Every day, marketers analyze hundreds of metrics and pull levers to change the outcomes of their campaigns. It’s a never-ending list of tasks, and even when small wins are achieved, there’s always more work to be done.
But one question always seems to evade even the greatest marketers in the game: how do you measure the success of a campaign? Let’s ask today’s business leaders about the metrics that matter most when determining marketing campaign success in 2021.
Running The Numbers
The classic business advice “what gets measured gets managed” applies to marketing more so than any other department. That’s because marketers – even those at the top – are often misled or misinformed when it comes to their own data.
“[Marketing] is a $450 billion global industry and we’re all making decisions with less data and discipline than we apply to $100,000 decisions in other aspects of our businesses,” said Jim Stengal, Chief Marketing Officer of Proctor and Gamble.
The road to measuring marketing campaign success must therefore start with a wealth of data, and a way to access this info quickly and consistently.
According to Summer Romasco, Brand Strategist and Marketing Director at Ad Hoc Labs, many teams are lacking the data required to make informed decisions about marketing and measure the impact of a campaign.
“Despite all the tools available in modern marketing, there is still a lot of guesswork and trial-and-error tactics going on,” said Romasco. “Before you determine whether your campaign was successful or not, your first job is to collect that data and know-how to interpret it.”
Other marketing professionals have recognized that success has many different meanings when it comes to campaign type and intention. Every campaign should have its own set of KPIs, according to this approach.
“To measure success effectively you want to compare the results to the overall goals,” said Daniel Seehoff, CEO of Sophistiplate. “Sometimes a successful campaign is not about how much revenue was brought in. Engagement and awareness campaigns are based upon impressions and views – did user following numbers increase? As every goal is unique, a marketing campaign’s success completely differs depending on each goal and its objectives.”
But no matter what your campaign goals may be, the most important factor is to keep the data flowing and never hide from the truth that is revealed when you run the numbers.
“To measure the success of your campaigns, always remember that the data doesn’t lie,” said Ryan Rottman, Co-Founder, and CEO of OSDB. “Regardless of the reason for which you’re implementing a particular strategy, running regular reports will help you see if you’re on track, or if it’s time to go back to the drawing board. Find out which aspects of your campaigns are the most important and of the greatest influence, and look at that data on a regular basis to ensure a positive outcome.”
We know that every campaign is different, and measurement techniques are just as varied from one situation to the next. But what metrics are the most commonly used to determine campaign success, regardless of industry or initiative? Ask the world’s top marketers, and they’ll share some like-minded answers.
“The primary goal of our marketing campaigns is to increase sales,” said Alix Greenberg, Founder of ArtSugar. “So we analyze the data from previous campaigns to see which campaign strategy performs best, with which audience, and in which context. We then measure click-through and conversion rates daily so that we can make adjustments if necessary. Using the historical data of previous campaigns takes the guesswork out of defining our marketing campaigns’ success while maximizing our budget.”
More sales may be the most universal business goal in the world, but things get more specific in industries with high-ticket services and personalized client assessments.
“The most effective way to measure campaign effectiveness is the increase in customer conversion,” said Dr. Jae Pak, Founder, and Owner of Jae Pak, MD. “For example, after we have done a campaign for hair transplant surgeries, we measure the number of potential candidates we get who may qualify for the surgery. Out of those candidates, how many of them actually go through and how they first came to us is important to take into account.
If more of them heard about us through a campaign, that is a good sign that we are in the right direction. We can also make adjustments to campaigns based on the patient experiences and the questions they had coming to us, so we know what to answer upfront.”
Keep in mind that every industry has distinct metrics that apply to their specific niche, and these irregularities should be accounted for as well when identifying performance signals.
“Sales can come from anywhere, and there is no perfect predictor on how these customer journeys or funnels lead to conversions,” said Ben Thompson, CEO of Hardwood Bargains. “The best we can do is track patterns and connect the dots where possible. From there, we’ll reinforce the marketing tactics that seem to work best, and it’s always a work in progress.”
Even with common metrics pointing marketers in the general direction of sales and conversions, there are many steps that must be considered along the way. Never forget these stepping stones as you map out your path to profits.
