Do you know how to measure success in your campaigns?
Do you know how your marketing activity impacts the businesses bottom line?
Some common questions you might hear when colleagues want to know how well you’re doing:
- How many likes does your Facebook page have?
- How many comments did that last post get?
- Have we gotten more views on that video?
These are all common questions, I hear all the time, from enthusiastic colleagues, and entrepreneurs, eager to know how their social media is doing, blind to the fact that most of the time, none of those numbers really matter.
When it comes to social media marketing, it can be so easy to get pulled into conversations about meaningless metrics (sometimes referred to as ‘vanity metrics’) depending on what you’ve heard from a friend, or what you think should be happening.
The truth is, with digital marketing, we have the unprecedented opportunity to be able to measure and track every stage of the journey that a client or customer might travel along, when building a relationship with us, or getting to know our products and services.
The number of fans on your page really doesn’t matter at all. If you have 100 fans, and only 1 loyal customer/advocate, who regularly provides you with repeat business, and engages with your content on a regular basis when posting on Facebook, serve that loyal customer.
I have seen it on occasion, where a brand can spend tens of thousands of pounds building up a fan page with millions of likes, but then some of the posts on their page have maybe 5 likes, or 1 or 2 comments, if that. I won’t point any fingers directly, but I’ve seen it happen often enough to tell me that it’s a common enough misconception in the world of Digital Marketing with large national, and global brands, as much as it is for the local small business.
So if we want to monitor the right metrics and know how effective our marketing is, what do we need to measure?
Well, as harsh and as stark as it is – the real numbers that truly matter are sales. Direct or indirect, if you’re not generating income, or reducing the costs to your business through your marketing efforts, then it’s a harsh reality, but you’re just spending money for the sake of it. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been in positions, and seen in businesses where it makes sense to use the money up, and try stuff out. But if you’re not measuring, or actively tracking the impact of what you do, you’re as good as throwing your money down the drain.
Which is why, you should
always, always, always start with the end goal in mind.
On a practical level there’s only so many actual outcomes you can expect from your efforts.
- To make sales
- Reduce customer churn
- Increase retention period
- Increase customer satisfaction
- Increase the lifetime value of a customer
- Reduce your customer acquisition costs
Providing customer support, would fall under reducing customer churn. (Feel free to comment below if you think there’s any other meaningful metrics or measures of success that should be included in this list, or if you disagree – like everything else in life, I believe in constantly striving to improve, or make things better, and welcome any and all feedback).
Of all these making sales, is the most critical.
It directly impacts the lifeblood of your business (as it relates directly to bringing money and a fresh regular supply of it into your business). As long as you can see how to consistently make sales in your business, and how the marketing efforts you make can support it, then you’re golden.
If you can’t track, measure or attribute your activity to one of the above, and you’re not making regular sales in your business, then focus on making regular sales in your business first.
Without a regular income into your business, your business will not survive.
Now if you’re launching a brand new business, and you’re still developing your marketing proposition, and finding your product/market fit, then it’s a whole different story.
Use your marketing to test your products and your proposition before going to the effort of building out a business around a product/offering. (But we’ll save that for another day).
Where you already have a going concern, your number one priority should be to put all your efforts into generating regular cash flow, through the consistent production of sales.
As sales start to become a consistent and measurable outcome, then worry about the other metrics.
Of course, if you’re in a large enough business, then you may only need to focus on the area of the pie that matters to you and your department. But then make sure you know how your part of the puzzle works, and connects with the whole.
You can use tracking, and analytics tools and platforms to measure every click to your website, see every optin, conversion, and even every sale coming in.
But if you measure the wrong metrics, you will never be able to track your progress, and you’ll end up spending time and money pursuing numbers and results that ultimately don’t result in anything meaningful.
Of course if you’ve got a clear path to conversion, or you’re at a stage of figuring things out organically, and going one step at a time you might choose to focus on what you can see, rather than what you can’t.
But always know that ultimately what gets measured can be improved.
And if you measure how many people comment or like your post, but you don’t actively measure your sales, or conversions, then you’ll never see where the activity helped, and end up right back where old school marketing thrived.
Just like John Wanamaker, you’ll know that at least half the money you spend on advertising is wasted, you just won’t know which half.