Leveraging Data to Measure Success
One of the most critical elements of cultivating a marketing operations department that is strategically aligned for success is an ongoing commitment to track the performance of campaigns, people, processes and technology. Those companies that consistently outperform their competitors are the ones who set goals, monitor performance, measure success and course-correct according to what their data reveals. This, too, is a process, and one that must be executed step-by-step.
Define Problems and Goals
Before you can improve marketing campaigns and achieve goals, like increasing sales, you must first identify and define the problems standing in the way of their achievement. A great place to begin searching for insights on the problems you face is your marketing/data dashboard. However, before you run a query, keep in mind that finding great insights begins with asking great questions about what is it you need to know. When you carefully consider all the variables contributing to the problem you want to solve or goal you want to reach, it’s easier to find the answers you need. For example, if your goal is to replicate the success of a marketing campaign, begin by asking questions, such as:
a. What Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are most relevant to the problem/goal?
b. How can each KPI be changed, improved or manipulated?
c. What outcome will mark the endeavor a success?
Once you have identified the information you want to know and the KPIs that impact it most, it’s time to choose how you will measure your data. To help you select appropriate measurements, we’ve gathered marketing’s most-used KPIs and created a quick-reference table for you.
Daily Measurements and Benchmarks
In addition to measuring more complex KPIs, there are a variety of simple KPIs you will want to monitor for their insights and impact on goals, such as customer engagement, lead generation, campaign performance and brand loyalty. Among the more popular simple marketing KPIs to measure are:
- Number of likes, shares, comments, etc.
- Site visitors
- Pages viewed
- Bounce rates
- Traffic sources
- Opt-In/Out rates
- Open rates
- Click-through rates
Ideally, you should have data from the previous year to help you establish a benchmark to measure future data against. However, if this is not available, then the data you gather now will become your benchmark. Again, a marketing/data dashboard is infinitely useful in this step as it makes tracking and comparing multiple data sets a much easier process.
Dividing customers and prospects into a variety of groups and subgroups for various data experiments is one of the best ways to learn who your ideal customers are and why they are choosing your brand. Segmentation is a step that is often full of surprises and learning opportunities. When you take an unbiased look at the demographics, psychographics and geographics of your customers and prospects, you can uncover useful insights. These insights will in turn empower you to fine-tune messages, be more competitive, identify new opportunities, and invest your energy and budget in the people who support your business most.
Test and Experiment
Data is comprised of numbers, and just as there are lots of ways to mathematically arrive at a certain number, there are numerous ways to gauge marketing performance and test marketing theories. Once you know the type of experiment you want to conduct, choose a small subsection of your segment to test. However, before you test actual subjects, run your experiments on in-house subjects to ensure everything is working smoothly. A few of the most common ways to gather actionable data via tests and experiments include:
- A/B Tests — Great for performance insights, A/B tests enable you to hone messages and cater to customer preferences that move the needle.
- Surveys and Polls – Quick and inexpensive, surveys and polls allow you to gather large volumes of data in a short time. Pay careful attention to the questions you ask to make sure you are asking what you need to know.
- Interviews and Focus Groups — Time intensive and sometimes expensive, focus groups are a go-to for revelations on why something isn’t working or how customers will respond to brand changes before they are launched.
Once your tests are over and all data is in, you are ready to review results. Your marketing/data dashboard can help you compare measurements in a timely manner. It should also have a reporting feature that enables you to isolate data variables as needed and convert findings into shareable visuals (graphs, tables, charts, etc.) that empower your team and executive leaders to instantly see and understand your findings.
After everyone involved in the decision-making process has had a chance to look at results, gather everyone together for a next steps meeting. Here, you will want to brainstorm actions and responses to data findings. Encourage everyone to recommend actions, from changes in campaign approaches and customer acquisition strategies, to allocating a larger portion of the budget to a new media or geographic area, and more. Prioritize the actions your team wants to take and then go for it. Collect data on your new actions and then repeat your success measurement process again.
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