Metrics are some of the most critical ingredients in an effective online marketing strategy. From awareness to sales, you can't assess your success without setting criteria by which to measure it.
One of the biggest struggles digital marketers face today is knowing what exactly they should be measuring. With a seemingly never-ending pile of data available, you may feel overwhelmed and unsure about which metrics actually matter. The good news is that establishing relevant metrics is not too difficult if you follow a simple system. Let's take a look at the four critical steps.
Step 1: Establish Brand Goals
One of the trickiest things marketers must do is learn to balance the intricacies of day-to-day work with the big picture of the brand they're promoting. Whenever a new initiative is proposed, the first thing marketers should do is assess how it fits in with or fosters the communication of the overall messaging of the brand.
In a world where a new social network pops up every day and a viral video can provide unparalleled brand lift, distractions for marketers are abundant. While it can be tempting to take a stab at every new shiny object, the best marketers keep their focus on the big picture and comprehensively understand their brand's overall goals.
There is always room for a little experimentation, but don't let those initiatives take too much away from the brand's key goals. Generally, these are established and assessed about twice a year. At this time, you should be determining your focus for the upcoming months and exactly what you'd like to accomplish by the next evaluation.
Step 2: Establish Campaign Goals
Once you know what you want to get done on a macro level (increase sales, increase awareness, etc.), you're set to develop campaigns that help to satisfy those goals. Most marketers create a marketing plan that breaks down why and when campaigns will unfold. These campaigns are planned based on the overall brand goals, and they each have distinct goals of their own.
For example, let's say your overall goal is to increase online donations. You may have one campaign in February that uses social media to encourage donations as Valentine's Day gifts, and one campaign in July that uses email to encourage donations in celebration of Independence Day. Each of these works toward that overall goal, but both go about it in unique ways and have distinct messaging.
It's important to have campaign goals to determine which parts of each campaign are succeeding and falling short. These findings will help to shape your future efforts.
Step 3: Determine KPIs
Now that your campaign goals are in place, it's time to determine how you'll measure them. The KPIs (key performance indicators) of a campaign are the metrics directly tied to accomplishing campaign goals.
Take the Valentine's Day social media campaign above. Examples of KPIs might be the number of individuals reached on social media, the number of visits to the campaign landing page and of course the number of donations made.
What makes these KPIs, as opposed to standard metrics, is that they’re not just measurements for the sake of measuring. Reaching a certain point of exposure, landing page visits and donations are all essential to satisfying the goals of both the campaign and the organization as a whole.
In general, an average campaign should have around five KPIs. If you're getting too far above that, you may be prioritizing metrics that are important but not necessarily key to the campaign.
Step 4: Determine Supplementary Metrics
Supplementary metrics can be a marketer's best friend or worst enemy. These tidbits are anything that is relevant to the campaign and worthy of reporting but not necessarily essential to success.
For the Valentine's Day campaign, supplementary metrics might include new social media likes and engagement on social networks. These are certainly nice to know, especially when they indicate positive growth, but they don't have a direct impact on the success of the campaign or brand goals.
So, why bother with supplementary metrics? In short, it's good to have a pulse on the big picture of a campaign. KPIs are the most important metrics and demand immediate attention when they falter, but you don't want to ignore the other dimensions of your brand's presence. Keeping an eye on other areas is a necessary practice to ensure you're not pigeonholing your attention all in one place.
Whether you're a new marketer or a CMO, a review of the basics for determining metrics is always helpful to consider when planning an upcoming campaign or executing a full-blown brand audit.
Have you found any unique metrics to be surprisingly valuable? Do you consider the brand's overall goals when planning a campaign? We'd love to hear from you in the comments below!