Quite a simple post this time round. Essentially how I measure the success of a given campaign or piece of marketing work. NB: This isn’t the Holy Grail of properly attributed marketing ROI – when I’ve worked that, I’ll post it up, if I haven’t retired first – but instead a framework for how to show whether what you’ve done has worked or not.
The model consists of three stages – Inputs, Outputs and Outcomes. I’ll describe these below. For the article I’ll use an example campaign – we’re launching a new product, say a tool to monitor your website performance – and we’re using a number of tactics to promote this – a free, downloadable iPhone app, a new website, some content marketing, some Adwords, social media etc etc – the usual suspects.
The first part, often forgotten about, is to measure the Inputs to your campaign. By this I mean – what is the quality of execution of the campaign? Before initiating campaign work there is, generally, a long process of research, analysis, customer feedback, market segmentation etc which gets distilled in to some sort of proposition or idea. For the web performance tool, you might have carried out all this work and ended up with a campaign idea around “Keep an eye on your global website performance from your mobile phone” (or hopefully something stronger than that!). You’ve chosen a segment – say IT managers of smaller companies in the US – and you have a lot more information about the feelings you want to elicit, the differentiators you want to promote and so on.
But – that doesn’t mean to say all that great information gets in to your campaign. Woody Allen has said how he measures his “best” work not in terms of quality or audience response but in terms of how close the final film is to his original vision. Similarly, if you went in to a campaign with a particular value proposition and a really clear idea of what you wanted, is this what you ended up with? This is the measure of Input quality.
In this example, if the agency you used came back with a campaign that captured everything you wanted, the right tone, the right target audience, channels, content etc etc, then you’ve scored highly on Inputs. NB: This is very much a qualitative measure – you can try giving a campaign a mark out of 10, but what does that really mean? The way I see it, if I sit there completely satisfied thinking “That’s exactly what I meant”, then I’m happy.
Another part of measuring Inputs, which I sometimes carry out, is to look at a few quantitative KPIs covering the basic measures for parts of the campaign. For example, with Adwords, how many impressions did we actually get (i.e. it’s not whether the ads were effective or not, just whether we’ve correctly placed them and bid appropriately)? How much are we spending on different ad campaigns? And so on.
NB: This does not, of course, mean it will work! Your research and analysis could be completely wrong – wrong segment, wrong message, bad ideas. But at least you can go in to the campaign confident that you’re giving it your best shot. Nevertheless, any boss worth his/her salt will want to know “Did it work?”
There are two stages to answering the question “Did it work?” – Outputs and Outcomes. Outputs is the first of these and is the measurement of the immediate KPIs that you’re tracking for the various parts of your campaign. I.e. We changed some Google Adwords – are more people clicking on these now? We changed the website – have we increased the conversion rate? In our example promotion, we created an iPhone app to promote the product (perhaps the app shows a demo for our company’s website). We might have loved the app (scored high on Inputs), but how many people actually downloaded it!? And used it? And our new website – how many visits have we seen? Time on page? Conversion rates? And so on.
For a given campaign, there might be 10, 20 or more of these KPIs, often at quite a low level – they provide immediate feedback on what is and isn’t working and, ideally, should be used within a Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) framework to continuously improve everything you’re doing.
NB: Outputs is the area that is almost never forgotten about, mainly because it’s the easiest to measure (who would put up a new website and not check Google Analytics to see how many clicks it’s getting!?)
Great, so the campaign looks good, you’re getting clicks and downloads but, the question any exec should be asking you is, so what? What is the impact of this on the bottom-line? On revenue? Outcomes is the measurement of the final impact of the work you’re doing. In a commercial organisation this is likely to be revenue. However, if you’re working for a healthcare charity, this might be something like “Awareness of a particular ailment” or if working for the government, “Awareness of new policy X”. Or even for a commericial organisation a campaign may be something like “Awareness of our brand”.
But, it’s essentially the single figure that you care most about, that is the driver for your organisation. Unlike Outputs, there should really only be one of these values. And it should hopefully be simple to measure. What is very difficult however is attributing changes in this figure (say, revenue, in our example case) to any particular part of a campaign. As I’ve mentioned, this is a Holy Grail for marketing – showing that “My work I did on Adwords last month, which is costing us $1,000 per month, directly led to $10,000 in revenue – an ROI of 900%!”. So I don’t generally try to do this. Instead, I just look at the revenue trends moving, hopefully!, up over the months following the campaign. This measurement is full of caveats – can you really attribute the increase in revenue to your campaign? Could be market movements? Could be new product features? Could be noise! But this doesn’t really matter – you still need to be looking at this figure. It’s often the case that, sadly, it’s very hard to pick up increases in revenue attributable to particular campaigns, but the figures need to be shown nonetheless.
And that’s it – as I say, pretty simple! One qualitative measure (Inputs), multiple low-level KPIs (Outputs) and a final big KPI (Outcomes).