How to Know if Your Marketing Campaign Is Working

Posted by in Analytics, Reporting
How to Know if Your Marketing Campaign Is Working

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.

About Heidi:

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.

About Jeff:

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?

About Ardath:

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.

About Kevin:

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

5. Robbie Richards: Get Down to ROI 

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)

·      ROI

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.

About Robbie:

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.

About Kathryn:

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.

About Derek:

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 favourite – I love analytics and I love software tools so measuring results can actually be quite fun for me.

About Lilach:

Liliach 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.

About Paul:

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.

About Yasmin:

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.

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How to Measure Social Media Effectiveness

How to Measure Social Media Effectiveness

Ah, the eternal question: Is your social media marketing effective?

We’ve come a long way with social media measurement in recent years, but we’ve still got a long way to go. Even in 2018, only 23.3% of CMOs say they can show the impact of social media on their business:

measure social media impact

So why is this so hard? If we can send a man to the moon, why can’t we quantify Facebook activity?

Well, therein lies part of the problem. Measuring social media is dicey for a number of reasons, but one of the biggest is because every social media platform measures activity differently.

Also, because different social media platforms have completely different functionality, there’s no way to bend the definition of most metrics so that all the platform metrics can “talk” to each other.

I’d say it’s an apples-to-oranges comparison, but actually, if you look at all the social media metrics available across even the most popular social media platforms, it’s more like an apples-to-oranges-to-clementines-to-bananas-to-kumquats to…

Oh, you get the idea. It’s a headache.

That said, despite all the challenges of measuring social media effectiveness, some companies have solved the mystery. You can see this plainly in the first chart. 23.3% of CMOs do know the impact of their social media work. It can be done.

Now, we hope you’re on the team of one of those CMOs. But if you’re not, maybe you can get there.

The exact way to do this will be different for every company. And that’s as it should be: You’ve got different business goals, different tactics, different assets, a different business model. Using the exact same methodology to measure social activity as everybody else would be ridiculous. It wouldn’t work.

But you can take the principles of social media measurement, and get a reliable read on what’s working and what’s not.

Here’s how:

1. Define what “effective” means.

What does your company want from its social media marketing? More revenue? More brand awareness? More social media leads?

A bit of all three?

Ideally, you’ll pick just one primary goal for your work, but “ideally” is the operative word there. Often, there’s a squabble between different people on your team about what “effective” means.

Work this out as best you can. Get a meaningful, working definition of what “effective” means. You can change that definition next year if your business goals change.

But obviously, until you get clear on what “effective” means – in a quantifiable way – it’s going to be basically impossible to measure it.

Want to know what your fellow marketers are doing social media for? The DMA asked them about that last year:

primary social media goal

2. Assign some metrics to track your vision of effectiveness.

Does “effective advertising” mean more revenue for your company? Great. The classic ROI formula will work for you.

Here it is:

ROI formula

Did you want to measure brand awareness instead? Ah… that’s a squishier problem.

Brand awareness is not impossible to measure, of course. But it’s not as cleanly quantifiable as revenue. However, there are companies that can measure how aware your target audience is of your brand or products/services now. And then your team can decide where you want your goal brand awareness number to be. You’ve got your starting measurement, and your goal measurement.

At that point, some companies just step back from measuring every little step along the way. They’ll say, “Great – get us to brand awareness measurement 6.3 and we’ll call this effective.”

That’s fine in the boardroom, but it breaks in the cubicle. You – the social media manager, the marketing manager, even as CMO – are going to need to measure every campaign by how much it moves the needle toward the brand awareness measurement that you want.

You need an attribution model.

3. Pick the best possible attribution model for your needs.

An attribution model is basically the formula you’ll use to tie marketing messages and customer actions directly to quantifiable results.

In other words, an attribution model takes into account a variety of different “touches” your prospect will go through before they become a customer. It weights each touch and then assigns each touch a quantified value (in dollars) for the sale.

Attribution models range from the simple to the far more complicated. For example, “last touch” is a simple attribution model. That’s where you attribute revenue to whichever marketing message happened right before the sale went through. The “last touch” before the sale happened, literally.

So if the sale is worth $30, and the last touch is a click from an email that drove the customer to your site, the email message gets full credit for the $30 sale.

Unfortunately, while last touch and other simple attribution models make for easier analytics and report generation, everybody knows they don’t tell the whole story of what’s happening.

Here’s why: We know that it takes the average B2C consumer 9.5 visits to a website before they decide to buy. So while using a last touch model is convenient, it completely ignores any contribution from those other 8.5 visits (much less what drove those website visits).

If you’re in B2B, the sales funnel gets even more complicated. It’s not uncommon for B2B marketers to have a sales cycle of six months or more. And remember – every sales process (aka “customer journey”) is different. We consumers don’t move through sales cycles all in the same way.

So suffice it to say, there’s just a lot to track. Which is why we have attribution models. Think of them a bit like simple customer journey tracking algorithms.

This complexity gets particularly funky for social media. Even if you just optimize all your social media marketing for clicks, and add a set value to each click (either based on what you pay for social clicks, search clicks, or organic clicks), you could still miss out on quantifying some the benefits your social media marketing delivers. Especially if your goal is, say, brand awareness.

All this complexity is at the core of why marketers struggle to know if their social media is effective. Many of them know, intuitively, that it is – but they can’t prove it on paper.

Which is, again, why we use attribution models. They certainly aren’t perfect, but they’re much better than just throwing your hands up. A well-implemented attribution model can give social media the credit it is due, while still weighing all the other steps your prospect goes through along the way.

Again, it is definitely not perfect, but it can be good enough to make decisions from.

The question, of course, is which attribution model to use. That’s really for you and your CMO, your CFO and your team to figure out. But for reference, here are the most commonly-used attribution models for B2B marketers.

b2b attribution model

Also consider this breakout of attribution models. It’s for B2B and B2C:

attribution models for b2b and b2c. Emarketer

Source: eMarketer

After you’ve got an attribution model, all that’s left is to plug in your data (we recommend using our new Calculated Metrics Builder to make this easier).

You’ll get back a measurement of how effective each of your marketing campaigns are.

Now, is it gospel? Hardly. It’s an educated guess.

In Zen-speak, you attribution model is the finger pointing to the moon – not the moon itself. But it’s as accurate an analysis as possible. And you can confidently run a business, manage your social media campaigns, and invest in resources accordingly.

Word to the wise: Every CMO I’ve ever come across will ask you to run more than one attribution model. So even when we have our snapshot view of “this is our best, data-driven view of what’s going on,” they’ll want another view of it.

And this makes sense. It’s smart to take attribution models with a grain of salt. But they’re good at dispelling cognitive biases we may have (I know Snapchat works… we just can’t prove it yet.”). But they’re still a model. Sometimes data models fail.

But they’re good enough to trust and take actions from. And that is the ultimate goal of all this data we have – to show us which actions to take.

4. Figure out what it cost to achieve your results.

This is in some way the easiest part of measuring social media effectiveness. You do it because to get a true return on your investment, you’re going to need to know what your investment was.

Here are a few of the items to include in that calculation:

·      Staff salaries

If you have people dedicated to social media, this is easy. But you probably have a couple of people who contribute to your social media work part time. Ask them roughly what percentage of their time goes into social media, then allocate that portion (including benefits and all other employee costs) to the staff section of your social media costs.

