Everyone who uses Internet marketing has the ability to check their ROI for any strategy with laser precision. But in addition to spending money on your marketing strategies, you’re also spending time. After all, working on strategies like SEO and content marketing can be time-intensive, and if you’re spending too much of it, your other marketing strategies could suffer.
Your time is valuable, and that means you need to way to gauge whether or not your effort is paying off for your company. And you also need to consider how much time goes into each channel, the product of the work, and who collaborated to complete a task. This challenging metric is called “engagement vs. effort” (EvE), and it’s one of the most important measurements for companies and agencies who work with Internet marketing. This is everything you need to know about EvE.
What is EvE?
EvE is a mathematical formula that shows how much “effort” (or input) you invested into a marketing strategy and the “engagement” (or positive results) you got in return. There are a few different ways to measure EvE, and it’ll vary slightly depending on your needs.
But the overall idea is:
Engagement / Effort = Value
Let’s take a look at each part of this formula.
Engagement is a measurement of how well your product performs with your audience. The better it works for your company, the higher its engagement score is. One of the best ways you can measure engagement is to determine the averages of your site’s KPIs so you can establish those as a baseline.
Then, you can track the products on your site using Google Analytics to see how your engagement score changes over time. But how do you quantify it?
Once you’ve established the average KPI numbers for each of your site’s products (blogs, videos, graphics, etc.) over a certain period of time, like two weeks. Then, assign a number to it.
We recommend starting with a round number like 100, since it’s 100% of what you expect from your marketing products. You always want your engagement factor to be higher than your effort factor. To quantify a specific product’s engagement factor, look at its KPIs after the same amount of time you based your average on (in this case, two weeks).
If the KPIs are higher than average, then your engagement rate should proportionately increase. If the KPIs are lower than average, then your engagement rate should proportionately decrease. Now, let’s talk about effort.
Typically, there are four that you want to consider, but you can include more if you need.
- Financial cost
- Total worker hours
- Skill levels of task workers
- The quality of the task’s product
Financial cost is the easiest metric to measure. All you have to do is keep track of your receipts and factor in hour-based pay for any employees who worked on a project. Total worker hours is also easy since you can ask each team member how long they worked on a task and add them all together.
It’s a little trickier to monetize the value of who worked on task. The idea is that you want your best workers taking on the toughest challenges, and anything easier can go to less experienced workers who are eager to learn. Every hour one of your best works on an entry-level project is another hour they’re not advancing your company.
Last, you need to consider the product of everyone’s collective input. Are you proud of the product? Is its quality proportionate to the amount of money and worker hours that went into it?
With these four contributing elements, you’re ready to add up your total effort factor.
First, average out the four qualities that contribute to “effort” across all of your similar products. So consider the costs for all of your blog posts, then all of your graphics, etc., and keep them separate. You don’t want to evaluate the effort of a graphic according to the average of a blog post since that won’t give you an accurate number.
You can express that average as 100 (just like with the effort factor) since it’s 100% of what you expect to go into a certain project. It’s also a nice, round number that divides easily. Whatever number you choose, it should be the same number that you use for engagement.
If you use different numbers, this formula won’t give you an accurate representation of a product’s value. So anything that takes more effort than that will have a proportionately higher score, and anything that takes less effort will have a proportionately lower score. You always want your effort factor to be as low as possible.
Next, you have to actually quantify everything. Money and worker hours are easy, but skill level and output are not. To quantify skill level, you can assign a number to the skill levels of each person working on a project.
For example, someone who’s highly-experienced and typically works on complex projects could be a +1 since they’re contributing more experience than is necessary to complete a less challenging task. Likewise, you could assign a -1 to someone who’s under-experienced for a task, but eager to learn. That shows that you recognize the task may take a little longer, but someone is working on a project above their current experience level.
Finally, you could assign a 0 to someone who’s working on a project that’s exactly at their skill level. And, of course, you can adjust these numbers to be proportionate to how long a project takes, how skilled certain team members are, and their contributions to the product as a whole. We’re only using these numbers for the sake of example.
When you’re quantifying the product itself, you can use a similar positive, negative, and neutral system based on how you feel the product turned out. So if you’re really impressed with a website redesign, you could quantify it with a -1 to make your effort score lower, signifying that its exceptional quality was more than worth the time and money that went into it. Likewise, if you feel like the product is lackluster, you can give it a +1 to show that its mediocre quality was not worth the time and money.
And of course, you can give a product a 0 when you feel like it perfectly hit the mark. Again, these numbers may vary based on how you want to set up proportions and ratios. Now, let’s take a look at some examples.
