Marketing is like doing the limbo – you can’t go to the next round unless you measure.

Whether you’re just getting started or you’ve been marketing for a while, you need to be continually in contact with your marketing metrics to gauge whether it’s working.

Before you bunny trail into marketing metrics, you need to do a bit of homework. These three things will help you find the information you need and evaluate your past or ongoing campaigns to make decisions about your future marketing efforts:

  1. Make a Plan: You need a plan to follow and judge against. If you can’t remember why or what you did it’s hard to make a judgment about whether worked or not.
  2. Tools: Find and use tools that allow you to acquire and easily consume data from your digital marketing campaigns.
  3. Know What Matters: Which metrics are important?  Where do you look to find them?

The Digital Marketing Data Review Pyramid

The Digital Marketing Data Review Pyramid: From Bottom to Top - Activities in Your Plan, Digital Marketing Metrics, Big Picture Indicators, Goal

Reviewing your digital marketing data works like a pyramid.  The wide bottom is your plan; the activities you will execute to implement the marketing plan.   The narrow top is the end goal of your campaign. That goal defines your most important metric. For example, if your goal is to increase sales, then sales revenue is your most important metric.   If you review nothing else, review the amount of money or hours spent on your marketing versus the amount of sales revenue you brought in. 

Start reviewing at the bottom.  Remember: this layer is made up of the activities you do in your marketing plan — without this layer, the rest of the pyramid doesn’t exist.  Meaning, you can’t reach your big picture goal unless you do the activities that get you there. The metric you review for this layer is simple — “Did you do it?” If you planned to make 20 social media posts — did you make them? If not, how many did you do? More than 20 or less than 20? This bottom layer of the pyramid creates your baseline. Review the activities you did and make sure to document how much it cost to implement your base layer (your marketing plan). 

Next review the middle layer(s).  For example if increasing sales is your ultimate goal, you’ll review the other metrics that build into sales. You might review call volume, email inquiries and website visitors. It would be awesome if you could attribute every lead or phone call to a specific marketing activity, but that’s just not possible.  Metrics like phone calls, email inquiries and website visitors could be attributed to normal business volume, or to any other type of marketing (like word-of-mouth) because of this, these big metrics make up the layer just below your main goal and act as big picture indicators. 

Tracking Traditional Marketing Data vs. Digital Marketing Data

Traditional marketing often only allows you to track the big picture indicators I just mentioned. So, if you’re only doing traditional marketing, they may be the only middle layer of your pyramid. For example, if you invest in door hangers, the bottom of the pyramid would be how many door hangers you hung. The middle of the pyramid would be number of website visits, email inquiries and phone calls.  The top is sales revenue. If you hang door hangers for a year and your sales don’t increase, you probably don’t need to continue doing it. If you hang door hangers and phone calls increase but sales do not, it may not be a marketing problem.

Digital marketing offers far more data to review and allows you to determine if a particular activity is working.  For example, if you do social media, you can review how many times your posts were shown and how well people interacted with them.  If you post 20 times a month and no one engages with them, you’re probably posting crappy stuff.  

Your website analytics offer another level of checks and balances for online marketing activities. You can see many website visitors came from social media and how they behaved on a website. If you get a ton of website visitors from social media but they leave the site immediately, your website might be crappy or maybe your social posts have nothing to do with your service.

Finding the Right Tool for the Job

The tricky thing with digital marketing is that every channel comes with its own set of metrics and terms, which can be named similar but not identical things.  And results will be housed in a unique user interfaces. This is where monitoring tools come in. 

To regularly review your digital marketing data, you need a tool that makes it easy.  Painstakingly gathering data from multiple sources online and compiling them into a consumable format takes far more time than most business owners have to spare.  Find a dashboarding software that suits your needs or invest in a social media management software to report your marketing data in a way you can easily understand that doesn’t take you forever to find.   

I use Google Data Studio to build dashboards; allowing me to review my clients’ online ad performance and website metrics.  I use Loomly to review all my clients’ social media efforts. These tools may not be right for you, but there are so many options available that you have no excuse not to review your marketing data.

Communicating Results to Your Team

When reporting results to management, while it can be tempting to share every little detail, ask yourself, “What data would be most important to this person based on their knowledge of the marketing plan.”  Don’t overwhelm them with stuff they don’t care about. Give them enough to review and be satisfied they understand how the campaign is going.  

How Often Should I Review?

Finally, when you begin reviewing your data it’s hard to know what’s good and what’s not good, because every campaign is different. Look at a month-over-month comparison and a year-over-year comparison of your metrics when you review results. You won’t always see improvement month-over-month due to seasonal services and fluctuation in marketing activities. That’s why reviewing year year-over-year is important.  Unless you completely stopped marketing, you should generally see improvement year-over-year. 

Try not to do a ton of week-over-week review.  Unless you’re engaged in a huge marketing push, it’s difficult to compare week-over-week with such a limited amount of data.  

You don’t know if you can move to the next round of the limbo if you don’t measure. You won’t know if you’re wasting your time if you don’t document your plans and use the right tools to check on the metrics that matter.

Featured Image on Main Blog by Austin Distel on Unsplash

More about the Author

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Monica Pitts

Monica is the creative force and founder of MayeCreate. She has a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture with an emphasis in Economics, Education and Plant Science from the University of Missouri. Monica possesses a rare combination of design savvy and technological know-how. Her clients know this quite well. Her passion for making friends and helping businesses grow gives her the skills she needs to make sure that each client, or friend, gets the attention and service he or she deserves.

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