·      Outsourced support.

Got any freelancers who contribute to social media? Add up their costs here.

·      Tools, software, services, etc.

Use a social media scheduling tool? Add its cost here.

·      Advertising and promotion costs.

·      Content creation costs.

This is trickier than it sounds. For example: You publish a blog post. It costs $900 all in. You publish it on your blog but it also goes into your email newsletter, and you share it several times on social media.

Is it fair for your blog to bear the overhead burden for the whole blog post, when your newsletter and your social media marketing get benefits from that post, too? Most marketers would say no. So they might attribute 10% of the cost of the blog post to both the newsletter and social media each. The blog itself would only “pay” for 80% of the overhead for that post.


Let’s bring all this complexity into perspective.

At it’s simplest, achieving social media effectiveness just means you’ve achieved the goal you set for yourself on social media.

If your goal is clear, it’s not hard to tell if you’ve done that.

Of course, as business people, we want to quantify our marketing goal and its achievement better than “I achieved my goal – good for me!” So we’ll specify what our goals are. We’ll set measurable goals and give ourselves a deadline to achieve those goals.

Again, it’s not so hard to tell if you’ve achieved a goal or not. No rocket science required here.

But because we’re wonky businesspeople, we’ll also want to know if we achieved our goal in an affordable way.

So when we set out to achieve our goal, we allocate a bunch of resources into achieving it. And we keep track of how much those resources cost, so we’ll know how much it took to achieve our goal.

If the results of our goal are worth more to us than what value of the resources we put in, we’ve got a positive return. Our social media marketing was effective.

Now, that’s certainly not the classical definition of ROI, but this simplification can help. It’s a plain way to think about the resources we put in, and the results we get out. Or, in other words, if we achieved our goals at a price we’re happy with.

Back to you

Where are you at with this whole issue of tracking social media effectiveness? Does your company use an attribution model, or can you say with confidence that you know your social media work is effective? Leave a comment and tell us what you think.


5 Ways Facebook Analytics Beats Google Analytics

Posted by in Analytics, Facebook
5 Ways Facebook Analytics Beats Google Analytics

Are you taking advantage of Facebook Analytics? What if I told you that it may be better than Google Analytics at measuring and analyzing your audience?

Facebook continues to provide marketers with the tools they need to be successful. With the addition of Facebook Analytics, they’re closing the gap on measuring actions taken in the News Feed to what happens on company websites, apps, and brick and mortar stores. They’re tying all these channels together to provide marketers with an omni-channel measurement and analytics tool. And it’s awesome!

Yet, the adoption rate of Facebook Analytics among marketers appears to be low (at least amongst my circle of paid social friends). I’ve been playing around with Facebook Analytics since it came out and it’s powerful! You can build audience cohorts, retention models, and revenue funnels with a few clicks.

Have I stopped using Google Analytics? No. But I’m definitely in Facebook Analytics a lot more learning how people are interacting with our content, our Page, Messenger bot, and more.

What is Facebook Analytics?

According to Facebook,

Facebook Analytics allows you to measure, understand, and optimize the interactions people have with your business across both devices and channels to help drive meaningful growth. With over 2 billion people on Facebook, our analytics solution provides rich, unique audience insights, powerful reports like conversion funnels and retention curves, and automated insights.

Facebook is directly tying activity on it’s properties to actual business revenue. This is huge for marketers. Your marketing goals shouldn’t be tied to single channels anymore, because people interact with your business across channels like your website, Facebook Page, Twitter, email campaigns, and in-store visits. Understanding how those interactions happen is key to creating the right user experiences, measuring omni-channel performance, and scaling growth across your marketing campaigns.

Here are five areas where Facebook Analytics is better than Google Analytics.

1) The Focus on People, Not Devices

Google Analytics is great at tracking devices, but not necessarily the person behind them. For example, when I visit a website on my phone and again on my desktop computer, Google Analytics sees me as two different users. That’s a tough pill to swallow for companies running a lot of social media companies. Why?

Because mobile ads accounted for 89% of Facebook’s ad revenue during Q4’17. In other words, the vast majority of traffic coming from Facebook is on a mobile device. And for most companies, people still convert on desktop. Thus, making it difficult to track Facebook campaign attribution in Google Analytics.

In contrast, Facebook Analytics is able to stitch together who you are by using your Facebook login and enriching your profile with activities from other third-party data. More importantly, Facebook Analytics focuses on people, rather than cookies, sessions, or devices.

This allows marketers to understand when the same person interacts with their business across different channels and devices. Marketers can now easily measure and unify people’s behavior without any additional work or hassle, such as manually assigning and mapping user IDs in data warehouses.

Facebook Analytics Overview Dashboard

2) Cross-Device Measurement and Analytics

Facebook’s omni-channel analytics makes it easy to monitor activity across devices and get a complete view of the customer journey. Facebook Analytics has many reports that can help you better understand your customers and their behavior across devices and channels, including:

  1. Funnels – Funnels allow you to monitor people’s journey’s through your experiences – whether that’s an e-commerce checkout experience, registration or sign up process, or how far people make it through your New User Experience (NUX). Funnels are the best way to identify where you should spend your resources and optimize your app.
  2. Cohorts – After acquisition, retention is the other half of the growth equation. Cohorts are the way to understand how well you’re retaining your users and, more importantly, how changes to your app are affecting that retention. With Facebook Analytics behavioral cohorts, we can even look at how changes to your app affect Lifetime Value (LTV) or any other event you care about.
  3. Segments – To really understand your users you need to zoom and understand different audiences. Whether that’s seeing the demographics of your top performing customers by value or seeing how well a particular demographic converts in your funnels (segmentation is supported on most reports in Facebook Analytics).

For example, a university could build a funnel to measure the amount of people who commented on a particular Page post and then requested degree information on their website. Tracking Facebook Page activity to website leads/purchases should have marketers saying, “giddy up.”

seinfeld giddy up

3) Events Source Groups (ESGs)

A newer feature in Facebook Analytics is the ability to unify your website, app, Page, Messenger, and more into one global view. ESGs are two or more of your event sources (like Messenger, website, your mobile app, or your Facebook Page) grouped and given a name. ESGs have their own dashboard in Facebook Analytics, and let you see user behavior and interactions across the sources you group together.

Facebook Analytics Events Source Groups

Marketers can now aggregate, measure, and visualize people’s actions across both devices and channels, including your website, app, Facebook Page, and offline events to optimize campaign conversions and even retention. They’re calling this omni-channel analytics as it spans across Facebook’s family of apps and services with the addition of your website, bot, and offline events.

4) Omni-Channel Custom Audiences

Seamlessly create custom audiences from your apps, websites, and bots, and target them with Facebook ad campaigns. This is really cool and something I haven’t heard many paid social people talking about.

Think about all the ways you can organize your custom audience groupings for deeper user segmentation. Again in Google Analytics, you can create very advanced audience segments, but you’re really limited to only website visitors by device. We can’t combine other Google properties and apps like Gmail and Maps into one holistic view.

This is why this feature is powerful for marketers to understand and utilize to drive the right messages at the right time. Keep in mind that you can’t create a custom audience if your Facebook Page is included in your Event Source Group. You’ll have to create Page audiences using the Audiences tab in Ads Manager.

