The secret to better business decisions isn’t magic. It’s not rocket science either. The problems of missed opportunities, wasted budgets, and ever-elusive marketing ROI can be solved using one thing—data. It’s no doubt that both traditional and digital marketing tactics have a place in the business world, but the difficulty of justification so often rears its head. If you’ve allocated time and money to campaigns because “that’s what you’ve always done,” listen up. This post could save you major time and aggravation.

First Things First

Let’s clear something up. When it comes to marketing success, what matters most is the way your business uses its data, not the sole act of collecting it. In our experience, data in isolation is data wasted. With that being said, there’s more to this process than taking simple measurements. If your website saw 1,866 visits this month vs. 979 last month, you probably think you’re on the path toward more customers and visibility. Unfortunately, you’d very likely be wrong. With any piece of information you collect, your question should always be “Which of my goals does this data inform?” If you can’t determine one, then your measurement is either too vague or your goals poorly defined. In either case, you aren’t gathering the actionable insights you should seek.

Setting the Stage for Success

Solid goals should be the first place you start. Construct a detailed plan that incorporates specific, goal-centric measurements. Do you wish to gain a more established presence on social media platforms? Start by defining what constitutes “established” and assigning metrics that will show improvement over time. Some could include an increase in social media brand advocates, a greater volume of inbound social media conversations, more positive audience sentiment, etc. When it comes to determining progress, think about your goals using the SMART framework (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound). That way, you’ll avoid the pitfalls of collecting hollow data.

Putting Your Plan in Place

Once you’ve got some solid goals established, it’s time to collect and analyze your information. For example, if you’re working to determine whether your business’s billboard ads are worth the cost, you may place a “vanity” URL (a unique web address that redirects to your desired landing page) on the billboard. Using your chosen analytics platform, you can then filter traffic to those that entered your website using that URL to determine how well the billboard’s message resonated and how effective the medium was as a whole. Some additional components to keep in mind when analyzing include gathering benchmarks (standard measurements through which adequate comparisons can be drawn), testing campaigns (and components within campaigns, such copy or design), and honing in on audience trends (such as behaviors within your online shopping cart).

This information is far from exhaustive, but it serves to highlight a very specific point: marketing campaigns without data to back them up aren’t worth your time or your budget. Taking the time to map out SMART goals and the meaningful metrics by which you’ll determine your progress will be well worth it now and in the future.

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