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How to Judge the Success of a Marketing Campaign

By Jennifer Post
Business.com / Business Intelligence / Last Modified: May 3, 2018
Image credit: RawPixel.com / Shutterstock

The Business.com community often wonders the best way to track the response to a marketing campaign. We found answers.

Marketing campaigns can be the difference between breaking even and surpassing your sales goals. Whether you are creating your campaigns in-house or contracting an outside company, one of the most important things to know is how successful the campaign was.

But how exactly can you do that? It's a common question in the Business.com community, so we went looking for a definitive answer.

Print marketing campaigns

Jonathan Bacon, vice president of marketing at SureCall, noted that some audiences are still very tactile, meaning that they like to touch and feel the publication, and provided some additional ways companies can track those non-digital marketing campaigns.

"For these audiences, you still want to use tracking methods by including phone numbers, unique URLs, lead generation forms tied into your CRM or a unique email address that you can follow to see if customers are responding," Bacon said.

For billboards and flyers, however, measuring ROI can be a little trickier, said Kathleen Bisset, director of marketing at public relations firm, SSPR.

"Sure, billboards are big and shiny and light up the sky. But are you actually seeing return from your investment?" she said.

Bisset added that you could always look up traffic patterns to see how many cars passed the billboard, but actually tracking how many people looked up at the board and translated that experience into calling your business or visiting your website is nearly impossible.

"If you feel a flyer or a billboard is a must-have in your marketing efforts … offer a coupon code that's only available on that collateral," Bisset said.

Julia Olson, CEO and founder of Treehut, said that when online tracking is not available, tracking overall performance through geographical location and timing of the marketing campaign is a good tool.

"It is also possible to do an offline survey to gain better insights or brand awareness, but the process can be very time consuming. Often, they are simply not trackable just like those ads during 'Mad Men' times. While not all marketing campaigns are fully trackable – even in today's hi-tech driven era – they can be very successful in building brand awareness," Olson said.

There are somewhat successful ways to track non-digital marketing efforts, such as keeping an eye on website traffic, cross-channel pollination and press interest, said Valerie Hamm Carlson, vice president of marketing at Simple. An uptick in referrals can also indicate that you're on the right track. 

Going digital 

Marketing tactics such as those mentioned above, while still popular with a niche market, have been taken over by more targeted digital advertising that is easier to quantify. When it comes to gauging the overall success of a marketing campaign, programs like HubSpot are great places to start, as they offer marketing and sales tools to help your business start a marketing campaign.

Bisset also says that even with all those tools and marketing materials, success is subjective. "Marketing initiatives that go viral feel successful to a consumer, like when one of your sassy tweets reached a huge retweet audience and makes its way around the Twittersphere," she said.

On the flip side, Bisset said that if your company is not seeing any real funnel leads from this effort, it might not look so successful to your executives.

"The layers go deeper than simply, 'I got no email addresses from this so it was an unsuccessful endeavor,'" Bisset noted. "Brand awareness is huge in terms of warming your prospects, but it's not an easily trackable metric, nor is it something your marketing execs are going to jump for joy over."

No matter what type of campaign you're running, you need to listen to your customers.

"Our customer base is at the core of everything we do at MOO, so listening to their feedback is crucial to any successful campaign," said Gina Cothey, vice president of global marketing at MOO.

Bacon noted that ultimately success is the generation of something, whether that's brand affinity, repeat business or new market awareness.

"This is the primary success metric we assign to our campaigns during development and something we refer back to throughout development, launch, optimization and review," Bacon said. "The granular and real-time metrics we have access to now lessens the risk of failure, because 95 percent of the time you can optimize to improve performance metrics and, in turn, steer your campaign back toward success."

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