Facebook Custom Audience in Analytics

5) Automated Insights (beta)

Using advanced machine learning, Facebook Analytics reduces the time spent searching for clues by bringing valuable insights directly to you.

Facebook Analytics Automated Insights surfaces valuable data and trends to help you focus your efforts and keep your business moving forward. This is similar to the Google AdWords opportunities tab where they’re surfacing insights quickly and easily for marketers to understand audience performance.

Facebook Analytics Automated Insights Beta

They breakout insights by device, age, location, and more. Pretty cool to see these granular user trends going up and down as it’s not something we usually think about.


By closing the loop between your online and offline channels, you won’t have to wonder if people browsing items on your website or commenting on a Facebook Page post translates into sales in your store. Be sure to also check out the Complete Guide to Facebook Analytics for more information. And be sure to like their Facebook page and follow them on Twitter for the latest updates.

Go check out what Facebook Analytics has to offer and let me know what you think!



How to Set and Track Your Marketing Goals

How to Set and Track Your Marketing Goals

“Begin with the end in mind.”

That was good advice back when Stephen Covey wrote The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People so many years ago. And it’s good advice now.

In fact, if you had to write The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Marketers for 2018, “begin with the end in mind” would be a smart chapter title. Perhaps even the first chapter title.

You could begin it by talking about how to define marketing goals.

This is trickier than it sounds. If you’ve ever been around the conference table when the question of which marketing goals to pick comes up, you know how the conversation goes. People start tossing in all sorts of ideas…

“More revenue!”

“More ROI.”

“Better leads.”

“More website traffic.”

 Those are all admirable goals, of course. One or two of them might even be the right goals. But you need to distill all those suggestions down to one or two priorities. Because if “improve every single metric we track” is your marketing goal… you don’t have a goal. You have a herd of competing priorities.

 The trick, of course, is to pick one goal that will support all the others. That one thing that, if achieved, would make pretty much every aspect of your business better.

Then your second trick would be to find the perfect, trackable metric through which to measure your progress. The one metric to measure every piece of content by, every advertising campaign, everything you do. To find the “one metric to rule them all” in Lord of the Rings parlance.

Now, can you have more than one marketing goal? Sure.

You can have no marketing goals if you want. You can even be like 66% of B2C or 55% of B2B content marketers, who don’t have a working definition of what success even looks like.

But we do not recommend this.

And frankly, if you’re reading this, you wouldn’t take that path, either. So pick one goal (or two, if you must).

How to pick your marketing goal/s

You may already have an idea of what your primary marketing goal should be. Here are a few ways to test if it’s a worthy goal, or to develop a marketing goal in the first place:

·      If you could change one thing about your business, what would deliver the biggest impact? More revenue? Shorter sales cycle? Something else?

·      A year from now, where do you want your business to be? What’s one specific, succinct goal that would prove you had achieved that?

·      As you look through your reporting – particularly your marketing reports – what’s one metric you feel your company is just really weak on? Another way to ask this is: Where’s the black hole in your marketing funnel?

·      If you could achieve this one goal, what else would you be able to do? Often, goals are like chess pieces – you pick a particular goal simply because it opens up so many possibilities and options for your business. Achieve that one goal, and you’ll be in a position of power.

·      Can you realistically achieve this goal? Tripling the number of leads you get sounds great, but could you actually map out what it would take to get that done – and realistically plug those tasks into your calendar? Give yourself a winnable goal, not a moonshot. Unrealistic goals often get ignored.

Choosing a primary marketing goal is something that you should get a group consensus on. That’s because if you’re really picking this one goal as the focal point of your marketing work, that means a lot of people are going to have to be committed to this goal. All those people need to believe in this not just give it lip service.

For those of you who aren’t 100% sure of what your goal should be, here are the most common goals digital marketers have:

marketing goals and objectives

Those are all excellent, admirable goals. But notice how spread out the answers are. None of them gets more than 20%. This speaks to how individualized most companies marketing goals are – and that’s as it should be.

How to attach a metric to your marketing goals

 This is where we get specific. The metric you pick – and how you track and measure it – is the ruler by which you will measure success.

Sometimes, goal metrics are easy to measure. Like new leads. You define that as how many unique individuals fill out a particular form, for example. That’s a nice, clear, easily trackable way to see what’s happening.

But as Michael McEuen writes in his post on B2B attribution, more leads is not always a great way to actually improve your business, because not all leads are created equal.

Some leads are more affordable to get, sure. But when you track their performance all the way down to revenue earned, the source of the most leads is not necessarily the source that generated the best leads. Or even the most revenue.

marketing leads excel spreadsheet

This is exactly why so many marketers have shifted from “get more leads” to “get better leads” for what they track. Or their metric may be even more specific, like “reduce the cost per Sales Qualified Lead by 30%.”

There are many other types of metrics to track, of course. Customer retention is a great thing to track, as it can result in so much revenue growth.

Lifetime value is another one of marketers’ favorite metrics. This is an especially smart metric to focus on because the marketer who has the highest lifetime value can outspend all of her competitors.

If they only earn, say, $50 per customer as a lifetime value, and she earns, say, $150 from each customer, she can outspend them three to one with advertising and still break even. She can afford to spend more to keep those customers loyal, too.

But again, that’s just one metric. And if you’ve got your analytics dialed in, you may want to track a very specific thing.

That can be a limitation of some marketing analytics tools. All tools help, sure, but often you’re stuck with only 5-6 “out of the box” metrics to track. You can’t create a custom metric unless you’re a Google Analytics whiz or can cobble together your own reporting tool via Excel or Google Sheets.

calcualted metrics adstage

Our new Calculated Metrics Builder lets you define and track pretty any metric you can calculate. You don’t have to be limited to just a handful of KPIs to track.

You may also want to track a constellation of goals. Sometimes this is the best way to see the details of how you’re achieving a particular marketing goal.

Here’s a series of marketing goals, and their supporting metrics:

o   Increase website traffic

  • Time on site
  •  % of returning visitors
  •  Social media referral traffic
  • Value per visitor
  • Email marketing referral traffic

o Increase revenue

  • Average order size
  • Customer Lifetime value
  • Cost of customer acquisition
  • Value per lead
  • Shopping cart conversion rate

o   Increase advertising effectiveness

o   Incremental revenue from advertising

o   Cost per click

o   Conversion rate

o   Cost/engaged visit

o   And even more:

You get the idea. Often, the hardest part of tracking marketing results is deciding which metrics or KPIs to focus on – and which ones to screen out.

Again, it’s a good idea to talk to your teammates about which metrics they think will support your chosen goal or goals. Their perspective on what should or shouldn’t be measured can be extremely helpful.

The limits of analytics… tracking things offline and the squishiness of attribution models

If you’re purely a digital marketer, you might be lucky enough to actually track every single step from when someone first sees a brand message through to when they place their fifth (or 50th) order.

Most of us are not so lucky.

This can really cloud the issue of picking a marketing goal. And it can make tracking that goal even harder.  Sometimes, marketers just give in and decide to measure what can be easily tracked (like leads, or gross revenue). The metric and goal they pick might not be perfect, but the idea of wading into their analytics to really track the hard stuff is just too daunting.

Unfortunately, this is kinda like that old joke about the drunk scuffling around under a street light. Someone asks him, “What are you doing?” “Looking for my keys,” he says. “Where did you drop them?” “Oh, down the street” “So why are you looking here?” “Well, the light is better here.”


