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How Effective Are Your Marketing Efforts, Really?

posted by Michael Epps Utley Michael Epps Utley
How Effective Are Your Marketing Efforts Really

Are your promotional efforts effective?

Are you sure? How can you know?

Even companies that carefully monitor marketing-related metrics get things wrong.

The issue: The wrong number masquerading as the right one could significantly harm your marketing and the future of your business.

Never fear!

This article reveals common marketing metrics errors and explains how to avoid them.

Common Marketing Metrics Errors and How to Avoid Them

Don’t Measure Marketing Performance Against the Wrong Goals

Have you defined exactly what you want your marketing strategies and tactics to accomplish?

Marketing can only be effective when you determine how it delivers value over the near- and long-term. Unless you do this, you’re probably tracking against a standard set of stock metrics that may have no — or little — impact on the bottom line of your business.

When you develop marketing strategies and apply tactics to them, always clearly define what you expect them to achieve. Set and document the goals that ladder up to success. Assign specific values and track against them. These are the only metrics worth monitoring. Anything else may be nice to know but is essentially meaningless.

Setting and documenting goals in the marketing planning process helps ensure you’ll avoid wasting time watching the wrong numbers. Plus, you’re far more likely to achieve success.

Don’t Track too Many Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Similar to what we explained in the previous section, sorting through massive data dumps for an answer is usually never the correct solution to a metrics problem.

It’s become a big issue because many tools out there produce tons and tons of data. This can result in anxiety and confusion if you’re tempted to find meaning in all of it. The reason a key performance indicator is referred to as such is because it’s singularly important.

Focus on the digital marketing measurement model for your specific marketing programs:

  • Determine the purpose of your marketing.

  • Figure out the performance indicators you absolutely need to track to reach your goals.

  • Those are the KPIs you should constantly keep your eyes on. Nothing else matters as much as they do.

We recommend focusing on two key performance indicators per tactic: one efficiency KPI and one effectiveness KPI.

For instance, if you’re doing paid marketing, the effectiveness KPI is usually revenue or profit because it shows you’re making money. The efficiency KPI is the marketing cost per order because it explains how much you spend on marketing for each sale. Focusing most of your attention on these two KPIs will help you keep your eye on the prize and avoid confusion. Of course, you can have other support metrics under your KPIs to help you identify issues, but the KPIs are what matter in the end.

Never Waste Time on Useless Data

When marketing data was scarce, having access to more data made you seem smarter. But that was more than a decade ago. Today, we have more numbers available to us than anyone could possibly process. Now, being smart is about determining the data to ignore.

For instance, the impressions metric has little meaning. Somebody may have been exposed to something, but in most cases, it’s meaningless because it left no impression. Still, most marketers monitor impressions because it’s typically the first thing reported by every tool.

With today’s data overload, be brutal about what you track and report. If it’s not directly related to your ultimate marketing success, cut it out so you stay focused on what’s critical.

Don’t Depend Exclusively on a Marketing and Sales Funnel

When data was scarce, businesses considered marketing and sales a linear funnel. The goal was to move as many people as possible through the entire funnel from initial awareness to a sale.

While there may be some validity in this approach (it’s survived a long time), the issue is that most consumers don’t behave in ways that align with a traditional straight-line funnel.

Of course, marketers and business owners need signals about buyers. For instance, a traditional marketer might look at a consumer and think of her as a 35-year-old mom who lives in the Midwest and has a very nice home. They view her one-dimensionally as someone they could sell new items to for her house.

However, the deeper reality is that she’s an environmentalist who prefers repurposed merchandise. A traditional home improvement marketing pitch would fall flat. The consumer would bounce out of the marketing funnel quickly or never enter it.

However, businesses don’t have to be limited in how they market to consumers. In this case, as soon as they discovered the consumer wasn’t interested in newly manufactured home furnishings, they could serve up a line of refurbished pieces the person might find more appealing because it aligns with her intent. It’s a way to understand intent and change the flow of the sales funnel so it delivers a more fluid experience for your prospective customer.

Get Comfortable With Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Marketing Metrics

AI makes many small business owners and marketers nervous. It’s challenging to understand its power and capabilities and whether it’s getting the information it delivers right. Everyone has seen examples of nonsensical AI-generated marketing content.

However, the AI-backed machine-learning (ML) solutions built into analytics tools make it much easier to find and access the data you need. You can simply request a report that displays the metrics you must pay attention to.

For instance, tools like Google Analytics usually have reports that give you the insights you need quickly. You don’t have to sort through tons of data to find what’s essential. The AI in the tools identifies hidden things in your metrics you might not otherwise see and serves them up to you so you can take action.

The data you access using artificial intelligence will help you better — and more quickly — understand the best places to allocate your marketing dollars, whether for brand building, content marketing, or generating leads. This is an area in which you can have reasonable confidence in AI, especially if you have a clear picture of what you want your marketing to do for you.

Is Your Marketing Working? The Final Word

If you’re not sure whether your promotional efforts are paying off, it could be because you’re doing too much and not too little — at the very least, you might be focused in the wrong areas. Define the data required to determine success as part of marketing planning and track it over time. It will help prevent the data overload that can make it seem impossible to track results. Also, leveraging AI-powered tools makes data mining easier and helps find the numbers-based insights you need.

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