04 Apr 2013

Measure your marketing – it’s not the 1870s anymore!

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“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted. The trouble is I don’t know which half.”

Such was the lament of retail magnate John Wanamaker. The father of the department store is credited with creating the first ever copyrighted retail advertising in 1874, and business boomed as Wanamaker make good on his service-oriented marketing claims into the early 20th century. And his assessment of advertising was spot-on. There was no reliable way to tell exactly what was working. Merchants in those days simply threw money at advertising and hoped for the best. If sales increased, the advertising continued.

Today, competition abounds for marketing space inside every consumer’s head. Traditional methods for reaching buyers have been augmented with a wide variety of content marketing options such as social and web media. Not only are there more marketing options than ever before, there are more ways to track and measure marketing effectiveness and efficiency. For example, most business owners and managers may know that web page “hits” are a common performance metric. But effective measurement of web marketing might also track specific navigation data and “bounces” – customers who visit a web page but bounce out without getting deeper into the site or making a purchase. It also pays to know the cost and value of “conversion” – a customer completion of a measureable, desired outcome.

While web analysis is a key part of measuring results, it is just one piece of a larger marketing analytics effort that seeks to maximize your marketing return on investment (ROI) by focusing on people and personal behaviors, not simply clicks, hits and other anonymous metrics. Some of the tools of the analytics trade include:

  • Call tracking uses multiple phone lines with each number matched to a different marketing channel (e.g., radio, television, web) and promotional combination. Instead of just tracking total calls into one line, marketers can now match potential customers with the marketing channel/promotional combination that appeals to them.
  • Multiple URLs (landing pages) can tell you much more than just how many hits your site has. Much like call tracking, they can tell you how people found their way to your web site and which promotions appealed to them.
  • Promotional code tracking uses different codes for each marketing channel/promotional combination. Your advertising becomes significantly more effective when you know which potential customers prefer traditional radio, TV or print advertising and which ones respond to web and social media appeals.

These are just a few of the analytics that can be employed to sharpen your marketing effort.  No matter which tools are used, it’s important to understand that marketing and measuring ROI don’t happen overnight.  Michael Weiss of the Content Marketing Institute tells his clients “that unless they are willing to launch a program for at least six months, there is no reason to do anything.  We need time to gather data.”