It's a well-known axiom in marketing that "what you can't measure, you can't improve." Measuring and tracking data is a long-term project for most businesses, an investment to see improved results from their efforts. Of course, business owners must first learn how to interpret the data they receive before they can truly understand the quality of a campaign's performance.
With that in mind, how can you decipher your marketing ROI? And how can you translate your marketing data into actionable insights? The information below will answer these and other questions you may have.
What Metrics to Use
The first step you must take toward your goal of helpful data analysis is to carefully select the metrics you want to track. Your metrics should always be based on your business goals, and should consist of both primary and secondary KPIs (key performance indicators). What's the difference between these two KPI types?
- Primary KPIs are determined by how accessible they are, and how well they reflect your progress towards your primary objective. These are generally metrics that senior management tends to focus on.
- Secondary KPIs provide important context around primary goals and metrics. They can help you to understand the quality of your primary KPIs more clearly, and how they correlate with tangible results (such as increased sales).
As an example of how primary and secondary metrics overlap, think of an email marketing campaign. When measuring campaign performance, you may use bounce rate and click-through rate (CTR) as primary KPIs. (After all, the lower the bounce rate and the higher the CTR, the more effective your emails must be!) You can also use time-on-page as a secondary KPI, since it provides some key context around what prospects do after they reach your landing page.
Track Data Throughout Campaigns
Once you have your key metrics in mind, it's important that you consistently track your data throughout the lifespan of each campaign. For instance, you should continue to monitor data over the course of a sales campaign, for as long as you run campaign-related ads. Checking your analytics for a digital ad that runs all year will typically be more regular than checking analytics for a 6-month commercial campaign.
To obtain the "big picture" of your campaign's performance, it's necessary to measure data for the full length of the campaign. However, that doesn't mean you must forego visibility into its results in the meantime. You can and should set short-term benchmarks to measure progress over a certain period, be that weekly, monthly, or quarterly.
Moreover, it's important to have a "performance baseline" for your campaign, especially if it's active across multiple platforms and channels. If you've already run a previous multi-platform marketing campaign, you can use its metrics as a point of reference for your current one. You can also compare the performance of different platforms within a single campaign (e.g., you can determine whether a higher ROI is coming from email, PPC, or social media channels).
Translating Your Data
Once you've compiled your aggregated data for the full span of the campaign, it's time to analyze and translate it. When doing so, you want to keep a close eye on identified trends, whether they're upward, downward, or stagnant.
Whether a trend is "upward" or "downward" isn't as important as whether it's positive or negative. An upward trend in sales is obviously good news for your business, as is a downward trend for costs.
Stagnant trends are where you may need to conduct some further research. For instance, stagnancy in sales may indicate that your ads aren't reaching the right people, or that your messaging is ineffective. Identifying these areas of stagnation should lead to increased focus on potential "bottlenecks" in your sales and marketing process and may become the impetus for a major shift in strategy.
Why Translating Your Marketing Data is Key to Sustainable Success
There are three basic steps you must take to successfully track and translate your marketing data:
- Carefully choose the metrics (both primary and secondary KPIs) that are relevant to your goal.
- Track those metrics on a short-term basis, and throughout the lifespan of your campaign.
- Identify upward, downward, and stagnant trends in the data you compile, and then correlate those trends with tangible outcomes.
While these steps may seem relatively simple in outline, the details can get complicated. Many business owners view data compilation and translation as daunting tasks, indeed, and may shy away from them as a result. However, there's no need to feel overwhelmed. With the help of an experienced media partner, you can streamline your data tracking process and determine how your campaigns are really performing. In the end, not only will you be able to decipher your marketing ROI; you'll be able to increase it!