How do you measure success?

What does success even mean?

Extra points if you’ve seen this movie.

Success can be measured in a lot of ways. Some people define their success by their house or car. Others by the number of smiles they inspired. Or how polite their children are, their Pacman high score, how the lawn looks, job title or salary, the feeling of satisfaction they feel at the end of a long day. Some measure success by the number of examples of different success measurements they can throw out. Seriously, that was without even trying.

Even with something specific like online marketing, there are a lot of measurements out there. Any of them can represent success. The key is to know what your goals are, and how to measure them. And that’s what I’m here for.

Don’t do marketing without a specific goal

If you don’t know what the end goal is, you end up just throwing money at whatever looks the most shiny right now. Sometimes you get lucky and it works great, but a lot of times you aren’t so lucky. So what are some goals, and how do you know if your marketing is bringing you closer to those goals?

Goal 1: Branding

This is all about how many people see you, and how they perceive your company/service. This can be done through paid advertising, especially display networks and media like Pandora and YouTube, where you track impressions (how many people saw the ad). Social and local marketing help improve the perception, and the impact can be measured in likes, follows etc as well as reviews and comments. Overall, this is one of the easiest goals to measure, but the most difficult to prove actual ROI.

Goal 2: Engagement

This is where traditional SEO falls. This includes traffic to your site, interactions on social networks and reading and commenting on your blog. Traffic can be measured and segmented by source in Google Analytics (or other analytics platforms) and most social networks will give you a report for your brand page. Engagements on the site are a little more tricky, but you can set up custom goals in your Analytics to find out how many people reached a certain page, or stayed for a certain amount of time, watched a video, used an online calculator, etc.

Goal 3: Conversions

Now we get to the really good stuff. Conversions can be broken down into subcategories, including purchases, filling out forms, calling, installing an app and even visiting your brick and mortar. I can (and will) right an entire post on this one, but for now I just want to say that this is where most companies should put their focus. This is where all the branding and engagement pays off, and you start making all the money. If you activate ecommerce reports in Analytics you can track purchases there, and see where the visitors who are making purchases are coming from. Setting up goals and tags will help you track forms, call tracking software uses dynamic number insertion to determine which calls came from what source. So if you get a ton of traffic from SEO, but all your sales come from AdWords and Facebook, you can make a more educated decision on how to allocate your budget.

The best marketing campaign has a combination of all three goal groups, and knows what metrics to measure each on. Doing this right is the key to ROI. ROI is the key to money. Money is the key to happiness. And happiness is the key to success.