Example 1: Neutral
Let’s say one of your new hires is writing their first blog post.
Your engagement average for a blog post after two weeks is 1:00 time on page, 100 unique pageviews, and a 10% bounce rate. Whether those numbers are realistic or not, those averages are what make up your 100 baseline score for engagement. Now, consider the effort that went into the blog post.
You already have your blog set up, so the financial cost is $0 to add a new post. Your veteran bloggers can write, edit, and publish an exceptional blog post in 10 hours. Since the writer is a new hire, let’s say it takes them 11 hours to do all of that.
Finally, consider the fact that the writer is brand new and factor in a -1. Your effort formula is:
- +0 for the financial cost
- +11 for product creation
- -1 for experience
So all things considered, it took your new hire the same financial cost to create a new blog post with an extra hour for creation and a -1 factor for their inexperience. That evens out to 10 hours, which is the same as your average. Since you quantified your total average as 100, that means your effort score in this situation is also 100. Now, the blog post is published. You wait two weeks to check the engagement KPIs. The time on page is :54, your unique pageviews are 110, and your bounce rate is steady at 10%.
That means your time on page is 10% less, but your pageviews are 10% more. In other words, your new blog post evens out to your 100 average. Finally, it’s time to use your formula.
Engagement (100) / Effort (100) = 1 Value
When you get a value factor of 1, your product is performing perfectly at average.
Anything higher is better than average, and anything lower is worse than average. But let’s say you’re working with numbers that don’t work out perfectly.
Example 2: Negative
You’ve created a whitepaper. Your average time on page is 10:00 with 1000 unique pageviews and 10 links over the course of two weeks.
Your average cost is $500, 30 hours of time, highly-skilled workers, and a high-quality product. For this particular project, you’ve gone over-budget. It’s costing you $600. The writing and repeated rounds of edits have taken up 39 hours of time. You’re still using highly-skilled workers, but the product just isn’t up to par. $600 is a 20% increase in cost, and 39 hours is a 30% increase in time.
Plus, you should add a +1 for a sub-par product, giving you an effort total of 151 for this project. Worse yet, your engagement metrics aren’t where you want them to be. Your average time on page is only 9:00 after two weeks, and you’ve only attracted 800 unique pageviews.
9:00 is 10% less than your average of 10:00, and 800 unique pageviews are 20% less than your average of 1000. That’s a total of 30% less than your average, which gives you an engagement value of 70. Now, you can use the formula.
Engagement (70) / Effort (151) = 0.46 Value
Sadly, all of your money and the results have only given you a product at 46% the value of your average. It might improve with some more work, but that will increase your effort number even more. It’s up to you how to handle negative results, but hopefully you won’t have to make that choice very often.
Example 3: Positive
You’ve created an infographic.
Your average time on page is 5:00 with 500 unique pageviews and 10 links over the course of two weeks. So those are the averages that factor into your baseline engagement score of 100. Your average cost is $300, 20 hours of time, average-skilled workers, and a high-quality product. Those are the averages that factor into your baseline effort score of 100. This time, you spent $330 and 22.2 hours of time. Still, your entry-level workers turned out a product consistent with your average quality expectations. So with a 10% higher cost and 11% more time, your effort score is 121. Factor in the accomplishments of your entry-level workers (-1), and your effort score for this infographic is 120. Then, after two weeks, your average time on page is 5:05 with 550 unique pageviews and 20 links. That’s a 10% higher time on page, 10% more pageviews, and 100% more links, giving you an engagement rating of 220 for this infographic. Now, you just use your formula:
Engagement (220) / Effort (120) = 1.83 Value
In this case, your marketing team has earned an 83% better value for your company.
Limits on EvE
Some math-minded readers may have noticed that using 100 as a baseline could result in a 0 if there are enough factors with negative scores.
If that’s the case, you can use 1000 as your baseline to give yourself some wiggle room. Either way, you know how well a project performed.
Using EvE in your company
EvE is a brand new metric to Internet marketing. If it works for your needs, great!
And if it doesn’t, then maybe it’s not for you. But it’s worth at least a try if you want to quantify the non-quantifiable elements of your marketing strategy! Do you use EvE at your company?
How has it worked so far? Let me know in the comments!
Trevin serves as the VP of Marketing at WebFX. He has worked on over 450 marketing campaigns and has been building websites for over 25 years. His work has been featured by Search Engine Land, USA Today, Fast Company and Inc.
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