How to Measure the Success of Digital Marketing
When it comes to measuring and reporting on your digital efforts, there are a lot of KPIs to choose from, but what really matters? That all depends on your business goals and objectives, who you’re presenting to, what platforms you’re using, and more.
I recently sat down with Khoros’s Sam Kilgore, Director of Business Value Consulting, to get her insight and knowledge on what KPIs matter in the digital space, how to use them to tell your story, and how to present them to your organization.
Missed our Twitter Chat? Check out the Twitter Moment to catch up on the conversation between myself, Sam, and our customers!
How do you know what matters when evaluating the success of digital marketing?
There are really five key things to identify what matters:
- Understand the role of social in your marketing ecosystem — know where you stand and what’s expected.
- Define what success looks like by getting clear input from all stakeholders (not just your social/digital team). If you don’t know your end goal, how will you know what to measure for?
- Identify the available platform metrics and align them with your business objectives (which you defined in step 2). Think about KPIs, proxies, and historic performance to establish a more holistic framework for success.
- Create an actionable plan. Never measure for measurement’s sake. Build a plan for actions, predicted outcomes, and optimization that also details potential roadblocks to success.
- Establish a repeatable process. It’s important to track and measure in a plug-and-play approach in order to create benchmarks and baselines for performance and to help build efficiencies in your process.
How do you determine what metrics are important to substantiate your goals?
Each platform has its own capabilities, user behaviors, and metrics. Focus on the KPIs you’re trying to achieve, then choose the metrics that demonstrate those. Be cognizant of historical performance and what constitutes “good results” for your efforts.
Focus on the KPIs you’re trying to achieve, then choose the metrics that demonstrate those.
How do you distinguish between the vanity and value metrics when analyzing results?
The vanity vs. value discussion is a valid one. Reporting on likes and followers can seem useless. However, you need to evaluate a campaign’s objective and those identified KPIs to truly understand what metrics will prove valuable. Vanity does have its place.
For example: branding goals, i.e. awareness, recognition, and reputation, can be validated with so-called “vanity” metrics as can some community engagement numbers such as audience growth and customer referrals.
Which social channel(s) or online community will yield the best results for a digital campaign?
There are lists and lists of the best KPIs to track out there and which networks provide the best outputs for them. So, instead of repeating what you can google, I’ll say this: tailor your objectives and KPIs for each individual campaign based on your understanding of each platform's culture, community behaviors, and each platform's capabilities to determine which will work best for you.
Tailor your objectives and KPIs for each individual campaign.
How do you focus KPIs and still provide enough data to validate effort?
Thinking less is more and choosing fewer KPIs can show that you understand what’s really important to the business. Define exactly how each KPI is measured to ensure everyone is onboard with how it’s calculated and why you’re using it. It’s easier to justify.
An example: Why do you need focus? Because the metrics below are just a sample of the KPIs that are available to track!
Thinking less is more and choosing fewer KPIs can show that you understand what’s really important to the business.
How do you communicate the ROI of social and digital to other departments within the business?
There are two key rules for communicating across departments and if you use the five steps to identify your evaluation methods, they’ll be much easier to accomplish!
- Speak in their language — use data points that have been pre-determined to map to their objective, provided executive summaries, and synopsis in your reporting that reiterate what the data shows and how it was calculated.
- Answer the how, what, and why in your report and be prepared to explain which metrics actually matter to drive optimizations or actionable changes for your business.
What does a good post-campaign report look like, i.e. what should it include?
I’ve learned a lot about reporting from the Khoros Strategic Services teams, and here is my top takeaway: reports should include six basic principles to break through the data noise. While they may seem obvious, these principles make a huge impact!
- Clear objectives
- Connecting dots
- Insights > data
- Tell a visual story
- Operational cadence
- Make it actionable
How often should you create reports for a campaign? For on-going social activities?
Report cadence should be determined based on who you’re delivering the report to and how it’s being used. Your team may want to run daily reports in order to continually monitor and optimize, while director or executive reports may be useful at campaign end or monthly.
Leadership reports and reports for ongoing campaigns may work quarterly or semi-annually. It can really vary based on your objective and audience. The amount of data in each report can also vary — the digital team will want more metrics than leadership, for example.
Want to learn more about the business impact of social media marketing? Download our whitepaper: Social Media Pocket Guide.