Let’s say that over the holidays last year, you let yourself go a little. And maybe you never quite got on the new year’s resolution bandwagon, so that newly acquired spare tire has stayed right where it is.
But now you’re finding out that you have an important event to go to later in the year, and you have a specific outfit in mind that you want to wear to the event. At the moment, there’s no way you could fit into those clothes, but with a bit of meal planning and exercise, it’s certainly an attainable goal for the given time frame.
Now let’s say that I invent a new rule: during the time when you’re working toward trimming down, you can either have a scale or a tape measure to track your progress, but not both. Which would you choose?
If you happen to remember what weight you need to be at to fit into the outfit in question, you might choose the scale. However, given that the goal is to get smaller rather than lighter, perhaps the tape measure would be more appropriate.
Marketing your business is much the same. You’re probably already aware that it’s essential to have a way to measure the progress you’re making, but choosing the appropriate type of measurement system is just as important. Additionally, you’ll want a system that can not only help you make sense of the changes in the past, but can also help you plan for the future of your business.
The sheer range and volume of marketing performance measurement tools techniques out there is staggering. If you choose a set of tools to keep track of your marketing ROI and work with those tools for a while, you need to periodically assess not only how your marketing efforts are coming along, but also how well the tools you have chosen are handling those measurements.
For example, if you’re at the beginning of a simple campaign and you’re just trying to get a general idea of whether that campaign is working or not, and that’s all you’re concerned about, there’s no need to overload yourself with a dashboard full of widgets telling you all sorts of extraneous information. Likewise, if you’re trying to identify specific issues within your marketing strategy that are either helping out or causing problems, you’ll want a more comprehensive way to interpret the data you have access to.
Of course, there can be a lot of overlap as your goals slowly shift. Going back to the clothing analogy for a moment, although what you actually care about is whether you’re getting small enough to fit into your chosen outfit, one could argue that you can still get a good idea of how much you’re progressing simply by measuring weight loss. If at some point you realize that your longer-term goal is actually to get your body fat percentage down, then that would require an entirely new measurement tool.
To that end, it’s perhaps just as important to use your measurements to start forecasting; don’t just look at the past and get the numbers, let those numbers help you plan for the future. Use them to learn whether you are doing enough to sustain and grow the business as you look ahead. For example, let’s say you have lead to sale conversion ratio of five percent. Some months it goes up, other months it goes down. But what do those overall trends mean for revenue in three, six, or nine months? Creating a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) dashboard can help you get a handle on how to answer that question and what you need to do to manage the business proactively.
Take some time to assess what your marketing goals are at the moment, and also keep in mind what your longer-term targets are. Then compare those to the measurement tools you’re using, or the ones you’re considering, and decide exactly where your measuring efforts (and budget) would be best spent.
Katleen Richardson is an experienced leader who builds integrated strategies combining research, data analysis and creative thinking. She has delivered successful solutions for the publishing, financial and telecommunications industries, as well as for conference and training companies, and professional associations. Her approach is to design customer focused, cost-effective solutions based on cross functional collaboration and results-based metrics.