Image: Unsplash

I hope you laughed at that.

For those of us who have tried to track complex sales cycles, it might be a little less than funny. It may hit a little too close to home. Many marketers are guilty of looking “under the streetlight” for our data, simply because, there are a lot of dark alleys along the buyer’s journey.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Marketing analytics tracking is getting better all the time. What was a data “dark alley” five years ago can now be a well-lit path.

Just look at how far attribution models have come – and how many companies are using them.

eMarketer change in company's prioritization of marketing attribution

Despite all the advances, you and your team will need to be honest about where the dark spots in your tracking are. There’s bound to be a few places where you’ll have to make an educated guess about what’s really going on.

You’ll also need to define which attribution model really makes sense for your sales funnel.

This is when things can get weird around the office. Who knew intelligent people could get into heated arguments over time decay or last non-direct click attribution models? But if you’re awarding bonuses and raises based on how people meet the goals defined by these metrics, expect to have some friction.

We often tie performance bonuses directly to these type of metrics, and that can make almost anyone surprisingly passionate about marketing analytics.


We hope it doesn’t seem like marketing goals are overly hard to pick. And we hope that tracking those goals seems within reach – not something that you’ll have to overhaul all your reporting to do.

It definitely is something to put some thought into, but don’t get too worried about making a mistake. Even if you don’t pick the perfect marketing goal, at least you have one at all. That puts you well ahead of many marketers – or companies.

And if you can’t track that goal down to the atomic level… so what? Get the best data you can, shape it so you can make the best decisions possible, and forge ahead.

Not having a marketing at all is by far the biggest mistake. And not even trying to track it? That’s the second worst mistake.

Even if you can’t track things perfectly, you can get a good enough idea of what’s going on. Having even one or two reliable, trackable metrics will always be more successful than just guessing.

Every week, we share the latest PPC tips, news, and trends on this blog. Would you like to get our best content delivered right in your inbox? Sign up below.



Closing the Loop on Retail Marketing ROI

Closing the Loop on Retail Marketing ROI

Despite glum predictions, US retailers saw steady growth in 2017 and finished with a record-breaking $598 billion holiday season, proving once and for all that retail is not dead. Even e-Commerce colossus Amazon is making concerted moves into retail.

In spite of its growth, tracking and proving retail marketing ROI can pose a challenge for marketers. This piece will explain how to set the right goals, gather the pertinent information, and provide your clients with detailed and practical insights that prove your retail marketing ROI.

Before you get started, keep in mind that you can’t prove ROI without first setting a performance baseline. This can be tricky in retail, so make sure that you ask your client whether or not they have records of in-store activity, such as foot traffic, sales (both number and volume) and promotions that you can combine with the information from the online side of their business.

1. Set Goals Linked to Business Outcomes

Retail businesses are less concerned with how many people visit their stores than they are with how much money those people leave with them. That is why it’s crucial to set correlational goals that illustrate how consumer behavior relates to revenue and profit.

Here are some examples of business-outcome-based goals:

  • Decreased customer acquisition cost: Are you able to bring more customers through the doors using the same amount of marketing dollars, or maintain the current level while lowering marketing costs? Can your campaigns attract a new customer base?
  • Increased sales volume: Are you able to persuade customers to take home more items per visit? Can you nudge them into purchasing the higher value item?
  • Increased sales amounts: Are you able to increase the number of people who come through the doors and make a purchase?
Statistic: Average daily consumer spending in the U.S. from July 2016 to July 2017 (in U.S. dollars) | Statista

Understanding seasonal patterns (such as vacation season) in retail can help you figure out whether things are going well.

Since retail can be a highly seasonal business, you’ll want to account for any potential fluctuations in future business in both your planning and any reporting that you do. According to the most recent Gallup Polls, consumer spending tends to slow in January, August, and September and peak in December, April, and July.

If your client’s merchandise is impacted by seasonal shopping, make sure that you account for that in your goals to avoid underperforming by default. If the retailer has limited physical locations, you may also want to keep tabs on current and future construction, events and openings happening nearby that could impact the numbers.

foot traffic measurement for retail

Source: ShopperTrak. Tools like ShopperTrak or Aeselabs help retailers track in-store analytics through sensors, mobile apps, and information gathered when customers log into the local WiFi network.

Depending on the size or age of your retailer, they may not have a comprehensive picture of in-store information for you to work with, making it difficult to set your baseline and prove your ROI. If in-store behavior is one of your client’s top priorities, you may want to throw in the towel, quit your job and go home and drink cocoa.

I don’t blame you. But you could also invest some time in the beginning estimating current levels of traffic and consumer behaviors. Tools such as ShopperTrak or even Google Maps track daily visits to locations, which you can then combine with purchase information and past promotions to get a general picture.

2. Design Smart KPIs

Once you’ve determined your business outcome-based goals, you’ll want to design KPIs that align with those goals.

You’ll find many possible options for tracking in our extensive list of e-commerce KPIs, but the ones that are absolutely critical are customer acquisition cost (CAC), average order value, sales conversion rate, and revenue generated from marketing campaigns (incremental revenue).

Physical locations are an expensive investment, so be sure to track the two channels separately (and to track multiple locations separately, if they have under 10 locations). This will help your client decide whether or not to keep physical locations open, and also allows you to show off your ability to drive growth in all channels.

Retail can be a unique beast in that it requires you to combine hard-to-track in-store intel with online indicators. Before you commit to performance metrics that involve the former, you’ll want to research how your retailer is tracking that information and what will be available to you.

3. Align your Campaigns with your Goals and KPIs

A retailer’s physical foot traffic may be hard to track, but fortunately, most shoppers leave a clean digital footprint that you can use to prove your marketing ROI. Design campaigns that target both online shoppers and those who prefer a more traditional experience.

Just like with online-only advertising, you can use codes, promotions and customized printed promotions that are redeemable online to give you deeper insight into what is driving customers through the doors. This is as simple as a link or QR code the customer scans in order to retrieve a voucher, and if your retailer’s clientele is less digitally oriented, it could be displayed throughout the store or conducted via a text-based sign-up campaign.

CafeX marketing campaign -- coupon and Instagram ad

Use codes, promotions and customized printed promotions that are redeemable online to give you deeper insight into what is driving customers through the doors. CafeX combined digital and in-store promotions to attract customers to their new location on Market Street in San Francisco, CA.

4. Measure Retail ROI With Closed-Loop Reporting

Once you’ve planned your campaigns, use AdStage’s software to schedule a number of ads targeted towards your ideal audiences, and measure engagement and retail marketing impact using closed-loop reporting, combining paid marketing campaigns data with your conversion data, online and off.

advertising data integration

How to Measure Incremental Revenue in Paid Marketing

How to Measure Incremental Revenue in Paid Marketing

If you can drive revenue and growth above the cost of advertising, why would you want to cap your marketing budget?

The truth is, that’s not how most marketing organizations function. The status-quo approach focuses on clicks and sign-ups, not revenue, and this model of thinking is clearly broken. Measuring incremental revenue helps marketers understand and prove the real impact of advertising – calculated in dollars, not clicks.

Here’s a hypothetical example:

measuring incremental revenue image

With incrementality measurement, you can more accurately attribute value to each paid social media campaign.

