How and What to Measure

Listen and adjust as you go.

Diana Lillicrap 9.16.2014

The hard truth about marketing is that it’s never done. The landscape is always changing and your audiences are always going to want something new. That’s why good marketers are out there listening and adjusting as they go.

Start & track

For most small organizations, the thought of measuring sounds impossible. Where do you start? What do you measure? How do you keep track of what’s working or not?

The first step is to just start doing something—take your best guess at what your audience wants—and put it out there. Then (here comes the measure part), pay attention to what happens. Did one particular postcard result in better responses than another? Do you get more retweets or blog comments on certain topics? Did customers use one coupon more frequently than another?

Listen & ask

Once you’ve done some basic observation, the second step is to ask more questions. Start by using some simple tools like Google Analytics, TalkWalker, HootSuite—and there are dozens of others—and collect real data from your audience. You’ll be amazed at how much you can learn just with a few basic tools and the right questions.

For example, on our website we use Google Analytics to track visitor activity. Trust me, you could spend hours looking at the data that comes from Google Analytics, but to be honest, we don’t. We check in on a few key things on a monthly basis. One of those things is the number of hits we get with each blog post. By paying attention to that specific marker, we’ve recognized that every time we do a blog post about brainstorming activities, we see an increase in visitor hits.

We learned what our audience liked, and we’ve adjusted our content calendar to include more brainstorming articles over the coming months. No expensive databases. No complicated scientific method to our madness. Just listening and responding.

How else can you track what you’re doing? Well there’s hard data you can collect related to funding, surveys, interactions, conversations, social mentions, and even an audit of your materials. And then there’s anecdotal information, like stories, testimonials, and internal observations.

It’s important to remember that marketing is a two-way conversation. If you want to know what your audience wants, you need to ask them. Do they like your e-newsletter? Would they like it more frequently or less frequently? What is of value to them? If you want to know, you just need to ask.

Adjust & repeat

Once you’ve started tracking, even simple things, you’ll see what is or isn’t working and then you can make incremental changes and try again. It’s a process of do, learn, adjust, do again, learn some more, adjust again, and so forth.

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