How do you know if you’re doing a good job?

You get an A on a test. Your boss gives you a promotion. Your children are kind to others. Your mile time gets faster, your barbell gets heavier, the number on the scale goes down.

Measuring success can often be subjective. Metrics vary by goal. Goals vary by task. Tasks vary by person.

And while failure is typically easy to see (2+2≠5), claims of success often require proof (show your work!). The same goes with your marketing efforts. Too often, the mistake that’s made is we wait until we can measure the outcome to determine what success means. We plan the campaign with a vague definition of success (online banner that people will click on! Radio ad that gets people to call us!). We come up with what we believe are compelling ideas to launch us down that dimly-lit path. And when the campaign has run its course, we evaluate how many people clicked on the link. How many calls came in. But we didn’t establish clear, quantifiable goals at the beginning, so our definition of “success” or “failure” is still completely subjective.

So how do you set a campaign up for true, measurable success?

Before you design ads, before you write scripts, before you book media time, determine your goals. Determine your key performance indicators (KPIs). And a big part of this is establishing your baseline. During non-campaign time, you get ___ calls per week. Your website gets ___ visits. Your Facebook posts get ___ likes and engage ____ people. Did you see that it says “during non-campaign time?” That’s really important. If you don’t have a baseline, how can you possibly know if those numbers are moving in the right direction because of your campaign strategy? Not every campaign has the same goal. Sometimes, it’s all about web traffic. Other times, the objective is to increase customer loyalty. It could be something as old-fashioned as “sell more knives/sneakers/subscriptions/services.” A successful marketing campaign is like a successful climb up a mountain – you don’t just start walking and hope you stumble upon something cool. You determine where the peak is, and you charter the best course to reach it. The great thing about determining the metrics by which you’ll measure success before you begin is that progress is quantifiable every step of the way. If you find that you’re not making steps toward your goal, you can reassess and correct your path. You know in real time whether your campaign is on the road to success or not. Maybe you need to rework the graphics to create a more engaging ad, or change out the copy to tell a more compelling story. Perhaps you targeted the wrong audience, or your call to action isn’t strong enough. But having a steady definition of success allows you to adjust your course without losing sight of your goal.

So what kinds of metrics equal success and how can that analysis be tracked and generated?

It’s probably easier than you think. The measurable list of metrics is long and growing longer each day with increased technology and changes in the way marketing is done. But here are some common statistics that marketers tend to pay attention to:

  • Traffic (how people find/contact you) – direct, referrals, organic, email, paid, social, everything else.
  • Website – click-through rates, page views, unique page views, bounce rate, time spent per page, actions taken
  • Social media – likes, reactions, views, shares, engagements, reach, other actions

OK. So how do you track KPIs?

This is easier than many people believe, it just requires diligent planning and tracking. For almost everything, there are tools that will do it for you.

Facebook tracks every statistic listed above. Any designated business manager has access to it. You literally don’t have to do anything but look at it.

Google Analytics has tools that track web statistics. There is a free version that works very well for most businesses, and a paid premium version that starts around $150k. Start with the free version. All you really need to do is copy a line of code onto each page of your website that you’d like to track, and Google Analytics does the rest. There are also plug-ins you can use for platforms like WordPress that make it even easier.

And of course, you’ll want statistics on any email campaigns that you run. In the past we’ve written about best-practices for email lists, so you already know that using a dedicated email marketing provider is far and away your best option. And guess what? Any email marketing tool worth your time has tracking built in, so you can see not only how many people opened your email and clicked on a link, but exactly who they are and what time they did it. Again, you literally just need to look at it.

There you have it, friends. By establishing KPIs, calculating baselines and tracking your progress, you’ll be able to effectively and accurately determine and maximize your success rate.

If you happen to be in the business of creating marketing and advertising for clients, not simply your own company, then we guarantee that measuring (and proving) success is important. To your current clients and to your future clients.

And if your goal isn’t measurable success? You’re doing marketing wrong.

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