Marketing campaigns take work. From brainstorming and content creation to publishing and content distribution, it takes forethought and planning. Once your campaign is live, you want it to be successful, but how do you know if your campaign really worked? By measuring your results correctly. With a solid measurement framework, you can get the insights you need to know what works, what doesn’t, and how you can improve going forward. Luckily, we can help you there.
Setting yourself up for success starts long before you launch your campaign. You need to know how you’ll define success, as well as the most effective ways to measure it from the jump. Here’s how to make sure you do that—and get the insights you need to improve along the way.
Before you start your campaign ideation or content, you need to know how it fits into your larger goals. What exactly are you trying to achieve, and when do you need to achieve it by? We recommend setting OKRs (objectives and key results) on a monthly, quarterly, or even yearly basis. With this understanding, you can maintain campaign momentum and ensure you’re set up to track them appropriately.
Understanding your current marketing landscape is the first step to determine if your campaigns are successful. Start by establishing benchmarks to determine:
First establish your general benchmarks, then search for industry benchmarks to compare. (For example, here’s a helpful snapshot for social media marketing.) We’d suggest starting with a general KPI doc to update on a weekly or monthly basis.
Eventually, this will let you see the big picture improvements your campaigns are contributing to. Remember: The more you report, the quicker you can identify issues and pivot accordingly.
Every marketing campaign should have a clear goal, along with specific measurable KPI. KPI are key performance indicators—the most important metrics that determine your campaign’s success.
For example, if your goal is to increase brand awareness through a digital marketing campaign, then your success may be monitored through KPI in the form of impressions, engagement, or click-throughs.
If you’re not sure what to measure, here are some boilerplate metrics to consider for every stage of the buyer’s journey.
For more guidance, check out our lists of helpful metrics for your social media and content distribution.
Note: Even if you have your KPI chosen, you may be pressured to report on other data (e.g., if higher-ups want products purchased or emails captured). While deeper data can (and should) be used for learning in future campaigns, don’t let yourself or your team get hung up on it.
Goals and KPI are established because you can’t do everything at once, so remember what you came to do and force yourself to measure the success based off those specific KPI.
There’s nothing more heartbreaking than losing a bunch of valuable data because something wasn’t working correctly. (We know this from firsthand experience.) So, once you know what you’ll be tracking, set up your tools and test them—before you launch. This may include things like setting up pixels for conversion tracking, or creating UTM codes.
Don’t be so quick to spend your entire ad campaign in one go. Start by spending slowly and A/B testing a few of your campaign components. You can test ad creative, ad copy, or even audience ad sets to help you gain a better understanding of what your marketing campaigns need to succeed.
Slower spending in the beginning will allow you to spend the bulk of your budget on assets that are tried and true once you’re done testing—the best way to get more bang for your buck.
Don’t forget retargeting! This allows you to serve ads directly to people who have already visited your website or a specific landing page for your marketing campaign. Sometimes it takes more than one impression for someone to decide they want to engage with your content, so keep them in a retargeting cycle to give them the opportunity to make that decision down the road, and increase your success rate.
When measuring the success of a marketing campaign, it’s important to remember the investment you made to get there. Behind all great campaigns are good teams, creatives, strategists, etc. These resources—your team’s time, the cost of production and editing, etc.—have a cost associated. Having the numbers available to see if your investment was worth the outcome is often overlooked, but it’s an important decision-making factor. Some marketing campaigns have great results, but if they also cost millions to put together, the results should show value to match.
All too often, we get into the bad habit of writing reports just to get them done. You end up with a spreadsheet of jumbled numbers and values that don’t mean much. Doing the legwork to turn that data into usable information is crucial. (Just pretend a C-level exec is going to read every report.) After extracting your data, go back and look for patterns, trends, and takeaways to find the story it tells.
Data storytelling can be helpful here, helping you actually “see” what that info means. If you need help interpreting it and follow ourtips to find the stories in your data, use our Data Visualization 101 guide to bring your numbers to life, or check out a handy tool like Visage, which lets you design custom reports.
Note: If you have no takeaways or lessons learned, that signals a problem. Either you weren’t measuring correctly or you haven’t taken the time to review the results in depth.
It’s important to account for any factors or outliers that may influence your results. For example, your website may have seen a significant increase in traffic during your campaign, but it might have coincided with a major product announcement.
You want to get the full picture of your marketing ecosystem, so if you see anything unusual, look for the source (e.g., check your referral links in Google Analytics, or talk to your product marketing or PR teams to see if they have any insights.)
These factors don’t make your data less valuable, but they’re important to consider when interpreting results—and making decisions based on them. Whether you see a positive or negative trend, there is often more than one cause, so try to be aware of all the moving pieces that influence your reporting.
It can feel discouraging if you’re not seeing the results you want right away, but knowing what doesn’t work is just as valuable as knowing what does. The good news is that your marketing strategy may set your guidelines, but it isn’t set in stone. You can always tweak and refine going forward, and that’s why measuring accurately is key. Also, remember that the more you refine your reporting, the more effective you’ll become, so stick with it.
That said, whether you’re running a current campaign or preparing your next one, you should always follow best practices at every stage to increase your success.