We’ve all been there.
You’re in a meeting with your team and a few senior people. You’re reviewing the results of your latest marketing campaign.
You’ve got some analytics data that suggests the results were good, and some data that suggests the results were… mixed.
How are you going to call it? Was this campaign a success, or not?
Because this particular part of marketing is so critical, and because it can be such a judgment call sometimes, we thought it would be interesting to get the input from several marketers in the field on how they measure the success or failure of a campaign.
We asked them a fairly broad question: What’s your favorite way to measure a marketing campaign's effectiveness?
It was a deliberately broad question, asked of a deliberately broad group of marketers. Some of the people listed below run their own ad agencies. Some are Marketing Directors or at a similar level. A few are bonafide analytics experts; a couple are major marketing influencers. Most are in B2B, but not all.
The key denominator of this group is that these people all do measurable marketing: Marketing that has to prove results.
And the key denominator to their answers? What “success” looks like varies. How you measure a campaign can be as different as the business that’s running the campaign itself.
But beyond that, there were two trends:
- It all comes down to sales and leads. Those could be measured by revenue, by contribution to pipeline, by sales opportunities created, or by other metrics.
- Begin with the end in mind. If you want to measure the success of a campaign, define your goals for it from the beginning.
In fact, after reviewing all these answers, it appears that there is one wrong way to measure campaigns: The same way every time.
This actually makes sense. Every business is different, and business goals change over time. It makes sense that what could be a failed campaign for one business (better brand awareness, but no change in lead value), could be a winning campaign for another company.
So while there’s still no definitive answer on how to measure a marketing campaign’s effectiveness – and there never will be – every one of these answers shows how smart people prioritize what’s important and what’s not. How they measure response, and how they learn from the results. And that’s always good information.
1. Heidi Cohen: Define your user context
While specific metrics depend on the type of marketing used, the key to effective tracking is to start before you develop your campaign. Specifically, define its objective, target audience, and user context since together these variables determine your metrics. Based on these inputs, create specific calls-to-action and associated landing pages that yield trackable results. (Note: Hubspot Research revealed that increasing the number of landing pages yields improved results.) As a marketer, I prefer metrics that ultimately can be associated with contributing to sales, profitability and/or increased customer lifetime value. That said, when using many forms of digital marketing, it can be difficult to assess the specific factors that contributed to these results beyond the last site or landing page touched. This undervalues the contribution of marketing used in the early stages of the purchase process.
An Entrepreneur Magazine Top 10 Online Marketing Influencer, Heidi Cohen is the Chief Content Officer of the award winning Actionable Marketing Guide, focused on social media, content and digital marketing. Cohen is also a speaker, professor and journalist.
Twitter: @heidicohen, 34K followers
2. Jeff Sauer: Think objectives first, tools last
To measure the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns, you must first have an objective. What is the point of running a marketing campaign in the first place? What results do you expect to receive from that campaign? What are your KPIs? Once you establish objectives, measuring effectiveness becomes much easier. In fact, it’s so easy that even a simple caveman like me can do it with even the most basic of tools. You can probably do it, too! Many digital marketers get stuck with measurement, because they think in terms of tools and technology, not in terms of what the business really needs. So instead of settling on a KPI or metric of value, and then choosing the easiest technology solution to measure this point, we get stuck on bolting those objectives on to our existing tools. The result is often a square peg trying to fit into a round hole. No bueno. Think of objectives first, tools last, and the solution becomes easy. Tactically, you can measure just about every objective with two tools that have been around for well over a decade. 1) Campaign tracking URLs in Google Analytics. 2) Goals in Google Analytics. These have been my favorite methods for tracking campaign effectiveness every year since 2005.
Founder of Jeffalytics, agency owner, teacher and a digital nomad. A firm believer in data-driven marketing, Jeff’s training programs have turned over 10,000 digital marketers into Google certified professionals.
Twitter: @jeffalytics 3.7K followers
3. Ardath Albee: Measure Momentum and Engagement
Of course, contribution to pipeline is the end goal we all aim for. My favorite way of measuring ongoing "campaigns" is momentum and engagement.
How many of the assets in the campaign are prospects viewing? Am I able to get them to binge on the content or are they only giving me drive-by views? And are they sharing the content with their colleagues who could be involved in the buying decision?
B2B Marketing Strategist, speaker, author of 2 books.
Twitter: @ardath421, 25.5K followers
Ardath Albee is CEO and a B2B Marketing Strategist for her firm, Marketing Interactions, Inc. She's the author of Digital Relevance and a frequent industry speaker.
4. Kevin Thomas Tully: Measure direct sales revenue
My favorite way to measure the effectiveness of a marketing campaign is simple: measure the amount of direct sales revenue the campaign produces.
Regardless of the secondary calculation a company uses to define success, whether total return on investment (ROI) [total money spent on campaign vs. total money generated], or customer lifetime value (CLV) [the projected revenue a customer will generate during his/her lifetime], or customer acquisition cost (CAC) [all costs spent on acquiring more customers (marketing expenses) divided by the number of customers acquired in the period the money was spent], or the total number of sales opportunities created (SQLs not MQLs), marketing leadership must think in terms of tangible business value (bottom-line revenue production), rather than fluffy engagement/brand awareness metrics, when constructing new campaigns.
In the absence of any quantifiable benchmarks of direct revenue attribution, your team’s marketing efforts not only yield questionable measurable valuable to your organization, but will also be devoid of the assessments and critical indicators necessary to dictate further action.
