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5 Signs You Need to Start Tracking Marketing ROI The good news is that your marketing is likely making an impact. But you might not be measuring it as you should.

By Tiffany Monhollon Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Have you ever been so overwhelmed with running your business that you barely have time to do the very minimum when it comes to staying up with what's new in marketing and managing vendors? Sometimes it's so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day that you overlook a critical aspect of marketing -- measuring your return on investment (ROI).

Here are five signs you might just need a system to track your marketing ROI so you can make sure you're getting the most out of your investment.

Related: 10 Questions to Ask When Measuring Your Social Media ROI

1. You don't know what matters -- or why -- on your marketing reports

If it seems like an advanced degree would be helpful when trying to make sense of your marketing results, you're not alone. Making sense of all the numbers (and terms) in marketing measurement can be complex, and it's easy to focus on vanity metrics and get distracted from the numbers that really matter.

Even when you can get answers beyond just clicks and impressions and see real results like visits and calls, how do you know these are driving a tangible ROI?

The answer is being able to tie metrics such as visits and calls to deeper metrics like how these leads are turning into customers. You can look for more meaningful metrics and reports through technology like lead conversion software, which tracks insights like what marketing sources are driving contacts and leads and then measures your ROI for new sales you close from this marketing.

2. You aren't sure what sources are actually driving leads

How many phone calls did your latest billboard on the highway drive? Can you compare that to how many calls you got from your search advertising campaign?

If you think this is a trick question, it might be time to upgrade to a marketing system that tracks these details on a routine basis and provides you with 24/7 reports. With advanced technology, even small businesses can get this info, and doing so can provide huge dividends. Getting details like the dates and times you have a high call volume and recordings of the phone calls your marketing drives can help you make smarter business and marketing decisions.

Armed with call volume details, you might be able to better plan your staffing to handle sales inquiries or invest in a phone service to create a better experience for callers when your office is closed. All of this can help lead to happier leads, more closed sales and a better ROI -- that you can actually measure.

3. You can't tell if your marketing is actually driving sales

How many new customers did you close thanks to your marketing last month?

If you can't answer that, you need a system to help you track your marketing results. When you can connect the dots from your marketing to your lead management to your new sales, you can finally see a clearer picture of how your marketing is boosting the bottom line by driving you customers.

Related: Why ROI is, Literally, the Last Metric for Evaluating Your Content-Marketing Plan

4. You rely on Post-Its and memory to track conversions and sales

How are you answering the question about what marketing sources drove customers to your business today? If the answer is new customer forms, Post-It notes, memory or all of the above, it's time to put a technology system in place to measure this key question in marketing ROI.

Look for a system that manages and records the whole conversion process -- from citing the source of every conversion like a phone call, email or web form, to capturing the lead's contact information in one digital system, to letting you track leads through to customers.

When you have all this information in one, easily-accessible, digital place, you can not only get better results from your marketing because you know a lot about your leads, but also you can see how this process is driving customers to your business and get a better view of your ROI.

5. When it comes to ROI, you think the 'I' stands for 'intuition'

There's definitely something to be said for intuition when it comes to running your business. But, when it comes to managing your marketing -- something that can and should be measured -- it's important to make sure that intuition isn't your only guide. Instead, you should make sure your marketing vendors are providing clear reports that help you see how your marketing programs impacted the bottom line.

Think about it like this: Does it matter how many clicks you got on an ad if you can't tell how many times the phone actually rang in your business as a result? Technology exists to give local businesses this kind of insight. Through technologies like lead conversion software, you can finally get clear answers about what marketing sources are driving tangible results, so you can use real data and insights -- along with your intuition -- to make smarter, more informed decisions about where to invest in marketing.

What would you do with real ROI insights?

The reality is, there will always be some benefits of marketing that simply aren't trackable: Brand awareness from people who see your ads but don't click; buzz from those who talk about your business on social media but didn't fill out a form on your landing page; latent conversions when people interact with or are influenced by multiple marketing sources but convert on just one of them.

The good news here is that a lot of your marketing is likely making an impact that you might not be able to measure. But that's no excuse for not measuring all the things you can -- and should -- be measuring.

If any of these scenarios sound like you, it might be time to invest in a system that actually tracks your marketing ROI, so you can see how your marketing is driving you leads and customers -- and invest more in what's working.

Related: Online Marketing Gets All the Buzz But Check Out the ROI for Live Events

Tiffany Monhollon

Director of content marketing at ReachLocal

Tiffany Monhollon is an award-winning content, community and social media marketing strategist who is passionate about helping businesses and professionals succeed online, currently serving as director of content marketing at ReachLocal and as vice president of programming for Social Media Club of Dallas.

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