icons of data sources used for measuring marketing effectiveness

Your team has strategized, organized, and come up with a killer marketing campaign ready for execution. Fast forward three months: the campaign has been running and your team would like to see the preliminary results.

So you go to your analyst and ask them for the numbers. And to this request they say, “Sure, I can get you numbers all day and night, but I need to know how to create the report in a way that is actionable and useful.”

Cue the sound of crickets.

Everyone wants data and results, but few marketing teams are able to articulate exactly what numbers they need and why. Why is measuring marketing still so hard? As a marketing analyst, I’ve come up with five of the most common reasons that we all struggle with effective marketing measurement.

Reason 1: The overall objectives don’t match the campaign tactics

Like with all good marketing projects, we need to ensure that our campaign tactics support our overall objectives. Use those overall objectives to prioritize and focus your tactics — it’s hard to measure whether our campaign is driving traffic to our website if the ads or social posts aren’t optimized for traffic clicks. Make sure everyone involved understands the overall objectives and discusses the best tactics to help you reach those goals.

Reason 2: Determining the data sources to include

Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter? These are four social sources, but you can’t forget about paid social, web metrics, and traditional media. For most campaigns, there will be multiple data sources and probably different definitions for the same metric. This is where you want to pull in an analyst to help you determine the best data sources for your objectives.

For example, Facebook calculates engagement rate differently than Twitter. When setting up your campaign, it’s important to determine if you want to see an aggregated engagement rate or the engagement rate on each individual platform. To add even more confusion (and decisions that need to be made), your team needs to determine how your company wants to define engagement rate. And guess what? Everyone does it differently! For instance, Facebook does not include video views in engagement rate. But many brands want to incorporate it into their overall engagement rate.

Because the data sources, metrics, and calculations can vary from campaign to campaign, defining those as a team and working with an analyst is key to measuring the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns.

Reason 3: Including too much data in your report

Twenty years ago you had no idea who saw or interacted with your brand’s ads. Now with digital marketing, you have access to real-time metrics about who is engaging, how they are engaging with you, and at what frequency.

With millions of rows of data available, it’s easy to lose sight of your marketing objectives. You can avoid this reporting pitfall by not letting your report turn into a data dump. Rather, choose the data that is most important to measure your objectives and create an actionable dashboard. As in most cases, less is more.

Reason 4: Rinse-and-repeat measurement

Modeling or forecasting for marketing analysis is not as easy as modeling or forecasting for financial data. What worked last year may not be what works for your marketing goals and objectives this year. Your audience may have shifted, there might be a new data source (Snapchat vs. Instagram vs. Facebook), or your audience may primarily have used online searches but is now using voice search to find information.

Although it’s easy to do what you did last year, it’s important to do some additional upfront research to determine what will work best for your current campaign.

Reason 5: The data doesn’t lie

Another reason why measuring marketing effectiveness is hard is that the data is what it is. One of the biggest benefits of data is that it can help support the story you are trying to tell. The downside, however, is that the data may not provide the conclusion you were hoping for.

Data and analytics aren’t always going to match what your gut is telling you, and that’s OK. Use data to help support your story and inform what you may or may not change going forward.

Final advice on measuring marketing

Measuring marketing effectiveness is hard. There are many moving pieces and each effort is different. Loop in your analyst at the beginning of your planning process. They will not have ALL the answers, but they will know what metrics are available and if the measurement outcomes you’re trying to achieve are feasible.

Get more measurement strategies that will help strengthen your marketing effectiveness with this article on data-driven attribution or this article on blog benchmarks and baselines.