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A number of questions surround the marketing game today, but regardless of industry, budget, company or campaign, one is asked more often than most: “How can I measure my marketing and offer quantifiable proof that my tactics are working?” With more focus on data and analytics than ever, marketing and revenue teams are working closer together as the pressure mounts to ensure a marketing Return on Investment (ROI).

While there is no universal set of metrics that fits every marketer and every campaign, defining those that matter to you starts with knowing what to look for. To find out which questions are most important, we spoke to Michael Brenner, CEO of Marketing Insider Group and author of The Content Formula.

1. What is my marketing mission?

When it comes to marketing, we often overlook the wider goal at hand and jump straight into the campaign. But why is it so important to define your mission first and foremost? “I think it's important to define the mission for marketing strategically”, says Michael. “In some organizations, marketing is happy to be a service provider and buy ads, but this traditional position has hurt marketing in the long term - 

We’re largely perceived by society at large, and especially senior executives, as ‘the people who buy ads’.”

Outlining how your marketing mission should fit within the wider business goals in order to be successful, Michael explains how marketers need to think of their strategies in business terms to deliver the most value. “Leading organizations start by defining the strategic role of marketing as an advocate for the business, the customer and the brand.

Leading marketers hammer on the message that marketing delivers strategic value to the business that can be measured.”

2. Are reach and frequency most important?

For traditional marketing campaigns, the focus was always on reach and frequency. But for the marketing world today, much like the fragmented audiences at its core, many other factors come into play. A recent Nielsen study attempted to compare the power of reach and frequency and uncover which proves most effective: Making the case for ‘relevance’ as a substitute for ‘frequency’, Bob McCurdy urges marketers to rethink the equation: “reach x frequency = response”, and to replace it with “reach x relevance = response.” For Michael Brenner, however, the key lies in moving away from these terms towards more harmonized metrics.

“Marketers continue to put money behind traditional tactics that consumers are ignoring”, he says. “I don't think reach and frequency are still important when it comes to campaign performance because you can buy reach and frequency; that's just a function of budget. Anyone can buy reach through GRPs, impressions, social promotion, even clicks.

But did the campaign message and content really resonate with your target audience? That can only be measured with engagement metrics.”

3. What are the metrics that really matter?

Defining the metrics that really matter is where many marketers veer off track. Without clear, actionable and timely objectives, ensuring an adequate return on any campaign is close to impossible. As Michael explains, setting these objectives is the first and most important step to measuring ROI. “That will help determine the metrics that matter most as well as tie that portion of the budget to an outcome”, he says.

While metrics differ greatly depending on the objectives in question, it helps to first understand the categories that any given campaign fits within. “I define the main categories of objectives as awareness (reach,) engagement, conversion, and retention”, says Michael. Going into further detail, he stresses the need to “focus on the things that can be accurately measured in today's digital world”, advising marketers to begin with engagement metrics for every campaign.

  1. Awareness: “Metrics might include share of voice, brand mentions, brand lift, or unaided brand recall."

  2. Engagement: “Metrics would include site visits, time on site, repeat visitors, social shares, subscribers.”

  3. Conversion: “Metrics might include leads or direct sales revenue.”

  4. Retention: “Metrics might center around revenue per customer and retention rate.”

4. What are the tools and data I need?

Aside from the need for clear objectives and an understanding of the metrics that matter, finding out what tools and data will allow you to accurately measure your marketing is the next step.

“There are so many options available today to measure marketing activities. The real challenge is identifying the right questions."

  1. Audience Insights: Audience profiling using tools such as the GlobalWebIndex PRO Platform help you to create the ideas that offer the most ROI by tailoring your messaging to your consumers' interests, needs, perceptions and behaviors, while making sure you reach them at every single touchpoint. By understanding the channels and platforms they use the most and why, you can be sure you’re targeting the right audience, making ROI all the more achievable.
  1. Website Analytics: To track campaign performance and engagement, you need analytics. This will tell you how much traffic you’re getting, where it’s coming from, which pages are most popular and how visitors are navigating through your site. “The basics include a web analytics platforms like Google Analytics or Adobe Omniture”, says Michael. More advanced solutions like CRMs can guide a more holistic approach, while our GWIQ analytics solution can help you to quantify campaign effectiveness, while getting the reassurance you need that you’re targeting the right audience.

  1. Social Analytics: Learning about your audience doesn’t stop at the beginning. The success of your marketing depends on your consistent listening, learning and adapting to your consumers’ needs, interests and behaviors. Using audience insights to continue this learning, along with social analytics offered by social media platforms, CRMs and the likes of Google Analytics and GWIQ will help you to drive your content in the right direction, and ensure your messaging resonates with the most relevant audience, in the most engaging way.

For those in the B2B space, CRMs like Hubspot can help to better align your marketing efforts with the wider business goals, with reports providing you with what you need to know when it comes to how well your campaigns are measuring up to your goals, and at what cost. Marketing automation can then tell you how well you’re converting and nurturing your audience throughout the buyer journey. This way you can build a your curriculum of audience-centric content in a way that persistently works for the wider business.

5. How can I harmonize everything?

Despite the abundance of tools and data available to measure your marketing accurately, one important thing to consider is whether you can harmonize these to make the process as smooth and transparent as possible. Through the use of data and analytics that looks at a consumer’s interactions across the entire buying journey, from awareness right through to purchase, you can get a much more accurate picture of the ROI on your marketing spend.

“Banner ads and digital displays buys are all about, not counting what you miss, but counting what you catch”, says Michael.

“That kind of perspective has to change, it has to be about creating messages and stories that resonate with our audience.”

As the need for audience-centric marketing gathers more speed, ensuring your approach is as harmonized and optimized for today’s audiences is central to marketing that works.

Like what you've read? Download our Trends 17 report for a closer look at what's shaping the marketing landscape for the year ahead.

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