A subscription service startup expects to make $100,000 off their services in a typical month without advertising. In March, while running a Facebook campaign that costs $10,000, the startup makes $150,000 off their subscriptions. To calculate incremental revenue and measure the effectiveness of their advertising, the paid marketing team runs the following calculation:

$150,000 – $100,000 = $50,000

The incremental revenue generated by the paid marketing team equals $50,000.

Or, in other words, those Facebook ads just earned their business an extra 50k.

What’s incremental revenue in paid marketing?

Incremental revenue is revenue that wouldn’t have happened without a specific paid marketing campaign, all other things being equal. This metric is radically different from other PPC metrics — and way more impactful.

Incrementality measurement helps marketers understand the effectiveness of paid campaigns by comparing differences in outcomes between an audience that saw the ad and a comparable audience that didn’t. This metric shows the real value driven by paid marketing, which ultimately helps the paid marketer decide on where to invest ad dollars — and justify a budget increase if they need more money to spend.

The CEO of a company is naturally interested how much revenue the company produces in a given time. The CMO of a company should be equally interested in the following question:

How much money did the company make thanks to paid marketing?

You can answer this question with incrementality measurement.

facebook ads incremental measurement ROI

With direct-response ads, incrementality measurement can help you track how much revenue is attributed to a specific paid marketing campaign.

Calculate incremental revenue to prove the impact of paid marketing

Another way to show how incrementality measurement works is to compare two hypothetical digital campaigns.

Say a company is running two Facebook marketing campaigns, each of which requires $10,000 investment:

The sales for campaign A are $100,000.

The sales for campaign B are $75,000.

Which campaign delivered the best return on ad spend?

Let’s see.

Facebook campaign A:

With a marketing spend of $5,000, actual sales at $100,000, and expected sales at $100,000 (without marketing, based on historical data from a similar time period or based on data from control group not exposed to advertising messaging), that brings the incremental ROI of paid marketing campaign A to….$0.

Facebook campaign B:

With a marketing spend of $5,000, actual sales at $75,000, and expected sales at $0 (without marketing, based on historical data from a similar time period or based on data from control group not exposed to advertising messaging), that brings us to $75,000 in incremental revenue (thanks to the marketing campaign).

Even though the sales figures look better for campaign A, if you compare to control group or historical data, campaign B is clearly the winner from a paid marketing perspective.

How to measure incremental revenue

You can calculate incremental revenue/sales as Actual Sales (thanks to marketing) – Actual/Expected Sales (without marketing). (If you can attribute the difference to your marketing campaign).

So, to calculate IR, you’ll need to create a baseline metric to represent the average results based on historical trends (how much you sell in a given time, no ads). Or, if you can isolate the variable you’ll be measuring (your ad campaign) by having your target audience very similar to your control group (comparing apples-to-apples), you can measure incrementality in an experiment.

Prove the impact of paid marketing with closed-loop reporting

Measuring incremental revenue and other meaningful business metrics in paid marketing is easy with closed-loop reporting.

You can track the incremental revenue from each ad network, campaign, ad set, or ad when you consolidate all your cross-network data in one place and connect it to conversion data that lives in your CRM, spreadsheets, or any other platform or tool.

When you bring in your offline conversions from different platforms and tools and connect those with your cross-network campaign data, you can understand the incremental revenue for each (that is, if you set your baseline revenue or compare it to a control group in an experiment).

Optimize your campaigns for incremental revenue

Once you close the loop between campaigns and revenue across different networks, you can see the full picture and make improvements. With a clear view of how each ad campaign translates into revenue, not just clicks, you can set up automated rules to pause or scale campaigns up and down based on custom metrics (such as incremental revenue).

calculated metrics

AdStage’s Calculated Metrics (currently in beta) allows paid marketers to automate campaign optimizations based on custom metrics.

The importance of incremental revenue in paid marketing

As we’ve seen, incremental revenue is a powerful metric for paid marketers to track how much revenue can be attributed to a specific marketing campaign. Incrementality measurement shows the real effectiveness of advertising by comparing how much money a business makes with marketing vs. without marketing, all other variables being equal.

Incremental revenue not only proves the value driven by paid marketing, but also helps to improve performance by tracking more meaningful PPC metrics. As a result, marketers will invest in the most effective channels — and justify a higher spend if necessary.

With calculated metrics (currently in beta), you can also set up automation to tweak your campaign settings based on custom metrics in near real-time, optimizing for business results, not clicks.

As paid marketers are increasingly held accountable to revenue, closed-loop reporting solutions will help measure, optimize, and report on deeper-funnel metrics. What’s more, measuring incremental revenue will make it easy to report to the CMO or the board because now you know how to answer the critical question: “How much money are we making thanks to paid marketing?”


Excel vs. Google Sheets: Which is Better for PPC Reporting?

Excel vs. Google Sheets: Which is Better for PPC Reporting?

You have finished your campaign. You see all the data you’ve collected during the campaign. To your delight, everything looks great. As you open the csv’s and xslx’s you have exported from Google AdWords or Facebook Ads Manager, which tool should you use to create PPC reports: Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel?

We recently polled our customers and found that our customers use both Sheets and Excel. In fact, 78% of the respondents said they used Sheets, while 74% said they used Excel. So why are marketers using, and paying for, both tools?!

To answer this question, I will rank Excel and Google Sheets on the following five parameters:

  1. Design and formatting
  2. Data visualization (charts)
  3. Google Analytics integration
  4. Team collaboration
  5. Pricing

Let’s dive into it.

1. Design and Formatting

The way you structure, organize, and display your report can make or break your presentation success. You can have the best data and insights, but if don’t present it well, your boss won’t understand it.

You could design a report from scratch and make it look perfect for your executive team, but that will take you hours of your valuable time. Instead, you can use a template. Both Excel and Sheets offer many template designs.

As you open Excel, you can find 30 template designs ranging from business to family budget. If you need more designs, you can go to the Excel templates pages. You can also download template designs made by other users (Smartsheet has an excellent collection of free Excel spreadsheet templates).

Google Sheets offers about 20 reporting designs, equally split between those for personal and professional use.

When it comes to formatting, Excel is a winner: it offers 60 table formatting options which can give your tables a more elegant look.

Verdict: When it comes to templates and formatting, Excel wins by a large margin.

2. Charts

Creating a report takes more than dumping data into a spreadsheet. It’s your job to give meaning to your data. An effective way to do so is by using charts to visualize data. Both Excel and Google Sheets offer many ways to create charts with just a few clicks.

To create a chart with Excel, you only need to highlight all the data you want to use in your chart, click the “Insert” tab, and choose one of the many recommended charts you have at your disposal. The charts include 17 options such as bar, line, and pie charts, histograms, and plot charts, among others. You can also create different variations of each chart to give them a more personalized look.

With the chart created, you can add text, format the colors of the chart, add borders and fills, among many more customizations. To edit a chart, click on “Format” tab, and you will see all the options available to you.

Google Sheets has a simpler set of tools to create charts. To create a chart with Sheets, you need to do the same as you did with Excel: select the data, go to Insert > Chart, and select the chart you want to use to display your data. Once you create a chart, Sheets offers you the ability to customize its look.

Google Sheets offers a wide selection of charts, including the same ones mentioned above with Excel, such as the pie, line, bar, area and column charts, among others.

