I’ve been delivering presentations on marketing and sales to business executives for a long time now. When I first started, I used to say that if you didn’t measure a particular business development tactic, don’t even bother doing it in the first place!
Over the years I’ve softened my stance a little – but not much. Why? Simple: If you’re not measuring your marketing and sales efforts, then how do you know if they’re working? Think about it. If something is not working, then stop doing it… you’re just throwing good money after bad. But if it is working, then you need to be doing more of it.
Makes sense, right? Then why do so few firms bother to measure their marketing and sales? I think there’s a pretty simple answer here too… because it’s often boring, tedious work.
But here’s the thing… Done right (and consistently), measurement provides the data to help you continually improve and enhance your business development efforts, yielding better results from all of your tactics and, ultimately, an increase in revenue.
So where do you start? It’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the data and details so start small by measuring only a few things at first. Then, as you get comfortable with the process and available measurement tools, you can always add more. Here are a few ideas to get you going.
Web site activity
Your Web site is the first stopping point for any sales prospect looking to learn more about your firm. It needs to be an effective sales rep for you. I’m a big fan of Google Analytics to measure activity, including:
- Unique visitors (not just how may clicks your site got but how many unique individuals actually visited)
- Time on site
- Bounce rate (the percentage of visitors who enter your site and leave rather than viewing other pages)
- Percent new vs. percent returning visitors
- Content drilldown (under Content) to see where visitors are spending their time on your site – page-by-page
- Mobile overview (under Overview) to see how many visitors are using mobile devices to view your Web site
- Social network referrals (under Traffic Source) to see how many visitors are coming from various social media platforms.
Social media activity
You might not be spending a lot of money on LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ or Facebook but you are spending your valuable time, so track your efforts there, too. Consider the following three parameters:
- The numbers. How many followers, connections, etc.?
- The level of interaction. Are they ‘Liking’ your posts, retweeting your tweets, etc.?
- Conversion. Are your online posts driving people back to your Web site?
I would strongly advise against sending your marketing e-mails through your day-to-day e-mail system, like Outlook. Not only can it put you on spam lists but it provides no real metrics. Consider platforms like Emma or Constant Contact. These platforms provide measurement of basic numbers (number sent, received, undeliverable, etc.), engagement (number opened, forwarded, click-thrus – overall and for each individual link, etc.) but also information on who clicked on each embedded link.
Online ad effectiveness
Online ads can build awareness and drive traffic to your Web site. Options include Google pay-per-click (PPC) ads; contextual PPC ads inside sites like LinkedIn; banner ads inside e-mails and blogs; etc.
If you’re looking to measure online ad effectiveness, make sure you know which ad sources are best for you, how many people are actually exposed to your ad and if prospects are responding to your offer.
You take the time and effort to provide valuable, useful content via blog posts, articles, e-books, white papers, etc., but is anyone reading it? Consider page views (Google Analytics can help here), downloads (collecting contact information in exchange for readers accessing your content) and shares (putting the “share” icons at the top of your content can help drive this).
Or more commonly “How’d you hear about us?” If you do no other measurement, get in the habit (in fact, get everyone at your firm in the habit) of asking this question of any sales prospect. Then track the responses. It’s not perfect but it will provide an order-of-magnitude estimate for which of your marketing tactics are working.
Measuring sales activities is important because when your sales process is not working, measurement helps determine why and where, so you can fix it.
Daily/weekly sales activity (i.e., calls, presentations, proposals, etc.).
Whether you have inside reps, outside reps, key account managers and/or national account managers, sales metrics start with activity.
Pipeline counts (i.e., suspects, prospects, presentations, bids, conversions, etc.).
Regardless of how you define the phases of your sales pipeline/funnel, you need to track the status of your clients and prospects. You’re looking for two things: 1) movement through the pipeline – prospects moving from one phase to the next and 2) growth of the total number of firms/contacts in the pipeline.
Lead generation (i.e., number of leads daily/weekly, source of leads, etc.).
The real opportunity for a sales relationship begins when a sales lead is generated. The key is understanding where the leads come from and investing more in those that generate the most.
Don’t just look at revenue monthly and year-to-date. Put it in context so you really understand what’s happening.
- Revenue vs. last-year-to-date
- Revenue vs. goal
- By service line
- By industry vertical
- Potential revenue in pipeline
Now that we’ve discussed what you need to do, let’s outline how it gets done. First, you’re going to need some tools to help with measurement. This could include things like:
- A CRM system for tracking sales activity and pipeline
- A commercial e-mail platform for e-mail metrics
- Signing up for Google Analytics to track Web site and blog activity
- A tool like bit.ly for shortening/creating URLs and tracking the specific source of links to your Web site
- A simple tic sheet for tracking HYHAU responses
- A social media management tool like HootSuite to help you monitor activity.
Then, think about the process of measurement:
- Set aside time each week to monitor and record your metrics.
- Chart and graph all of the data each week so you can easily see what’s happening and keep an eye on any evolving trends.
- Make sure an overview and discussion of marketing and sales measurement is happening at the senior level, as well as among the marketing and sales team.
Note: Consider posting the sales activity and results publicly. It can be a great motivator for the (generally) very competitive sales reps.
Every month, in every company, senior leadership uses a set of tools (e.g., income statements, balance sheets, cash flow projections, etc.) to monitor the financial health of their firms. Your marketing and sales initiatives deserve that same effort.
Good luck and good marketing.
Bonus: A/B testing
For those of you unfamiliar with it, A/B testing is the process of analyzing just one element of a marketing campaign across a split audience. It works like this: Let’s say you send out a monthly e-mail to 1,000 people in your database and want to improve your open rate.
- Send an e-mail with Subject Line A to 100 random names on your list; send out another e-mail with Subject Line B to 100 different recipients (the message inside is the same in both).
- Measure the open rate of each group.
- The e-mail that results in more opens is the ‘winner’ and the remaining 800 names are sent an e-mail with that subject line. Assuming the groups were suitably randomized, the only conclusion that can be drawn is that the subject line was the only factor that had an impact on open rates. That’s why you only test one element at a time. More than one and you won’t know which was the real cause of the difference.
- The winner now becomes the control for future e-mails that you’ll compare against.
- As you do this again and again, your results keep getting better and better!
You can do this with most any marketing initiative.
- For e-mails, you can test the subject line, a subhead in the text, image vs. no image, etc.
- For online banner ads, it could be the headline, the image, the call to action, etc.
- For ad placement, run the same print ad in two different publications and see which one results in more calls.
A/B testing also applies to sales. You can test your elevator speech, the voicemail message you leave with prospects, e-mails from your sales reps and so on.
You get the idea. It’s easy. It’s free. And it only requires a little of your time to execute and measure. Remember this old saying: What gets measured gets done… but what get tested gets better!