Maintaining a Small Business During COVID-19

Maintaining A Small Business During COVID-19

Downtown Indianapolis, Indiana looks different these days with many businesses shifting toward working from home or even closing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The hustle and bustle traffic of summer’s past is nothing more than a distant memory; a memory that could become a fantasy as Indianapolis adapts to the new normal.

Surviving COVID-19 as a Small Business

Jody Alexander is the owner of City Nail Bar (CNB), a local nail boutique located on the corner of Market St. and New Jersey St. and has been blessed to be one of the surviving businesses during COVID-19. Since its opening in September 2018, City Nail Bar has been nothing like your typical nail salon. With an intentional focus on delivering high-quality services centered on the sustainability of not only nail care but clients, Alexander explained “I truly pride myself in customer service which is #1 in my book.”

However, CNB’s great customer service didn’t make them exempt from feeling the effects of COVID-19. Closed for a total of 81 days, Alexander learned quickly that being adaptable was critical when evaluating the needs of her employee and clients and more important the sustainability of her business. Alexander applied twice for The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and was awarded funds only after the second attempt. Designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll, and that’s exactly what it did for the CNB staff. Alexander explained “The PPP loan was a major contributor to how we were able to reopen and survive over the past few months. It allowed me to get employees off unemployment and stay current on bills.”

How Digital Marketing Helps Small Business

CNB’s focused marketing efforts have helped enhance high customer engagement while maximizing operations. Before COVID-19, CNB’s primary focus was to market the business and to boost sales of products. Now, Alexander has leveraged marketing to communicate the health & safety precautions to clients with their personalized email templates. Alexander added that “With personal services now being an optional service people need to feel comfortable with those services.” With their email database growing 300+ addresses in roughly 3 weeks, CNB hasn’t missed a beat. Interested clients can have the option to provide personal information and opt-in to receive updates based upon their preferences. They’ve also leveraged it to promote sales, increase bookings by appointment and sell gift cards.

Maximizing Your Client Interactions

As Indianapolis rolled back to Phase 4.5 recently, CNB is only booking by appointment. Alexander sees the positive in this and says, “By not accepting walk-in appointments it allows for each client to be the main focus during that time.” Identifying ways to be more efficient with marketing helps maximize time with the clients. Most importantly, it’s helped communicate some of the following best practices around sanitation such as mask wearing, sanitization stations, and partitions between each client and nail technician.

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Generating a buzz around your brand that appeals to your target audience isn’t for the faint of heart; it takes sound strategy, patience and determination. Of the various ways to rally excitement about your brand, a popular method that savvy marketers have adopted into their arsenal of tactics is hosting a social media giveaway. 

You may have your fair share of experience with social media giveaways – whether being a hopeful participant, the host – or even, the winnerGiveaways can be a fun, creative way to build excitement around your brand and products using social media to connect with new potential customers. As with any type of investment, giveaways also involve a fair share of risk – but you know what they say: “no risk; no reward.” 

Here are some pro tips to successfully guide you into a successful social media giveaway plan and execution: 

Create Goals for Social Media Giveaways 

Before you go any further, begin by defining the goals of your giveaway. Having clear key performance indicators (KPIs) is key to focus this effort specifically on achieving your particular goal(s). Without the right goal connected to your brand, your efforts could easily go awry. 

Provide an Appealing Customer Prize 

Winning a free prize is usually exciting, but a prize also needs to be worth the effort of entering your contest. Make sure the prize you are giving away is relevant and exciting to your target audience, otherwise, you’re wasting your time and energy – or even worse, deterring people from your brand. A truly grand prize should win you over new leads and followers. 

Here are some prize examples to get you started: 
  • A limited-edition product 
  • Products from influencers in the market 
  • A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity 
  • Gift cards 

Time Your Giveaway Right 

When do you want to launch your giveaway? When will you end the giveaway? You’ll want to make those decisions early on in your planning process to optimize your efforts and avoid potential conflicts. 

