I’m going to start with a dumb question. That’s fine, because I learnt at school that any question is ok. Here goes.
Do results from your marketing matter to you?
Of course they do. They’re why you invest your hard earned time and money in marketing. If results didn’t matter, you wouldn’t be doing it.
The follow up is a better question.
Do you know what results you get from your marketing?
There are a few answers to this question:
- Not at all. I don’t get any reporting on results, at least stuff that I understand.
- Not really. I get some analytics and information about digital advertising, but I don’t really know what it means.
- Mostly. I know what’s going on, but I have to put in some manual work to get an understanding of the actual impact that my marketing work has on my bottom line.
- Absolutely. We’ve got analytics at every stage of the funnel, they’re meaningful, and I can see the impact of the work I put in and the changes I make.
If you’re in the last group, you’re pretty unique.. Well done - you can focus on improvement rather than blindly scrambling for something that works.
If you’re in group three, you’ve got a bit of work to do. Analytics fall over when you’re relying on manual processes, and you’ll save heaps of time making sure you’ve got some automation set up - it’s easier than you think.
If you don’t have a good idea of what’s going on with your marketing, you’re in a dangerous position.
Results matter to you, but you don’t know what they are. How do you know you’re getting value for money?
Often marketers and their clients (like your business) rely on deliverables rather than results to measure the performance of their marketing work. When you’re focused on deliverables, it’s easy to lose sight of their actual impact of what matters to your business - the bottom line.
It’s a cultural shift to move from a deliverables focus to a results focus, requiring buy in from both your business and the marketing resources you use (whether they’re in-house or an external agency).
Shifting the culture is important, but it needs to be backed up with transparency around performance. To do this, you need to achieve two things - you need to know what success looks like, and you need to make sure your systems give you the information you need.
Know what success looks like
This is an old strategy cliche, but it’s so true. To be successful, you need to know what success looks like. This is unique to your business, but it’s the starting point of developing a results focus for your marketing.
The first thing you need to do to define success is to make it meaningful. It’s easy to set targets that include the words more, better, best and leading - but they’re ultimately meaningless, as they’re unmeasurable.
A meaningful and measurable target might look like:
We want to grow our sales by 25% using digital marketing by the end of the year.
This makes defining success easy. Let’s say your current sales are $1,000,000 per year. This means that we need to generate $250,000 in sales from Digital Marketing by the end of the year. It’s a pretty clear line in the sand to work towards.
Once you’ve got your success metric defined ($250k in sales), it’s time to break it down. The big number is pretty hard to wrap your head around, but the smaller the target is, the easier it becomes.
Let’s say that at each transaction a customer buys, on average, $250 worth of stuff. Suddenly, we only need 1,000 transactions in our year to achieve our goal. Divide this by 12 months and we need to aim for 83 transactions a month.
This assumes that our performance will be linear - which I can pretty much guarantee it won’t be. The first quarter will be below where we expect to be, the second getting there, and the third and fourth quarters will be the time to outperform the first two.
As we want to set our target at the level we’re aiming for after 12 months, we might want to look at aiming for say 125 transactions a month - always better to aim high.
The reason I like aiming for transactions is they’re something a marketer can control. They’re the traditional end of the purchase process, and if we have good enough numbers, we can estimate their value.
Now we know what success looks like, we need to move on to the next step.
Get your systems sorted.
Having your target is great but you’ve got to know whether you’re on the way. In the example above, we want to make sure we can attribute sales to Digital Marketing so we know we’ve succeeded.
We want to have a graph like this:
This will tell us exactly how we’re tracking, all the way to our goal. This graph comes out of HubSpot - a tool that when appropriately configured, gives you a whole host of useful marketing performance intelligence.
To produce analytics like these, you need to make sure your Marketing and Sales Tech Stack is properly set up. A tech stack sounds expensive, but it’s actually really affordable, and easy to implement. Getting your systems sorted is an important step that leads to businesses have no idea what’s going on in their marketing.
Fortunately, there’s a guide to solving the challenges (and it’s written by us!). Check out our guide to getting your systems sorted and building a Marketing and Sales Tech Stack for less than $100 per month.