The best way to ensure you get stellar results from your marketing is one that is overlooked surprisingly often: measure! When you first launch a marketing program, you may have to start by measuring activities, but eventually you’ll be able to measure results. Most importantly – and this is where a lot of measurement efforts fail — you can measure progress against your plan.
Here are a few guidelines to help you get started or to assess your current measuring system:
- Keep it simple – collect only data you’ll actually act on. With applications such as CRMs and web analytic programs, it’s easy to measure more than you really need to know. Just ask yourself this question: “What will I do with this information?”
- Make sure the data is collected in the same way all the time. If you’re trying to spot a trend, consistency is often more important than accuracy.
- Look at the findings regularly and share it with others. There’s nothing like a little visibility to make sure things stay on track.
- Integrate your marketing measurements with measurements for sales, customer service and any other client-facing groups. This will allow you to see how well the entire process is working.
What should you measure?
While marketing analytics can get very complex, especially for large, multi-national, multi-business firms, you can accomplish a lot by just tracking some combination of the following:
- In-bound inquiries. How many new inquiries has marketing generated this month (or week) and over the last 12 months (or year-to-date).
- Qualified Leads. How many of these inquiries are actually real prospects?
- Sources of leads. How many leads have come from each of your major sources: teleprospecting, direct mail, email campaigns, networking, referrals, online or offline advertising, public relations, search engines, events. At what cost?
- Qualified opportunities. How many real sales opportunities are currently in the pipeline. How many were generated by marketing? How does this compare to the number and value you expected to have?
- Progress against your marketing implementation plan. Have you and your marketing people completed the activities you committed to complete?
- General website traffic. What is the trend for the number of people visiting your site? Where are they coming from? What percentage sign up for your newsletter or to download information?
How often should you review your measurements?
For a high-level strategic view of marketing progress, a monthly review will give you a good picture. To actually manage a marketing effort on a tactical level, a weekly review of the data is better.
Charts and graphs are generally better than words and numbers simply because research shows that people absorb information from the former faster than from the latter.
Two secrets to making measurements work:
Secret #1: Continuously compare what’s really happening to what your marketing plan says should be happening. For example, it’s good to know that you’ve generated 150 qualified leads so far this year. It’s far better to know that, according to your plan, you should have generated 200 leads by now.
Secret #2: When you review the reports – whether monthly or weekly – act on the information! Make decisions. Redeploy resources. Change your approach. Whatever it takes to get and stay on track.
Those of you who are already well into a good system of measuring and reporting on a complex marketing operation are likely to tell me I’ve oversimplified things here. And maybe you’re right. There are loads of other important bits of information that are good to know and watch. The point I want to make is: you don’t have to do it all in order to get a benefit. As Nike says, Just Do It!
© The Tatum Group 2007