National and local internet marketing experts are frequently faced with this challenge: How does one effectively connect marketing strategy with returns?
When a marketing campaign goes viral, it's rather easy to see the returns of that campaign. However, it's not every day a marketing campaign takes off like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. More commonly, campaigns have a substantial impact and it's these campaigns that are more difficult to measure returns.
Know What Metrics Are Most Important to Track
In any internet marketing campaign, there are unknown variables. It's unreasonable to track exactly what past customers say. Similarly, it is also unreasonable to separate self-report data from customers. Instead of tracking all metrics and sales channels, take a methodical approach. Choose a few different channels and a few different reliable metrics. For the record, self-report data from customers is notoriously unreliable. Look at customer behavior, and quantify observations.
Converse with Your Sales Team
National and local internet marketing experts know who the real experts are in anecdotal evidence. Work closely with the sales team to figure out which aspects of marketing customers like as well as which aspects of marketing could be stronger. Customers build rapport with sales personnel, especially in B2B transactions. Additionally, customers are more likely to give honest feedback to sales personnel they know well on an impromptu basis.
Take a Systematic Approach
Instead of throwing data at others, slow down and take a systematic approach. In reality, any number of different variables that have nothing to do with a local internet marketing campaign could prompt a notable boost in sales. However, it is easy to calculate and display a reasonable margin of error. If a new spike in sales can be attributed to PR rather than internet marketing, it is important to recognize it. The end goal is to show the impact of marketing on returns, not prove that a current marketing campaign is optimal.
Show the CEO What Works and Why
It is important to recognize that few executives speak SEO or national to local internet marketing lingo. They are more concerned with the overall state of the business, as well they should be. They're in charge of the grander scheme while you're there for the inner workings. Similarly, it is important to recognize that a potentially golden idea for a Twitter or Instagram marketing campaign can easily get lost if the message is not delivered in a clear way. The communication process has to be broken down into a few simple steps.
1. Conduct baseline analyses of important metrics and existing sales channels.
2. Work closely with the sales team to develop more effective marketing strategies.
3. Identify variables not related to any given marketing campaign.
4. Conduct new analyses of the same variables and the same sales channels over a reasonable period of time.
It is integral to clearly show change that resulted directly from new marketing. Use historic sales data to make an argument more compelling. Perhaps the fourth quarter has always been the strongest. Find a way to show why new marketing initiatives made it stronger. Separate other variables that are not part of the marketing campaign to further refine how much revenue is derived from marketing campaigns, and only marketing campaigns.
- Use historic sales data to support claims that marketing drives revenue
- Partner with the sales team to get honest feedback from customers
- Work to identify variables not related to marketing in order to get accurate results
- Clearly communicate the benefit of online marketing strategy to upper management