by Farzin Andrew Espahani
VP, Growth & Digital Marketing – Anthropologist
Every business owner wants to know if their marketing strategy is working. It can be difficult to pinpoint the answer to this question because of the many different ways of analyzing results from marketing without a clear, concise, and trackable goal in mind. Defining what is considered a successful marketing campaign is the first step in determining if any marketing strategy is pulling through and bringing attention to the brand or business being advertised.
With the right business plan in mind, many marketers will be able to clearly understand their conversions and quantify their return on investment. Having an accurate way of measuring the impact of marketing tactics and finding effective ways to adjust strategies for maximizing efforts are two primary ways of really addressing whether a marketing campaign is working or not.
How do you achieve this? How businesses can lay out their specific goals, but their marketing strategy to work, and see if it is bringing value and ROI? It is very important to understand the process necessary to develop a campaign that is successful—and trackable.
Establishing Key Performance Indicators and Marketing Goals
The first step in the process of building a successful marketing strategy is to narrow down tactics and final objectives. Are you seeking short term or long term success? What are you trying to achieve within this time period? Is the goal of the marketing efforts to add to sales or build leads? What channels are available to you for marketing? Are there any marketing channels you could influence?
The next step is defining what is called the “conversion funnel.” How do you expect potential consumers to walk through the process of learning about your organization and making a purchase? What are the responsibilities of the marketing campaign? Is your goal to bring in a specific number of leads in a set amount of time, or to improve sales revenue within this window?
By addressing these questions from the get-go, marketers will be able to define broad goals and learn about the key performance indicators that matter the most to their campaign. While answering these questions and defining goals, make sure to avoid lumping everything into one action category. For example, it is important to have a specific goal for marketing and another goal for the larger aspect of the business. This is essential in determining the metrics that matter to each group or person and therefore finding it easier to track performance and assign responsibility within a marketing campaign.
Additionally, be aware that there are certain things that are able to be measured and certain things that aren’t. Not everything should be followed and tracked. Decide the metrics that are most important to you and your company and focus on these to make decisions that matter. Two considerations may include landing page hits versus average session time while on a website.
In this first step, defining the conversion funnel and managing the KPIs that are most important is a great way to layout the goals of a strong marketing campaign.
Validate Actions and Configure Analytics
Once you’ve set your goals and KPIs in the first step, it’s time to move on and consider the analytics.
There are many platforms available today to help marketers in examining the way traffic is funneling into their current websites. For example, Google Analytics is an incredibly powerful tool for many businesses interested in getting reliable insights into their marketing campaigns. Google offers Multi-Channel Funnels reports that help businesses link their sales and conversions to their current marketing channels.
Configuring analytics does not happen overnight, so understand that properly measuring the performance of your marketing strategy against your KPIs will take some time. Adjustments may be necessary, but don’t be afraid of sticking it out and experimenting to get it just right!
In addition to more traditional analytics, pay attention to flow of visitors and validate behavior. Evaluate how those who visit your site interact with it throughout the conversation process. Is your conversion funnel working exactly as you expected it? Are they taking different actions that you didn’t expect? Do certain methods of getting traffic perform consistently better than others?
Throughout the process, make sure that your goals are being met. Remember the goals you set out in the first step? Make sure these clear points of success are being reached with your marketing strategy through analytics.
Even though all of this can take some time, the investment is worth it in building an analytics configuration that measures the success you desire. Watch how your KPIs are performing while paying close attention to how customers are getting to your site and utilizing it throughout the conversation process.
Link Goals with Value
Value is incredibly important in determining how certain marketing channels are working in comparison to each other. Determining channel performance is done by using the analytics resources that you’ve already developing, including multi-channel funnels and advanced segmentation. After determining the success at each stage of the process, you can then assign values to the actions.
Value doesn’t necessarily mean revenue, though in some situations it can. A good example is marketing by a newsletter. Though someone signs up for a newsletter through your site, it doesn’t mean they will immediately make a purchase. However, this doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have value. After several newsletters, a subscriber may finally take the step to become a true consumer.
Values should be applied to lower-funnel events such as conversion on a website landing page to upper-funnel events like having a possible customer sign up for a newsletter on your site. By visualizing these purchase funnels, it helps in determining the value of each step. It gives you the opportunity to see what is going on in your marketing campaign step-by-step so you can see areas of improvement, including the costs and benefits of each aspect of your strategy.
Consider Performance Based on Action, Audience, and Value
Now that you have everything laid out, it’s time to put it all to use. Take the time on a regular basis to see how each marketing channel is performing. See what is being spent on each of these channels and how it may impact other funnels in your advertising plan. Consider what you are measuring, “who” instead of just “what.” Gauge how each audience from each channel is utilizing your website and how this affects your business. When you notice certain customers returning and following the same funnel and path, it may be worthwhile to look into this process and find out what makes it tick. It is essential that all of these aspects work together—action, audience, and value.
There is no easy way for marketers to find out how their audience converts into a purchase and the best ROI. This is the wrong mindset to have. Instead, it is best to think of your marketing strategy as a mystery that needs to be solved—gather the evidence and follow the clues to find out what is working best for you!
Once you have configured your analytics properly, they will help you understand conversation through your website so you can build a model that accurately describes how your marketing budget is being used and where it is most effective.
Understand, at the same time, that analytics can shift. Nothing is static. Check your analytics regularly and continually refine it so that it will always work for you. Instead of asking if your marketing plan is working, ask yourself if it is working “right now.”
By following the steps in this post, you can develop an analytics system that works best for thoroughly understanding your current marketing campaign. By building clear goals, understanding KPIs, and mapping out your analytics to see conversions in conjunction with funnels, you will be able to get the full picture of how your money is working for you and your brand.