  • Look at the calendar. You might use popular events or seasons as an asset to your giveaway strategy. What time of year will it be during the giveaway? Are there any big events that may distract your audience from it?  
  • E.g.: Consumers are more receptive to making purchases around Thanksgiving than they are on January 31st 
  • Ensure the type of prize you are giving and the timing of your giveaway align with the time of year, and will cut through the noise of your strongest competitors.  
  • E.g.Giving special Valentine’s Day discounts or prize(s) for your restaurant could add value before the popular holiday, but conversely, giving away a set of lipsticks when a big beauty industry competitor is launching a new product line could render your brand irrelevant and get lost in the shadow of your competitor. 

Partner with an Influencer or a Celeb 

Industry partnerships can be a powerful way to appeal to your target audience for participation in your giveaway. Think about who your demographic is excited about – is it a celebrity or an influencer? You’ll draw attention and build rapport with your target audience if you can partner with an established pro in your industry. 

Encourage Participation in Your Giveaway 

Make sure the steps for entering your contest are as simple and straightforward as possible to avoid confusion or worse – abandonment. Believe it or not, many digital marketers over-complicate the sign-up process by adding too many steps to contest entries. Simply put: the easier it is to enter your contest, the more entries and engagements you’ll have.  

Several related considerations: 

Don’t require an email sign-up for entriesGiveaways are meant to be a fun, introductory way to connect with new users. Many people are turned off by the commitment of signing up with their email, especially if they don’t know your brand very well. 

Promote your giveaway to your email list. You might even add an extra incentive to your pre-existing email recipients to enter the contest by sharing a link to your blog or website on their social feed(s) – like on Facebook or Twitter. 

Make it easy to enter using the same platform it’s posted on. For example, if you post the contest on Facebook, allow contestants to enter on Facebook. If you post it on LinkedIn, allow them to enter on LinkedIn. Making it easy to enter is essential. 

Make sure the steps for entering your contest are as simple and straightforward as possible to avoid confusion or worse – abandonment. 

Images courtesy of

Use Giveaway Tools 

One effective method of hosting a contest is by using a giveaway tool to create and manage your contest. Giveaway tools offer an out-of-the-box, cohesive, streamlined system for running your entire contest from start to finish. There are a variety of powerful, user-friendly giveaway tools available – here are some popular options you might explore: 

While there are some great benefits to using giveaway tools, the caveat to that option is the range of actions restricted from use on social channels. 

Announce your giveaway on all of your social channels 

and include one or all of the following actions to organically promote it: 

  1. Follow your profile(s) – and any collaborating partner’s profile
  2. Like the photo promoting your contest 
  3. Leave a comment or caption under your photo 
  4. Tag-a-friend (or 3) under your photo promoting the giveaway 
  5. Repost your photo promoting the contest 

Try to incorporate a viral loop built into your giveaway – another benefit of using a giveaway tool like the ones mentioned above. A giveaway loop is a powerful way to allow your contest entrants to share a custom link to your contest with family and friends. Many giveaway tools have the viral loop functionality, which will encourage participation and attract more unique visitors to your brand. Remember to read up on any restrictions associated with using giveaway tool instead of implementing an organic process. 

When your giveaway is over, be sure to celebrate your winner(s) 

– it will show your appreciation of their support and could further increase rapport with consumers. You could even post a photo of the winner with the prize – another way to boost awareness, reach new followers and drive authentic user engagement around your brand. 

Follow the Giveaway Rules in Your State 

There are certain legalities regarding contests and giveaways, so we recommend doing your homework or speaking to a professional to help you determine which rules and regulations pertain to your local and state laws. 

We hope this giveaway guide helps you feel confident to use this creative digital marketing method of increasing your brand awareness and reach.  

You don’t have to go at it alone.

Dekaf Digital specializes in social media marketing and would be happy to connect with you to determine what type of strategy is best suited to your brand.  

Contact us today to learn more! 

Digital Marketing Trends Pre and Post COVID

While it’s been over six months since the outbreak of COVID-19, it’s still an active virus impacting the United States and therefore, consumers and business daily. We’ve seen several adjustments to how companies are advertising and how consumers are responding and proactively approaching the market as well.

Before the COVID-19 outbreak, global advertising investment was estimated to grow at a 7.1% clip in 2020.  Now, it is estimated to see a rough contraction of 8.1%.

Digital marketing trends during covid

“Telecoms & Utilities”, which will experience a 4.3% increase in ad spend throughout the year as more consumers spend increased time at home using more utilities.

