Growth Marketing

Return on Experience: What You Need to Know About It

November 22, 2020
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Businesses are constantly looking at ways to measure their marketing efforts. Most turn to return on investment (ROI), the oldest tactic in the book. But there's another, albeit harder, measurement you should consider: Return on experience (ROX).

Return on experience is, as its name suggests, a way to measure experience. But not just any experience.

It's the experience customers have with your brand, business, organization or even your products and services.

With the ever-growing focus on experiences, especially in a world shifting towards digital, experiences are becoming the highlight of, well, everything.

Without experience, people can't decide if what they do or see, or even eat, is good or not.

The same applies to your business.

Customers and consumers now have power over your business. They can choose to go to you or not. And in many cases, this act of going to a particularly brand relies on the customer's experience with that brand.

This experience – the good one – makes customers loyal to your brand.

That's why, return on experience is an important metric to consider when growing – or even launching – your business.

Let's explain how ROX works and how it can help your business stand out.

What Is Return on Experience?

Return on experience (ROX) is a metric of measuring, understanding, and ultimately increasing the value of a business's investments.

ROX is measured across "customer experience (CX), employee experience (EX) and leadership experience (LX)," explains PwC.

"It’s an innovative way to rethink and redesign the dynamic impact that all three elements have on one another and on your brand," the company adds.

PwC also describes ROX as "one of the most effective and scalable ways to shape your company’s future."

It's important to note and remember that return on experience isn't like the net promoter's score nor a brand health index or a balanced scorecard.

ROX is "a powerful instigator…for cultural evolution, top-line growth and long-term profitability," stresses PwC.

So why has ROX come to the forefront suddenly?

Well, research shows that companies that prioritized experience were able to charge up to 16% premium on their products and services, compared to those who didn't focus on experience, says PwC.

Similarly, an MIT study indicates that companies providing a "great" employee experience were 25% more profitable that those that didn't.

In other words, both customer experience and employee experience contribute to a company's revenues and profitability.


Business owners and marketers are familiar with ROI. Everyone is constantly talking or asking about the ROI of this or that.

But let's quickly define ROI so we can compare it to ROX.

ROI is a ratio used to measure the value of an investment. If your business spends $100 on marketing, ROI will tell you how much you're generating from that investment.

ROI "is a performance measure used to evaluate the efficiency of an investment or compare the efficiency of a number of different investments," explains Investopedia.

As for the ROI equation, "the benefit (or return) of an investment is divided by the cost of the investment. The result is expressed as a percentage or a ratio," Investopedia adds.

So how does ROX differ from ROI?

According to John Maxwell, head of PwC's consumer markets industry sector, tradition ROI metrics "are no longer sufficient on their own to determine your company’s success."

"Evaluating whether your value proposition, capabilities, and portfolio of products and services will create shareholder value requires laser focus on how well you’re meeting higher expectations around the customer experience," Maxwell explains.

In other words, businesses not only need to map out their customers' journey but also determine the factors that drive experience.

They need to focus on those factors, which will bring measurable results in the form of ROX.

By using ROX as a measurement, businesses, including retailers, should look at their investments, how they are allocating resources and how this is translating to a better customer experience for their customers and users.

Let's compare the ROI and ROX perspectives.

John Maxwell explains it best: "A traditional ROI focus may lead a retailer to position “fill-in” products at the back of the store, so shoppers seeing those high-demand items would have greater exposure to more products to potentially fill their basket."

On the other hand, an ROX approach "would suggest including a selection of popular items in the front of the store to improve customer experience and loyalty."

How Does Return on Experience Work?

ROX helps businesses through two main metrics: customer experience and employee experience.

Return on experience can be used with both business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) models.

According to Strategy-Business, many large B2B and B2C firms were able to implement ROX metrics in four months and were able to see value from these efforts.

Return on experience helps business "track their investments, giving them a company-wide view that offers more insight than siloed business-case metrics do," the website explains.

"Business leaders see clearer connections between CX and EX — a link that is a crucial part of putting in place an actionable set of ROX metrics," it adds.