Verdict: Excel wins thanks to the larger variety of chart formatting and editing options.

3. Google Analytics Integration

Anyone who has ever developed a PPC report knows about the importance of Google Analytics, especially for those who specialize in Google Adwords. Accessing its data can be crucial for developing in-depth reports.

Since Google owns both Sheets and Analytics, they have made it extremely easy for anyone to integrate both services with their API.

In contrast, Excel doesn’t offer a direct integration with Google Analytics. The best way to integrate both services is by using an add-on like Analytics Edge.

AdStage’s Google Sheets add-on is the easiest way to pull your paid search and paid social data into your spreadsheets. With this add-on, you can automatically fetch your PPC performance data from Google AdWords, Facebook Ads, Bing Ads, Twitter Ads, LinkedIn Ads, Yahoo Gemini, and Google Analytics.

Verdict: Learning to integrate Google Analytics with either G-Sheets or Excel isn’t simple if you don’t know much about how marketing APIs work. Still, if you take into consideration the installation process and the way the analytics tool and the reporting one are integrated, Sheets wins in this category.

4. Team Collaboration

Long gone are the days when someone created a report, took it to the executive team, and called it a day. Nowadays, multiple stakeholders can participate in the creation of a report, so collaboration features are critical.

To create a comment on an Excel spreadsheet, first, select the cell you are interested in, go to the Review tab on the Ribbon, and click on “New Comment.” Once you create the comment, you will see in the cell a text box with a yellow background featuring your name at the top. Unfortunately, comments have no threading capabilities (i.e., you can’t have a back-and-forth conversation among several people). In other words, each comment works separately from the rest, making collaboration harder.

Google has made collaboration much easier. If you put your cursor in a cell on a Sheets report and select Insert > Comment, you will find a box with your name at the top. Then, you’d type your comment into a text box and click Comment. If you take a look back at the comment in the cell you selected, you will see an orange triangle in the upper-right corner of the cell which shows that a comment is there. To read the comment, you only need to click the cell or hover the cursor.

Anyone with access to the Google spreadsheet can click on the comment and reply to it, creating a real-time conversation with any stakeholder involved in the report. You can also create a link to any comment and then send that link to someone else. Finally, after you finish a conversation, the original commenter can click the “Resolve” button and the original comment, along with its replies, will disappear.

Verdict: Thanks to its simplicity and ease-of-use, Sheets is a clear winner in this category.

5. Pricing

Both Excel and Sheets are relatively cheap compared to more advanced PPC reporting solutions.

Microsoft Excel is sold as part of Microsoft Office, which is categorized by personal or business use and is available on an annual subscription and as a one-time purchase. Currently, Office 365 Home costs $100 per year and can be used on up to five PCs or Macs, five tablets, and five phones; including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher and Access, along with 1TB of OneDrive cloud storage. As a one-time purchase, it costs $149.

Office 365 for Business offers the same applications and features as Home, at $10 per user (up to 300) paid monthly, or $100 paid annually. Office 365 for Business Premium includes access to more services, like Skype, Yammer, Exchange, and more, priced at $15 per user paid monthly or $12.50 per user paid annually.

While Microsoft offers a great deal for Excel, Google offers Sheets as a part of their G Suite package for businesses with prices per user at $5 paid monthly for their Basic plan and $10 per user paid monthly for its Business plan. The main difference between both plans is the cloud storage: 30GB on a Basic plan versus unlimited storage and complete access to all the tools from the G Suite for Business.

Verdict: On a head-to-head comparison, Sheets is the clear winner in this category, costing half as much as Excel.

6. Security

With the increase of international hack scandals and data breaches, security has become one of the most pressing issues. Both Excel and Sheets offer security protection.

Google has recently switched their entire services protocol encryption to HTTPS, the securely encrypted version of HTTP. However, having HTTPS doesn’t mean the data you have on your Google Drive account is encrypted; only the connection is. If you want to increase the safety of your data, you can add a 2-Step Verification for Google Drive and get a security key.

Excel also uses HTTPS on their OneDrive service, making all the data in transit encrypted. They also offer a 2-step Verification for those who want to take extra precautions. So far, both services feature the same safety benefits. Things get better in their business plan option, where you can add a per-file encryption for your data at rest, meaning if one file is hacked, all the other ones would still be safe.

Verdict: Excel offers more advanced security capabilities than Sheets.

Final Verdict

After our careful analysis of the most important features of both tools, the result shows us a tie, with 3 wins for Sheets, and 3 for Excel. You have seen Excel is more powerful in features but may be too complex to use for some of you who have simpler reporting needs. Also, its collaboration features need work and improvement.

In contrast, Google Sheets can be of great help for those who want to create a report without bells and whistles but with great collaboration features.

For more advanced paid marketers at larger companies and agencies, an automated paid marketing reporting solution like AdStage may work better than Excel or Google Sheets. With the time saved on reporting across multiple accounts and networks, automated tools provide a clear return on investment.

44 E-Commerce KPIs and Metrics for Your Marketing Dashboard

44 E-Commerce KPIs and Metrics for Your Marketing Dashboard

The National Retail Federation predicts that online is going to be the major driver of growth for retail in the next years to come. No surprises here: consumers spend more and more time on mobile discovering and comparing products — a perfect opportunity for businesses to capture buyer’s intent in the “micro-moments.”

Yet as retail is undergoing this massive shift, many stores are teetering on the brink of bankruptcy — and the competition gets tougher for the young disruptors. To grow business and increase sales, e-commerce marketers need to ensure they are tracking web conversions and measuring the right KPIs.

Here are 44 essential metrics every e-commerce business should be measuring.

Business Health Metrics

Customer acquisition cost (CAC) Calculate how much it costs you to acquire a customer
Average order value Calculate how much revenue each order brings to your business
Customer lifetime value (LTV) Predict how much money a customer will bring over the entire future relationship with your business
Percentage of returning customers Calculate the percentage of people who come back and buy more after making the initial purchase
Sales conversion rate Calculate the percentage of visitors who become your customers
Revenue generated from marketing campaigns (marketing ROI) Calculate how much revenue is generated for all marketing activity

Website and App Metrics

Site availability Determine if you can access a website by going to its URL and view the site’s content as expected
YoY traffic changes Compare the number of visitors for one period to the same period the previous year
Time on site Measure how much time visitors spend on your website
Number of pages visited Measure how many pages a visitor views per session
Number of app downloads Calculate how many people downloaded your app from Apple’s App Store or Google Play
Sales conversion rate Calculate the percentage of website visitors who become your customers
Average order value Calculate how much revenue each order brings to your business
Orders by session Measure how many orders each session (visit) brings to your business
Shopping cart abandonment rate Calculate the ratio of the number of abandoned shopping carts to the number of initiated transactions

Customer Experience Metrics

Website loading time Measure how long it takes for your website pages to load
App daily active users (DAU) How many people use your app daily
Pageviews per user Measure how easy it is to navigate your website
Page abandonment Measure how many visitors leave a page before completing the desired action
New users/repeat users by pages Measure how many new visitors your website pages get versus the number of repeat visitors
Bounce rate Calculate the percentage of visitors to a particular website who navigate away from the site after viewing just one page

