What is ROI. Return of investment


Understanding and Maximizing Return on Investment (ROI)

Return on Investment (ROI) is a financial metric used to evaluate the monetary profitability of an investment relative to its cost. The ROI formula is simple: ROI = ({Gain from Investment} – {Cost of Investment}) \ {Cost of Investment}

For instance, if you earn $10,000 from a $1,000 investment, your ROI is 0.9 or 90%. This calculation can also be easily performed using an investment calculator. ROI is particularly useful for assessing the potential profitability of a specific investment, evaluating your marketing campaigns for accountability, or while developing business plans for starting a company. Return on Advertising Spend (ROAS) is a similar metric but focuses more on specific tactics, such as an individual advertising campaign to grow your business.

Various metrics are used by companies to evaluate their profitability and overall financial health. One of the most popular and effective metrics, whether for capital investment or marketing strategies like a PPC campaign, is the Return on Investment (ROI).

In this article, we’ll cover all the basics you need to know about ROI, from the calculation formula to tactics for increasing your ROI, as well as its limitations.

What is ROI?

In business, your investments are the resources you use to enhance your company, such as time and money. The return is the profit you gain as a result of these investments.

ROI is typically defined as the ratio of net profit to the total cost of the investment.

ROI is most useful for your business objectives when it refers to something concrete and measurable, to identify the financial gains and returns from your investment. Analyzing investments in terms of monetary cost is the most popular method because it’s the easiest to quantify, though ROI can also be calculated using time as the investment.

The ROI metric or ROI figure is also applied in different types of investments and industries: return on capital investment, return on advertising investment, return on asset investment, social return on investment, among others.

The Use of ROI Calculation

ROI calculations are straightforward and assist an investor in deciding whether to take or skip an investment opportunity. The calculation can also indicate how an investment has performed to date. When an investment shows a positive or negative ROI, it can be a crucial indicator for the investor about the value of their investment.

Using the ROI formula, an investor can distinguish between low-yield and high-yield investments. With this approach, investors and portfolio managers can attempt to optimize their investments.

Example of the ROI Formula

An investor buys Property A valued at $500,000. Two years later, the investor sells the property for $1,000,000.

In this case, the investment gain formula is used.

ROI = {(1,000,000 – 500,000)} {(500,000)} = 1 or 100%

Understanding and applying the ROI calculation can significantly impact investment decisions, providing a clear picture of potential gains and guiding strategic financial planning.

Benefits and Limitations of the ROI Formula

Benefits of the ROI Formula

The Return on Investment (ROI) ratio is a crucial metric for analysts due to its numerous benefits.

1. Simplicity and Ease of Calculation

ROI is frequently used because of its straightforward calculation. It only requires two figures: profit and cost. Since “return” can mean different things to different people, the ROI formula is versatile, as it doesn’t adhere to a strict definition of “return.”

2. Universally Understood

ROI is a universally understood concept. When you use this metric in conversations, it’s almost guaranteed that people will know what you’re talking about.

Limitations of the ROI Formula

Despite its usefulness, the ROI formula also has important limitations that are essential to be aware of. Here are two key points worth mentioning:

1. Time Factor Ignored by ROI Formula

A higher ROI number doesn’t always indicate a better investment option. For instance, consider two investments, both with a 50% ROI. However, the first investment completes in three years, while the second takes five years to yield the same return. The same ROI for both investments masks the bigger picture, but when time is factored in, the better option becomes clear.

Investors need to compare two instruments over the same time period and under the same circumstances.

2. Susceptibility to Manipulation

ROI calculation can vary between individuals depending on the ROI formula used. A marketing manager may use the property calculation explained in the example section, disregarding additional costs like maintenance expenses, property taxes, sales fees, stamp duties, and legal costs.

Investors need to consider the true ROI, which accounts for all potential costs incurred as each investment appreciates in value.

¿What Constitutes a Good ROI?

Conventional wisdom suggests that an annual ROI of around 7% or more is considered good for a stock investment.

Since this is an average, some years your performance might be higher; other years, it might be lower. But overall, the return should smooth out to around this amount.

However, determining the appropriate ROI for your investment strategy requires careful consideration rather than a simple benchmark. To calculate the ROI that’s right for you, ask yourself the following questions:

  • How much risk can I afford to take?
  • What will happen if I lose the money I invest?
  • How much profit do I need to make this investment worth the prospect of losing money?
  • What else could I do with this money if I don’t make this investment?

Remember, ROI is a valuable tool, but it should be used in conjunction with a comprehensive understanding of your financial goals, risk tolerance, and investment strategy.

Strategies to Enhance ROI

Improving your Return on Investment (ROI) can vary depending on the type of investment you’re considering. However, there are some universal strategies you can apply to bolster your chances of achieving a high ROI.

1. Leverage Analytics

Investing in social media advertising underscores the importance of using tools with advanced analytics capabilities. When considering an investment that requires using an external platform or software, pay attention to the reporting features different providers offer. Metrics like website traffic and customer engagement are particularly valuable when assessing the success of an investment.

2. Understand Your Market

Effectively connecting with your target audience is one of the best ways to boost your ROI. Investments that deepen your understanding of your target market or increase their engagement with your brand are likely to yield high returns because these are the people most likely to purchase from you.

Examples of investments to connect with your target market include conducting marketing research and creating advertising campaigns tailored to your audience.

3. Be Open to Experimentation

The true test of any idea’s value will be in the market, so don’t shy away from trying something without a proven track record. Start with more experimental tactics on a small scale; you can measure the ROI over a shorter period to test if an investment is worth expanding.

The more practice you have in reflecting on your ROI, the more refined your decision-making will become. ROI is just one performance metric, but it’s one of the most essential tools for business owners looking to get the most out of their investments.


ROI is an easy-to-understand and calculate metric for determining the efficiency of an investment. This widely used calculation allows you to compare similar investment options.

However, ROI should not be the sole metric investors use to make decisions, as it does not account for risk or time horizon, and requires an accurate measure of all costs. Using ROI can be a good starting point for evaluating an investment, but don’t stop there. Always consider a holistic view of your investment strategy, taking into account all potential factors and risks to make the most informed decisions.

Juan Esteban Yepes

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