By Chris Barrett, Vice President, Mustang Marketing
Anyone who has ever gotten into a car with me knows I’m a big fan of Waze and its use of metrics to recommend traffic options. Most of the time, even when I know exactly how to get somewhere, I still use the app to get real-time information on road conditions and reroute as needed to avoid traffic. Taking advantage of this data has saved me from being late to many a meeting — although you might still catch a glimpse of me running out of my office, briefcase in hand.
A similar philosophy guides me when it comes to marketing. As the vice president of Mustang Marketing, the largest full-service marketing firm in Ventura County, I’m confident in my expertise. And yet, no matter how certain I am of the route to take, I rely on metrics to keep me on course. Just as traffic can bring unexpected surprises, so can marketing campaigns — and carefully measuring the results of each effort is the best way to make timely, beneficial course corrections.
Why Metrics Matter
All too many organizations make the mistake of thinking that once they’ve developed a marketing strategy and started implementing campaigns, their work is done. But to really make sure you’re getting the best return on investment (ROI), you also need to regularly track your results and make strategic adjustments accordingly.
Monitoring the right metrics gives you valuable insights that help you allocate your budget toward the most productive efforts, optimize your marketing creative and better understand your audience.
While the most important marketing metrics to evaluate vary widely based on your organization’s unique goals, there are a few general, overarching ideas that are relevant for many companies. For example, you may want to look at the number of qualified leads gained, profit generated per marketing campaign, marketing spend per customer acquired or ROI per product line promoted.
In addition to these broader metrics, there are platform-specific measures to consider (which also depend on your individual circumstances). Some examples are website traffic, email open rates and click-through rates, conversions from a given landing page, digital ad click-through rates, and social media engagement.
These platform-specific metrics often work together to give you an overall picture of campaign performance. For example, if you’ve done an e-blast to encourage people to sign up for your event, comparing the number of email opens, email clicks and actual conversions on the sign-up landing page gives you a fairly complete picture of how effective the campaign was. It’s easy to get excited about a high open rate, but if it didn’t lead to actual conversions, and conversions was your goal, you’ve got more thinking to do. Maybe the content of your email or landing page wasn’t engaging enough. Maybe your subject line was misleading. Or maybe your event simply wasn’t on the best day for your audience.
Prioritizing Metrics for Your Business
With virtually endless metrics out there to choose from, how can you tell which ones to focus on? It’s usually helpful to start with your larger goals and identify the most important metrics from there. The metrics you’d prioritize if you’re trying to generate initial brand awareness are often different than the metrics you’d focus on further along in the sales process.
Say your goal is to boost sales revenue from existing customers, so you decide to do an e-blast offering a promotional discount. For this type of campaign, measuring email open rates might provide some information, but that alone wouldn’t be enough. You’d also need to evaluate the number of people who actually took advantage of the discount as a result of the email, and the total dollars generated compared to the cost of running the campaign.
It’s one thing to collect data, but another to be able to use it effectively. Before beginning each campaign, be clear on the goals you want to achieve and define the metrics you’ll use to measure success. Then, evaluate the results on an ongoing basis as the campaign progresses and make modifications as needed to improve outcomes. As you gather data, learn from what worked and what didn’t. Compare immediate results to long-term trends. Then adapt your short-term efforts and big-picture strategy as needed to maximize success.
Sometimes it’s also beneficial to test different approaches on a smaller scale before moving forward with a larger campaign. This way, you’ll be able to experiment with a lower budget and less risk, and then optimize your efforts for when it really counts.
When monitored, analyzed and acted on effectively, metrics provide an excellent way to keep yourself from getting lost as you navigate the complex roads of marketing.