ROA: The Most Important Marketing Metric in 2017

Blog Post
January 12, 2017

Cashier provides ROA, the most important marketing metric

We’ve been discussing the importance of meeting customer demands for context and personalization in 2017. So far, we have established that we need to think beyond one-to-one marketing and focus on the small data to succeed in this Age of ‘Me,’.

The next area all marketing leaders must critically examine this year is content. Analyst Rebecca Lieb recently said,Context will be the foundation of the next phase of content marketing.” I agree, and context can be achieved by matching small data with small messaging.

Match Small Data with Small Messaging

We are living in an attention-based economy. There is real value to getting some of my attention, so you, as a marketer, better provide me something relevant and valuable in return.

This places a whole different obligation on marketing. Marketing itself has to impart value in the interaction separate from whether or not the consumer actually does business with you. This is a very challenging thought as a marketer. Once—and only once—you have shared value with the prospective customer, you can then start engaging in dialog about doing business with you. The point of content should always be first to inform, then dialog, then sell.

We call this providing return on attention (ROA) for the consumer. It’s the most important marketing metric, and it can only be achieved by matching the small data you’ve gathered to small messaging. Contextual interactions are achieved by understanding who your customer is in the moment (through the small data) and matching the exact right message to her needs in the right moment—or at least as close as we can get (small messaging).

Measuring Content with ROA

The success of our content therefore needs to be measured by return on attention (ROA). There are two sides to measuring ROA. The first is having an understanding of whether or not your content actually provided some value for those that interfaced with it. Second, did getting their attention get you a better, faster buyer? While it’s simply arrogant to think we can change a buyer’s individual journey to purchase, we can make the buyer journey more effective, remove obstacles, and accelerate the buyer down the path to purchase.

This is really new. We’re currently grappling with how to quantify and measure ROA, and it’s something we’ll continue to explore in 2017.

For more insight on ROA, check out this article by John Hagel on Then make sure to read the last post in my 2017 recommendations series next week: CMOs: This is the Year to Focus on Artificial Intelligence.