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It’s a fact: modern marketing involves so much more than just pushing out advertisements.

Ad blockers and simple ad saturation have made traditional marketing tactics much less effective than they used to be, and would-be buyers aren’t reaching out; they’re searching the Web for answers instead.

Today, marketing is about engaging prospects—mostly online—with the right messages at the right times and providing great experiences at every touchpoint. Whether it’s digital or traditional marketing campaigns, social media, seminars, blog posts, whitepapers on your website, or a mix of all the above, valuable, well-timed content is what grabs prospects and keeps them.

But how can you tell what’s working and what’s not?

Luckily, it’s easier than ever to track and measure marketing ROI and to change your digital marketing campaigns when efforts aren’t producing the results you need.
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How to measure marketing

Ask Chris Dunning, CEO and founder of UK-based TechQuarters, about the value of publishing just any old content: “When we first started, I put a whitepaper up on our website. I thought, ‘Great, they’re going to love this and download it in droves.’ It was actually so boring, nobody—I mean zero people—read it.”

He’s learned a lot since then. TechQuarters now has 14 marketing channels they pursue leads through, and thanks to diligent tracking, they’ve managed to create a marketing mix that generates solid leads and exceptional return on investment (ROI). By understanding what drives customer behavior, they’re able to provide more of what customers want…and fewer failed white papers.

Set key performance indicators (KPIs)

As it says in Part 3: Modernize Sales and Marketing, “you have the ability to ultimately track and measure your investments and of course ROI if you work toward connecting your sales and marketing activities and outcomes.” TechQuarters agrees—according to Chris, it’s critical to establish key performance indicators (KPIs) before you begin a new marketing effort. With a 15 percent lead-to-close ratio and lead-revenue-to-cost ratio of 159 percent of cost, the Internet is one of TechQuarters’ strongest lead generators. Chris’s team tracks number of Twitter followers, engagement on Facebook, pay per click (PPC) campaign results, online seminar registrations, and more.

Knowing the targets makes it easier for his team to design campaigns to target the customers they want and to gauge success afterwards.

Track, and then track again

Chris and his marketing manager review reports every Friday, and the full marketing team meets at least once a month to review progress toward their KPIs. All reports are generated from their Microsoft Dynamics CRM, so service and sales are tracked consistently and predictably.

Chris’s team tracks how much they spend per month per channel, how many leads each channel generates, and what percentage of overall leads comes from each channel. Because they know that the Web is a dominant lead generator, they know to focus a lot of resources on SEO, content creation, social media, and so on.

To do the same, you should first try to establish a baseline: what sort of ROI are you seeing now? Then decide where you want to be in terms of returns. What are your targets? McKinsey & Company say marketing operations, “done well,” achieve ROI of between 15 and 25 percent, so determine what a 15 percent ROI would look like for your organization.

Tools to get you started

Part 3: Modernize Sales and Marketing suggests finding sales and marketing tools that allow you to automate and improve your marketing processes. Definitely there are tools and solutions out there that can simplify both marketing and the tracking that follows, so embrace resources that make your life easier.

Marketing automation

For example, TechQuarters signed on to MPN partner ClickDimensions’ email solution to automate marketing efforts. The intelligent email system integrates with Dynamics CRM Online; customer behavior in the CRM triggers automatic messages back to those customers. Now efforts and results are easy to track, and cross sale and upsale opportunities aren’t missed.

SEO ranking

Chris also keeps close tabs on website performance via their Alexa ranking. If their ranking wanes, they begin looking for reasons. At one point, Chris noticed a serious drop in their ranking—it turned out the org’s website needed serious attention. Removing dead links, and refreshing content, brought up their rank and improved placement in online search results.

Web traffic patterns

Website analytics can give you a lot of data to work with—when are visitors jumping off your site? What keywords brought them to you? What content are they willing to fill out a registration form for? A tool like Hubspot Analytics can help you find actionable data in your web traffic.

CRM data

When it comes to measuring tools, your CRM is probably your strongest ally. Mine CRM data to match marketing efforts to customer behaviors: Did purchases of a solution go up following a webinar or email campaign?

Use online tools to track social media and other online efforts. Rachael Keetch at Onboardly put together a list of free social analytics tools that can help you understand conversion rates, how much amplification you’re getting (content shared), and your “applause rate” (what readers think of your content). Be sure to check out the resources available from the Smart Partner Marketing site for more ideas on what to measure.

Once you understand how well (or not) your channels, online content, and other marketing efforts are performing against your established KPIs, you can adjust your mix to better meet your goals.

You’re already engaged in multiple marketing efforts. You’ve done hard work creating content and getting it out where prospects can find it—make all that time and money worth it! Track, measure, and fine-tune to get the best possible return on your marketing investments.

If you have suggestions or favorite tools for tracking marketing ROI, share them with your fellow partners and me on Facebook.

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