An all too common problem of businesses is that they create and implement all sorts of marketing strategies in order to get their message out, but don’t take the time and effort to determine whether or not these strategies were worthwhile and helpful. You can’t know if something worked if you don’t implement measures and you can’t measure success if you don’t define it.

Define success from the beginning

Be specific about your goal. This is not the time for generalization, it’s the time to nail it down to precisely what you want to get out of the marketing techniques that you’re using.

Before implementing any marketing strategy or even determining which marketing strategy you want to use, you need to figure out what you want to accomplish. Too often businesses decide on a marketing strategy first and a goal second. Don’t get caught in the trap of pursuing marketing that you don’t need – determine what your business needs and then use marketing to make it happen.

It’s a given that your business wants to make money, so that goal isn’t specific enough. Dig deeper and get at what the drivers of your sales and profits are, then set your goals based on those needs.

Is your aim to:

  • Increase brand recognition?
  • Increase sales?
  • Increase social media followers?
  • Increase site traffic?
  • Improve customer retention?
  • Add subscribers?

This list could of course go on and on, becoming increasing tailored to the unique facets of your business. It’s perfectly permissible to think outside of the standard goals listed here as long as the goal remains something that you can measure it over time and with consistency.

Assign a number to goals

Determining what you’re measuring isn’t your only job here, you should also define how much of a change you’re wanting to see. It might be a specific number of website visitors that you’d like to see added to your traffic numbers or a target for the number of likes or follows on social media. Whatever it is that you’d like to see happen, you have to assign a number to it in order to be able to determine whether or not you were successful.

The goals that you set should reasonable for you to accomplish given the strategy and budget. Getting the goal right is equally important as getting the strategy right.

Keep your definitions of success clean and easy to tease out. If you run an online ad and the goal is to drive an additional one hundred visitors to your site per week, then you’ll likely see boosts in other areas like sales or newsletter signups if your marketing strategy is successful, however those must be viewed as ancillary increases rather than being measures of the success or failure of your method. If you do see the increase in site traffic that you defined but not any of those other extras, then your strategy is still a success.

Narrow those definitions so that you’ll be able to tell what exactly you’re accomplishing.

Which metrics are important

First off, let’s define what a metric is, because clarity is always important but even more so when it comes to marketing strategies. A metric is a quantifiable measurement that businesses use in order to track the progress of a business strategy or process. Anything that you can count can be a metric. Key Performance Indicators or KPIs are just special metrics that have been highlighted as highly important for a business.

Here are a few examples of metrics that you might look at in order to measure your success.

  • Sales numbers
  • Website analytics
  • Social stats
  • Cost of acquisition stats
  • Referrals
  • Customer support stats

This is by no means an exhaustive list, as there are a wide variety of other metrics that you might look at in order to determine whether your strategy was a success. The metrics that you measure should make sense for your goal.

Determining WHY your strategy succeeded for failed

Here’s where the real value in this whole process comes, because this is the point at which you learn something about your business. It’s also the most challenging and nuanced part of the process.

There are a great many reasons that marketing strategies fail and they can occur at any point in the process. This is one reason that quality metrics are so important, including site analytics and tracking of the sales process. It’s usually fairly obvious as to why a marketing strategy isn’t working if you have a complete set of data about the process.

Some common reasons that marketing strategies fail include:

  • Messaging – too weak, too strong or inconsistent.
  • Confusing content.
  • Broken process – did your customers start to sign up and then stop? Was there a broken web page?
  • Pitching to the wrong audience.
  • Pricing issues.
  • Ineffective closing strategies.

As you can see, the reasons that a marketing strategy can fail are incredibly broad. This is why those metrics are so important. Tracking them accurately and consistently allows businesses to figure out where the breaks in their processes are and what needs to be fixed. Learning where those weak points are provides opportunities for growth. Too often we spend our time focusing on the wrong improvements, those that don’t actually get us the results that we need to be successful.

Unfortunately as time gets crunched, taking the time to make these kinds of determinations is often quickly crossed off the long list of to-dos for businesses. However, experienced marketers will tell you it’s well worth the effort. If a business doesn’t figure out what is and isn’t working, then they are most definitely wasting money. That’s something that no one can afford to do.


Pete Peranzo

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