Analysing your marketing campaigns to understand what works and what doesn’t can save money and help attract new business.
Fruitful marketing can be invaluable for business, whether it’s in the form of newsletters, regular online content or large-scale campaigns. According to Royal Mail’s MarketReach survey, 81% of small firms believe marketing is critical to their growth – with email marketing, social media, online advertising and direct mail the most popular forms.
However, 68% of SMEs surveyed also said it was difficult to get customers to “take action” as a result of their marketing. Meanwhile, Infusion’s 2018 Small Business Marketing Trends Report found that 33% of SMEs don’t know if their marketing campaigns are actually effective.
So how can SMEs best measure their marketing success and determine what’s working? Here are a few things you should be monitoring.
Measuring the number of visitors to your website is a fundamental way of judging the effectiveness of a campaign. “Social campaigns should grow your followers and ideally direct people to a specific landing page on your website designed to prompt a specific action – whether that’s to sign up to a mailing list, call the company, or purchase a product,” says Aimee Treasure, head of marketing at technical recruitment firm VHR.
“KPIs should be different for each strategy: an email campaign should be judged on click-through rate, not open rate,” she says. “A million people could open your email, but if no one clicks on it to go to your website, it won’t impact your bottom line.”
The number of followers a business has or likes it gets from a post or campaign are a small indicator of your popularity. “But it’s vanity metrics,” says Nigel Davey, virtual marketing director at SME Needs. “You can’t go to Sainsbury’s and pay for your shopping with likes. You should be measuring whether they opened your emails, clicked through to your website and whether it led to sales.”
Leads and sales conversion
You can set up conversion goals on your website to record the number of people who responded to a request (such as asking them to “get in touch”) and analyse which channels they came from. Then you’ll need to measure whether these leads are converting into sales.
“On your customer relationship management system, or even Excel spreadsheet, you need a column that shows numbers and sources of leads. Some of those you won’t be able to sell to, or they’ll choose not to continue, but others will go on and buy,” says Davey. “If large numbers don’t end up purchasing, it could mean you’re contacting the wrong people in your marketing campaigns. If you’re getting more leads from LinkedIn but you’re spending more money on Twitter, you need to shift.”
“If you don’t know how much a customer is worth to you then you don’t know how much you should be spending on your marketing. Look at the long-term spend of that customer”
Martina Mercer is marketing consultant at chocolate manufacturer Willie’s Cacao and says the firm has seen online sales treble as a result of recent email marketing, including newsletters and “tens of thousands of views” from new Facebook videos hosted by founder Willie Harcourt-Cooze. “With the newsletter, open rates are very important as we direct people to the website and our online shop; we always get a boost in sales after a newsletter goes out. We can measure that through using the marketing automation platform Mailchimp, as well as getting data on who the customers are and what they’re buying.”
It also helps the firm shape future campaigns. “We can see what people are reading in the newsletter and what information and headlines would make them more effective,” says Mercer.
Introducing lead scoring can also help produce sharper campaigns, says Adam Oldfield, MD of marketing automation platform Force24. “Allocating bigger scores to more engaged people during campaigns helps us understand who is at what stage of the buying cycle,” he adds.
“It allows us to deliver targeted marketing content at the right time.”
Return on investment
It’s also useful to look at the value of sales from a marketing channel or campaign compared with how much was spent and time and resource taken.
“If you spend £1,000 on a particular marketing channel,” says Davey, “then as long as it generates significantly more, that’s a good ROI. If less, either the campaign or channel is wrong.” This provides a great opportunity to assess why it might not be working.
Customer acquisition cost and lifetime value
Work out how much it costs to gain new leads and customers. This includes marketing, sales and advertising costs. If the number trends downwards over time, then your marketing is becoming more effective.
“If you don’t know how much a customer is worth to you, you don’t know how much you should be spending on your marketing,” says Larry Kotch, co-founder of digital marketing agency The Brains. “Look at the long-term spend of that customer. If you know it costs £100 to get someone in via a campaign and they will pay you £500 a month for 10 months, then that’s a good result.”
Impact of influencers
Call them influencers or digital ambassadors, if you will, but these are the social media movers and shakers whose advocacy of your products or services can help boost demand. But be careful, says Tom Bourlet, marketing manager of event management company Eventa. “If it [influencer marketing] is done poorly, this can simply involve throwing money in the bin,” he says.
“Assess the influencer to find out whether they match with the target audience, whether they influence the purchasing decision and what you’re hoping to get out of the partnership. So much of this is overlooked when companies see big numbers of likes and comments, of which a big proportion could be from fake accounts. You need to check.”
Invest in technology
There’s a wealth of free and low-cost software or apps available to simplify the process of monitoring your marketing campaigns. Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager and Facebook Analytics can be linked to your website and will track visits, as well as your impressions and ranking on Google. You can monitor web traffic and visitor engagement with software such as SEMrush, or use customer relationship management (CRM) systems to automatically track, segment, and report on how campaigns are doing.
Five key steps
- Track key metrics such as engagement, website traffic and most responsive channels such as Facebook or Twitter.
- Work out how many leads convert to sales and the bottom line.
- Be ready to make real-time adjustments to campaigns, such as switching to new channels or targeting different customer segments.
- Determine the cost of acquisition and overall return on investment of your campaign.
- Choose the right technological tools to help you track, analyse and report on your marketing campaigns.