Is your marketing guesswork?

Hmmm. If your marketing isn’t grounded in research, insight and based on measurable objectives, this could be the perception that your peers, management, business partners and, worst of all, customers will have about you.

I believe that for every marketer with poor judgement, and a huge mouth saying good things, there are three marketers with good judgement and huge things to say. Which one are you? Which one do you want to be?

Just think about it: the loudest guy in the room is rarely the most respected.

Marketing Metrics 1: Why measure?

With the post Principles of Marketing 13: Evaluation becoming the most read blog post on this site in the last nine months, I figured it was time to explode the subject in more detail with a series of blog posts dedicated to measuring marketing effectiveness

This is an area where marketers often struggle and is a primary reason for marketing not being taken seriously at board level in many businesses. A strong correlation needs to be made between marketing investment and return. And it’s no surprise that companies that do well also integrate marketing into their business development and sales strategies.

Whilst online marketing provides a level of traffic and conversion evaluation, more traditional approaches along with the latest viral and digital techniques are more difficult to quantify in terms of ROI. The explosion in the popularity and ease of networking and sharing content online adds to the problem.

Just how do you possibly track back brand awareness, brand and market share, and return in investment to these activities?

Blog posts upcoming include advertising offline, advertising online, direct mail, exhibitions, conferences, websites / blogs, emarketing, social media – Linkedin, Twitter and Facebook, brand / brand value and financial ROI.

B2B Marketing Principles 9: ROI unmeasured despite being a primary driver

Do you measure return on investment (ROI)? For all the talk of measurement and evaluation, ROI is proven to be the only credible barometer of marketing success but is rarely done well.

Being able to attribute sales to specific promotional activity is critical whether you have a large marketing budget or a small one. Why? Simple. Spending on activities that make little impact and conversely not spending sufficiently on activities that could reap dividends ultimately risks the long term profitability of your business.

But where do you start? The good news is that even the most basic elements of the marketing mix such as advertising, direct marketing and PR can be tracked with varying degrees of accuracy. Advertising can be evaluated against reader enquiry, direct marketing against post card, email and telephone response, PR against advertising equivalent value (AEV) and any onward PR – for example, from regional to national or local press to headline news.

Taking it to a second level, specific telephone numbers, email addresses, post boxes and website landing pages can be deployed inexpensively to support the evaluation of these marketing methods.

But only when you utilise digital marketing do you bring your marketing to life.

Advances in website, email and advertisement design mean you can run alternate versions of your website, ensure recipient mailing lists receive different versions of email messages, and run different advertisement designs on different websites. This allows you to constantly innovate, test, see what works, continue to gain permission and get a greater insight into what your customers and prospects are really interested in.

And you now use more sophisticated ‘attribution’ models and software to track even more accurately which activities really impact the sale. This becomes more important if you operate a multi strand, multi channel marketing program where customers could come into contact with you because of in-store promotion, online and trade press advertising, after receiving direct or email marketing, by searching for you on the Internet or because they read a feature about you. These products help you allocate the percentage of a sale to each element that supported the sale, and provides you with a more comprehensive view of what worked, rather than simply allocating the sale to the last element or using an ‘average’ score.

If you’re interested in attribution modelling, check this blog which was inspired by the Econsultancy session on attribution at TFM&A 2010.

There will also be an entire blog series on the topic of return on investment and evaluation in April as this topic is amongst the most read on The Marketing Assassin blog since the blog launched in June 2009.

My final observation. The best investment you can make in good marketing is not cost, but rather your time. If you are going to spend ANY money on marketing and promotion, ensure you have set objectives in place from the outset. Objectives act as your safety net. When adhered to, they drive activity selection and give you a benchmark to evaluate success against.

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The importance of cleansing

This blog reflects on the Capscan database marketing presentation at Technology for Marketing and Advertising 2010.

Statistics on postal mail in the UK are astounding. PostWatch estimate that 12.4million letters are lost every year, of those 60% are addressed incorrectly. More alarmingly, undeliverable mail has increased 50% in 5 years. This is a result of lazy and/or unqualified database managers not keeping their contact databases updated and clean. It costs UK businesses millions every year in print and postage costs – and worse, some company’s reputations are tarnished by tardy direct marketing and they lose customers.

How can you stop this happening to you?

1. Give someone in your business the sole responsibility for data capture and cleansing and have it mandated from the board. Everyone has to buy into the importance of how good well managed data can positively impact the business.

2. Design an ‘audit’ process – at a minimum ensuring all address fields, names and salutations are stored in the correct fields – more sophisticated contact records and preferences should be dealt with later.

3. Set objectives and measure them. These might be reducing % of returned mail, obtaining stats on sign up or basket abandonment on your website, reducing the number and type of complaint to name a few.

4. Manage self registration – make certain fields mandatory on your website, enquiry forms etc. Offer a post code look up. If you operate internationally, invest in systems which amend records depending on country (German and Italian addresses especially). But check any new incoming contact before you add it to your database.

5. Give your contacts the opportunity to confirm their details in every communication – magazines do this very well with their double sided cover sheet.

Your customer data is one of the most important assets within your business. It is unique and has been amasssed over time. Spend a little time giving it a little TLC.

Are you using the right web analytics model?

I have been inspired to share some of the content I picked up at Technology for Marketing & Advertising, 2010.

This blog reflects on the Econsultancy seminar on web analytics. More can be found at www.econsultancy.com.

If you are into evaluation, (and my blog statistics suggest most visitors are), you need to start providing credible reports on return on digital marketing investment. Attribution models help allocate lead generation and customer conversion to specific activities but model used can give a very different report.

There can be massive differences in what your website statistics and advertising statistics tell you. That’s because there are natural drop offs between people clicking an ad, opening an email, clicking a link to your site (the ad stat) and staying on your site long enough to register as a session (website stats). It can be down to simple things like realising they have gone to the wrong or irrelevant site, the home page taking too long to download or a loss of internet connection.

At a deeper level though, understanding how to attribute the success for a conversion is gaining importance in internet marketing. There are essentially three different strategies which can be employed to help give you a view on web traffic. These are commonly referred to as ‘last click’, ‘conversion’ & ‘weighted’.

Last click is the most common and easiest to monitor as it attributes credit for the conversion on the last click. So if an email is sent which results in 20% clickthrough to site, the email takes the credit. The major drawback in this model however is that it fails to take into account any other touchpoints, which inevitably provides a false impression of what works.

Conversion isolates a click and offers a thread so is ideal for affiliate enterprises. It does however provide the greatest risk of duplication and double counting as there is no guarantee that the clickthrough ends in a sale.

A weighted approach tries to allocate credit to all aspects of campaign but is obviously the hardest to manage. Dell and other direct marketing giants pioneered the concept of dedicated landing pages to help allocate traffic to specific channels and activities. Other sites bluntly ask how you arrived at the site.

I think the key thing for most businesses is simply to start monitoring where your traffic is coming from. If you are not, start monitoring your clicks, traffic and conversion today. If you already are, perhaps this post has given you some food for thought on exactly what you are monitoring.

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