Nearly half of small businesses spend less than $10,000 a year on their digital marketing activities. At the global enterprise level, that figure is in the millions.
Across business of all sizes, 93 percent are poised to increase their marketing investments in 2018, most prominently in social media, content creation/distribution and company websites.
But are these investments paying off?
Well, just 39 percent of companies say their marketing strategies are effective.
That’s quite low, so something is off. Tactics need to change, strategies need more data insights and audience targeting could be vastly improved – that’s just for starters.
So how do you measure the success of your company’s marketing?
Distinguish between vanity and value when analyzing and reporting ROI.
Time on site.
Social media followers.
Customer acquisition costs.
Customer lifetime value.
You need to construct your ROI framework in terms of valuable metrics that apply to the business at large, not surface-level web analytics data.
To help with this, take a storefront approach. If your online presence was a brick-and-mortar shop, what KPIs would you actually worry about? Sales, revenue, overhead, time to purchase, repeat visits, etc.
With just a short snippet of tracking code automatically tagged to each page of your site, Google Analytics tracks the performance of your web pages and their associated campaigns. Every time a user completes a task or interacts with your site, that information is fed into reports, which allows you to calculate the value of each web lead and how much money he or she brings to the table.
Assigning actual dollar values at this level of granularity is how you measure effectiveness, plain and simple.
To get the most out of your web analytics, you need to set up proper Goal Completions and Events Tracking functions, which string together different types of conversions within your campaigns.
A conversion occurs whenever a desired action is taken on your site, aka a user is moving incrementally down the sales funnel. For example:
Micro conversions: actions that do not have a commercial impact but may in the future through effective nurturing. Think of these as small process milestones or baby steps.
actions that directly lead to commercial value. These are much larger, intent-driven interactions.
Contacting a salesperson.
Purchasing on site.
For nearly every business with an online presence, your primary goal is to increase conversions by capturing customers’ contact info, thus allowing you to move prospects into your sales pipeline.
You can also segment the data you aggregate by the channels in which conversions occur. Integration with other enterprise tools will be necessary here.
Here are a few metrics to consider, broken out by what companies deem to be their most effective marketing channels:
That’s why using core sales metrics can be useful as well. By this we mean, how many new customers have you gained? How many new sales calls have been booked? What are your revenue and sales growth rates?
By utilizing sales as a metric, in addition to more granular marketing data points, you can better frame your conversations with superiors and stakeholders from different departments when it’s time to advocate for additional investment in your digital campaigns.
Another way to leverage your existing customer base is to use automated customer satisfaction surveys. Knowing how positive your clients are and whether they will serve as references allows you to gauge whether your products, your brand influence and your content is having enough of an impact to actually earn new business.
But such a high-level goal isn’t all that practical on a daily basis when you’re tasked with executing on a strategy. And digital marketing isn’t going to reap immediate rewards in every case.
For example, inbound marketing can often take six months before ROI materializes. A knowledgeable agency partner will tell you that your content marketing investments should be understood through the lens of annual return – some campaigns won’t pay off for a year or more. Don’t jump ship too soon simply because your near-term goals were too ambitious.
Automation is now the norm, and artificial intelligence creeps into everyday marketing tasks faster than many expected.
What this means for the average digital marketer is that measuring effectiveness becomes all the more paramount. Accurate measurement can actually be a brand differentiator, a mechanism for knowing how and where to target greater market share.