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Meaningful Measurement

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As we look toward a new year, it seems appropriate that this post focus on how marketers can convert data from just numbers to meaningful insights.

Digital marketing measurement best practices have changed a lot in the last few years. In the beginning, the exact impact social media and content marketing had on a business was hard to define, even though everybody knew it was important. Today, there is more than enough data available to show how marketing campaigns generate new leads, nurture relationships, and increase conversions. Now the challenge is finding the best data points that matter, analyze what the data points mean, and then reveal the greater insight that the numbers can only hint at.

Set goals to avoid data overload

Big data has created huge opportunities for marketers, but it has also created challenges. When there is so much data coming in, it is difficult to identify which numbers matter and which should be ignored. How can you find the meaning—the insight—behind those numbers?

The answer – Set specific goals.

Before you measure a single like, click or view, set the goals of your campaign. Knowing the why behind your marketing makes it easier to decide which data points will best show your progress.

Goals must also tie back to a business objective. A campaign goal isn’t to just get more LinkedIN community members for example. You need to first define the type of members you want and then determine what you want them to do. To set measurable, relevant goals, ask yourself:

  • What do I want a customer or prospect to do after interacting with this campaign?
  • How does that action benefit the customer or prospect?
  • How does that action positively impact our business objectives?
  • Can I measure that action?
  • What other actions might a customer or prospect take?
  • Can I measure those actions?

Record all the data available

Having goals doesn’t mean you should completely ignore metrics unrelated to them. I recommend you record as much data as possible, but for each campaign or marketing effort, only measure the key indicators for how that program achieves objectives. Use the other data to understand trends and to uncover new insights about your customers or prospects. Who knows, you might track a data point that will become a key metric in a future initiative.

For example, perhaps your goal for a Twitter marketing campaign was new leads, but the click-through rate for your webinars is low. That singular metric would indicate that your campaign is failing. Maybe your campaign isn’t hitting the right audience, or perhaps your copy isn’t compelling enough for them to act.

Or, maybe your customers prefer to use Twitter for customer service. You won’t know unless you study all the data Twitter has to offer.

Beware false data and vanity metrics

“The numbers don’t lie,” goes the old saying, but that isn’t exactly true when it comes to marketing data. Numbers can be skewed, manipulated and flat-out false. And there is a real risk in fake numbers. Fraudulent ad impressions costs advertisers billions of dollars.

To make smart online marketing decisions, remember to focus on three key areas: traffic, conversion and sales. By tracking and reviewing campaign performance, you’re better able to adjust your tactics, course correct and produce the desired outcome.

Data only matters if you use it

Data is raw material; it’s what you do with it that matters. Data alone cannot drive your marketing; it simply offers a map. You should review the numbers with a skeptic’s eye—validating the authenticity of the information and what it means in the context of your original goal.

Data unlocks insights. This is why marketers A/B test everything we can; we want to know which colors, which headline, which call-to-action button best connected with customers.

That is the true power of data—what it reveals about our efforts. Five comments or fifty-thousand followers, without the context of your goal, both are meaningless.

About Joan Spindel: As the chief go-to-market strategist for Westcon-Comstor, Joan Spindel engages our customers in genuine, empathetic conversations and then translates their needs into compelling market development initiatives. She believes there has never been a better time to listen and lead in marketing.