Marketing is costly. As a business owner, you want to ensure that your marketing budget is maximized and used for marketing channels and activities that yield the best possible results. To do this you need to be privy to data that can help you make informed decisions about how to allocate budget.
There is an abundance of information available online and through research facilities, to guide your choice of marketing activities. However the most effective insights will be from your own research, and from the results of your past marketing efforts. So if you haven’t already, it would be suggested to put systems in place to monitor the results of all your marketing activities.
What exactly should you monitor? And how do you do this?
When engaging in a particular marketing activity, each tactic should have a goal attached to it. For example a milestone may be: to increase sales, to increase brand awareness, to generate new leads or engagement and to build customer retention. For each of these set goals, there are several metrics that can be used to monitor performance.
Increase in sales- Selling is the ultimate goal of operating a business. The sales performance for both online and offline activities – whether it is increasing, on a plateau or not meeting targets – should be measured. This should be done periodically and measured against previous months, or against sales made on the same period in the previous year/s. Online sales will be easier to measure as e-commerce websites come with a feature to track sales. On the other hand, offline sales might need to be monitored manually.
Increase brand awareness- Brand awareness can spark curiosity among potential customers. This may encourage them to get more information about your business and to be in contact with your customer touch points. For online activities, the metrics to keep an eye on are website traffic, page views, downloads, mentions on social media and referral links. Offline, you can measure phone inquiries, foot traffic and email inquiries.
Generate new leads- Your new marketing efforts should be able to generate new leads, whether the primary goal is brand awareness or an increase in sales. To determine the number of leads generated, you can look into form renewals and completions, email sign-ups, the number of times a blog has been read or shared, as well as subscriptions to your e-newsletter.
Customer Retention- It is more expensive to acquire new customers than to retain them. Thus, your business will benefit from having loyal customers. To be able to track your customer retention, you can use metrics such as renewal (membership or subscription) rates, re-orders, and re-visits to the website.
Engagement- By getting a sense of how customers perceive your product/s and or service/s, you will have an opportunity to see what is currently working in terms of your marketing efforts, and what needs to be improved or removed. Engagement can be monitored through activities such as blog comments, the number of inbound links, likes, or shares.
As discussed above, tracking the results of traditional marketing activities is more difficult than monitoring the output of marketing activities done through online channels. To be able to gauge the success of offline marketing activities, here are a few ideas:
Landing pages- When advertising the traditional way (via print or television), include a different URL for each page that potential customers can visit. This way, the potential customers can be directed to a unique landing page. You can then track which of the traditional channels are the most effective.
Discount codes- Discount codes are an effective way to track which offline marketing activities and channels are most effective. To monitor which of these bring in the most revenue, designate a different code for each marketing activity.
Hashtags- Including hashtags in your offline marketing campaign gives your audience a chance to use them across social media platforms. You can then get on social media and monitor where and how the hashtags are used.
Survey- A short survey, whether conducted online or offline, asking customers where they first discovered the brand will give you an idea of which marketing activity or channel has the widest market reach.
Key performance indicators or goals should be set prior to launching a marketing campaign. For each of the marketing activities in the campaign, goals should be set. Corresponding metrics should also be assigned to each of these goals. The results from the metrics should then be compared against your target goals, as well as numbers from previous marketing activities. Over time, the data that you will gather from all of these will paint an accurate picture of where your business stands in the minds of your customers. This will then allow you to make better-informed marketing and business decisions in the future.
In our next post about marketing, we will delve deeper into the meaning of key metrics by channel type.