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Measure Your Marketing Program

·         “If we were to cut marketing in half, would we see any significant drop in sales?”

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·        
“If we were to cut marketing in
half, would we see any significant drop in sales?”

·        
“Dollars are tight.  Where should we focus our marketing efforts
to further our business goals?”

·        
“Our competitors are putting a big
effort into marketing via Facebook and Twitter. What are we doing in social
marketing?”

·        
“My neighbor told me that his
company has cut back on events and advertising in favor of virtual conferences
and webinars. Why don’t we do that?”

·        
“Where do our marketing
dollars go?”

 

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If you have been in a management “offsite” or in a boardroom
in the last year, you have certainly heard some or all of these questions.  But these questions don’t get to the crux of
the issue.  What CEOs and boards are
really asking is, “How do we know that our investments in marketing are
producing results; which activities are working and which ones aren’t?”

 

Companies are getting tired of investing marketing dollars
with very little feedback about what is working and what is not working.
The latest round of buzz talks about capturing “mentions,” social sentiment,
and other online social metrics. Truth is, this stuff is pretty easy to capture
and there are a whole bunch of companies and tools (some of are even free) that
give you all, or part of the picture. The following are examples of information
you can capture with these tools:

 

  • We had
    534 mentions last week in the blogosphere; 65% of it was favorable, 20%
    was negative, and 15% was neutral.
  • We now
    have 2300 fans on our corporate Facebook fan club.
  • We
    were mentioned in 35 Tweets this week.
  • Our
    corporate blog has had an increase of 5% in page views this month over
    last month

 

But what can you do with this?  How is this effecting business? How much
effort are companies investing in pumping up these kinds of numbers, with
little regard for what it is doing for their businesses?

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Here are some concrete suggestions for getting your arms
around measuring your marketing program:

 

·        
Articulate your goals clearly at
every possible opportunity. Maintain a meaningful scorecard that lets
everyone know how the company is doing. For example, if these goals include
generating brand awareness and buzz, then the statistics listed above should definitely
be part of the overall marketing scorecard. If your goals include generating
business, then find a way to connect these numbers to sales activity. If you
can’t do it, you are probably wasting time collecting these numbers.

 

·        
Remember that social marketing is
only one part of your program. Track and measure the other elements, such as
email response, sponsorships, Google/Yahoo Ads, webinars, promotions, events,
etc.  Produce a single view of response
rates from all activities to show the big picture.

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·        
Since marketing activities work in
concert (e.g. someone saw your company’s ad running on a blog site and then got
an email message), try and determine the best combination of activities and the
optimum frequency of touch points.  This
is really hard to do, but there are products and services that will be
available in the near future that will greatly simplify this.

 

·        
Keep outreach campaigns short so
they can be analyzed and tweaked. Run controlled tests to evaluate the response
rates based on the following:

 

  • Specific
    outreach vehicle – email lists / newsletter sponsorships / ad location
  • Specific
    marketing messages – test several
  • Promotions
    you are offering, e.g. special deals, white papers, webinars, etc.
  • Variation
    of outreach frequency – play with the frequency of the outreach and the
    specific day of the week/time of day

 

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·        
Most importantly, tie responses to
sales activity. Follow marketing leads through the sales funnel. This requires
upfront planning and not a small amount of data massaging, but this is really
what you are after. If you can answer the following questions, you are on the
right path:

 

  • From
    “closed business,” where did the initial leads come from?
  • What
    is the difference between the leads that generated sales and those that
    did not?
  • What program
    (i.e. combination and frequency of marketing activities) provided the most
    bang for the buck?
  • Can I
    show management how our activities are driving sales?
  • Can I
    show management the value of each sales-related marketing activity?

 

I admit that these questions are not easy to answer. Most
companies today don’t have the necessary infrastructure and tools to do this
simply.  Sure, marketing analytics tools aren’t
new, but they are typically hard to use, require a lot of integration with
internal systems, and have to be run by highly-trained staff. The current shift
to online activity tracking, both in sales and marketing, however, will make
this easier over time.  In fact, the
shift in the marketing mix will lead to a new category of “cross-channel
analytics” tools.

About the author

A technology strategist for an enterprise software company in the collaboration and social business space. I am particularly interested in studying how people, organizations, and technology interact, with a focus on why particular technologies are successfully adopted while others fail in their mission.

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