The Trick for Achieving Your Marketing Goals (is to Measure the Right Results!)
When’s the last time you hit a marketing goal? Or maybe the better question is when’s the last time you set a marketing goal? In fact, how much importance should even be placed on marketing goals? There’s a line of thought that marketing is an art and not a science, and that it’s nearly impossible to accurately measure your results based on your inputs. Others believe there’s a certain amount of validity to keeping track of various marketing metrics, but they hesitate to do so because they’re unsure of exactly which marketing efforts will make a visible impact on the company’s bottom line.
Seasoned marketers, however, understand that having a solid set of marketing goals in place is non-negotiable; they realize that running a marketing campaign without goals is like trying to pilot a plane without a flight plan. So how can you be sure that the goals you set for your marketing efforts are not only measurable, but attainable? Below are some tried-and-true tips to help you properly establish and achieve your marketing goals.
1. Avoid focusing on vanity metrics.
Certain statistics such as your total number of social media followers may sound impressive, but these types of metrics offer little in the way of measuring specific business outcomes. It’s difficult to determine how to improve marketing performance or increase profitability based on vanity metrics that are only tangentially related to your business inputs. Focus on results, not just activities, so that you won’t channel your resources towards areas that don’t move the revenue needle.
2. Take note of month-over-month growth in your organic website traffic.
Measuring organic traffic is important because it can show you how much influence your site carries outside of your own paid promotions. Organic traffic in this sense refers to not only organic search traffic, but also traffic received via social media referrals or inbound links from other sites. Keep a close eye on how much of this organic traffic is being converted into leads and/or sales; this will show you how effective your content marketing efforts have been across all of your different distribution channels. Once you have zeroed in on which methods within your marketing strategy (e.g., blogging, social media participation, link building, etc.) are measurably affecting your bottom line, you can begin to allocate more resources to those particular areas in order to maximize your opportunities–and your potential revenue.
3. Pay attention to social engagement, not social reach.
Reach is simply a measurement of how many people you can potentially reach with your message, based on your total amount of Facebook fans, Twitter followers, email subscribers, RSS subscribers to your blog, etc. This is largely an insignificant metric, because it assumes that everyone who follows you on social media will be actively engaged with your brand. This is akin to assuming that a college professor always has the undivided attention of every single student in the classroom. With the amount of digital clutter present in the social media arena, it’s important to focus only on those metrics that represent significant user engagement. For example, Facebook offers a tool called “People Talking About This,” which gives you a snapshot of how many times your posts have been shared, liked, commented on or posted to other users’ Page Walls. This gives your posts more clout with Facebook’s algorithm, and the more chatter there is around your content, the more likely it will appear in your fans’ News Feeds.
4. Track your lead generation by channel, asset or content.
If you’re producing leads, you need to be keenly aware of exactly where they’re coming from. Was it from a display ad, a search engine marketing campaign, a guest blog post, a social media promotion, etc.? Which asset or content source drives the majority of your traffic? What type of content produces the most engagement and response from your audience? Which channels are producing the most leads and revenue? Make sure to employ tracking codes and customized landing pages for each asset type, so that you can accurately measure the most effective marketing channels.
There’s a lot of truth to the old saying that “You cannot manage what you cannot measure,” but you need to make sure that you’re measuring the right things. It’s essentially useless to become proficient at doing something that need not be done at all. Focus only on those areas of your business activities that are specifically measurable, such as the ones listed above, and resist the urge to get caught up in low-value tasks. Adopting this approach will put you in the best position to achieve your marketing goals.