Even factoring in the pandemic, most online mediums will see an increase in spending according to Medium. Specifically:

  • Social media: 9.8%
  • Online video: 5%
  • Online display: 2-3%
  • Search: 1-2%

However, that’s compared to rates of 12-20% pre-pandemic which is to say that digital ad spending is seeing a rebound although it’s still off plan.

That said, 73% of media buyers indicate that Coronavirus will have an impact on Upfront 2020 and 2021 spend commitments and expect a 20% decrease in upfront spend v. original plan.

e-Commerce is a leader during covid

For those willing to invest, there’s good news. Online CVR (Conversion Rate) was up 8.8% in February showing that the dollars that are being invested are working at rates similar to Cyber Monday.

According to SEMRush, the “BUY ONLINE” keyword search volume skyrocketed in March globally for up to 27K searches per month showing consumers are ready to shop, and buy, online. Recent studies conducted at the end of Q1’2020 show that 24% of customers won’t be comfortable shopping at malls for the next 6 mos.

Even more good news is that a recent survey by Engine found that people are spending 10-30% more online so advertiser dollars are working harder than ever. This may be why West Elm invested in WFM Virtual Backgrounds. This is a creative way to drive traffic to their site while millions of Americans work from home.

Another company taking advantage of the pandemic is Bissell. They hosted online sessions of how to use steam tools and sales of their steam mop went up 500% Y/Y. One of the Top 5 Home Improvement stores has seen eCommerce jump 700% M/M.

Surprisingly, even with the increase in CVR, the jump in online shopping and these success stories, ad spends were down across the board for large and small retailers spending under $1M/mo. when comparing March and Feb. ad spends. by 1-9%. For those spending more than $1M/mo. they were up by 5.6%.

The same goes for industries, they were down across the board with travel hit the hardest however, Beauty & Fitness was up 28.9%.

Here’s the catch: With ad spend down, the cost of advertising is down as well so now is the time to get in the game. CPC (Cost Per Click) is down across the board with few exceptions such as Beauty/Skincare, Home & Garden and Jewelry.

Five tips for standing out during covid

  1. With the changing landscape, look for new opportunities. With the new online habits, consumers are online at times marketers never considered targeting. So, you may want to shift your advertising to the times best suited for your audience before your competitors figure it out.
  2. You can capitalize on the rise of media traffic and news outlets related to the constant stream of breaking news, and target these platforms with your online advertising at a lower cost than before the coronavirus pandemic.
  3. The key idea of marketing and advertising in the new coronavirus and post-COVID-19 era is to adapt to the new customer. So, keep things digital and map out how your target audience’s lifestyle is changing. For example, Nike stopped subscription fees for NTC Premium Service which gains them new customers. Post pandemic they’ll be able to monetize on these customers.
  4. Locate them at the right place and at the right time, and if you are willing to allocate some ad budget, you can now reach them at an unprecedented cost.
  5. Your messaging might also need to change along with customer behavior. You can advertise new deals, offer customer-friendly loans for your services, or just shift your entire marketing message to meet the altered customer demand.

Ideas for Breakfast

We have a breakfast brainfood special planned for you!  

Our CEO, Adriana Cowdin, will be the featured guest on a new webinar series called, Ideas for Breakfast, featuring digital marketers and creative thinkers to start your day off right. Join her, and Despi Ross, CMO of OldSpeake on July 15th at 9 AM EST for a discussion about digital advertising trends and tips in the post-COVID era. 

Where ecommerce retailers are with advertising, whether or not they have: 

  • Cut all digital ad spend 
  • Kept ads running but scaled back 
  • Kept ads running at same level 
  • Increased budgets during quarantine 

Who’s in the best position to win moving forward? 

What are the best steps to take moving forward during COVID for advertisers? 

  • Personalized shopping experiences  
  • Progressive Web Apps 
  • Advertising strategies  
  • PPC 
  • Social 
  • SEO 

 (If you can’t make it live, you can listen to the recording later.)  

Learn more and sign up. 

 Have questions you want answered?  