Loyalty Metrics

Customer lifetime value (CLV) Predict how much profit a customer will bring over the entire relationship with your business
Net promoter score (NPS Score) Measure the willingness of your customers to recommend your company’s products or services to others
Repeat purchase rate See the percentage of your current customers that come back to shop again

Paid Search Advertising Metrics

Spend Calculate how much money was spent on advertising for a given date range
Clicks Measure many times users click on your ad and get to the landing page
Impressions Measure how many times users saw your ad
Click-through rate (CTR) Calculate the number of clicks divided by the number of impressions
Average cost per click (CPC) Measure how much on average you were charged for a click (calculated by dividing the total cost of your clicks by the total number of clicks)
Conversions Measure how many times a click turned into a business result (a sign-up, a sale, or any other action taken by the user)
Conversion rate Calculate the number of conversions divided by the number of clicks
Cost per conversion Measure how much you pay for a conversion

Social Media Advertising Metrics

Spend Calculate how much money was spent on advertising for a given date range
Network referrals Track which social networks are driving most traffic
Social media conversions Measure conversion by social networks to understand which ones bring the most valuable shoppers
Clicks Measure many times users click on your ad and get to the landing page
Frequency Understand when to set a frequency cap to prevent your audience from getting fatigued
Relevance score See how well your current ads are performing and whether you should make any changes

Email Metrics

Open rate Calculate the percentage of email recipients who open a given email
Clickthrough rate Calculate the percentage of email recipients who clicked on links in a given email
Conversion rate Calculate how many people completed the desired action
Bounce rate Measure the percentage of your emails that could not be delivered to the recipient’s inbox
List growth rate Calculate the rate at which your email list is growing
Email forwarding rate Calculate the percentage of people who clicked on a “forward to a friend” button

Ready to create a performance dashboard for your e-commerce business? At AdStage, we’ve built Universal Data API to help e-commerce brands pull in ad performance data, automate paid search and paid social campaigns, and map customer data back to campaigns so you can see the ROI and scale your business faster.

Try AdStage Free for 14 Days — no credit card required

Why Marketers Should Care About APIs

Why Marketers Should Care About APIs

As advertising grows more dependent on technology, marketers will need to rethink what they once labeled as “developer things.”

Take APIs, for example. Sitting at the heart of all customer data, advertising APIs simplify cross-channel integrations, eliminate tedious manual tasks, and enable marketers to quickly pull large data sets from any platform. They are the foundation of new workflows and even business models.

Here’s what you should know about marketing APIs (and why you should care).

Advertising APIs

What the Heck is an API?

Think of an API (application programming interface) as a plug. Just like your iPhone has an expectation of the wall socket to conform to certain rules, which allows you to plug in and charge, APIs are built to follow predictable patterns so you can plug in and consume a service from a third-party provider.

For example, businesses that operate several Facebook apps use the Facebook Business Mapping API to sync user IDs. Thanks to the flexibility of the Giphy API, you can send GIFs to your co-workers on Slack.

Programmable Web counts 506 advertising APIs available on the market today, out of total 18,544 APIs listed on its website. From social ad creation to direct mail, events, and SEO, here’re a few marketing API examples you may be familiar with if you work in advertising.

1) Facebook Canvas API

Facebook’s Canvas API allows advertisers to create Canvas ads and campaigns on Facebook. You can use photos and videos to create Canvas ads and link to products or even store locations within the ad. Advertisers can create canvas components via API such as header, footer, carousel, button, and text.

2) Google AdWords API

The AdWords API allows apps to interact directly with the AdWords platform, vastly increasing the efficiency of managing large or complex AdWords accounts and campaigns. The Google AdWords API lets developers build applications that interact directly with the AdWords platform. With the AdWords API, you can build software that manages accounts from the customer level down to the keyword level.

3) MailChimp API

The MailChimp marketing API syncs email campaigns with your CRM and helps pull campaign stats and test different calls and endpoints before pushing to production.

4) Eloqua API

The Eloqua API allows users to integrate their existing services with the Eloqua platform, transfer data and manage a variety of assets in platform’s data store.

5) AdStage Universal Data API

With AdStage’s API, marketing teams can grab performance data from Google AdWords, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Yahoo Gemini, and ship it in a normalized form to BI tools, marketing automation systems, and CRM.

Why Should Marketers Care About Marketing Data APIs?

Your Targeting Will Get Even More Granular

Marketers will need to take the leap from channels to ecosystems and use data from multiple sources to better target niche audiences.

Digital media buying, including pay-per-click, relies on collecting data, making sense of it, and acting on that data quickly. To be successful, marketers must collect and analyze data from multiple sources, including web, CRM, and social, and making continuous adjustments and optimizations across many channels at scale.

You’ll Be Adding More Channels and Networks

Here’s the thing: advertising is not about Facebook or Linkedin. Believe it or not, it’s not even about Google. Advertising is how you reach people — wherever they are.

Your audiences are on the web, mobile, social, or using conversational interfaces on home devices. Marketers will need to be flexible and have a data strategy in place to gather insights across all channels.

You’ll Compete on Customer Data

Time and time again, businesses that are serious about customer data have disrupted traditional industries and multi-billion-dollar corporations. Think Glossier, Warby Parker, MeUndies, Chubbies Shorts, and other businesses that are laser-focused on delivering highly personalized experiences for niche audiences. Customer empathy and highly relatable content builds loyal customer base — especially when amplified by data-driven PPC advertising.

Big Data Will Keep Getting Bigger

Your data is moving around in massive streams across different channels. You need a way to organize your data in order to make sense of it. Advertising APIs allow multiple applications to “talk” with each other, which means you can organize your data to get better insights.

Gear Up for the Internet of Things

Marketers must be ready to move their content where your consumers will go. Today, it’s the web, mobile, and the conversational interfaces of personal and home devices. Tomorrow, it’s VR or something else. Whatever that something is, APIs will enable apps to exchange data and give marketers access needed to act quickly on it at scale.

advertising data integration

How to Untangle Your B2B Attribution

How to Untangle Your B2B Attribution

Whether you’re in an agency role or part of an in-house team, there will inevitably be a time when you’ll be asked: “What’s the business impact of our advertising campaigns?”

For many digital marketers, our Pavlov reaction will be to open up the network ads manager or a spreadsheet and point to individual network conversion performance (total conversions, cost per conversion, conversion rate) to justify the media spend. However well-intended, this approach is often misguided.

There are a few key issues with using ad network conversion tracking to reveal business impact.

1. It Defaults to Last-Click Attribution

There’s a reason why your branded search themed ad groups or your social retargeting ad sets post the lowest cost per acquisition trends. Your ideal prospect has likely already engaged with a marketing campaign in the same ad account or within a different network, yet you don’t see the full picture.

To see this for yourself, open the conversion window options in the network ad platform.

conversion window for Facebook Ads - PPC reporting software

*Conversion window options for Facebook Ads

2. It Doesn’t Account for Marketing Touches From Other Channels

According to the Online Marketing Institute, “it takes 7 to 13+ touches to deliver a sales qualified lead.”

Pull a Conversion Path Report from Google Analytics, and it likely will reveal that many of the common conversion paths include multiple touch points and sources that aided in driving the conversion action.

multitouch attribution ppc reporting software

3. Conversions Aren’t People

Have you ever ran a demand generation or acquisition campaign only to find the total amount of conversions reported across all your ad networks are higher than the number of new prospects added into your database? Your retargeting campaigns are likely leading to double counting.

