23 August 2012 by Becky Reid,

If you’re a marketer you will have heard it all before… ‘we need to cut costs in the business so let’s cut marketing’, ‘how much of this actually works?’, ‘you want how much??’…

Like many other departments, Marketing is coming under increasing scrutiny for the cost it represents versus the value it brings to the business.

Henry Ford once famously said, ‘I know only half of my advertising works. The problem is, I don’t know which half.’

Marketing guru Seth Godin has gone further saying, ‘Actually, it's closer to 1% of your advertising that works, at the most. Your billboard reaches 100,000 people and if you're lucky, it gets you a hundred customers...’

So how do we start to understand what is working and, just as importantly, what’s not? While none of us like to be questioned as to the effectiveness of our jobs (which is what it can feel like) I actually don’t have an issue with proving just how effective elements of marketing activity are. And identifying those that aren’t and stripping them out.

Those who work with me know that I like nothing better than to go into a Board meeting armed with data that proves the marketing activity I planned is working. It doesn’t do my personal reputation any harm either!

So, just how do we make marketing measureable? It’s not easy but there are a number of things you can do that can go a long way to solving this conundrum. This two part blog details some of the things I’ve implemented in the Fire Industry Association over the last few months, which have helped me and pleasantly surprised sceptics around me as to the effectiveness of marketing.

Step 1 - Set KPIs

Knowing what to measure and why is the first thing to determine. It’s all very well spouting out lots of impressive numbers that ‘pat you on the back’ but they need to really mean something to the business. We need to go beyond the numbers and provide the sceptics with the ‘why’.

Try and define Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that are relevant to your industry/company that fit into:

Brand Awareness/Usage: this is good for understanding who knows your company/brand and is engaging with it – e.g. PR coverage, social media followers, website visitors, how long they spend on the site

Conversions: by that I mean genuine engagement not just generating sales! – e.g. making a purchase, downloading a whitepaper, booking on a free webinar, playing a video etc.

Noticed how many online stores now are offering you an incentive to review a product you just bought?

Customer Knowledge: just who is your customer? Are they really who you think they are? Look at things such as sources to your website, how they’re accessing you (mobile, tablet or laptop), what web pages do they visit?

Grouping KPIs like this moves the discussion from just a load of stats to actually answering the why. Why is it good to know how many people visit your website from different social media? Because it shows you which social media platforms are relevant to your customers as well as showing you which social media platforms that you use (if you are using any) are working to drive traffic and brand engagement.

I’m sure if you sit down and think about it you can come up with a list of KPIs that would be really interesting to know, prove your marketing’s effectiveness and gain you better insight into your customers. Don’t worry about how you’re going to measure it for now; where there’s a will there’s a way.

And I’ll come to the way next week.

As usual I’d welcome any comments or suggestions on any aspect of marketing; we’re all learning!