Ever hear the saying “I know that half of my marketing investments are wasted, I just don’t know which half”? This sentiment, attributed to 1830’s merchant John Wanamaker represents the once prevailing belief that marketing cannot be measured.
That may have once been true, before the advent of online marketing. Back then, decision makers largely employed a “superstition strategy” that spread marketing dollars across disciplines, being sure to cover every base, and hoped that one or two would produce desirable results. Not so anymore.
These days, it’s rare to meet a successful Marketing Director who does not base their strategy on the analysis of numerous metrics. Some of them can sound daunting, like Channel-Specific Acquisition Cost or Competitor Reaction Elasticity. My head spins just thinking about measuring these.
Analyzing the effectiveness of your marketing program need not require a Wharton MBA. For many marketers, especially those wanting to take their program to the next level, consistently measuring a few key metrics will bring a huge improvement in strategic quality and insight. If you’ve resolved to measure your marketing program in 2015, but don’t know where to start – here are a few basic measurements (and one resource) that will get you off on the right foot.
1. Measure Your Call(s) To Action. In an earlier post, we made a big deal of ensuring that every marketing investment you make include at least one Call-To-Action (CTA). I hope that basic best practice is now a standard part of your strategy. But don’t forget to consistently measure the response to your CTA’s. Doing so can be really simple, like keeping an Excel spreadsheet of inbound leads per week, or you may choose to pursue something more robust, like analyzing what CTA is most likely to help a lead progress through your sales funnel. The point is to carry the discipline full circle – make sure you measure whatever you ask your target to do. In this way, you’ll build a baseline for understanding which investments are most effective. For some good examples of effective CTA’s, link to this Hubspot post.
2. Measure Growth in (Organic) Website Traffic. As you track website traffic, segment those visitors that result from your paid efforts (advertising, paid posts, etc.) from those (organic) visitors that come from non-paid tactics like content, blogging and social means. Why is this important? Since organic traffic results from search activities (searches like “leading real estate agents in Rye, NY”), it is a more telling reflection of how well your brand is uniquely positioned in your market and against your competitors. In addition, organic traffic typically comes from buyers who are further along in the sales cycle, thus being more likely to convert to a quality lead. While more difficult to build, organic traffic is more sustainable. A great post on increasing organic traffic is provided by Positionly here.
3. Measure Cost Per Action (Lead). Back in my agency days, I had a large corporate client with multiple business units tell me that they did not want to measure cost per lead because no division in their company kept track of this metric. In essence, they felt that by being the only ones to establish a hard cost for each lead, they would draw attention to their budget and risk Executive scrutiny. This “most expensive horse in the glue factory” mindset helped explain their poor performance and falling market share. It also explains why the agency business drove me crazy.
Measuring cost per lead need not be an overwhelming task, especially if you are already tracking responses to each CTA (see #1, above). For now, take the budget expended on each tactic and divide it by the number of actions/leads generated. When you compare this metric across tactics, you start to get an idea of which are most effective. Sure, not all leads are created equal but we’re just getting started with our measurement program, remember?
In closing, becoming a marketer who relies on analysis rather than superstition is one of the most important and beneficial transitions you can make. By regularly tracking and reporting on just a few key metrics, you’ll see that your strategy becomes sharper, your results more attractive and your influence greater.
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