For example: someone clicked on your search ad on Google, visited your website, and then converted on a retargeted Facebook newsfeed ad by filling out a demo form. In this scenario, AdWords would report a conversion – as will Facebook Ads – despite there only being one person who filled out the form.

network reported conversions - ppc reporting software

In the chart above, notice the difference in the total amount of conversions and cost per conversion trends reported by the native networks, versus the cost per new prospect and cost per acquired new prospect trends reported out of the marketing automation system.

4. Online Conversions Only Track Web Actions, While Sales Often Happen Outside of the Website

E-commerce marketers have the luxury of being able to track all of their customer journey metrics, from the initial touch to the purchase, captured in web analytics. They can easily understand the impact of marketing campaigns and channels, and associated return for each digital advertising dollar spent.

For the rest of us, especially for those in B2B businesses, a customer journey includes various touch points: sales phone calls, emails, on-site events, and the occasional steak dinner to land the deal. With sales cycles ranging from weeks to months versus e-commerce purchases that happen in hours or days, it can be very tricky to understand the impact of ad campaigns on business metrics such as opportunities created and closed-won revenue.

5. Lead Generation and Sales are Often Two Different Things

Forrester revealed in a report that less than 1% of marketing leads turn into new customers for B2B businesses. A core reason for this trend is a lack of reporting visibility into marketing campaigns effectiveness after the initial interaction occurs. Which makes sense, as marketers optimize what they can track: total leads and cost per lead.

However, if you have been in the game for awhile, you know that web conversions don’t account for a crucial component: lead quality. Online tracking stops at the web action, while your CRM tracks the entire customer lifecycle. Customer data is crucial when understanding if your ad campaigns are leading to more opportunities and sales.

There are four core stages in a B2B sale:

*Note: Individual company stages, models, and definitions can fluctuate, but they are typically rooted in this design.

Lead A prospect has an interaction on your website or offline touch point such as an event. Their information is added to the business CRM. Most network conversions track up to here.
Sales Qualified Contact A prospect meets certain criteria: company size, revenue, geography, budget, product need, or demo request.
Opportunity A need and fit for your product or service is established. This is the negotiation stage to see if the prospect and company will buy.
Closed Won or Lost Customer The outcome of the negotiation stage, hopefully resulting in a new customer and closed-won sales contract.

If you track performance down to the opportunity and sale level, it can often unearth areas where relying on conversion tracking or cost per lead metrics alone are short-sighted. For example, take the table below. Both campaign A and B have a total budget of $3,000.

Relying on web conversion tracking, it appears that Campaign B is outperforming Campaign A with an average cost per lead of $88 versus $94 trending. However, as we track the performance deeper into the sales funnel, it reveals that Campaign A not only provides a lower cost per opportunity, but a higher overall return on ad spend.

return on ad spend - PPC reporting software


Conversions reported by the native networks are still very helpful. Before you have a large amount of sales data, they should be used to aid with bid optimization (especially Facebook’s objective bidding or oCPM). They can also be used as the initial line of defense to quickly spot trends of what is or is not performing.

However, marketers should not rely on them solely. Instead, they should combine data from web analytics, ad performance metrics, and their CRMs to reveal the true impact of advertising on the business.

Let’s review the steps to getting full-funnel tracking for your advertising set-up.

Track Down Funnel Sales Impact with Uploaded Conversions

There are four key steps needed to report, analyze, and optimize for deeper metrics such as opportunities, sales, or revenue with your ad campaigns:

Step #1: Add URL Tracking Parameters to All Your Ad Creative Destination URLs

Adding additional tracking parameters to each new ad creative will help inform both your CRM and web analytics exactly which ad account, campaign, and ad variation led to a desired action (and which did not).

Here’s an example of a destination URL with applied custom tracking parameters:

Learn more about the process in our post on tracking conversions with Google Analytics.

There are a few ways to add tracking parameters to your destination URLs:

  1. One-by-one using the Google Custom URL builder.
  2. Use templates such as Google’s ValueTrack parameters or Facebook’s URL parameters section when creating an ad.
  3. Use an Excel or G-Sheets template.
google analytics tracking - ppc reporting software

Google’s ValueTrack parameters

I personally like to use Effin Amazing’s Google Chrome plug-in with presets which pipe into a central G-Sheet as they are made.

Step #2: Add Hidden Fields to Your Forms

Out of the box, your web analytics and ad destination tracking parameters will not talk to your CRM. With hidden fields in forms, this information can automatically be captured and mapped in systems like Salesforce.

Hidden fields are invisible to web visitors, but pass tracking attributes to your marketing automation database.

Within your marketing automation system, create a form that includes a hidden field that will capture the tracking elements in your URL and transcribe them into common fields in your marketing automation and CRM systems, such as lead source and lead source details.

Learn how to add a hidden field to your forms in HubSpot, Marketo, or Pardot:

how to add a hidden field in CRM - ppc reporting software

Step #3: Add Custom Fields to the Account and Contact Records in Your CRM

On the contact (prospect) and account (company) record pass through and map the hidden fields collected in your CRM.

add custom fields in crm

Learn how to add new custom fields in Salesforce.

Step #4: Upload and Map the Data Back to Ad Campaigns

To add and view your down-funnel sales metrics next to your advertising performance metrics for networks like Facebook and Google, you must map the data to “offline conversions” columns. Offline conversions are essentially any key metrics that are not captured using web tracking pixels. Learn more about Google and Facebook’s offline conversion offerings.

You can either manually download your campaign and ad performance for each network alongside your Salesforce data, map it in Google Sheets or Excel, and then upload the combined data as separate lists for each network. Alternatively, you could pull it all into Google Sheets and update your offline conversions across all networks in one swoop with access to network APIs.

How We Upload Offline Conversions Across All Networks in One Batch

As official advertising partners of Google, Bing, Yahoo, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, we knew there had to be a way to better streamline this process for our own marketing ad accounts.

Here are the steps we took to map down-funnel business metrics to offline conversion columns across all networks:

adstage google sheets connector

adstage google sheets connector

  • Then we use some VLOOKUP formula magic in G-Sheets to merge campaign and account IDs with sales metrics.

adstage google sheets connector

  • We download our Google Sheet as a .csv, then convert it to JSON (a data exchange format read by our Universal Data API) using the CSVJSON online converter.

adstage google sheets connector - ppc reporting software with multitouch attribution

  • This information is sent to AdStage’s Data API and revealed in the platform as AdStage Custom Conversions.

Introducing AdStage Custom Conversions

Speaking to others who market businesses with off-website sales touches, we found that many advertisers struggle with multi-touch attribution. They are flying blind or dealing with very manual and error-prone processes to simply understand the business impact of their search and social advertising campaigns.

We’re excited to announce the release of AdStage Custom Conversions, allowing customers to map their down-funnel sales data from sources like their CRM next to their advertising campaign and ad level metrics to make better, more informed decisions on optimizations.

Find your AdStage Custom Conversions as available metrics to in our Report and Automate products, allowing you to analyze the impact of your ad campaigns, then take action by deploying optimization rules and monitoring alerts.

Analyze and build reports using AdStage Custom Conversion metrics, then take action by creating campaign monitoring alerts and optimization rules using your custom data.

advertising data integration