With 2020 accelerating global digitization, organizations realize the impending need to invest in digital advertising. Back in 2018, the total national ad spend exceeded $125 billion – and it is predicted to increase further.
With rising expenditure comes increased scrutiny. With cutthroat competition, not every ad campaign can drive conversions and offer adequate ROI.
So, how do you know if the money you’re investing is generating revenue or not?
This is where ROAS comes in. ROAS, or return on ad spend, is a metric for online advertisers, enabling them to track the money they make.
By calculating ROAS, you will know how many dollars you earn for each dollar spent. Additionally, it will determine which ad strategies and techniques work well so that you can apply those to your other ad campaigns.
ROI, or return on investment, is a business-centric metric used to evaluate the effectiveness of your marketing efforts as a whole. It helps you understand how ads are contributing to your overall business finances and profit.
On the other hand, ROAS assesses the performance of specific campaigns, ad groups, or keywords. As it focuses on individual advertising campaigns, ROAS is an ad-centric metric. It measures the gross revenue generated based on each dollar spent on ads. This way, you can learn which of your paid ad campaigns are useful and which ones you need to stop pouring money into.
To calculate ROAS for Pay-Per-Click (PPC) ads, you need to know the total PPC revenue generated by your ad strategy and the total cost of managing your ad strategy.
This includes revenue you earn from all different sources, such as product purchases and lead conversions.
Similarly, your cost includes all the expenses you incur when running your ads, such as Cost-Per-Click (CPC), management fees, software upgrades, and partner/vendor costs. Additionally, if you have purchased clicks and impressions, they will add to your expenses.
Now that you have these two figures, you just have to plug them into the ROAS formula.
There are two formulas you can use:
Divide the revenue you made from your ad campaign with the amount you spent to run your ad.
So, for example, you spend $200 on a PPC campaign and make $400 in return. Adding these values to the formula will give you a ROAS of $2. This means you’re making $2 for every $1 you spend.
However, calculating ROAS through this formula only gives you a general overview. It doesn’t tell you the overall profitability of your campaign.
So, for example, you spend $200 and make $400. But your vendor fees also cost $50. Then, the ROAS you calculate will not accurately depict the return you get.
For this reason, it’s better to use the second formula.
If you subtract your cost from the revenue before dividing the result by the cost, it will give you an adequate ROAS.
This formula doesn’t require you to evaluate any new values since it only needs the total revenue and cost. And plugging values in this formula will help you determine your marketing budgets effectively.
ROAS is a metric that needs to be tracked regularly. Ideally, you should track your ROAS throughout the ad campaign instead of at one particular time.
Although there are many indicators you can utilize to assess the success of your marketing campaigns, the end goal of your business is to earn more money.
This means tracking conversions and sales isn’t enough on its own; you need to fit them within your ROAS tracking mechanism.
But first, you need to calculate your revenue. And you can do it by following the two steps below.
The first step is to track your conversions. And you can easily do that on online advertising platforms like Google Ads, Facebook, Twitter, and Bing Ads.
All you need to do is use these platforms to set up an ad campaign and conversion tracking. If you’re using Google Ads, you can even track phone call conversions.
This way, you will know which clicks on your PPC ads led to which purchases. In addition, you will stay updated on your conversion rates and purchases that result from ad clicks.
The next step is to connect your online advertising platform to customer relationship management (CRM) software.
By doing this, you can tie all your marketing data to a new lead. Hence, when a lead converts into a customer, you’ll know exactly which marketing efforts led to the sale.
So, by tracking your conversions and sales, you get access to your revenue data. Simultaneously, the advertising software you use will detail your ad spend.
Now, all you need to do is plug the values in any of the two ROAS formulas, and you’ll know whether your money is being spent right or not.
ROAS enables you to gather valuable insights – based on which you can make informed marketing decisions.
Since the final goal of advertising is to make money, calculating ROAS should be a priority. Even though conversion rate and click-through rates are essential, they don’t guide you regarding changes to your advertising model.
In addition, knowing your ROAS can help you do the following:
Using other metrics alone will not give you complete insights, so you will not make informed marketing decisions.
Think about click data – it tells you the best click-through rate (CTR) and the lowest cost-per-click (CPC). So based on this data, you might think you can evaluate which of your campaigns are successful. But that’s not possible because CTR and CPC don’t tell you the quality of clicks and the traffic you’re getting.
