Be SMART and set the right goals
It might seem obvious, but first and foremost you need to establish your primary objective for your marketing campaign. This the end goal for your campaign, i.e. the outcomes you want. It needs to be straight-forward and easy to understand, not only because it will inform your approach but it will help you identify your measurements of success.
It can be as simple as;
- Recruit 50 more master’s level students in 12 months
- Increase the percentage of funds from corporate partners to 25% by next financial year
- Improve national recognition of our brand by 2024
Now you have your overarching objective, you’ll need to establish some incremental targets to help measure your progress. By setting actionable, accountable key performance indicators (KPIs), you can better understand if you’re on track to meet your main goal. These indicators should give you a framework for measuring the success of your campaign and it’s important to refer back to them in your reporting.
Examples of KPIs include;
- Receive 10 new enquiries each month over the next 12 months
- Increase web traffic to our services pages by 10% in 6 months
The key to an effective goal is to make sure it’s SMART. You’re probably no stranger to SMART goals, but as a reminder, make sure your overall objective and KPIs are:
It might be tempting to skip the specifics and outline a vague indicator like ‘more leads’ but this restricts your ability to accurately measure success and confidently say what’s working. Try to outline a specific percentage, number or sentiment that you can measure against later.
Seems obvious, but if you want to measure the success of your marketing campaign, it needs measurable goals. Do you have the tools or resources needed to measure an increase in web traffic, event attendance or awareness, for example?
It’s important that you set goals that are realistic and attainable. If you need to set a specific number or percentage, review your own data and refer to industry averages to set yourself some attainable objectives. As well as recognising what is a realistic goal for your marketing campaign, make sure it’s attainable at all levels. For instance, do you have the internal resource to pick up the extra enquiries?
Do your lead indicators relate to your main objective? Better yet, do they fit in with your wider business strategy? Don’t lose sight of the bigger picture when setting KPIs, make sure they’re relevant to what you’re trying to achieve overall.
Give your goal a deadline. Five new sign-ups in one month is completely different to five new sign-ups in one year. Success is hard to measure if you don’t know what timeframe you’re working to.
Using the SMART method to set your goals makes measuring your success much easier. If you find you’re not meeting your KPIs, or better yet you’re exceeding them, it’s a great opportunity to ask yourself why. Come back to the SMART process and revisit your goals. Do they need to be more realistic to be achievable? Have you set the right timeframe, etc?
Benchmark your current level of ‘success’
Your campaign needs a starting point and there’s no point trying to figure out where it’s supposed to be when you’re already heading towards the finish line! Establish your ‘benchmark’ early on, so you can accurately measure success against your KPIs.
These benchmarks should be determined by your indicators and objectives. For example, if your goal is to recruit more foster carers, and one of your KPIs is to increase enquiries by 10% in 6 months, you’ll need to benchmark the level of enquiries you’re currently getting in an average month to accurately measure against your KPI. You need to know what ‘10%’ is in order to measure it.
This is equally true for campaigns less focused on quantitative data and more motivated by sentiment or behaviour change. If you want to bring awareness to a public health issue or build awareness of your brand, for example, using pulse surveys or stakeholder workshops can provide key qualitative data to measure against.
Setting up for success with the right tools
Now you have your objective, your KPIs and your benchmarks, you can get into the specifics of how you’re going to achieve them. This might be the time you engage with a creative or marketing agency for support with delivery of your campaign.
Your goals should inform your marketing approach and how you’ll collect performance data or measure performance metrics. Here are some examples of marketing tools that can be used to effectively measure your success.
For any objectives centred around website performance, landing page views, sign-ups, you name it, make sure you’re making the most of Google Analytics (GA). GA can tell you how people are reaching your website, how long they’re sticking around and what your most popular pages are. Pair Google Analytics with other tools to get even more insights.
Usually known more simply as UTM codes or UTM tags, they take the form of snippets of text which are added to the end of a URL to help you track where your website traffic is coming from. These parameters can be linked directly to your Google Analytics so you can see where your web traffic is coming from. UTM codes are great for campaigns with lots of assets all pointing towards a single landing page. Using these tag allows you to see where people have scanned your QR code or clicked your link, and make informed decisions about what platforms and assets are essential to future campaigns.
Measuring success outside of quantitative data can be tricky. How do you measure ‘perception’ or ‘sentiment’? Using independent surveys to establish audience opinions or perspectives is a great way to measure more qualitative goals.
For example, we worked with Network Rail, Samaritans and British Transport Police on Small Talk, Save Lives; a campaign to encourage more people to engage in small talk in the hope that they might disrupt the suicidal thoughts of people in distress. We tested audience feedback before and during the campaign, including emotional responses to the creative, to understand whether the campaign messages were being received.
We also worked with a specialist research agency to conduct more robust research into the performance of the different creatives, their impact on attitudes and actions, their effect on brand reputation and how the individual executions could be optimised. For example, from a suite of campaign engagement messages, this research revealed which messages the audiences engaged with the most. Through additional research after the launch of the campaign, we learned that 85% of those questioned said they felt more confident in knowing how to make an intervention, and 20% of all rail passengers were aware of the campaign.
The core objective of this campaign was to save lives on the railway by interrupting suicidal thoughts. To do that, Samaritans wanted to give people the tools to engage with people who might be in distress. Being able to measure the awareness and effectiveness of the campaign meant we could accurately report on its success.
Using CRM software, such as HubSpot, can help you report on your enquiries with more detail, such as the number of new contacts and what stage of the sales pipeline they’re in. If your website and social platforms are integrated with HubSpot, you can also determine what campaigns are most effective and track the performance of your web, social and email content.
We are working with Greater Manchester Combined Authority on their foster care recruitment campaign, Fostering Unfiltered. As part of the campaign, we have used HubSpot’s automated workflows to email prospective foster carers relevant and engaging content as opposed to traditional sales messages. We are able to determine what messaging is most effective and compare conversion rates at each stage of the journey.
Read our blog on tracking codes for a more detailed explanation of UTM tags and how to use them.
The final step to measuring success is collecting the necessary data and presenting it. Sounds simple enough but remember that context to your data is essential to measuring campaign success accurately. Beware the fallacy of percentages and make sure your numbers have context. For example, an 150% increase in enquiries might look impressive, but if you only received two last month, 150% equates to only five this month.
Refer back to your KPIs and remind yourself who the information is for and how it will be used. For example, will it be shared with the foster care recruitment team to compare how many enquiries came through your digital campaign versus in-person events? Or will it be shared with the communications team to make decisions on next year’s budget? Context is key when it comes to presenting data.
May 25, 2023
November 9, 2023