Moreover, business owners now realize that they have access to data and analytical tools that can help them decipher and understand if the experiences they are creating are generating the business results they need, or not.

Understanding Data to Deliver ROX

In its 2019 Global Consumer Insights Survey, PwC focused on both ROI and ROX.

By surveying over 21,000 consumers from 27 territories, PwC found that 35% of respondents found traditional TV ads to be their go-to form of advertising.

However, a deeper look showed that millennial respondents favored social media ads that allowed them to interact with brands.

In other words, experience made all the difference and the data was there, but the interpretation is what matters most.

While many companies often partner with celebrities and influencers to market their products and services, the survey found that only 17% of respondents were influenced by celebrities, whereas 32% purchased products after seeing positive social media reviews.

The report found that millennial buyers preferred "testimonials from real people," which they said offered an "authentic experience."

This means that the authentic experience was the major driver for millennials and was "more influential" for them compared to the celebrity endorsement.

This means it's all about experience, particularly the return on experience with the brand from real people that was able to drive further customer experience.

"It’s clear that investment in traditional advertising campaigns needs to be supplemented by enhancements to customer experiences along the purchase journey," adds Maxwell.

Another example comes from a survey by Strategy-Business, where global consumers said that what matters to them most in their in-store shopping experience was their “ability to quickly and conveniently navigate the store.”

In addition, nearly a quarter of respondents said that they made “micro-trips,” which are short trips of five minutes or less, to their local supermarkets.

This means that convenience and speed would greatly help these customers' experience and accordingly generate a higher ROX for the grocery stores or supermarkets.

Measuring Return on Experience

As a new performance management metric, ROX "connects CX to EX and brings together “soft” investments in organizational culture with “hard” investments in technology and analytics," says Strategy-Business.

ROX is not, however, a simple or universally applicable metric.

To measure return on experience, let's first remember that it is "dynamic and company-wide." So it requires looking at a much bigger picture than mere analytics.

"When thinking about measuring ROX, look at the experience you’re investing in – and pinpoint the key metrics the experience will impact," notes Sales Force.

ROX is about improving the experience and therefore affects various kinds of metrics, making it hard to calculate.

However, if you focus on the monetary value of these metrics, like time and cost saving or sales conversion rates, you can put a number to ROX and capture its value.

To calculate ROX, you'll need to consider "a wide range of costs, including the direct cost of your technology, implementation, training, and ongoing maintenance," stresses Sales Force.

"Done right, ROX will spin up a virtuous circle of benefits related to these components — and keep it spinning," says Strategy-Business.

An Example of ROX

Imagine a hotel chain that uses analysis to discover that business travelers' check-in speed plays a role in their frequency of their visits.

So how would this hotel chain use and increase its return on experience?

It should train its front desk staff and hotel managers to assist business travelers and to encourage them to use the hotel's mobile app ahead of time to ease and speed-up the check-in process.

Many businesses aren't aware of this but they already have the tools and the analytics they need to begin measuring and implementing ROX.

Companies and businesses normally have lots of data on the behaviors and habits of both their buyers and their employees.

If you're a business owner and you don't have this data, you can start collecting it in order to begin measuring return on experience within your business or startup.

"No single company has yet mastered the ROX approach, but many are quickly starting to assemble and develop the core elements," notes Strategy-Business.

It adds that with ROX becoming more familiar in the world of business and marketing, "more executives are rethinking their organization’s approach to CX, reviewing the links between CX and EX, and reevaluating the effectiveness of their performance management systems."

While it's not expected that investors and shareholders will start asking questions about return on experience and its value, it's a good tactic to start early and stay ahead of the game and your competitors.

ROX and Referrals

ROX is greatly impacted by word-of-mouth, also known as referral marketing. This also makes ROX a great tool for customer acquisition.

People generally trust each other, or at least they trust their friends, family, and others in their various circles.

When Jessy tells her friend Amanda that she loved a particular brand of lipstick and enjoyed her experience with them, chances are Amanda is going to give that brand a try based on that recommendation.

