Measuring Marketing Success in the Digital Age

Before the digital age, determining the return on investment (ROI) of marketing served as a long-time mystery to marketers and executives alike... but today, things have changed dramatically. The floodgates have opened and data is everywhere. Unfortunately for marketers, the emergence of big data has coincided with even bigger questions (and sometimes, bigger problems) around what an optimal measurement model should look like:

  • Which metrics are important to track?
  • How do seemingly unimportant metrics like impressions translate into revenue?
  • Which metrics are most important to the internal stakeholders of the company?

The abundance of data in the realm of digital marketing has enabled marketers to cherry-pick stats that support a specific case. In practice, marketers sometimes even convince themselves that because some metrics are moving in the right direction, they must be achieving business objectives… which leads to inevitable frustration when other company stakeholders see the situation differently.

Marketers must take a step back and examine what the executive team deems as successful, then evaluate their current strategy for measuring success, with the eventual goal of picking the metrics that truly align with business objectives.

Start with the Business Objectives and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) 

When it comes to analytics reporting, no one-size-fits-all approach will ever exist. That’s because reporting effectively is not just about selecting the right metrics - but also about understanding what these metrics mean in the context of the business as a whole. Even if the marketing department presents internal stakeholders with positively trending analytics reports with lower bounce rate, increased click-through-rate (CTR), and high impressions have moved in a positive way, those measures still may not move the needle for business performance.

Marketers should establish what business objectives they are trying to reach and align them with KPIs that the objectives will be measured against. Savvy marketers will ask questions about intent: Is the goal to generate more brand awareness, retain existing customers, or acquire and convert new marketing qualified leads (MQLs)?

EXAMPLE:

  • Objective: Increase revenue by 25% this year.
  • KPI for Marketing: Increase Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) by 20%

Determine the Strategy and Establish Marketing Performance Metrics

In developing strategy, marketers should revisit what success looks like in the context of business objectives. Only then should marketers begin to outline the data points that illustrate the success/failure of the achievement of marketing objectives. 

KPIs provide context to a company’s past, present, and future. They act as a road map for the marketing campaign strategy moving forward. Likely, the KPIs selected should be more general metrics, like revenue increase or market share relative to competitors. 

EXAMPLE:

  • Objective: Increase revenue by 25% this year.
  • KPIs for Marketing: Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) 
  • Strategy to Support KPIs: Create gated content to entice customers to provide the company with their name and email address
  • Marketing Performance Metrics:
    • Landing page conversion rate
    • Leads generated


Round out the tactical approach by tracking more specific marketing metrics

At this point, marketers have a list of defined business objectives, the strategy in place to support those business objectives, and the framework to measure the efficacy of the overall strategy. The execution of the marketing strategy is often referred to as the tactical approach. At this point marketers should begin to leverage more specific metrics, some of which may not directly link up to the more general business objectives. 

EXAMPLE:

  • Objective: Increase revenue by 25% this year.
  • KPIs for Marketing: Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) 
  • Strategy to Support KPIs: Create gated content to entice customers to provide the company with their name and email address
  • Marketing Performance Metrics:
    • Landing page conversion rate
    • Leads generated
  • Tactical approach: Paid media and social media marketing that drives traffic to the landing page
  • Tactical Metrics:
    • CPM (Cost-per-thousand impressions)
    • CPC (Cost-per-click)
    • CTR (Click-through-rate)
    • Bounce rate on landing page


Other helpful tips:

  • Look outside of the organization. Knowing market share and where competitors stand is crucial.
  • Get into the audience’s operating reality. When delivering a report to someone within the company, marketers should consider the internal stakeholders.
  • Establish benchmarks. With benchmark data easily accessible and regularly reported, trend lines can begin to emerge from the data.

At AgencySparks’ most recent marketers breakfast, Jeff Perkins, CMO of QA Symphony, described analytics reporting as “internal content marketing.” Using analytics to inform company stakeholders on marketing performance has many of the same components as a content marketing strategy: marketers have to constantly test and tweak their messaging depending on the audience in order to tell a story that will ultimately resonate.

Story by: AgencySparks, a company that ignites meaningful connections for marketers that help drive business. Contact them for introductions.