, that aren’t in any text books. 

More?  You want more?

Find out why it’s easier to clone a sheep than it is to replicate a result.

How do you know if your on-line advertising is contributing to offline sales?