Measuring marketing and digital media benefits

In a well-run business, every outgoing cost needs to be reasonably justified. In most cases, this means showing that the cost meets a clearly defined need or results in a measurable benefit. Marketing follows the same rules, but digital media makes measuring the outcomes far more difficult.

Traditional marketing follows fewer streams, with tightly controlled messages – an appearance at a conference can result in a sales uptick, and sales personnel might find certain messages converting contacts more often. Digital media is far more convoluted, with almost infinite channels, uncontrollable messages, and the capacity to go ‘viral’ by catching the attention of key influencers.

It is, however, important to measure the effectiveness of digital marketing campaigns, in order to demonstrate the value of social media to your organisation, as well as to understand customer preferences and perceptions of your business, giving you the insight needed to identify which features, messages, and communication channels are effective, so you can tailor future efforts.

Measuring this impact requires a slightly different approach than traditional advertising, however. Instead of having a single metric define success or failure, a more holistic approach is required, and tangible, measurable goals with a clear impact on your desired outcomes need to be set.

These metrics can, in many ways, be classic marketing metrics measured over a fairly short period of time, such as the number of new leads generated and the conversion rate of leads to sales.

Social media specific metrics are also required, however. You need to pay attention not only to your clickthrough and conversion rates, but the ‘turn off’ rate – the number of followers you lose, or unsubscribes you experience during and immediately following a messaging push. Unlike classic marketing streams, digital media can directly demonstrate negative effects of a campaign, as well as positive.

Less tangible goals, including brand perception and customer engagement, can be set, but without a metric or measurable goal to work toward, you will have difficulty showing effectiveness and maintaining corporate interest.

It is important to keep in mind that the messaging reach of an effective campaign can be far beyond your immediate network of contacts or followers, especially if you hit on a ‘viral’ message. While you may receive clicks or shares directly, messages are continually re-shared and reshaped in the digital space, making it difficult to track the ‘real’ effectiveness of a message.

This is, however, something that neural networks will be uniquely well suited to. Not only can a machine learning AI sift through far more messages from far more streams than any human could dream of, but they can easily recognise a message, even with small iterative changes in place, giving you a much clearer example of your messaging reach, and also a clear picture of the influencers in your market segment.

Measuring digital marketing is clearly not entirely distinct from measuring traditional marketing – the goal is the same, as are many of the metrics, but the way messages spread across the digital space is so far removed from the physical that new strategies need to be adopted to create and identify effective messaging strategies.

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