Similarly, conversion data helps you track conversions and point out areas of weakness in your strategy. But it will not determine the quality of traffic and leads you are receiving.
However, ROAS ties all these metrics together by providing you with actual numbers you’re earning and spending on each channel.
Additionally, various factors result in a lower CPC or conversion rate, but that doesn’t mean your campaign is unsuccessful. In fact, such campaigns can still have high profitability. But if you don’t calculate ROAS, you won’t know that.
And then you will make decisions that will cost more than you gain.
A good ROAS target depends on many factors, including your industry, average CPC, and profit margins. This means a satisfactory ROAS varies from business to business.
In addition, a good ROAS differs from campaign to campaign. For instance, campaigns that aim to raise awareness, grow subscriptions and build a following generally have a low ROAS.
But if you want to drive a greater number of conversions and sales, you should expect a higher ROAS.
Still, no general rule can determine how high your ROAS should be. But, most businesses do aim for an overall 4:1 ratio.
Getting $4 for every $1 spent gives you enough money to keep your business afloat or even make a profit.
Here is a breakdown of different ROAS targets you should be aiming for at different phases of your business:
Most businesses think if they make a sale that amounts as much as they spent on marketing, they will break even.
But that’s not true because when you factor in all your variable and fixed costs, you are likely making a loss.
So, making $1 for each dollar you spend on your PPC ad campaign is not enough.
Let’s say you spend $100 on marketing and make a $200 sale. It means you are earning $2 for every dollar you spend.
But, 2x ROAS is still low because fixed costs are generally high, resulting in a deficit.
As long as you get some consistent sales, you can break even with a 3x ROAS.
For example, you spend $50 on marketing, which results in a $150 sale. So, now, you have an added $100, which you can use to cover additional ad-running costs.
4:1 ROAS is where you start making a profit, which is why most businesses aim for at least a 4x ROAS.
When each dollar spent gives you $4 in return, you have enough money to make a profit. But ultimately, that depends on your business model and costs.
So, if you have very high variable and fixed costs, it may not result in a profit. But that is often not the case.
With a 5x ROAS, you can start using your marketing practices to grow your business.
At this stage, you’re making enough profit that you can afford to invest more in your marketing and customize various goal-specific ad campaigns.
In the end, the ideal ROAS for your business depends on your ROAS targets, business expenses, and marketing goals.
Also, if you have different PPC campaigns running simultaneously, set separate ROAS targets for each. Then, calculate their ROAS individually to see if they are bringing in enough cash.
But if your ROAS is still low, look into all other metrics and practices to identify the reasons behind it. Then, when you know which strategies are working, you can implement those across other campaigns.
Not being able to meet your ROAS target can be frustrating. But a low ROAS doesn’t always mean that your campaign is a complete failure.
Sometimes, you can make small changes to your current campaign to increase ROAS.
Some tweaks you can make are:
Placing an ad at the right location is key to attracting quality traffic. So if you have a low ROAS, consider changing the location of your ads.
For example, try placing them on e-commerce sites or social networking sites. Additionally, you can change the layout for your ad, such as converting a banner ad with a pop-up.
Your ad copy should gauge the user’s attention, resulting in the maximum number of ad clicks.
Similarly, your ad copy should be optimized for SEO so that your ad can show up organically in search results.
A helpful tip to follow is to use specific, long-tail keywords that are relevant to your brand.
Targeting 56.16% of all web traffic that comes through mobile phones can boost your ROAS.
If your advertising campaign is limited to desktops and isn’t generating high revenue, you should consider running mobile ads.
Use your ROAS to eliminate campaigns that are performing extremely poorly. Instead, use that money and effort on campaigns that show growth potential.
At the same time, try not to get carried away with spending on ad campaigns. So, place a cap on your budget for PPC campaigns because lots of click-throughs are only beneficial if your budget supports them.
Return on ad spend (ROAS) is a valuable metric that businesses of all sizes can use. And it helps you allocate adequate budgets for numerous ad campaigns.
Globally, 31% of all online users click on ads, which means investing in online advertising has a good chance of increasing leads. But to make the most of your marketing efforts, you need to strategize accordingly.
By regularly tracking your ROAS, you will make informed, data-driven decisions that will eventually boost your revenue.