Join the webinar and she will answer them live. Or send them to us via 


Top 10 Digital Marketing Statistics for 2020

Whether you’re developing your strategy for 2020, or revising an already developed strategy due to the current market, these 10 digital marketing statistics will help inform and shape your direction. These 10 Stats are ones that every digital marketer needs to know in 2020.

digital advertising is increasingly competitive

1. Global ad spend will reach $6.5 Billion in 2020, a 4.2% increase from 2019 (Source: The Drum)

2. By 2020, businesses will spend $110 billion on digital advertising in the US. This means that businesses will spend more on digital advertising in the US in 2020 than on TV and print ads combined. (Source: eMarketer).

3. The average cost per action (CPA) is $49 for paid search and $75 for display ads. These numbers help illustrate how competitive digital advertising can be for many industries.  (Source: WordStream).

social media in the billions

4. Global social media ad spend reached $84 billion in 2019, marking the first year that social media spend outperformed print ad spend (Source: Zenith Media).

5. In 2019, US LinkedIn ad spend reached $1.02 billion. This is a 40% growth in ad spend since 2016. LinkedIn is quickly becoming a preferred advertising channel for B2B marketers (Source: eMarketer).

6. In 2019, US Facebook ad spend reached $25.56 billion. This represents a 107% increase from 2016. Facebook has weathered it’s share of controversy and is still going strong. (Source: eMarketer).

Facebook Net Revenues

omnichannel delivers stronger results

7.  Omnichannel campaigns saw an 18.96% engagement rate, while single-channel saw only a 5.4% engagement rate. Consumers own more devices and bounce between channels during the purchasing process. Marketers need to keep this in mind as they develop their campaigns (Source: ClickZ).

8. Omnichannel campaigns produce a 250% higher rate of purchase frequency than do single-channel campaigns. (Source: ClickZ).

9. Customer retention rates are 90% higher for omnichannel campaigns than for single-channel campaigns. Customers are more loyal to brands that engage with them across channels (Source: ClickZ).

10. 80% of consumers say they are more likely to do business with a company if it offers personalized experiences. Now that’s a case for personalization. (Source: Instapage).

5 Digital Marketing Ideas During Coronavirus

It will get better. Stay positive.

For many businesses things have become very difficult right now. If you’re one of the few businesses thriving, good for you. If not, know that it will get better. As the United States Surgeon General said on Monday, “Things are going to get worse before they get better.”

That doesn’t mean they won’t get better but it does mean we need to stick together to weather the storm. 

learn from history and invest in your business

We’ve been through difficult times before, from the 2008 financial crisis to the Great Depression. Take the lessons from those times that companies have learned and invest in your business. Here are 4 of those lessons:

  1. Innovation counts—Successful businesses offer new products and services often and quickly adopt new technology.
  2. Get help—Networking, hiring consultants and setting up an advisory board are ways successful businesses get external advice.
  3. Map it out—Developing a strategic marketing plan with specific targets will help to keep your business on track even as economic conditions change.
  4. Master financial management—Keeping tabs on your finances allows you to plan better, see trouble brewing and react quickly.

Harvard Business Review study of 4,500+  companies analyzed three years before, during and after recessions identified the percentage of companies that outperformed their rivals: 21% for businesses that opted for a prevention focus (more cost-cutting) and 37% for a more progressive focus. The study found that “firms that cut costs faster and deeper than rivals don’t necessarily flourish. They have the lowest profitability (21%) of pulling ahead of the competition when times get better.”

In another report, done by Bain, it was found that getting it right during the lean years has a marked impact on a company’s growth rate after the economy improves.

5 Digital marketing ideas during the coronavirus

connect with customers on social media

Whether you’re new to social media or your company is a pro at it, now is THE time to engage your customers on social media. With the majority of the American workforce, and even global workforce, working from home they’re spending more time on social networks than ever before and have a greater possibility of connecting with, and buying from, your company.

For tips on connecting with your customers on social media during this pandemic, read our blog on Embracing Social Media During Social Distancing”. For those of you doing good deeds, giving back to the community, offering free food to truckers, sewing masks for healthcare workers, giving small businesses discounts, promote those good deeds on social media. 

ensure you can be found online

It likely comes as no surprise that Google search traffic has increased significantly over the past week and a half and will continue to climb as we comply with the shelter-at-home and social distancing guidelines. We’re all online, be it on our smartphones, computers or tablets – looking for updates on the news – or looking to get away from the news and find ways to pass the time. For many, that includes shopping online.

