There are two opinions when it comes to marketing. Some think of it as an art; others think of it as a science.
Put it this way- those who believe marketing is an art are quite often the same people who invest considerable sums on sporadic marketing efforts in the hope that some return will come.
That is not accountable marketing. That is reckless marketing.
Accountable marketing expects to see a purpose, result and return on every piece of marketing communication. It aligns marketing with a cost and makes marketing efforts accountable for leads and sales in the same way a sales person is accountable.
You wouldn’t invest thousands of pounds in a sales team each year without measuring their return. Why would you do the same for marketing?
In a similar way to a successful sales team, data is key to accountable marketing and is fundamental when it comes to making decisions on how to spend your time, which channels to invest in, when you should invest in marketing, which initiatives work best for your business and so on...
If you can’t measure something, don’t invest in it.
It is quite easy to spend money on initiatives because ‘that’s what you’ve always done’ or because you’ve heard it has worked for other businesses. Even worse, you were blinded by facts and figures from a pushy sales person trying to sell you space in a magazine or irrelevant directory.
If you can’t measure what a marketing initiative is going to bring to your business, how will you ever know if it was worth the money?
For example, investing more in social media marketing is pointless unless you know things like:
Understanding these metrics will allow you to make decisions on whether to invest further in social media. It also makes social media accountable for any sales that have come through that channel.
You certainly shouldn’t be trying to measure everything, it’s important to know the difference between vanity metrics and growth metrics.
Vanity metrics such as page views, Facebook likes and post shares can be easily played off as success. They are easy-to-track numbers and mean people are enjoying your content. Right?
If a post you put on Facebook gets 100,000 views and 500 shares that’s pretty impressive. But if that same post or campaign got you zero leads was it really a success? Of course, it means your content has had some exposure and has likely boosted your brand, but do views and shares really contribute to your bottom line?
Instead, focus on the metrics that matter. Things such as website conversions, qualified prospects, content offer downloads and sales. Things that really make a difference to your bottom line and business growth. Things that marketing can be accountable for.
Choosing the metrics to measure your marketing against should be in line with your marketing goals. And those should be very much aligned with your overall business goals.
Having concrete targets will make measuring your marketing much easier, ensuring your efforts are aligned with business goals will give your marketing the accountability it needs.
For example, if one of your business goals is to achieve three new business sales per month and you know your sales team operates on a 50% conversion rate, your marketing should aim to provide at least six new qualified leads.
You can even take this one step further if you know your website-visit-to-enquiry rate. For example, if your website typically converts 5% of the time then you know you’ll need to send at least 120 unique users to your site each month.
That means you’ll want to measure metrics such as:
Each of these metrics aligns with your marketing and business goals so you now know what you should and shouldn’t be tracking.
Now that is accountable marketing!
The running theme here is that you should be able to track every marketing effort. From blog posts, social media efforts, emails, calls to action and even web pages, you should know how each element of a marketing campaign contributes to sales, leads and traffic.
Doing this manually is difficult at best. At times, it’s impossible. It requires one centralised system that tracks prospects from the moment they interact with your site to when they place an order.
Marketing automation systems such as HubSpot are ideal tools to help you track your marketing. With the facility to create everything you need for your marketing campaigns in one place you can track every digital marketing effort (find out more about the benefits of marketing automation here).
You’ll be able to understand things such as the conversion rate of your blogs, the click-through rate of your calls to action and how many prospects have been turned into leads by your email marketing.
This means you will have a clear understanding of what is and isn’t working, how accountable your marketing is and if you are on track to meet your goals and objectives.
When taking this scientific approach, your marketing becomes just as accountable as sales and customer service. It takes away the myth that marketing is the ‘colouring-in department’ and puts real clout behind what you’re doing.
There is no excuse to bury your head in the sand and invest in reckless marketing. If you aren’t making your marketing accountable, you shouldn’t be doing it at all.