5 Ways to Know Your Digital Marketing is Really Working

Dilbert Cartoon on Goals
Dilbert Cartoon on Goals

At the end of the month, your biggest question about any marketing campaign is whether or not it’s making a positive difference for your business. In the years before Facebook, Snapchat, YouTube, and Google, marketers had a difficult time measuring the ROI of their campaigns in digital marketing, lacking much of the insight from current analytics. Now modern, measurable marketing is the difference between stagnant sales and steady growth.
But even with streaming data, today’s marketers have trouble determining which metrics indicate some measure of success and where (or how) to access them. This is where we can help. Here are some of the best ways you can measure if your marketing is really working.

Set SMART Goals

Every marketing initiative needs to begin with concrete expectations. Specific, measurable, actionable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals are critical to achieving results.
Not sure what a digital marketing SMART goal looks like? Take a look at these two examples:
Generic Example: I want to generate a larger email list.
SMART Example: Increase subscribers by 10,000, decrease churn rate by 20%, increase conversion rate by 10%, and as a result, attract 50,000 subscribers over a six-month campaign.
Generic Example: I want more website visitors, leads, and sales.
SMART Example: Spend $25,000 on optimizing the website’s SEO for six months with an expected 30% growth in traffic.
Framing your goals in this quantifiable way increases your chances of achieving results that will actually make a difference in your business.

Conversions: Online sales and Online-to-store sales

Perhaps the simplest conversion for gauging success equates to dollars and cents. Tracking online sales is easy if you use Google Analytics. After installing a snippet of code on your website, you’ll have access to data and actions that details which campaigns are driving the most online sales.
Number of online transactions: Monitoring transactions helps to track AOV and how customers interact with your online store.
Average order value (AOV): Total sales / number of transactions helps you understand and even influence trends.
Deep sales data: Sales totals generated by channel (e.g. search, social media, email, direct, referrals, radio, promo code) help prioritize campaigns.
Sales conversion rates: Sales / sessions reveals how much traffic is required to generate your target sales.
For local customers who are likely to visit and make in-person purchases, you can collect information from prospective customers on your website, such as an email address, that can later be compared with data collected at the cash register.

Leads: Submission forms

Most websites have forms that customers complete to request services, schedule appointments or access more information as in this video consult form:

Screenshot of Broadcast2World on Goals
Screenshot of Broadcast2World on Goals

Leads are considered conversions in and of themselves: When someone visits your website and takes the time to fill out a form, they’ve converted from visitors into leads. Therefore, your marketing campaign success can be measured by the number of form submissions generated. Analytics data reveals which campaigns utilize your various lead generation forms the most.

Inbound Traffic KPIs: Onsite traffic metrics

The focus of a portion of your marketing efforts should be to convince potential and existing customers to engage with your brand, with the end goal of purchasing your products or services. Therefore, various on-site key performance indicators should be measured on a monthly basis:
Sessions: Which of your campaigns is putting the most eyes on your website? A single session (e.g. page views, events, social interactions, transactions) within a given timeframe helps to understand traffic trends over time.
Pages/Session: Site visits are important, but they don’t indicate whether people are engaged. The unofficial industry standard is 2 pages per session.
Bounce rate: People hitting their “back” button upon landing on your site may indicate a serious problem, but an average of 26% to 40% is considered “healthy.”
Avg. Session Duration: Folks who spend more time browsing are more likely to eventually buy. The industry standard for a good average duration is 2 to 3 minutes.

Organic Traffic Metrics

Since a significant amount of inbound traffic comes from the Google SERP, you should be tracking Google Search Console metrics on a monthly basis:
Average CTR: The percentage of clicks resulting from a search impression is healthy at an average of 2%. Use it to gauge how well your title tags and meta description tags drive searches on Google to your site.
Avg. Position: The average ranking of your site’s URLs for Google search queries can help to better understand traffic and engagement.
Having the confidence to adjust or turn off campaigns that aren’t working, and bolstering those that are, is reliant on a results-based strategy. Knowing how you’ll measure a campaign’s success before you launch it means your business will find predictable and confident growth.
Digital marketing is a major investment of time, money, and energy. We can create and track the SMART goals that will drive steady growth and ROI for your business. Contact RLC Media here to get started!