Anything online right now will be consumed more than ever before. This is not the time to be hidden online. You should be using search engine optimization (SEO) strategies to climb to the top of Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs) so your business can be easily found. This is not a time for a business to go become a turtle, disappearing into a shell and poking it’s head out once this crisis has passed.

Google Ads (PPC) are a good move now

Google ads or pay-per-click (PPC) is a great strategy right now as, according to the Washington Post report yesterday, users are seeing screen times increase by as much as 185% on a weekly basis.  

In addition, a report last week showed that the  cost-per-click (CPC) is down nearly 6.5% across most verticals which reduces the  amount of money you for every ad click. 

Local seo is more relevant than ever

With people staying close to home, it’s essential that they can find nearby businesses for services and supplies in the rare instances when they do leave home.  That’s where Local SEO strategies come in to play.

You want to make sure your business is using Local SEO to optimize your website for “near me” searches. You want customers in your geo region (e.g. Naperville, Milwaukee, Indianapolis, Bucktown, Aurora, CO, etc.) to be able to easily find you online so they turn to you first. At a time when we’re all looking for more convenience, this gives your business a chance to provide assistance during this critical time.

get creative with your offerings

If you’re on of the many businesses that’s had to close it’s doors to the public, try to be creative with servicing your customers. For a gym, launch online classes via Zoom. For dental offices, launch an online billing payment portal to process payments and offer to do urgent consults via the web. Are you a therapist and can’t see clients? Offer phone therapy sessions. Do you run a restaurant? Offer free delivery or curbside pick up – even Burger King is now offering free delivery as of last night. 

Now is the time to tap into your creative juices and get them flowing. Just yesterday someone in our office received a message from their shoe cobbler saying they were offering free drop off and pick up so they could continue to do shoe repair. 

The Power of Marketing Personalization

The concept of personalization falls into multiple categories: customer service, sales and marketing. It’s a popular trend that enhances the customer experience allowing a brand to get closer to the customer and, as a result of these personalized experiences customers feel valued and appreciated. Here are a few stats from Chief Marketer about personalization:

89% of brands cite challenges with personalization
6x increase in transactions when brands invest in personalization
40% increase in email click-through rate with personalization
Now that we know the value of personalization in today’s marketing mix. Let’s discuss the basics of Why, What, Where and How to do it for your marketing plan.

Why personalize? It will increase your business’s marketing effectiveness, transactions (read sales $$$) and, in today’s marketing, consumers expect it.

What do you personalize? Research suggests that financial incentives such as tailored discounts and offers have the greatest impact on most types of businesses.

Where do you personalize? Digital marketing such as websites, mobile apps and email marketing are the best places to personalize offers and experiences rather than physical locations, likely due to greater access to consumer-level data.

How do you start personalizing? Begin to gather data on your customers/users from all touchpoints. This can be from your site, email lists or ads. Gather as much data as possible while maintaining a smooth customer journey.

Look to industries that are already doing it well, such as retail and travel, to determine best practices for your personalization strategy.

Here are 4 Recommendations to begin your personalization program:

  1. Change up the order in which you think about technology. Think first about the customer experience you want, then what technology is needed to create that experience.
  2. Use the power of data consumers share with you smartly. Create valuable experiences with them in return.
  3. Create a sense of security and trust with your consumers by providing transparency around data use practices.
  4. Take advantage of all data sources available to you. Data fuels personalization and consumers value personalization.

7 Social Media Ideas to Attract More Followers

How do so many brands post witty, yet professional tweets? Where do they come up with all those creative Facebook posts? If you’ve tried creating your own social media content, you know it’s not as easy as it looks. Attracting a larger social media following is a foolproof way of strengthening your brand awareness and credibility. Don’t know where to start? We’ve got you covered with our 7 social media content ideas to attract more followers.

Rather than typing it out as a text post, try using a free online tool to make an eye-catching graphic. We’d recommend using this tool.

Polls encourage engagement and can give you a better idea of your customers’ needs. For example, we recently asked our Facebook followers which they found more valuable, SEO or Social Media. (Social media was the winner).

Not only will this show your appreciation for your customer/client, but it will also strengthen the integrity of your business. Here’s an example of what one can look like when done creatively using PowerPoint.

Navigate to this handy calendar and pick a daily holiday to celebrate. Consider running some sort of promotion to go with the holiday, such as offering customers a free cupcake on National Cupcake Day. Don’t forget to use hashtags to grow impressions.

