How to Gauge Marketing Success in a Shifting Business Landscape
New strategies bring new challenges in how to approach and measure success of your marketing efforts.
While the business world has always required a certain level of adaptability from big and small businesses, it's become increasingly important to be able to shift not only your approaches, but also your measurements of success. What could have been a huge success 10 or even five years ago, like a traditional billboard, may no longer make sense to measure against for customers today, who are focused on authenticity first and visibility second.
Recently, brands have needed to adapt to customers' changing spending habits, and to do this well, many small businesses have focused on building real relationships with their customers while pulling back on overly promotional marketing tactics.
New strategies bring new challenges in how to approach and measure success of your marketing efforts. Read on for some key marketing shifts and key performance indicators (KPIs) small businesses should keep an eye on.
Building personal touchpoints with your customers can make the difference between one sale and a lasting relationship. An advantage small businesses have over big box retailers is their ability to offer a much more personalized customer experience, whether it's at home, online or in-store.
Create an unforgettable unboxing experience by including a handwritten note to showcase the personality behind your brand. Leverage email marketing to bolster engagement and win loyalty via smaller email distribution lists with hyper-personalized messages. Run an in-store event to meet your customers face to face and make the experience feel tailored with personalized invitations, unique promotions and custom swag giveaways.
To measure the success of these efforts, keep a close eye on the number of reviews and their sentiment, referrals, foot traffic and the average sales from your top customers.
While cohesive messaging may not seem like a KPI at first glance, when done well it can have a big impact on your overall performance. Using cohesive messaging across digital, print and in-person mediums can ensure customers hear the same brand voice no matter where they come into contact with your business.
Cohesive and consistent messaging signals that your business is legitimate, trustworthy and professional, and builds brand awareness as the repeated exposure to the same messages increases familiarity with and knowledge of your business.
But unified doesn't have to mean uniform. While a recognizable look and feel across all customer touchpoints is key, that doesn't mean you have to use just your logo across all your marketing. Create a brand style guide to empower you to create new designs for a range of marketing materials and channels while staying true to your brand's visual identity.
Measure your brand awareness to gauge the effectiveness of your messaging by tracking brand mentions on social media, running online surveys and measuring web traffic.
The pandemic has seen small businesses further embrace digital marketing, a trend we continue to see among our own customers. But having a website and being on the right social-media platforms is just one part of the challenge. Tracking digital engagement to figure out where your customers are finding you and how they prefer to interact and shop is another. Research by Digital Examiner shows that measurement is a struggle for many small businesses, as nearly half (45%) do not measure the ROI of their digital marketing spend while a further 12.7% are unsatisfied with the results.
With the sheer number of metrics out there, tracking digital engagement may seem overwhelming to small-business owners who are already wearing many hats, but it's crucial to ensure that your content is working hard for you. We've broken it down into a few key metrics for each channel that you should focus on.
Website – Use Google analytics to track your organic search traffic, time on page and whether or not customers stay on your site after reading blog posts or other types of content.
Social media – Keep a close eye on your engagement rate and any increase in users by channel. These metrics show growth and connection with your audience, which is what social media is all about.
Email – To measure recipient engagement and overall email-marketing campaign performance, track open rate, click-through rates and spam complaint rates.
Though they may be considered traditional, print marketing and promotional products are still effective tools for maximizing in-store touchpoints with your customers.
Make the most of your storefront by creating a window design that draws customers in while advertising sales and new product offerings. A large retractable banner can strengthen your branding and can be seen while passing by, even from a distance. Use window decals to share functional information with customers like opening hours and social-media handles.
Branded collateral can also work hard for you when customers have left your store, salon, restaurant or gym. Business cards, postcards and flyers are versatile marketing materials that provide important information about your business and can build its visibility. Using technology, like QR codes, gives you a way to provide safe contactless payments, share additional information and offer promotions and discounts to build customer loyalty.
Measure the impact of your branded collateral by tracking any increases in foot traffic, followers on your social-media pages and use of promo codes and discounts that you shared on your marketing materials.
Traditional sales numbers
In a shifting business landscape, you still can't lose sight of the traditional sales numbers that keep your business running and growing. Metrics like sales, foot traffic and customer retention are key to your business thriving, and will help inform where in your business you should stick to what works, as well as where you should try new things.
But if you do the last five things well, it should positively impact these traditional success metrics and give you useful indicators on any areas for improvement. If your sales are not growing as fast as you like despite acquiring new customers, you should focus on building stronger connections with them to increase the average customer value. If you're seeing lower than expected foot traffic, consider how you can improve your retail displays with compelling branded collateral. If customer retention is not where you'd like it to be, pay attention to ways you can boost engagement with previous customers through social and email-marketing tactics, or ensure your messaging across all touch points clearly communicates the range of products and services you offer.
As you navigate this landscape, you need to think more broadly about marketing tactics and measurement to build deeper relationships with customers, communicate clearly and authentically, and meet their evolving shopping needs. But testing into these new approaches and tactics doesn't mean losing sight of your bottom line, and they could in fact be what your business needs to thrive.
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