How to Measure What Matters
One of the first conversations I have with a prospective client is to understand their business goals and learn exactly what they hope to achieve. This allows me to determine how my business can help them, and demonstrate success.
Whether you are on the corporate or agency side, this conversation will differentiate you. Unfortunately. I say “unfortunately” because it should be the foundation of everything we do but it isn’t the norm. The good news is, being an expert in marketing measurement will give you a competitive edge.
Any program starts with agreed-upon business goals. This might be stated in revenue (incremental or organic growth), sales, transactions, or donations. You might not be trying to grow sales but perhaps client retention, or member renewals. The goals should be stated in measurable bottom-line numbers.
This goal determines the strategy. How will you achieve the goal? Perhaps you need to influence perception, increase internal communications, or build more community. Likely, it’s a combination of those items.
With that strategy, come the tactics – email marketing, blogger and media outreach, social media, influencer relations – a number of campaigns will achieve the strategy that helps you hit the business goals.
With a clear goal, comes a clear idea of what you need to do to be successful.
We’re going to get mathematical about it. A spreadsheet might be helpful.
How much of the tactics do you need to do to achieve the goal? What volume of shares, organic web traffic and/or email addresses are converting to sales? If you are an established business, you might have benchmarks from which to track averages and how you intend to trend them upwards. If not, you’ll have to use projections.
If you have 1000 email addresses, for example, and your sales conversion rate is 5%, you can do the math to achieve the right sales goals. It might mean you need to grow your list, or increase your conversion rate. Each of those tactics determines a different set of activities; all measurable.
As you create the plan, select a handful of metrics that matter. We don’t want to create a lot of extra bureaucratic desk work with this exercise. We want to demonstrate real success tied to actual sales goals.
Let’s talk about goals in reverse order of importance from top of the sales funnel to bottom:
Increase brand awareness
These are often called fluff or ego metrics because you are measuring eyeballs. But we need eyeballs to get sales.
Things like total web traffic and referring traffic (from social networks, blogs etc.), and size of social network bases don’t mean a thing if they aren’t converting to sales. But we’ll be measuring conversion, so you’ll want to know these numbers for that reason.
Are those eyeballs interested in what you have to offer and are they sharing, commenting, asking questions?
This is going to tell you if your efforts are useful and relevant and if you’re creating relationships that will eventually convert. You might measure engagement using a variety of tools like Google’s social tracking and analytics or your CRM or monitoring platforms.
This is where we weed out the “Lookie Lou’s” from the interested parties. We generate leads by getting web visitors to sign up for an email newsletter, a free trial of a product, or make a phone call to set an appointment.
You can track how you are converting visitors to leads, on the online form or via trackable phone numbers. Track your lead generation rate as a percentage of overall website visits. Then, you’ll know how much web traffic you need to achieve a certain number of leads.
Convert leads to sales
Now we have a phone number and/or an email and we nurture the leads with email marketing, content or other offline tactics.
Using online tools such as Salesforce.com you can track how a customer originally found you, and assign any revenue back to those pieces. Track sales conversions against lead generation and total web traffic, for example to see how you are converting.
I start weekly team meetings revisiting key metrics and we look at what is working and what isn’t. This helps us identify where we want to refocus efforts moving forward.
Here’s what happens when you’re speaking the language of the CEO. If they need to cut the budget, you’re now tracking revenue based on your marketing budget. You can show what will happen to revenue with a reduced budget. Suddenly, you’re making a strong case for your job!
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