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Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is the definition of insanity. So, it's even crazier to create and execute on a marketing plan time and time again without checking the results.

Why you need to measure your marketing efforts

We understand: Your marketing budget changes based on your cash flow, and you're strapped for time. Maximize your time and money by finding your most successful marketing campaigns and doing more of what works.

How? Marketing analytics. But what is marketing analytics? It’s the practice of measuring and studying performance data to gauge the value and success of your marketing efforts. Collecting and analyzing your marketing data can lead to stronger sales and customer experiences. You'll see what's working, what's not and what the return on your current efforts is. If you have a company blog, for example, and you're wondering how to measure content marketing success, you'll need marketing analytics. Reviewing the data you collect can help define realistic expectations and goals for your team, as well as help justify the time you spend on marketing. 

According to this 2019 report, 55% of respondents think their marketing is effective. This is up from 37% in 2018, but there are still improvements to be made. That's where analytics can help: It relies on metrics to figure out the return on investment and identify improvement opportunities.

How to get started

To measure effectively, you have to know the goals of your business and team — for example, a new business may want to get more traffic to their website. Once you know the goals or questions you want answered, follow these steps:

  1. Define the key performance indicators (KPIs) to reach your goals
  2. Determine who will be responsible for collecting and reporting on the data consistently — such as monthly or quarterly
  3. As you start to capture data, decide which benchmarks will determine success — like previous quarters or an industry average
  4. Set incremental percentage point improvements in key KPIs as well as a target date, month or quarter to reach those numbers

If you invest in tools to help measurement, be sure they'll be used and understood by people on your team. And note that not all are free. Here are some options:

  • Google Analytics is free and easy to get started

  • Hotjar shows where people spend time on your website

  • Facebook and Twitter analytics allow you to see the metrics of your social media marketing

Getting all your analytics in the same spot is possible but more expensive. This website can help you compare options to find what fits your business and budget.

Which measurements to focus on

You may be wondering what marketing analytics can specifically help you track. With so many available metrics, it's easy to get buried. There's a lot of data available and not all of it will be beneficial for your business, so the key is to find the metrics that work to tell your story. Here are some good ones to start with:

  • To improve brand awareness, use: traffic, page views and downloads

  • To check engagement, look at: likes, shares, time on page and comments (if available)

  • To increase conversion rates on a particular action, check: email subscriptions, eBook downloads and applicable interactions

How to make an actionable plan based on data

It's not a one and done situation. The more data you collect, the more information you'll have at your fingertips to compare and spot trends over time. These can inform where your business spends time and money. For example, if your business wanted a stronger brand awareness and could see that eBooks got more downloads than white pages in the past, you could use those trends to put time toward creating another eBook. Then, you could measure the results and see if your predictions were correct and improved brand awareness.

To use your data effectively, here are two actionable options:

  1. Inform future decisions: Use the trends in your data to predict where your business can improve on future campaigns. Should you focus your attention on social media or fund a project with a higher reward?
  2. Measure results of previous campaigns: See how your past efforts have helped or hurt your business. How much traffic was generated from past articles, print marketing campaigns and the like?

Document your past reports, recommendations and results in a spreadsheet, Google Doc or wherever you'll be able to organize and revisit the data. As you find trends and make decisions, plot out your plan. This could be as detailed or as simple as you want, but make sure you know: the goals you expect to hit, how you'll measure success, what (and when) the next steps will be and the resources you need to accomplish your plan.

Measuring your marketing efforts is decidedly less glamorous than planning and executing campaigns, but it's a vital step that will pay off.

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