What is Growth Hacking, Really?

Explore how shifting definitions have blurred the meaning of growth marketing and how it can actually work for your business.

plant under a lampYou’ve probably heard that term “growth hacking” buzzing around like buzzwords tend to do. You’ve read about the case studies detailing how Facebook, Uber, Airbnb, Hotmail, and Dropbox growth hacked their way to global success.
Viral growth hacks, as mirrored in those case studies, have made a slow shift in marketing priorities from strategy and long-term growth to a simplistic acknowledgement that growth hacking was a quick-fix to “grow stuff” or “get users.”
But is growth hacking even a set of skills or a stock of knowledge? Both a blessing and a curse, the term draws attention to the hidden marketing potential within products while suggesting that a single move can skyrocket a site to success, but that’s not necessarily how the term began.  

The Rise of “Growth Hacking”

2010 – Sean Ellis, previous founder and CEO of Qualaroo, coined the term “‘growth hacker’ as, “[…] a person whose true north is growth.”
2012 – Andrew Chen, leader of the Rider Growth teams at Uber, described growth hackers as a cross between marketers and coders. He later elaborated that growth hacking meant boosting an already positive growth curve into something even bigger.
2012 – Aaron Ginn, who does growth at Everlane, clearly separated product-focused growth hackers from inbound and outbound marketers.
2013 – Gagn Biyani, CEO of Sprig, made the distinction that startups do growth hacking and larger companies do marketing.

Traditional Marketing vs. Growth Hacking

While startup-related marketing is primarily lumped into the term “growth hacking,” somewhere along the line strategies like email drip campaigns, platform engagement techniques, blogs, incentive programs, and social media became synonymous.
Perhaps the line has been blurred even further as growth marketers use different types of digital marketing strategies such as viral acquisition, customer service and sales strategies, content marketing, email marketing, SEO and A/B testing to achieve a desired growth target.
But let’s look at a hypothetical referral marketing example: When a normal marketing team initiates a referral campaign, it’s typically based on intuitive strategies and experience. Results would be tracked and optimized at a later date. A growth hacker, on the other hand, may list out six separate referral incentives, testing each individually through rapid emails to a part of the user base or through a product in order to bypass time spent on development.
Speed and efficiency are the only way to outrun the fact that 80% of your ideas will probably fail.
Growth teams should be focused on developing and fine-tuning an objective, scalable, repeatable growth process that may look something like this:

the growth process

While the growth process doesn’t look all that different from typical marketing, it’s working to create a repeatable system. Instead of banking on 10 tactics and hoping one pulls through, you’re strategically and systematically working through each one in order to gain insights and learn from trial and error.

How to Begin a Growth Hacking Process

Since growth best occurs in teams, it’s helpful to prepare an initial brief in order to establish a unified vision. Here’s a universal template to supplement and expand every element of the brief:
Project Template Checklist
With the expectations and basics in place, refining product development is the first step. Validating your product-market fit means seeing profitable results. Explore your ideas and key metrics at every stage of the funnel, beginning with traffic acquisition and ending in retention. And analyze the results of your testing in order to finally optimize, learning from your execution and improving future and existing ideas.

Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Throw out the list of supposedly viral growth hacks you’ve found online. Instead, create a repeatable process grounded in creativity and confidence in your product. While the goals of traditional marketing overlap in prioritizing growth, it’s the analytical skills and technical understanding of a growth hacker that creates new solutions.
At RLC Media, we have the ability to cross-translate sales and product development into digital marketing strategy and data analysis. Contact us here to learn how you can confidently drive long-term growth for your business.