Just because you can test a host of marketing ideas more economically online than you can via print channels does not mean you are guaranteed success on the Web. And you certainly have to measure your efforts if you want to find out if anything you’re throwing up against the wall is sticking.
Will Hakes, senior director, analytics at Aspen Marketing Services, an integrated marketing services firm with headquarters in Chicago, advises marketers to track and analyze the following activities to get a sense of how well their programs are working:
* Clickthroughs—”I know that’s a common one,” says Hakes, “but it’s analogous to who’s opening the mail.” To make this metric more meaningful, however, don’t look just at who is clicking through but also at who isn’t; try to determine what this disinterest says about whether you’re doing a better job online with your tests. The key to making sense of your aggregate clickthroughs is to better control the offline factors that can affect online activity. “The successes we’ve seen have [been on] teams with online people leading the charge, but there are other people from advertising in the room who have nothing to do with what’s going online. That’s a good thing, because you need that communication,” Hakes explains. Such cross-functional teams are able to reduce the noise across channels so you can more easily determine if your online efforts are moving the needle—either because your tests are working or because you’re spending more on media that drive better types of prospects to your site.
* Conversions—Hakes points out that marketers need patience when measuring the conversion rate of targeted online offers. Not only is getting a clickthrough far easier than pulling a sale, but it can be challenging to follow online traffic across multiple visits until a purchase occurs. When it comes to conversions, he recommends looking at the quality of your conversions as they relate to your business goals. For example, maybe your clickthrough rate did not go up for a particular campaign, but your conversion rate ultimately did. Or, maybe the clickthrough and conversion rates remained constant, but the types of customers clicking through bought more valuable products or services—meaning you attracted a higher quality customer.