Monitoring and Evaluation: Crucial Steps in Marketing Campaigns
July 14, 2015
Most of us are familiar with tasking associated with the execution of marketing campaigns, but monitoring and evaluation are important steps that are often overlooked. These steps are crucial in getting good results — and in improving your efforts the next time a campaign is launched.
What are some key elements that create a higher success rate for a marketing campaign from the beginning?
A good campaign comes from your marketing plan, which means it’s based in solid research about the audiences you want to reach, the media most likely to successfully reach them, and the message that’s most likely to resonate. However, you should structure your campaign so that you can get some idea of effectiveness while it’s ongoing, and can evaluate it later. Some points to consider include:
- Goal tracking. It’s impossible to evaluate a campaign if its goals aren’t well-defined. Your campaign should have a clear goal — what are you trying to achieve? What would be considered successful?
- Google analytics. If an important part of your campaign is to drive traffic to your website, your Google analytics account will give you detailed information about your site traffic, including landing pages and referring sites, where site visitors live, and much more.
- Email marketing and e-commerce. E-marketing is another type of marketing that’s very easy to track. Your email marketing campaigns will automatically generate detailed reports with information about open and click-through rates. For e-commerce, if you’re successfully getting people to add items to their cart but they’re not going ahead and purchasing, that might indicate an area of concern.
- Digital advertising. Digital advertising such as Google Adwords can be very targeted, and has the distinct advantage of putting your ad in front of people who are searching for something directly related to what you offer. Social media advertising on Facebook can be extremely targeted as well, based on demographics such as gender, age, and income level, as well as interests. All forms of digital advertising will come with detailed tracking reports, making evaluation easy.
- Print ad evaluation. There are some relatively simple steps you can take to track the effectiveness of print ads. If you run ads in multiple publications, perhaps you can include a coupon or promo code for a special offer with some real value, and track how many you get back from each (of course, this means the coupons/promo codes must be identifiable in some way). Which publication gets a better response/bang for your buck?
- Take good notes. As your campaign progresses, take notes about exactly what you did and what you notice as the campaign unfolds. What adjustments would you make next time? You may think you’ll remember everything when it comes time to create your next campaign, but it’s almost impossible to retain that much information in detail. Taking notes about what did or didn’t work will help you build a stronger campaign next time.
What do you do if you’re in the middle of a marketing campaign and find that things aren’t working the way you’d hoped?
First, recognize that any mistake will give you valuable information about what to do next time, so it’s not a complete loss. Don’t, however, continue pushing on something that isn’t working — give yourself permission to change course.
- Can you determine if the problem is with your goal, your tactics, or your message? Re-evaluate your campaign goals to see whether they’re realistic and clear. If not, revisions to the goals might be necessary. If you still feel strongly about your goals, maybe your message is off, or it could be the tactics you’re using to communicate that message aren’t right. It could be that elements of all three need tweaking.
- Consider a brainstorming session. Once you’ve got a sense of what the problem is, brainstorming with your team can help generate some new ideas. Think about what you can do without focusing on what you can’t. (Visit the hotlink for a Learning Center article on how to run an effective brainstorming session, but above all remember that your goal is to think freely and openly about the challenge, to throw out many ideas without evaluating them. Evaluating and refining the ideas comes much later in the process.) Try not to be too attached to any specific path — the goal is to think about how you can move around any potential obstacles, rather than to focus on what those obstacles might be.
- Now that you’ve identified the problem(s) and possible solutions, evaluate what it would take to change course. Depending on what you’ve decided, now it’s time to implement it. If you’re changing your message, the digital marketing can be edited with just a couple clicks, but print pieces (including printed billboards) are much harder to change. So think realistically — what makes most sense, given the parameters of the situation and what you’ve spent or committed to at this point?
- Can we simply drop what isn’t working and put more resources toward something that is? Sometimes a course correction is just that simple. Most campaigns have a beginning and an end, and making a correction could be as easy as extending one element of the campaign that’s bringing you results, while ending others earlier than planned and reallocating those resources.
- Scheduling can be a real challenge. Of course, the scheduling of the different elements of your campaign is a crucial part of the planning phase. But in the real world, sometimes actually pulling off these elements in the timeline you’ve planned can be challenging — there are many difficulties associated with launching a website, for example — especially if you find yourself in the position of having to change course in the middle of a campaign. But if, say, the website doesn’t launch and a key campaign goal is driving traffic to it, you’ve got a real mess on your hands. Be realistic when setting these timelines, and try to anticipate any challenges (political or otherwise) you might encounter. If you have to delay the entire campaign until a crucial piece is in place, that’s probably a better alternative than trying to implement it piecemeal.
- Make sure you get buy-in from everyone in the team. Marketing campaigns are always most effective when the entire team is behind them. Your sales team and your front-line staff are great resources for great ideas, both in refining the campaign and for helping execute it. After all, your employees embody your business.
Each campaign is a learning experience — make the most of it! Think in terms of your marketing year, as well as about each campaign.
By Shelley Johansson. Read about Shelley on our Meet Our Staff page.