“Marketing campaign success is most often measured by your ROI, but what are you actually hoping to achieve with your campaign?” asked Marc Atiyeh, CEO of Pawp. Are you building visibility? Hoping for mutual collaborations? Implementing new branding strategies? Look at the actual purpose of your marketing campaign and then measure those specific results. Sure, the bottom line is always an objective, but sometimes there are other outcomes that you’re hoping to achieve as well.
As marketers learn from their past successes and mistakes, they can more effectively read between the lines of data points and evaluate their efforts.
This often leads marketers to trim the fat and focus on metrics that appear most useful.
“One of the best and easiest ways to measure marketing campaign success is email open and conversion rate,” said Inesa Ponomariovaite, Founder of Nesa’s Hemp. “Within the realm of marketing, no channel is more fruitful and consistently successful than email marketing. Indeed, with an average conversion rate of close to 50%, email campaigns are the most effective way to drive interest, sales, and engagement with your pre-existing subscribers and customers.”
In the realm of email marketing, click rate, open rate, and average order value are key to figuring out the winning formula. Surprisingly, tactics like these are more effective when pursued by smaller brands that may be willing to take more risks and study outcomes scientifically.
“That’s a huge advantage of being a relatively new and agile company with a blank slate for marketing,” said Ryan Selmi, Founder of MiiRO. “You can lean into experimentation without spending tons of money. Meanwhile, you’re collecting data and customer information that will fuel your future campaigns.”
Conversely, larger and more established brands may have no shortage of data, but could suffer from information overload as a result, especially when tracking spending and determining the ROI of marketing efforts.
“Many corporate boards lack the understanding to evaluate marketing strategies and expenditures,” said Author and Professor Paul W. Farris. “Most directors and CEOs lack deep experience in this field. Few managers appreciate the range of metrics by which they can evaluate marketing strategies and dynamics.”
What lessons can be learned from gathering and sorting marketing data? How can these lessons be applied to the next round of campaigns, programs, and initiatives?
“These are the questions that marketers still grapple with, despite having a bottomless treasure chest of information at their disposal,” said Katie Lyon, Co-Founder, and CEO of Allegiance Flag Supply. “The toughest part is turning numbers into meaningful conclusions that tell you what to do next. That is really the crux of modern marketing success.”
In search of this deeper meaning, marketers are starting to look at layers beneath the surface.
These days, creative thinking is encouraged, as it might inspire new ways to generate interest and retain customers.
“Marketing metrics are a helpful resource to track a campaign’s success, but the numbers alone cannot tell the entire story,” said Dr. Kathrin Hamm, Founder, and CEO of Bearaby. “Creating a positive impact for our customers is the real win. For example, during last year’s holiday season, Bearaby launched an anti-Black Friday campaign encouraging customers to pause before they made a purchase to promote our message of conscious consumerism.
We engaged with researchers at Duke University to help us incorporate mindfulness into our ecommerce experience from start to finish. For an initiative that many would call risky, in stark contrast to the ‘buy now’ marketing typically exercised in ecommerce, for us it was a great success as it reflected our core values as a brand and led to more positive experiences for our community.”
According to Ryan Craver, Founder, and CEO of Mallary By Matthew, traditional marketing metrics may not prove as dependable as they once did. “You can’t expect to correlate an increase in sales to one single adjustment in your strategy,” he said. “Look at every variable in your campaign and look for a connection, because that’s how you unlock powerful insights. Sales are obviously important, but other overlooked metrics could be more useful than we once thought.”
While marketers are always in search of that missing puzzle piece, they are ultimately determined to focus on the fundamentals that work best for real results.
“There’s only so much time and effort you can spend on analyzing campaigns, and digging for answers in the data,” said Chris Hetherington, Founder, and CEO of Peels. “At some point, you need to close that chapter and start writing the next one. You’ve only got so much time and money to spend on these projects! Some things in business are just not meant to be explained or explored in full detail, and that’s okay.”
The mysteries of marketing may go unsolved for campaigns of the past and present, but dedicated teams will continue to measure their efforts and strive for perfection moving forward.
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