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How Do I Know My Digital Marketing Campaign Is Working?
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How Do I Know My Digital Marketing Campaign Is Working?

Talking to other business owners who have hired digital marketing agencies, I have found a common theme of frustration on spending thousands and getting little results. So I want to share what I’ve learned and the one question I ask now to vet the agency.

Disclaimer: I am not a digital marketing expert; I am just a software engineer who has done his research and an entrepreneur who has been burnt by digital agencies.

I have talked to multiple business owners with terrible experiences with digital marketing agencies. They waste thousands and see little to no return on their money on empty promises of SEO, Facebook Ads, and Google Ads.

After falling into the trap myself, I have learned one thing. I did not ask the right question.

“How do you know it’s working?”

This question is only meaningful if you understand how it should be answered. With this one question, I see if the agency is full of hot air and unwilling to discuss the hard truths about digital advertising.

I’ll keep this as non-technical as possible. The goal is to point you in the right direction and spend your advertising money on campaigns to help you succeed rather than just making you feel good.

Before you ask your digital agency representative this question, you must answer a few questions yourself.

  1. What are my goals for the campaign?
  2. How am I going to track that goal?
  3. How do I measure the success of the campaign?
  4. If things are not going as planned, what can I change?

What are my goals for the campaign?

Any marketing campaign only works if you have a clear goal in mind. Are you looking for more signups for a newsletter, users to create an account, customers to purchase a product, new clients submitting a contact form, etc.

Each campaign should have one clear goal; trying to achieve two or more goals will make it harder to track the campaign’s success and determine what is working and what is not. In addition, each campaign should have a unique landing page to tailor the messaging on your website to that campaign.

How am I going to track that goal?

Digital marketing has an advantage over traditional media in that it allows you to track a user’s experience throughout the campaign.

This can be accomplished by adding UTM tags—there are a lot of free tools online to help you with this—to the URL of your landing page when setting up a campaign. These tags can be tracked by your website analytics software so you can monitor when someone clicks on the campaign Ad; unique tags can be used to determine the source of the campaign (i.e., Google, Facebook, etc.), which Ad the user clicked on, and any other information you might think will be helpful.

How do I measure the success of a campaign?

As the saying goes, “Data is King.” With a clear goal in mind and the UTM tags set for each Ad in the campaign, we can now start thinking about how we will collect data on the success of that campaign.

Thankfully, most, if not all, website analytics have a way to do this. You will need to read the documentation on creating a Goal/Conversion/Behavior analysis in your website analytics platform.

Consider the scenario for a campaign that I ran to get form submissions.

stateDiagram direction LR view: View Ad click: Click on Ad landing: Visit landing page contact: Submit contact form thank_you: Redirect to thank you page view --> click click --> landing landing --> contact contact --> thank_you

In my analytics software, I defined an analytical metric to measure the number of potential clients who clicked on the Ad and submitted the form. For me to consider the campaign a success, they had to complete the entire journey.

There are other metrics to consider here that can be depressing, but you need to be aware of them.

Depending on your industry and the platform the Ad campaign is running on, the clickthrough rate (CTR), or how many people click on the Ad, will be much lower than you probably think. According to LocialQ, the average is 6% for 23 industries, which can be between 4% and 11%.

Furthermore, once someone visits your website after clicking on the Ad, the conversion rate, or the number of users who complete your goal, is lower than you probably think. According to Ruler Analytics, the average conversion rate is 2.9% across 14 industries and can be between 2% and 5%.

This means that of the X number of people that see your Ad, only 6% will click on it, and of the 6%, only 3% will convert or complete your goal.

It would help if you researched your goal and industry to determine your campaign’s realistic CTR and Conversion metric.

If things are not going as planned, what can I change?

No one is more qualified to come up with the correct messaging for your Ad campaign than you; you, hopefully, have worked with many clients/users to understand their concerns and the problems you are trying to solve. So, I suggest you set up a small campaign to see how things work—maybe only spend $20 to $100 and have it run for a week or so.

Once the campaign runs, you will start to understand what you can do to change things. Analyze the journey from left to right from someone seeing the Ad to completing your goal.

Are the Ad impressions too low?

  • Can I change the keywords?
  • Do I need to filter out the noise with negative keywords?
  • Do I need to focus on a smaller or higher-valued demographic?

Is the CTR too low?

  • Maybe I can adjust the messaging to the Ad?
  • Should I change the keywords to the Ad?
  • Can I run multiple Ad versions with different messaging or wording to see which is better?

Is the Conversion rate too low?

  • Where am I losing users or potential clients?
  • Are there too many steps, or is it too difficult to complete the goal?
  • Am I measuring the goal correctly?
  • Does the landing page’s messaging not reflect the Ad’s messaging? Should I run an A/B test and have multiple versions of the landing page?

Focus on only one area at a time in the journey to fix. Once you have improved that metric, move on to the next. Make small changes regularly; I do a campaign retrospective once a week.

Final Thoughts

A clear goal and accurate data for each campaign will set you up for success. You need to understand every aspect of the Ad campaign and have realistic metrics to measure its success to know what is working and what campaign areas need to change.

With this knowledge, the next digital Ad agency you work with should provide value and get the desired results. You will be able to weed out the agencies that don’t know what they are doing or are just trying to string you along to get you to pay as much as possible.

I have started considering signing contracts with digital agencies that tie their pay to actual tangible metrics and results. I’m not saying you should, but I would be interested in hearing if anyone has done this.

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