If you want to have true success with marketing your business, measurement is a step you can’t afford to skip. Peter Drucker, acclaimed management consultant and one of the pinnacle thought leaders of the modern professional movement, once said: “What gets measured gets managed.” That statement is especially true for marketing. If you want to increase the effectiveness of your marketing, you need to be consistently and frequently tracking your progress and adjusting for improvements.
So how do you start? And what do you measure? Read on to learn how to convert your marketing efforts into measurable goals and quantifiable data, so you can not only measure your progress but also ensure success.
What to Measure
One reason so many marketers have difficulty measuring their results is they have trouble nailing down what exactly they should measure. Do you dig deep into the analytics of your website data, or should you worry more about the final results like conversions, downloads, and leads?
The answer to this question requires an understanding of key performance indicators (KPIs) and effective goal-setting. With this understanding, you’ll be able to define success and then break it down into numbers that can be measured and evaluated.
Let’s pretend one of your long-term marketing goals is to double the total revenue of your business in the next three years.” You may immediately tie this goal to metrics such as revenue and sales of product X. However, these are lag metrics, which happen later on as a result of your efforts.
These metrics are indicators of your marketing success, but be careful not to focus too much on lag metrics with your marketing campaigns. After all, they do lag and you need something to gauge your performance in the midst of your efforts, to make sure you’re on track and to detect any adjustments along the way. This is where lead measurements come in.
For every lagging performance indicator for a given goal, there are also “lead” measurements, and these are where you’ll really want to turn your attention when trying to improve your end results.
Lead metrics, sometimes called “lead indicators” are measurements you can use to evaluate the progress you’re making toward hitting goals that are ultimately defined by lagging metrics. The value of this is that you can see much sooner whether you’re likely to hit your goals, and pivot to adjust as you need to. For the lagging metrics above (revenue and sales of product X), corresponding leading metrics might include:
- Click-through rate (CTR) of your PPC advertisements
- Conversion rates on your website
- Open rate of emails about a product
- Average time viewers spend on a long-form product page
Tie Your Metrics to Goals and Objectives
Your lag metrics are likely to be tied to your marketing goals, while your lead metrics will often correspond with your objectives—the smaller stepping stones toward your goals. The actual metrics you choose to define your marketing success will depend on your type of business. For example, if you’re running a content-dense website and want to be seen as a leader in your industry, you may want to measure your search engine ranking via average position number. Or, you might keep a count of how many of your pages reach a certain threshold of organic visits in a rolling 30-day period.
Related: Marketing Goals Pocket Guide (free download)
Measuring Offline Marketing
Offline marketing is still effective for businesses today, but it is important to find digital ways to measure their success. Tracking your offline marketing isn’t the easiest task, but it is completely worth the setup time and effort. Once again, being able to measure your results means being able to improve your results.
The takeaway here is that leading metrics have actions you can take which are closely linked with their results – they’re easily influenced by your efforts. If you change some copy on an ad or a landing page, you might significantly improve your CTR or average time on page, respectively. That improvement, in turn, may result in more conversions and more sales– your lag metric. In this way, you can make focused actions and changes, and accurately measure your success.
Selecting a Tool
Once you’ve identified the KPIs you want to be tracking, you’ll want to start taking measurements. Most marketers have likely been exposed to at least Google Analytics for tracking their website metrics, but there are a host of other tools—paid and free—that can be used to measure the performance of your website such as Raven Reporting, or SEMRush, or of course, ThriveHive!
Depending on the results you’re trying to achieve and the KPIs you’re measuring, your tool of choice is likely to change, and you may require multiple tools to track the information you want to effectively.
Google Analytics is certainly the most widespread tool for tracking results effectively, and for anyone who’s interested in the performance of their website, this is a great tool to get started with. If you’re evaluating the performance of ads on Google Ads, that platform has a powerful report builder tool that will allow you to customize the data and columns you’re keeping track of and easily export the file over time.
Even though your analytics tools store all of the data, it’s still important to choose which specific data you want to look at and to plot it onto a spreadsheet. This can be a manual process, but it will be important to look at historic data concurrently, so you can view results side-by-side and compare time frames or channels to pick up on trends.
The primary reason you want to be creating your own spreadsheet is this forces you to interact with the data. With all the numbers getting thrown at you by reporting software, it’s easy to become a passive analyst, but this is a pitfall you want to avoid at all costs.
Report on Regular Intervals
Pulling reports at regular intervals will help you to engage with your data and sidestep the possibility of tuning out and missing important information. No matter what you decide to do for your reporting and recording, it is important that you track at weekly and monthly intervals, consistently, over a long period of time. There’s no other way around it. In order to have faith in your data when you start testing, you’ll need at least weeks but more likely months of data to evaluate performances.
There are a few exceptions to this rule, but not many. To say with certainty, for example, that the increase in your CTR—due to your new ad copy—is positively impacting your conversions (a lagging metric), you’d want 4 weeks of data or more to compare those conversions with the trends you saw in previous months.
Less than that, and you could be seeing week-to-week anomalies. For every business, in every industry, the rule for “how much data is enough data” changes significantly, so there’s no easy answer. The only general rule you can operate on is more data leads to more confidence in your conclusions, and the longer you’re testing your own marketing efforts, the more comfortable you’ll be making inferences from your data.
Use Visual Reports
If possible, accompany your metrics charts with a graph, chart, or other visual representation. You want your reports to be detailed but helpful and not overwhelming. Try to turn the raw data you get from the reporting tool you’re using into a simple visual that tells a story. For experts with analytics software or other reporting tools, you’ll know what your level of comfortability is, but if you’re just getting started it’s more than okay to start very simple and add to or change your reporting as you see fit in the future.
Putting it All Together
- Define your goals and the objectives needed to reach those goals. Identify lagging KPIs for your goals and lead KPIs for your objectives.
- If you can’t think of a lagging measurement to track, it’s likely your goal is too broad to be measured. You may need to form more objectives under that goal, or potentially simplify the goal. Keep at this process of breaking massive goals into smaller ones with finite objectives until you can identify the lagging KPIs that you can tie to your goal.
- Pick only 2-3 lead measurements that you feel will have a significant impact on your “lag” measurement and then track those consistently.
- Compare the changes you make to your leading KPI with total increases and decreases in your “lag” measurement to evaluate your progress.
Using KPI’s and consistent tracking, you’ll be shocked at how fast you’ll see increases in your overall marketing success. Often the changes that you need to make will become glaringly obvious when you critically evaluate your data, so long as you stick with it and take some time to reflect on what you notice.