In the digital era, all you need is creative thinking and data to gauge the effect you’ve had on sales, says Felix Velarde

Fmcg marketing is hard, isn’t it? As brands, you don’t aim your marketing to the people who buy your products - you’re doing work you want retailers to do. You’re also competing with retailers aspiring to be brand owners.

The indirect path to sales means it has been difficult to gauge the success of marketing. Because you spend £300,000 on a TV ad and your sales are three million, it would be useful to think your ROI was 10 to one. But there are so many other factors (and costs) that attribution is nigh-on impossible.

It is frustrating that brand consideration, the old advertising-oriented KPI, remains the principal yardstick for marketers when digital allows us to track everything in the communication journey when the consumer clicked on a listing in Google, visited the brand website, opted into emails, opened, clicked and selected a voucher, redeemed it. It’s what the finance industry calls “straight-through processing” and in marketing terms it’s pure eCRM.

If you’re a retailer, the end of this journey is a sale. You can then say with confidence: “I put in £1 and £26 came out.” But if you’re an fmcg brand, to get attribution you need to deploy a bit of creative thinking.

First you need a benchmark. You need a database of your consumers 10,000 is plenty and some real general population sales data, segmented into meaningful customer groups. You can buy this from Nectar or Dunnhumby. You then need to segment your own customer data exactly the same way so it’s comparable. On day one, you look at purchase behaviour in your base versus that in the same segment in the general population.

Run your eCRM campaign. Then ask the same people about their behaviour. If the behaviour in your base has changed and that of the population hasn’t, then you have effectively isolated the results of your marketing you actually know the effect you have had on sales.

We’ve done this for McCain Foods. Purchase frequency over six months has gone up 3%. Imagine how much extra revenue you could be generating. Fmcg marketing may be indirect but with creative thinking it sure can be lucrative.