Measuring the ROI of Your Cause Marketing Program - dummies

Measuring the ROI of Your Cause Marketing Program

By Joe Waters, Joanna MacDonald

Everyone talks about how great cause marketing is for causes and companies, but how do you measure greatness, the return on investment (ROI), when the program is over? If your cause or company is like most, you don’t have money to invest in focus groups or market research to determine whether a program has really enhanced a cause’s visibility or improved a company’s favorability with customers.

You can use inexpensive but effective ways to measure the impact of your program beyond the obvious result of how much it raised. Start with these questions:

  • Did your program have a tangible goal that you can measure? This is the easiest measurement and where you should begin. It’s also one that will make you feel really good! Many cause marketing programs have a tangible outcome from supporting the program.

    For example, when Facebook users Liked Woodchuck Cider’s page, they pledged to plant two trees with American Forest. By the end of the program, Woodchuck had pledged to plant 13,618 trees. That’s a number supporters can get their arms and hearts around.

  • Overall, how was the program received? Did customers and employees respond favorably to the program? If it was point-of-sale, did you get many complaints from shoppers about being asked to give at the register? Did employees complain that the program was hard to sell, complicated, even painful for them to execute? Also, don’t hesitate to speak with several regular customers for their perspective.

  • What about employee engagement? Getting hard numbers on customer engagement with cause marketing promotions can be complicated and expensive. But understanding the impact of cause marketing on employees is easier as the audience is smaller and accessible. Talk to your managers and rank and file employees about the program. Customers aren’t the only ones that benefit from cause marketing. It can also boost employee satisfaction and loyalty, which has its own bottom-line benefit.

  • How many coupons were redeemed? Coupons are a regular part of many cause marketing programs. They offer great value to the consumer and are a good gauge of consumer interest in the program. Particularly if the coupons on your pinups can’t be used immediately. Shoppers must use them on their next visit or during the following month.


    Not only can retailers track their redemptions, but they can also track — with a small numerical code on the back of each coupon — coupons distributed by other retailers in the program. Redemptions demonstrate consumer interest in the program and the power of combining cause marketing with cross-promotion.

  • Did you take the promotion out of the store? Cause marketing programs are rarely one-dimensional. You can combine in-store promotions, such as pinups or purchase-triggered donations, with special events, social media, and traditional TV, radio, and print.

    In short, have a lot to measure and share with partners. If you can, don’t limit your program to just one element, such as point of sale. It’s easy for one thing to go wrong. You want to have a lot of areas to evaluate and many successes to brag about.

  • Did you get your money’s worth? You should always throw this question out to a partner because the most lucrative cause marketing program is the one for which you don’t have any expenses to account. Save this for the final point to your partner after you’ve shared the many rewards of the program. To it, add, “Oh, yeah, and it was free. Great ROI, right?”