How to tell if your digital/social/content marketing plan is going well

Your fantastically awesome digital/content/social media/etc./somanysubgenres campaign just launched and you can’t wait to see the fruits of your labour and report on its certain successes. So you fire up the ol’ analytics dashboard and…

Hector (or is it Osgood?) investigating his digital analytics.

“Hm, 30 hits. Darn, that’s pretty low. Or is it?” You do some digging to apply some context.

Hector praying "Please, please, please let it be a high number to report!"

Then…

Osgood asking "Did it generate the R.O.I. we were aiming?" and Hector replying fearfully "Well, it depends, let me explain, you see..."

In order to avoid awkward conversations with the higher ups such as “Well, it depends. Let me explain. You see…”, let’s start with your campaign’s planning stage hopefully, you’re asking the right questions.

What is the purpose of your campaign?

Every campaign is different. Is it to raise awareness? Raise donation dollars? Increase sales? Get as many people as possible to use your hashtag? Recruit the best employees? Make people think of you when they think of your industry or niche area? Or to put it another way, what do you want your audience to do?

If you want them to share your content, you want to count the number of shares (obviously) and who did the sharing (ex: influencers, customers, journalists). It it’s number of new registrants, you want to count the… number of new registrants. If it’s to increase sales of a certain product, you will want to count, you guessed it, the number of sales made. Sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it? It is. Like everything else in life, you just need to have a set of goals and do what it takes to achieve them. Digital is no exception.

Declaring the purpose enables you to determine what you will measure. This is where you will list the “key performance indicators” (KPIs) relevant to your campaign. So number of shares may not even be on the list for one campaign but it may be an important item on another. The Content Marketing Institute has a great post offering tips on what to include in your KPIs.

Which tools will you use to monitor and measure?

Now that you have your spiffy list of KPIs, you need to know how you are achieving each item. Fortunately, there are many– so very, very many– analytics tools out there that can give you insights into different aspects of a campaign. Who’s talking about you, are they saying positive thing about you, which of the popular kids could you target to talk about you, how many people saw your beautiful piece of content, how many of them clicked on it, did they even do what you prayed they’d do, and so on. Again, context is everything as well as your needs. A small business may need to track only a few aspects of a campaign while a global brand would benefit from tracking more aspects (which also tend to be more expensive).

Avoid using just one tool as they may only be able to reveal a fraction of your true analytics. Unfortunately, you gotta pay for the intelligence you are looking for. Look at the KPIs you’re aiming for and choose the tools that fit your needs and budget.

Definitely use native analytics tools. That’s a fancy term meaning the analytics tools provided by the social networks you’re using. Free versions of third-party analytics tools tend to only reveal a fraction of what the social networks will allow them to reveal.

Who do you want to target?

Knowing the kind of content that your audience wants and/or needs (and where they like to hangout online) will help increase the quality reports of those KPIs. After all, when you design for the user (the user isn’t you), your content will be totally relevant, useful, and shareworthy to your audience. Thus, increasing the chances of you reaching those KPIs.

Always look at your competition

This is an ongoing task. Keeping on top of what your competition is doing, or failing to do, can really help you with your future campaigns. Especially if one of your business goals is to surpass your competition. You’d want to keep an eye on everything relevant including the kinds of campaigns they run. After all, you share the same audience!

What have you learned in the past?

Employ what worked in the past and avoid or tweak what didn’t. And always document learnings so you can remember for future campaigns.

Talk to everyone involved.

Don’t leave the tracking solely to the digital marketing team. You can benefit from talking to everyone who can help give you insight into your KPI performance. For instance, I always learn a lot from non-technical colleagues and benefit from them living outside of my own digital tunnelvision. Front line staff can offer insight into the customer journey if your campaign involves offline interaction. User experience designers can recommend any improvements to landing page design.

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