When it comes to measuring marketing effectiveness, the first thing to understand is the difference between marketing objectives and business objectives. Business objectives are results that impact the company—such as sales or market share; in contrast, marketing objectives help steer a company toward these business goals.
Unfortunately, the first (and sometimes only) question that many executives ask when evaluating a marketing campaign is, “Did it drive sales?” If the answer is no—or it’s unclear that it directly led to sales—they may view the campaign as ineffective.
However, this is a loaded and short-sighted question. Why? Because while the ultimate business objective may be sales, the path to this conversion is a long journey—from awareness, to consideration, to purchase.
Yes, when creating marketing goals, sales conversions may be one way to measure—however it is not the only way. It’s important that when developing a comprehensive marketing plan, each stage of the journey is cultivated via comprehensive marketing support (and separate unique measurements to determine success), with the campaign as a whole laddering up to the business goals (a.k.a. sales).
How has digital technology affected marketing measurement and media mix?
Previously, the marketing funnel was all outbound, making the measurement of marketing effectiveness a process that involved extensive benchmarking and research before and after campaigns—especially for earned media that was difficult to tie to ROI or sales. However, digital technology has turned marketing upside down by creating two-way conversations between marketers and target audiences. These communications and reactions are drastically improving our ability to provide definitive and quantifiable results from marketing tactics. Today’s marketers can quickly and easily mine data to determine and analyze behavior and gain insights in near real time. It has provided opportunities to draw a clear line from marketing tactic to desired behavior… and how marketing work has a direct impact on business objectives.
Paid digital media has seen an influx of appeal due to the instant gratification from the data and measurement. However, paid media will only be at its most effective when coupled with both strong earned and owned foundations. And the good news… these programs that used to be more of an art to drawing results conclusions, can now be measured by more scientific means.
So how can you measure the effectiveness of earned media (especially in the earlier parts of the journey, such as awareness)? The measurement requires a bit more analysis and insight to determine success. However, there are a variety of software tools that use quantitative measurements, such as the number of earned media placements, audience reach, social sharing, and engagement, or share of voice versus the competition. Secondly, the process can overlay these results with other data, such as Google Analytics, to note trends in trackable behavior, such as website traffic and activity. With a bit of intelligent analysis—albeit a bit more manual time and energy—you’ll see the true effectiveness of these important marketing campaign elements.
As we develop effective marketing campaigns, we must remember that the goal of marketing is to create a desire for what you have to sell. And, just because the measurement doesn’t draw a straight and conclusive path to sales, doesn’t mean that the tactic is not an important piece of the full marketing plan strategy. Each piece of the marketing puzzle can be measured for success—just some paths to get to the final result may not always be a direct or easy route. Now, the biggest question is what should we measure—and what do we want the data to answer.