ROI: We hear about it all the time. The need to prove that the budget dollars allocated to marketing are driving results. In today’s digital age there are countless metrics at our disposal: Google Analytics, AdWords, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, ActOn, Salesforce, SurveyMonkey, endless ways to track and measure- should be easy, right? Yes, in a way, but as a marketer one of the most challenging and frustrating aspects of the job is trying to explain and justify these metrics. Based on my experience, there are a few big questions you should be able to answer before reporting your metrics:
Are you looking to raise awareness? Engage your audience? Promote an event? Generate sales? All of the above? Much like the scientific method, at the beginning of a project it is essential to outline what you are looking to achieve as specifically as possible by developing SMART goals. Many times the bottom line revolves around sales, but to get there, often times we need to build a brand. I worked on a social media account for a retail client that focused on Facebook as a means of cultivating its audience. As it was relatively unknown in the larger marketplace, the first 3 months focused solely on generating awareness through “Like” campaigns. Once we had the following built, we switched gears a bit and started focusing on creating audience engagement. From there, we began website conversion campaigns with the end goal of sales. It was a Facebook “funnel” so to speak. Notice however, that the goals changed. So at the onset, the awareness campaign was not directly contributing to sales, it was creating a forum for which we would communicate our information. Once we provided good content, our audience became interested in our brand, and those who were captivated followed the yellow brick road to the e-commerce website where they could purchase.
In the example above, I had a goal from the client “drive sales to the website,” Facebook was a medium through which I could achieve that OVER TIME. When the project kicked off I outlined my goals based on specific timeframes that would lead me to an end result. I tracked all of the progress through Facebook’s Business Dashboard for each campaign to show how we were progressing. The constant question was “why aren’t we seeing sales?” This is one of the most common metrics problems: patience. With real-time reporting we want to see results right away. The problem is that any good strategy takes time to implement, and therefore it will take time for the data to show the results you are looking for. At times they can indicate red flags, so it’s important to take note of trends in the metrics and be sure you are not blindly clinging to something that just doesn’t work. However, as was true with Rome, your digital strategy will not be built in a day. Allow some time for it to work!
The key here is to FOCUS. On a recent website project I was asked to decrease bounce rate. The goal, therefore, was a factor of web content and ‘stickiness’, so my focus was on optimizing those areas. A few months later, bounce rate was down, but CPC was relatively high and CTR was relatively low- when the question arose as to why these metrics had not improved, it was because it was not the metric we were measuring at the time, it was not the focus of my goal. At the beginning we wanted to ensure people were staying on our site. Once we had them there, it started transitioning into how are we ensuring we are getting the most bang for our buck from AdWords. Thus, turning into an elaborate keyword and budget strategy, with new goals and metrics to track. It’s essential to ensure that what you are measuring and reporting on has a direct correlation to the goal you have created. If your goal is awareness, impressions are important, if your goal is engagement, session time and page views are important, etc. This infographic is a good starting point for what you should be measuring.
While benchmarks are not the bible by any means, they do provide some useful data that you can look to as a guide. There are countless source options for where you can find said benchmarks, and obviously it varies by time, medium, etc. Do your homework and find a reputable source that will provide the most useful data. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t stack up entirely, either. As I said earlier, it’s a guideline, and in some cases an aspiration.
Similar to how ActOn and SalesForce integrate, some systems can speak together to provide you with the most accurate data. Similarly, Google Analytics reports the referral data coming in from social media, email campaigns, AdWords etc. which becomes very useful to round out a complete picture of where your digital traffic is coming from and also allows a comparative report of your spending by medium. When you have metrics working together you are able to put together the pieces of the puzzle to see what is working best.
While analytics can be a bit overwhelming at the onset, they are a really fun way to learn and experiment. Once enough time has passed to start getting a feel for your results and how they are measuring up to your goals, the time comes to have some fun trying new things. If you haven’t been to a training, that’s fine. Some of the best information is just a click away via Google, or on any of those digital platforms’ pages for advertisers. It’s a fun way to test out new theories and see what results you get. Just don’t lose sight of your goals and keeping experimenting to improve them!
Once you are able to answer these questions you are in a pretty good place to get started! Remember, metrics take time to work for you, and they are not always going to provide you with the answers you are looking for. With time and experience you will be able to build a case to justify your spend, OR to switch to different digital marketing mediums that can produce better results.