You've probably spent the last couple of months looking back on your marketing for 2007. While it's always good practice to review the year as a whole, it's also just as important to measure results throughout the year as well. Not sure how to measure your marketing? No problem. Here are some tips to keep in mind for 2008:
Measuring results might seem like an overwhelming task. While it does take time and effort, the long-term benefits to your business are enormous. Start with baby steps if you have to, and build up. Bottom line? Start measuring your results today. It can be as simple as having the company receptionist ask, "How did you hear about us?" every time she or he speaks with a prospective client. Implement these measurements now, and you--and your company--will be in a much stronger position in 2009.
- Understand what you want to measure and ask yourself if your expectations are realistic. Understand what you want to measure and consider whether your metrics are reasonable. For example, if you're expecting to add 300 new customers this year and are relying only on your web site and online ads--is this a reasonable expectation? Back into how many qualified leads you need to close 300 clients and how many total leads you need to deliver that number of qualified leads. From there, figure out how many clicks on your online ad you need to deliver that number of qualified leads. When you find out this final number, ask yourself, "Is that a reasonable expectation?" If yes, great! If not, revisit your marketing plan and determine what other marketing efforts you might need to implement and, as a result, what you'll need to measure. Be clear on whether your measurement is appropriate. Not every marketing technique can be directly tied to delivering leads (more on this below). The technique may be about visibility or moving a prospect to the next step in the sales process.
- Make sure you have a solid measurement tracking system in place. Build measurements in up front. Set goals, think about how you will track, make sure you have the systems in place to track, and make sure your team members know their roles in tracking results. This data becomes invaluable--it's the foundation for building your marketing plan for the coming year. Every time a lead comes in, ask, "Where did it come from?" So if you're doing a telemarketing program, note the script that was used and what number call the lead came in on--first, second, third, etc. If a lead came in via your website, find out what search engine the person used, the keyword phrase, and the landing page. You also need to be consistent in how you track and where you store the tracked information--use a CRM tool, or even an Excel spreadsheet will do. Keep in mind that a marketing plan shows where you're spending--or where you will spend--your marketing dollars. Measurement shows which marketing dollars are yielding the best results. Remember, your marketing plan is fluid. If a particular marketing effort isn't working, you can re-distribute those dollars to an initiative that is working. But you'll have no way of knowing this unless you track the information and review it regularly. We recommend at least once a quarter, or, ideally, once a month.
- Don't focus on leads; focus on quality leads. It's not just about getting leads. How many are quality leads? Don't just look at the numbers of new clients. Look at the value of the new clients that your marketing programs delivered. You don't want to be spending $1000 per lead only to find out the client is worth $100. For example, if you close 10 new clients and they are small businesses but your goal was to get businesses over $50M, then your marketing is delivering, but it's delivering the wrong type of business. A caveat: if your marketing programs delivered 30 solid leads and you closed only one, don't assume that the leads weren't "right." Look into whether you have a sales problem. Marketing should deliver leads, but it's still the responsibility of sales to close them.
- Don't compare apples to oranges. Be realistic about what you're measuring, especially when you start comparing different marketing efforts and their corresponding results. The "results" you get from a PR campaign, such as building a strong image in the community or solidifying your brand--can't be measured in the same way as a direct-mail campaign. The direct-mail campaign is quantitative-- you can measure the response rate in terms of percentages. The PR campaign, while quantitative in some aspects (e.g. you can measure the number of media outlets that picked up your release), it's also more qualitative. You can't measure the psychological, and often subconscious, impact a positive article on your company has on a prospective customer two months, six months, or one year down the road.