It’s never been easy to precisely quantify how marketing activities influence your bottom line – and in today’s business environment, this has become even more challenging. Just when marketers were learning how to measure multiple offline and online channels in a unified manner, the emergence and aftereffects of COVID-19 threw their campaigns off-kilter. This has left marketers feeling as if they have no solid ground to stand on, as the world around them seems to change the moment they begin to understand it.
Businesses will always have an element of uncertainty – and that’s why marketing impact measurement is so important. To measure the impact of their campaigns, marketers must track their activities before and after a market begins to shift, then measure how these shifts affect their goals and KPIs. For instance, marketers should examine brand health metrics, changes in consumer behavior depending on their geographic location, and changes in sales – just to name a few. Each piece will help you paint a complete picture of exactly how your campaigns are affecting certain populations today.
Let’s take a closer look at why marketing impact measurement is crucial to helping businesses navigate an uncertain world.
Anticipate Changes in Consumer Behavior
No matter what, business environments are always in flux – but in the event of something like the COVID-19 pandemic, any ideas about maintaining “business as usual” that aren’t backed up by data need to be tossed out the window.
For instance, let’s think about how COVID-19 changed the business environment for retailers. Previously, many retailers used foot traffic to predict the success of their campaigns, and even directly tied foot traffic to sales. However, with new social distancing guidelines, many stores are opening for a limited time, or only allowing a limited number of customers – which effectively destroys their tried-and-true formula.
Looking closer, the situation seems even more uncertain for retailers with multiple locations. With different states and countries reopening at different rates, how do we track the influence of our campaigns versus the influence of relaxed regulations? When regulations relax, how much foot traffic should we anticipate?
Clearly, these brick-and-mortar retailers should expect changes in foot traffic throughout the pandemic. However, without marketing impact measurement, they may find it difficult to put their finger on how it will change. For retailers in this situation, we’d suggest tracking foot traffic in different locations by evaluating customer behavior and brand attitudes while segmenting by geolocation. This will allow you to get a snapshot of how different areas behave. Then, marketers can use this segmented data to predict how similar consumer groups in other areas may react to parts of the economy reopening.
Experiment with New Channels
Many marketers have made an astute observation – during the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers have become a captive audience. They are spending an unprecedented amount of time at home, and many customers are spending more time watching television, using social media, and browsing the web. At the same time, there’s less opportunity for face-to-face contact and visual merchandising.
With certain marketing initiatives becoming less effective, marketers would like to try new strategies on new channels. However, since consumer behavior is constantly shifting, there are very few certainties that marketers can base their campaigns on. For that reason, we recommend using the below marketing framework that is designed to help marketers test new ideas.
Collect and Validate Data
Never create a marketing campaign without doing your due diligence to make sure you have created the right message. This is especially true for online marketing. The internet is forever – an embarrassing, off-brand TikTok will never truly go away.
Understand and Analyze the Data
Use a marketing analytics platform to analyze the data you collected in the previous step, allowing you to derive actionable insights about the behaviors and attitudes of your target audience. Keep in mind that a serious market disruption can lower the accuracy and relevance of historical datasets. It’s important to either manually vet the data or use a purpose-built solution to verify the quality of your historical data.
Validate Insights and Activate the Campaign
Always have a human cross-check the insights you receive. Marketers may inadvertently use low-quality data, which causes the platform to provide results that are clearly unreliable to a trained marketer. However, if these insights look realistic, then the campaign is ready to be deployed. We recommend piloting these campaigns to a small segment before expanding your strategy and collecting campaign data along the way.
Evaluate the Recommendations and Take Action
Once the campaign has launched, ask yourself a few questions. Were the results desirable? Did they help you meet KPIs? If not, what are some ideas to improve? If the campaign performed poorly, begin this process over with your new campaign data and a special emphasis on ensuring data quality. If the strategy performed well, then use this step to expand your campaign’s budget or reach in order to maximize ROI.
However, to create and adhere to a framework like this, you need organizational alignment. This doesn’t only include getting a blessing from the leadership team – you will also need to include the expertise of other teams such as finance.
Prove – and Improve – the Value of New Campaigns
One of the most compelling aspects of marketing impact measurement is its ability to not only prove, but improve, the financial value of your marketing campaigns. To do this, you should collect data about campaigns (including their given budget and any notable successes) and upload it to an agile, closed-loop marketing analytics platform that can measure data in a unified way and provide suggestions to optimize your campaign. Then, work closely with finance to ensure that ROI is being accurately tracked, ensuring that your return on media spend is reliable.
From there, you have two options to optimize your campaigns – either optimize for more customer engagement with the same budget, or increase your budget with the intention of reaching new people. Both of these approaches will scale the value of your campaign while allowing you to constantly fine-tune your approach and improve results.
At the center of marketing impact measurement, there is a focus on constantly testing and learning from your campaigns. To get a complete idea of their impact, however, it is vital that marketers input high-quality data into a marketing analytics solution that understands what data is currently relevant, and what data is becoming irrelevant. When you take a comprehensive, data-driven approach to marketing that focuses on testing and learning, your marketing team will have a pointed approach to earn more market share and grow the business.
To learn more about why measurement is crucial to overcoming the challenges posed by COVID-19, listen to our new on-demand webinar, Maximizing Marketing Impact in Unpredictable Conditions.