Measuring Success

Measuring Success

I love when a marketer asks, "how should we measure this?"

Sometimes we get so caught up in opens, clicks, visitors, impressions, and all the other easy-to-get metrics that we forget what we wanted to accomplish in the first place. This is why it is so important to set up a formal approach to measurement before your marketing campaign launches. Yet a lot of marketers don't know where to start.

Measurement doesn’t have to be hard, but that doesn’t mean you always start with the easy stuff. Instead, think about why you have created your marketing program in the first place. If you did it right (of course you did!) you started with your goals. And this is the best place to start working on a measurement plan too.

Start with your goals

Individual managers often have annual goals that we're measured on. Are you responsible for helping retain customers? Or acquire them? Or maybe your goals talk about sales or revenue or a lift in foot traffic? Whatever is in the goals written into your annual performance review is a great starting point for your measurement plan. After all, what better way to earn that bonus than by proving you've met your annual goals before the year is even half over.

Review your brand's goals

Even if you don't have an annual performance review process, your brand still has goals. Goals reflect what shareholders want to see and what the business needs to do to continue to grow. Some of these brand goals will be similar to your individual goals, but it's worth a look to see if there are other things you should be considering. For example, if your goals relate to revenue, but your organization is also interested in net profit margin, that's important to measure separately.

Of course, just because you have a goal doesn’t mean you want to use it in your measurement plan. After all, one marketing program is not going to be able to do everything. You need to narrow the list down to what is realistic.

Focus on the most relevant goals

The goal you use should be the most important one that is related to the marketing you are doing. For example, a program that sends marketing communications to potential new customers is going to be great at acquiring customers, but not necessarily a huge revenue driver. Sure, you’ll get revenue from new customers (assuming your prospects have to spend money with your brand to become a customer), but revenue isn’t the primary driver here. Your measurement plan should reflect that.

Once you’ve identified the goals that fit with your marketing program, it’s time to figure out how to measure those goals. Here again, it’s easy to get caught up in the trap of easy-to-get metrics. Before you revert to opens and clicks, think about whether there are other metrics that would better reflect your goals.

This might take a bit of detective work, since brands aren’t always set up to capture every action that a marketer needs to track.

Identify measurable actions

Going back to our acquisition example, let’s say you are trying to acquire new customers. How does your brand define a new customer?  Is it just someone who buys once? Is it someone who logs into your service for three months in a row? Or someone who visits your site at least twice a month? You’ll need this definition to know what to measure, and how long you need to look at your results before they are final.

You should be able to track at least some of what you need in order to confirm that your audience has taken the action you are hoping for. These trackable actions are what you need to measure. If you haven’t used this metric before, don’t forget to make sure you set up a control group to measure against. That’s the best way to tell if you have been successful, and as a bonus you will be helping set a baseline for future efforts.

When to use those easy-to-get metrics

You probably don’t have any opens, clicks, visits, or other easy-to-get metrics in your measurement plan yet. And you might be wondering, when do brands use those metrics?

These easy-to-get metrics are often great diagnostic metrics, to help you understand where your marketing didn’t go according to plan. So while you won’t use clicks to measure success at acquiring new customers, you can definitely look at your clickthrough rate to understand whether your display ad was engaging to your audience. If it was and you still didn’t get enough customers, then that can help you identify what to test next (hint: look at the landing page, for starters). Similarly, understanding revenue per email compared to your click-to-open rate can help you understand where your content can be tweaked to improve your results.

Metrics are great tools, but you need a measurement plan if you want to be able to prove your success.