Are you measuring the results of your marketing efforts?

Please don’t be offended, but I have to ask this. Are you measuring the results of your marketing efforts?

The fact that you must measure the results your various tactics are producing is usually the first thing you learn when you decide to educate yourself about internet marketing. This truth is told and retold to the point where you can get an impression that installing Google Analytics code on your site will somehow bring you more visitors. And yet, I regularly come across evidence that it still manages to escape the attention of some people. So even though it may sound trivial to most, I feel it won’t hurt to restate this:

On the Internet, there’s no excuse for not measuring the performance of your marketing actions.

We are being subtly fed the tales of overnight successes and “going viral”. But the reality is that no matter how good what it is you make, reaching out to your target audience is a difficult time-, money- and effort-consuming process. Behind every viral outbreak there’s a huge amount of thought, sweat and, I dare to say, science. Don’t believe me? Ask Andrew Chen.

But the good news is: by putting in the effort you too can make your campaigns successful. Even though marketing requires some creativity it’s still by and large a rational process. And at the core of it is feedback loop – you try various approaches, you select the ones that work and improve on them. Rinse and repeat. But if you have no way of knowing what works, how can you do that? Right, you can’t. Trying to reach your audience without having a feedback loop is like trying to hit a target by shooting in random directions – there’s a slim chance to succeed especially if you have a machine gun and a lot of bullets (a fat budget), but I sure wouldn’t bet my money on that.

So the first thing you need to do even before you start promoting your brand new website is to define your goals (visitors, returning visitors, purchases, revenue, rss subscribers, you name it) and establish exact and unambiguous ways to tell how various actions you are taking affect these goals. Once you have it, you can at least be sure that no matter how hard it can be you are moving towards success and not in the other direction.

P.S. If my ramblings here stroke a chord with you I recommend proceeding to the blog of David Skok who makes an excellent point for data-driven business (all aspects of it, not just marketing) and teaches how to run one.