Measuring Marketing Success Without Chasing Percentage Points
BY Ashley Read
July 29, 2021

Good marketing is hard. Building a strategy, creating content, developing creative and managing distribution are all difficult. Doing them in the right order at the right pace is even harder. But, when it comes together, the results speak for themselves—sometimes. 

Other times, it’s a little more complicated. After all, the success of a marketing communications strategy can be hard to calculate when your sales funnel looks more like a Plinko board

We can relate. For many B2B companies, the buyers’ journey is long and full of twists and turns. It’s understandable—these are typically major, once-in-every-five-years investments discussed by stakeholders on every rung of the corporate ladder. 

So, when a sale makes it across the finish line, it’s important to know which of the Plinko board’s pegs sent them in the right direction. 

That’s where marketing analytics comes in. When properly implemented, we can track newsletter clicks, ad engagements, form completions and even phone calls—as well as the messages or creative powering those touchpoints. 

Now we can judge where we attracted our best leads—or when our energy might have been better spent elsewhere. 

Make the data work for you—not the other way around

All too often, with great data comes great distraction. 

It’s easy to be hypnotized by all of the metrics at our fingertips, and even easier to start working with an eye toward “more and more” instead of “better and better.”  

Suddenly, your success as a marketer is being measured by pageviews and search rank, rather than user intent. You’ve grown your web traffic year over year, but marketing qualified leads are down. How could this happen? 

We call that working for the data instead of making the data work for you. 

Getting back on track

So, now that we’ve stopped chasing percentage points and counting eyeballs, it’s time we direct our attention back to measuring, and then building on, success. 

The best way to start that process—and avoid data hypnosis—is to ask yourself a question. For example: “Did our external web traffic reflect our business goals this year?”

Each portion of the brand dialogue should have a line of sight back to your business goals. If your goal is to sell more of widget A, a properly formatted campaign should be set up so most of your web traffic is moving through pages and content relevant to widget A. 

On the flip side, though, content should be laser-focused on the needs of the customer. So, if they’re looking at other pieces, it might be time to reassess whether your business goals match up with customer needs.

If your business goal was to onboard six new clients this year, you’re probably seeking quality over quantity. In this case, you want to track engagement metrics like return visits, pages per session and average session duration. These show an active, lasting interest in your content. 

Once you’ve triangulated your best traffic, trace their steps. You might learn which channel was the best for attraction (Sweet LinkedIn infographics?) the best for conversion (Thanks, email marketing!) or the unsung hero (Did we really get 10 new subscribers via our email signatures this month?). You can also see which piece of content or messaging made them take the plunge.

If you’re still with me, consider optimizing your attribution tracking so you can assign weight to each step in the digital buyer’s journey, such as $1.00 for attraction, $.50 for keeping them engaged and $5.00 for being the touchpoint that closed the deal. Now you have a numerical value assigned to your best traffic, and you can follow those trends year over year. 

That’s smart measurement—and freedom from the tyranny of pageviews. 

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