Feb 7, 2012

By the Numbers: Quantify Your Marketing

Most business owners have heard the old saw: Marketing is the gas that makes your business go.

If consumers don’t know who you are and what you do, they can’t do business with you. Simple enough, right? But let me ask a follow-up question: What kind of gas mileage are you getting from your marketing? Don’t take a guess; speculation won’t do. Unless you want to risk a lot of wasted money, you need the hard numbers.

That’s Marketing 101 stuff, though. You need to know how much business your marketing cash is generating in order to establish ROI.

With many forms of marketing, though, there’s a problem. The hard numbers sometimes just aren’t there.

Have you ever run an advertisement, then found yourself wondering how much business it’s brought in? You can try “mention this ad” discounts, special tracking phone numbers, coupons and “how did you find us?” questionnaires, but those are only as effective as your customers’ memories. Or maybe sales ticked up a bit after that last ad campaign. That’s helpful.

But it’s only a rough idea of how your marketing is working, or not working, in some cases.

One of the things that’s always fascinated me about the Internet is that the technology makes so many things simple to quantify. How many people search for the services or products you offer? How many people have seen your advertising? How many people have responded to it? How many have contacted you because of a specific ad? There’s no guesswork involved. The numbers are right there.

It’s a number-cruncher’s paradise. In the right hands, it can deliver a boat-load of behavioral information about your potential customers and how they respond to your marketing. You can see how people respond to different versions of an ad, or how they respond to different types of content. Sometimes it takes sharp analysis to figure out exactly what’s going on, but the point is that the numbers you need to make decisions are essentially built in to the way the websites and online advertising works.

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