How to Begin with Marketing Automation ROI Reports - dummies

How to Begin with Marketing Automation ROI Reports

By Mathew Sweezey

Most marketing automation tools have built-in return on investment (ROI) reporting for the majority of your marketing campaigns. You want to keep a few things in mind when setting up your ROI reporting. The following ROI reporting is available for the most utilized marketing channels:

  • ROI from email: Some people aren’t huge fans of ROI reports on email because many times email is used as a supporting campaign. You may prefer to look at how effective your email was at moving someone to the next step in her marketing life cycle.

    If, however, you are being judged on ROI, set up a few reports within your ROI reporting. Set up ROI reports for each type of email you send. This generally includes ROI on nurturing specific campaigns, ROI for newsletters, and ROI set up for other email blasts.

  • ROI from social campaigns: Tracking the ROI on your social campaigns can be a very tricky task. The best way to track ROI on your social campaigns is to use custom redirects or special URLs for your social assets. You can accomplish these tasks out of the box with some tools or by using UTM (Urchin Tracking Module) parameters.

  • ROI from SEO: When setting up your ROI reporting for SEO, you must attribute keyword searches to prospects. Doing so ensures that you can run a full ROI report on each key word. To set up your ROI reporting, use your default SEO report in your tool, or use URL parameters to parse this information.

    A person is likely to have many SEO searches throughout his or her research cycle. Keep track of the first SEO search term as well as all other search terms. These terms clue you in to which search terms are the most effective for finding new leads and supporting the buying cycle.

  • ROI from Google AdWords: You can set up reporting by account, campaign, ad groups, keywords, or individual ads. Looking at each of these levels helps you to prove the value of your marketing. Here is the structure of an AdWords account so that you can see how the ads are grouped together.


    • Account: Evaluating ROI on paid-per-click (PPC) marketing as a whole is best done by looking at the account level. This shows you the total ROI on all Google AdWords so that you can judge the effectiveness of your PPC marketing as a whole channel if you’d like.

    • Campaign: Reporting for campaigns controls your settings and your budget. Looking at the ROI of campaigns helps you to understand whether you should refine your targeting. You can set up the ROI on campaigns natively, through your tool, or by passing information in the URL.


    • Ad groups: You can set up your ad groups reporting by customizing your reporting tool inside your marketing automation tool, or by setting it up the same way as campaign tracking, using URL parameters.

    • Keywords: Evaluating the ROI on the keywords in your paid search programs is accomplished out of the box with your marketing tool, or you can set it up by adding parameters to your URL, as in campaign reporting.

    • Advertisements: Setting up the ROI for your advertisements is either a default in your tool or requires setting up custom URL parameters or custom reporting. It is not suggested evaluating the ROI on your ads, but rather the engagement and the amount of opportunities being created. These aspects should be much easier to track than ROI if you do not have this as a standard report in your tool.


The easiest way to track any PPC campaign is always by tracking the URL. Learning to use custom redirects and setting up specific campaigns for each is by far the simplest way to track ROI on a paid search campaign.

Creating a specific campaign for each keyword is done manually, which is why it does not scale to hundreds of search terms, but works for those who have a limited number of paid search ads.

You won’t need to create a specific campaign for each keyword if your marketing automation tool is integrated with your PPC channel, but most marketing automation tools integrate only with Google AdWords, which means that creating a specific URL for other PPC channels may be the best and only way to track those PPC channels’ effectiveness.

ROI reporting on paid search campaigns will be very difficult to do at scale if you don’t have this as a standard feature in your marketing automation tool. Parsing URL parameters has been mentioned, but it’s not an entry-level task, although tech-savvy marketers can handle it.

If, however, you are at this level of reporting, make sure that you choose a tool that can accomplish parsing URL parameters out of the box. Doing so will remove a ton of manual labor from your workflow.