Kevin is the Global Director of Social Selling Operations at Creation Agency. A John Hopkins-trained data scientist, Kevin has applied true buyer intent data, predictive analytics, and data mining to the sales and marketing process for more than a decade to gain a strategic marketplace advantage for leading brands worldwide.
Twitter: @kevinttully, 27.6K followers
I work with a lot of B2B SaaS companies right now. These companies have much longer, and more complex sales cycles. To show the effectiveness of our marketing campaigns we'll use a combination of Google Analytics data and Salesforce lead tracking.
There are a bunch of secondary metrics we report on, like organic traffic, keyword rankings, links acquired (we do a lot of SEO and PPC), and pull all this data in a Google Data Studio dashboard.
But, the metrics we are ultimately measured on are:
· # new leads (by source)
· Average cost-per-lead
· # opportunities (a measure of the lead quality)
We also work with a lot of lawyers too - local SEO and PPC. In this case, we're measuring local rankings, organic traffic, leads, and closed deals to get an ROI measurement.
Robbie Richards is a full-stack digital strategist for a fast-growing tech company. He plans, builds, executes and measures digital campaigns for companies across many industries, including real estate, healthcare, hospitality and SaaS companies with 8-figure valuations.
Twitter: @RobbieRichMktg, 23.7K followers
6. Kathryn Aragon: Measure Campaign Effectiveness in Stages
I measure a campaign's effectiveness in stages. First, did I break even on advertising? Then as the campaign continues, what's the conversion rate?
When the campaign is done, I evaluate the results and make a final call on the message, the offer, the targeting, the structure of the campaign, etc.
The elements that worked, I'll likely reuse. Everything else will be revamped.
Kathryn Aragon is the author of “The Business Blog Handbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Running a Business Blog that Drives Traffic and Accelerates Growth” and a principal at Kathryn Aragon Media, which offers advanced content marketing for small teams and entrepreneurs
Twitter: @KathrynAragon, 3.3K followers
7. Derek Edmond: Tie Your Content Metrics to Lead Quality Improvement
While the easy answer is "quality leads" it's also the most challenging. To that extent, we measure tactical effectiveness contributing to lead generation along the way.
Examples include improvements in organic search engine presence for important keyword phrases, quality inbound links acquired from content marketing, and performance of content with respect to page view improvements and referral traffic from search engines and social media activity.
Tying these metrics to lead growth ultimately demonstrates the effectiveness of the marketing campaign.
Derek Edmond leads organizational strategy, direction, and growth for KoMarketing, a B2B online marketing agency specializing in search engine marketing, social media, and content marketing.
Twiiter: @DerekEdmond , 5.9K followers
8. Lilach Bullock: Set clear goals & enjoy the process
I start by setting clear goals for my marketing campaigns; this way when the campaign is finished, I know exactly what I need to measure in order to determine its effectiveness. Frankly, the whole process is my favorite -- I love analytics and I love software tools so measuring results can actually be quite fun for me.
Lilach Bullock is listed in Forbes as one of the top 20 women social media power influencers and was crowned the Social Influencer of Europe by Oracle. She is a speaker, lead conversion expert, content marketing & social media specialist.
Twitter: @lilachbullock, 105K followers
9. Paul Potratz: You only need one metric
Owner and Founder of the digital agency Potratz Partners Advertising, marketing influencer and vlogger
Never before has there been so many different metrics to determine success rates for how we market. With a multitude of objectives, and success being determined slightly different for each, it can be pretty situational. Ultimately, however, there's one metric that's historically and universally measured the success of all marketing – sales.
Paul Potratz is a business consultant, news talk radio show host, founder and owner of Potratz Digital Marketing. He is best known for taking complex business problems and creating simple guerrilla processes to increase revenue and profits.
Twitter: @PaulPotratz 35.7K followers
10. Yasmin Bendror: Measure Behavioral Change
Marketing campaign effectiveness can be measured by many different metrics, depending on the goal of the campaign. But the one metric that’s so important is whether the campaign changed the target audience's behavior: did it change a perception, cause an action or drive an engagement?
This is the fundamental metric that will trigger the other metrics we are always looking for: leads, sales, traffic, awareness, branding.
Yasmin Bendror is Founder and President of YMarketingMatters. She works with businesses to focus on content strategy and content marketing that will resonate with a specific target audience on a consistent basis, to produce results.
Twitter: @yasminbendror, 5.1K followers
11. Kim (Stiglitz) Courvoisier: Measure the Value
As a demand gen team, the obvious answer is we measure the effectiveness of our campaigns based on measurable KPIs including MQLs, pipeline generated, and sales deals closed.
However, I would also say being part of a demand gen team at a cutting-edge customer engagement platform, that one of the most important ways we also measure the effectiveness of our campaigns is how much value did it provide to our prospects and our team.
For prospects, did the content in the campaign provide useful information that helped them solve a business problem?
For our team, what did we learn from the campaign so we can use those learnings to further optimize our new campaign? We should always be learning and optimizing.
More about Kim:
Kim Courvoisier is the Head of Demand Gen and Content at Thanx. Thanx is an automated customer engagement platform for offline and omnichannel businesses that identifies, engages and retains your best customers while helping you find more people that act like them.
Twitter: @stiggy1, 3.8K followers
Back to you
So that’s how those eleven marketers measure effectiveness. How do you do it? Tell us about how you evaluate campaigns in the comments.