This is also known as a "referral."

Jessy has referred her friend Amanda through word-of-mouth. If Amanda had passed by the lipstick brand's store, whether online or offline, she may have been tempted to browse through it.

But the buying decision was only supported by her friend's recommendation.

“Word of mouth has always been more valuable than advertising, but now there are billions of opportunities for word of mouth — through social reviews and sentiment — to make an impact,” says PwC's Matt Egol.

But how do you get your customers to refer your brand to one another?

Here are a few tips:

  • Create an experience for them
  • Make sure your customer support staff (or sales people if it's a physical location) are helpful and good at what they do
  • Ask for the referral

You're probably thinking, "Yes, we've asked our customers to refer us, but how do know they did?"

Great question.

The answer: Through a referral program.

By using a referral program, you can see how many customers actually referred you to others AND how many of those referred accessed your store and completed a purchase.

Gameball helps you create referral programs to attract more customers. It's an easy-to-use word-of-mouth tool, which also helps increase your return on experience.   

Create a Unique experience for Your Customers

We've been talking about return on experience. So how do you create it?

Here are 4 tips. We'll discuss each in detail.

  • Focus on your customers
  • Customization and personalization
  • Referrals
  • Build loyalty

1. Focus on Your Customers

Any form of marketing primarily depends on how you treat and serve your customers.

If you help them, by showing them that your product solves their problem, they'll buy from you. If you don't, they'll leave.

By focusing on your customers, understanding your different buyer personas, their wants and needs, and their problems, you can direct your efforts to helping them and meeting their needs.

This help translates to a good experience for customers, which means they would be more willing to refer you, give you good ratings, which means a higher ROX for your brand.

2. Customization and Personalization

With almost everything shifting to digital these days, personalization and customization are becoming part and parcel of the customer experience.

Personalization can come in the form of a pop-up that says "Hi Mark, how are you today?" or "Hey Mark, did you know we're have a 'buy 1, get 1 50% off' in the winter accessories section?"

Addressing customers by their name is personalization. And it makes customers feel unique.

In addition to using first names, there are many ways you can customize your messages to create a sense of loyalty and uniqueness within your store.

3. Referrals

We've touched on this briefly. Referrals are trusted because they come from trustworthy sources.

By creating a referral marketing program, you can:

  • Increase customer engagement
  • Ask customers to refer you to others
  • Grow your customer base
  • Build better relationships with your customers

“Referral sales require almost no financial investment, but they bring in very valuable warm leads,” notes Close CEO and co-founder Steli Efti in a Forbes article.

4. Build Loyalty

Last but certainly not least: Build loyalty.

Creating loyal customers means that you'll be the go-to destination for your customers.

Not only are they enjoying their experience with you, they like your products and will be more willing to refer you to others.

How do you build loyalty? By creating a loyalty program.

And no, it's not something difficult. It takes a few minutes to understand and setup with Gameball.

A loyalty program lets customers earn points for actions taken and purchases made on your website or store.

These points, known as rewards points, can be later redeemed by the customer in exchange for discounts, free shipping, vouchers,…etc.

If you're not sure if what you're selling would work well with a loyalty program, we've created a list of the industries that work best with loyalty programs.

Loyalty programs are also a great tool to increase customer lifetime value and build customer retention.

They should generally by a part of your customer retention strategy.


Return on experience may be a new term in the business scene but it's gaining traction.

Compounded by the emergence and spread of the coronavirus, the shift to digital has leapt in pace. In addition, people are now more focused on experience than ever before.

This means that wherever there is a good or positive experience, customers are likely to be there.

And a reminder about return on experience, it's not just about metrics or data or even the products and services you provide. It's about the culture of your store, company, or organization.

It's about customers, employees, and leadership all mingling in a large pot to produce a return on experience.

By evaluating how your business's EX impacts your customers' experience, and vice versa, you can focus on improving this and raising your revenues.

Start creating a unique experience for your customers using Gameball's loyalty and referral programs.