“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half.” - John Wanamaker
Marketing efforts can sometimes feel like shouting into a void. Who’s hearing your message? Are they responding to it? Is it reaching the people you want it to reach?
To get a grasp of these vital questions, every new marketing plan should include a phase to review efforts and analyze their success. The problem is, measuring for success can be a very complex process. How can you measure the effect of someone hearing your company’s name? Is it better to get a Facebook “like” or a Twitter re-tweet? Is it better to have more visitors or your website, or have fewer visitors who spend more time there?
Therefore, before any marketing campaign begins, you need to take the time to make a plan that includes phases for review and analysis. You have to first determine what exactly you want and then know how to track what you’ve achieved. To help with that process, ask yourself these important questions before starting any marketing campaign.
5 Questions to Ask Before Beginning a Marketing Campaign
- What is your goal? While your overall goal is likely to increase sales, each campaign comes with a tangential goal: e.g. do you want to increase awareness of your brand, get more phone calls, or connect with the community? Naming a specific goal for each campaign will not only help in the final measurement, but it will help keep all efforts on track.
- What metrics are important to know/measure? What do you need to know to reach your goal – number of website visitors, Facebook shares, or completed online forms?
- How will you track results? / What tools will you need to set up to track them? If you mail out a postcard, how will you know who read it? If you send an email, how will you know who opened it?
- What is your evaluation process? When will you evaluate, how often, and with whom? It’s one thing to watch your number of Facebook likes go up every day, it’s another to have a team discussion of whether that number is good or bad, what it means for your overall social media plan, and how those results will affect future social media messages.
- At what point will you have achieved success? / At what point will you decide whether or not to pull the plug, or make changes? Should your LinkedIn ad run for a week or a month? Are AdWords getting enough clicks to justify your price bid? Parameters like budget, timelines and that all-important end-goal will influence what you consider a success, a failure, or a campaign re-do.
Per Question 3, once you know what you need to track, you need the right tools to help you track results. Here are A-LINE’s top recommendations for tools that effectively and efficiently track marketing metrics.
4 Tools to Track Marketing Efforts
- Google Analytics: These reports track what every visitor has done on your website, including pages visited and time spent on each. You can also see general audience demographics, showing where your web visitors are based and when they go to your page. Google Analytics can show you which pages get the most traffic, which buttons get the most clicks, and whether or not web visitors are doing what you want them to do.
- Google Search Console (formerly Webmaster Tools): This site is Google’s way of telling you how valuable it views your site, and thus how well you’ll rank in Google searches. You can see how the Google bots crawl your sitemap and pages, which affects how visible your site is to searchers. You can also see the links and keywords that are directing people to your website, and make fixes to any problematic links or spam.
- Unique URLs: Creating a new landing page within your website with its own URL allows you to specifically track the success of printed or online campaigns. Visitors to that page have to type in that URL exactly (if viewing a printed piece) or click on a dedicated link (if viewing an online ad or social link) to land on that page – so you can track exactly how many people took action based on your campaign.
- Facebook Pages: Facebook offers advertisers a lot of data to track page visitors, likes, shares, and impressions. You can see what time of day your visitors are most active on Facebook, and run A/B tests to see which kinds of Facebook ads get the best results.
Note that, depending on your campaign, there are countless other things you can track: from hashtag mentions to retweets, contest entries to clipped coupons, each campaign is unique and requires its own toolset to evaluate its success. Additionally, one of the most valuable tools in your box is one that isn’t free—effective customer relationship management (CRM) software. Your CRM can aggregate all your marketing efforts and track all leads to see when, where and how each of your customers was “touched” by marketing, and which campaign(s) ultimately led to a conversion.
If reading about metrics has you either excited to see the numbers or freaking out because it’s too much to take in, we get it. The team at A-LINE is happy to partner with you to understand it all better, either in a brief meeting over coffee or as a full marketing overview. We can “run the numbers” for our clients or start fresh with a new marketing plan that has clear objectives, metrics and measurement plans. The most important thing to remember – you’ll never know how you’re doing if you don’t take the time to measure your results.