A black computer screen displaying a colourful graph depicting various losses and gains.

Tracking and reporting: Boost your chances of hitting a (marketing) bull's eye

November 17, 2021 / Katharine Gebhardt

If you’ve watched Forrest Gump, you know that “life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” It sums up life perfectly. But you sure don’t want your marketing campaign results to feel that way.

By tracking and reporting your marketing campaigns, you can make sure you get more of what you want, and avoid getting what you don’t want

When you track your campaign efforts and pay attention to the reporting, you take control of your marketing outcomes. Your tracking lets you replicate results, because you know which campaigns or tactics worked, and which ones didn’t. You repeat the successful ones and refine and repurpose the unsuccessful ones.

3 big reasons to track and report

  1. You’ll know if it works. Why waste your time doing the same things again if it has no effect?
  2. You’ll make the most of your marketing budget. If you don’t know your how your campaign performed, you may be throwing good money out the window. You put your marketing dollars to best use when you spend them on campaigns you know were successful.
  3. You’ll be able to manage your team resources. If you know the service capacity of your team, you know how much you can promote at one time. While it’s nice if a campaign has the phone ringing off the hook, if you can’t answer the calls, what’s the point? One way is to stagger your campaigns to ensure the team is ready and able to handle the increased response.

If you’re just starting to track your marketing, avoid the common pitfalls

The primary rule is to keep it simple when you’re starting to track and report. But there are a few common pitfalls you can avoid with these basic principles.

  • Make sure you build tracking and reporting into the campaign and decision-making process. If you wing it, you’ll look back and wish you had the right data to tell you if it was successful (or not).
  • Decide what you want to know, so you’re not overwhelmed with data. Many automated reports offer you lots of data. In fact, there’s too much data. Take a look at these reports when you’re setting up your campaign. Decide which stats you need and concentrate on those. Update your choices when you want to track something different.
  • Make it easy to track. If you’re using your own tracking sheet or your CRM, create drop-down options. Your team is more likely to record it properly and they’ll all report using the same words. When you need to run reports on a current campaign or to set up a new one, you’ll be able to sort on a consistent term.
  • When (and what) you measure depends on your goal. Make sure you add in enough time to see not only the sales, but the overall response to the campaign. Let’s say your goal is to sell more homeowner policies. Your mailer may encourage them to call for a quote, but they may not be looking to buy until their renewal date. Calling in for a quote may generate a sale later in the sales cycle, though. If you only track policies sold in the first month after your campaign, you’ll miss many of your successes for business down the line.
  • Some things are less measurable. Mail or email campaigns are pretty straightforward. Ads with a long shelf life, events or a newsletter are really tough to measure. Adding a promo code or special offer can help you track results for those.

When you track and report, even bad results can be a good thing

You might not meet your goal the first time – or every time. And that’s the point. You only refine your campaigns by finding out what doesn’t work.

If you don’t get the surge your hoped for, there’s no need to write it off as a failure

For example, maybe your goal was to get 50 people to request a quote through an online form. You had 100 people come to the form, but only three people filled it in. Your campaign material was obviously great, but you will need to figure out why consumers were leaving before completing the form. You can then correct any issues or tweak your incentives or CTA to ensure the next campaign is more successful.

Targeting makes a big difference too. Consider whether your message reached your target audience, or whether another factor, like timing, affected success. Your tracking allows you to continue to test and assess these factors to ensure success in the future.

As Debbie Harrison, Marketing Manager at CAA Insurance, says, “no campaign is a failure – you only fail when you fail to track.” Try adjusting the campaign and track again.

Life may be like a box of chocolates. Your marketing doesn’t have to be

Get really good at tracking and reporting, and you no longer have a box of mixed chocolates. You can get an entire box of caramels, maraschino cherries, or whichever flavour you like best. And that’s the sweet spot.

Related articles:

Business goals and marketing go hand-in-hand - Part 1

Business goals and marketing go hand-in-hand - Part 2

Data mining: piecing together a beautiful picture

Data mining: it's cloning for marketers


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