How Do You Measure the Success of Digital Marketing?

Digital marketing certainly has changed from the early days of link building for organic SEO rankings and PPC strategies that ultimately depended on spend to get to 1st position.  Every action taken online has the potential to be tracked and measured, and the sophistication of search- engine ranking algorithms has risen to the task of using that information to improve the results you see when you look for something online. They are measuring their success and optimizing based on the ever increasing volume of digital information available.  And in digital marketing, we are asking the same questions—how are the current digital strategies performing, and how can they be improved?

Step 1: Capture the Right Digital Data

The question is simple, but with the quagmire of metrics available in any analytics tool, it’s difficult to determine which metrics are going to supply that answer.  Even more confusing is the fact that having a website doesn’t mean that data is going to be automatically captured for later analysis.  Capturing digital data around each action being taken online—whether it’s a click through to a page, a button-click on your site, or a purchase made through a shopping cart—has to be deliberately tracked and cataloged to be useful for digital marketing analytics.  Just think of a filing cabinet.  If one-third of the folders are marked by last name, another third are by company name, and the last third are by the year the folder was created … how would you ever find anything?

Step 2: Determine the Marketing KPIs to Monitor

So if the first step is making sure to capture the information to measure, the second step is picking some KPIs to monitor, right?  Well, sort of.

Choosing the right KPIs actually happens long before a campaign ever launches.  What to measure is directly related to the purpose and scope of the business objective that is identified during planning.  These need to be carefully crafted, or measuring the success of the campaign is impossible.  Success cannot be measured if there was never a declaration of intent for the project.   How do you know if you’ve crafted it correctly?  Here are some tips to be sure to answer before starting any digital marketing effort:

  1. Are we trying to attract new customers or improve retention/brand evangelism/repeat orders with current customers?
  2. What is the desired outcome of the visitors interaction?  Website visit? Lead? Review? Survey? Purchase?
  3. Why do we think our message with resonate with the target audience?

Ironing out these details is the key to measuring the success of the campaign.  For specific optimization efforts, such as testing one landing page version against another in order to improve the conversion rate, metrics such as time on page, bounce rate, and conversion rate will be the most important. 

For more general visibility into measuring the performance of a brand’s digital footprint, the following aggregate buckets can provide regular insights into the overall trending of a digital presence effort:

  1. Reach – Measures the expanse of the brand’s digital footprint.  KPI’s include metrics around how often the brand is seen, such as impressions and views of ads, visibility in social news feeds, and the volume of non-bounce email receipts.
  2. Engagement – This measures people interacting with your brand.  KPI’s include metrics around people taking an action to know more about your product or brand, such as traffic to your site, interactions with content on the site like PDF downloads or video views, subscriptions to the newsletter and more.
  3. Conversions – This tracks the volume of conversions.  Some examples of tracked conversions include e-commerce transactions, lead form completions, newsletter signups, and more.   Typically, a dollar value can be associated with conversion action.
  4. ROI – This metric shows how the effort was worth the return.  Here, the value of the conversion will be weighed against the cost of maintaining the program infrastructure, and will provide insight into opportunities for optimization or expansion.

So now it’s time to take a look at your strategies.  Review your campaigns and determine what each one is intended to achieve.  Make sure the traffic sources, page elements, and goal completions are being tracked properly in your analytics tools and begin building the dashboards that will show how your campaign is performing.

But you probably won’t be able to stop yourself at just measuring your success – there’s a trove of insights contained in the data, and you just drew the treasure map.

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