As with #1, share it as a photo to draw more attention to your post. You can find daily motivational quotes by searching Google or on

Offer an incentive to people who subscribe to your email list or refer business to you. Did you recently upload a new blog to your website? Promote it on your social networks. Share a link to your site along with a friendly caption.

Did you just hire a new employee? Do you have an Instagram-worthy office? Showing customers a peek behind the scenes adds a personal touch to your business and communicates authenticity.

Top 3 Marketing Automation Platforms for 2019

I find it helps to first define topics and then dig in to which are the best so we’ll take that route when it comes to marketing automation.

Marketing automation refers to the software that exists with the goal of automating marketing actions. Many marketing departments have to automate repetitive tasks such as emails, social media, and other website actions. The technology of marketing automation makes these tasks easier.

According to G2Crowd, the top 3 marketing automation platforms are HubSpot, Marketo and ActiveCampaign. That means nothing if you don’t have them or are new to marketing automation so we’re going to give you a preview of each.

HubSpot is a leading growth platform focused on making the world more inbound. Today, over 52,000 total customers in more than 100 countries use HubSpot’s award-winning software, services, and support to transform the way they attract, engage, and delight customers. Comprised of Marketing Hub, Sales Hub, Service Hub, and a powerful free CRM, HubSpot gives companies the tools they need to Grow Better. HubSpot’s marketing software has everything you need to run successful inbound marketing campaigns that make people interested in your business and happy to be your customer. In full disclosure, we use HubSpot here at Dekaf Digital.

Marketo, an Adobe company, offers the leading Engagement Platform that empowers marketers to build brand value, grow revenue, and prove impact. Consistently recognized as the industry’s innovation pioneer, Marketo is the trusted platform for thousands of CMOs thanks to its scalability, reliability, and openness. To learn more about the Marketo Engagement Platform, LaunchPoint® partner ecosystem, and the vast community that is the Marketing Nation®, visit Marketo.

With ActiveCampaign, you’ll be able to create powerful automated marketing and sales processes. These intelligent processes “listen” and “learn” about the needs and interests of individual contacts. Then you can send more relevant, personalized messages at the moment they’ll have the most impact. You’ll have more customers, happier customers, and more loyal customers. They have marketing automation, sales automation, email marketing and cross channel messaging for the entire customer lifecycle. In addition, it offers attribution which allows you to identify the source (channel) of a visitor and what marketing and advertising they’ve interacted with. ActiveCampaign offers a free, no-credit-card-needed 14-day trial so you can experience it first-hand.

What is RoAS and How to Calculate It

There are a variety of metrics to use when it comes to evaluating a digital marketing campaign and one of them is Return on Ad Spend (RoAS). If you’re unfamiliar with this one, no need to worry, you’re not alone. We’re going to walk you through what it is, how to calculate it as well as how to calculate Amazon’s version of RoAS.

RoAS is the average revenue earned for each currency unit (USD, EUR, etc.) spent on advertising. For example, for a brand in the U.S., RoAS tells you how many dollars of revenue were a result of $1 spent on an ad campaign. Sounds good, right? But how do you actually calculate it?

The good news is that RoAS is easy to calculate. The RoAS calculation is total attributed sales, divided by the total cost of the ad campaign(s).

RoAS = Total ad attributed sales / total ad spend

The reason to focus on RoAS is to maximize the efficacy of your ad spend. This metric allows data-driven decisions on where to invest your ad dollars and how to increase efficiency. It answers the question of “did that lever I pulled increase sales?” Converting to RoAS also allows for easier comparisons to other parts of marketing, since this is a standard marketing metric.

A higher RoAS doesn’t always mean that you’ve achieved better marketing goal(s). As with any time you analyze data, you want to keep in mind there are other goals and factors to consider. Here are a few examples of when a lower RoAS can be a good thing:

  • Brand awareness or customer acquisition: for these campaigns, the focus should be on metrics such as impressions, click thru rate (CTR) and cost per acquisition (CPA)
  • Driving top line sales or profit on a COGS: calculation on these business goals doesn’t include the investment made to sell the goods making RoAS less relevant
  • Moving products: when the focus is on moving products, RoAS takes a back seat to metrics such as units sold