Define, Benchmark, Evaluate: A Guide to Assessing Your Marketing Performance

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1 WHITE PAPER Define, Benchmark, Evaluate: A Guide to Assessing Your Marketing Performance

2 Define, Benchmark, Evaluate: A Guide to Assessing Your Marketing Performance As marketers, we wear many different hats that constantly pull our attention across a variety of tactics, campaigns and metrics. Then, as we cross items off our ever-growing list of deliverables and achieve success, those specific tactics drop in priority and we continue our journey of improving other marketing activities. Sometimes, we make time for determining campaign effectiveness and sometimes we are off to the next campaign or tactic before we have completed that crucial step. marketing for online retailers presents even more complexities. Factors such as inundated inboxes, brand loyalty, subscriber engagement, competing promotional offers, shopping cart behavior and customer lifecycles greatly impact marketing success. Developing an encompassing, ongoing method to consistently evaluate your marketing program will ensure you accomplish your goals. Building and monitoring your marketing program presents you with a unique opportunity to get an inside view of the nuances and inner workings of your marketing and how you measure up to your goals. In this whitepaper, we will review the gauges every online retailer should include in their marketing program to assess campaign performance. Use these factors to determine how your marketing efforts truly stack up and areas to tweak for future success. Define Your Goals Before You Evaluate Imagine your marketing program is one of the most important games of the season. Would you walk onto the field with no game plan and hope for the best? No! Your playbook would not only include strategies, but also a plan for each quarter to ultimately achieve your desired endgame success. But what does the successful endgame look like for your online store? Defining your goals before attempting any sort of measurement is a key part of determining wins and losses. Before you begin crafting your message, call-to-action and imagery, don t forget to be SMART. Regardless of what you determine is important to your online business, your goals must be: Specific. Like the saying goes, Mean what you say and say what you mean. Avoid potential confusion. Measurable. Measuring progress is vital to determine if you are going in the right or wrong direction. Include quantitative and qualitative goals to keep yourself accountable. Achievable. Attaining complete ecommerce dominance is not an achievable goal, so make sure your goal is attainable. Realistic. It doesn t help to list all kinds of wonderful ideas that you would like to implement but lack the resources to actually accomplish. Don t set goals and plans that are beyond your scope. Set realistically ambitious goals and plans. Time-Bound. No deadline equals no action. Give yourself a time limit to push for success and measure frequently enough so that you can adjust your tactics to meet your goals. More common goals for online retailers include driving website traffic, direct selling, brand awareness and repeat purchases. However, consider these goals as well: Increasing conversions. You can lead your subscribers to your site, but are they making purchases? Have a goal to turn shoppers into buyers and one-time buyers into repeat buyers. Building loyalty. All subscribers aren t created equally. Do you know your high-value buyers from the window shoppers? Think of your high value segment both in terms of the actual revenue they provide to you and in terms of their influence through social networks. Subscriber acquisition. Getting (and keeping) your foot in the door is a must. Have an objective to increase your opt-in list as well as enhance mindshare. You can use a multi-channel approach with mobile & social to help you build your list to better grow that revenue driver. By first defining your goals, you are better able to gauge a campaign s performance. In addition, you gain the ability to fine-tune customer experiences that help in the drive toward your specific goal.

3 Identify Metrics to Benchmark Once you have defined your goals, you must identify the metrics you will continuously trend to measure performance. When deciding which metrics to track, make certain your goals and metrics are aligned. Your metrics should all work together to determine total customer engagement and feed the one metric that matters revenue. Check out the chart below for ideas on how to translate your goals into measurable values. Goal Increase Conversions Acquisition Loyalty Awareness Metric Conversion rate (% of targets performing the desired behavior, including minimizing shopping cart abandonment) Cost per conversion/sale Site conversion rate Acquisition rate (# of new subscribers, fans, followers) Cost per acquisition ROI (Return on Investment) RFM (Recency, Frequency, Monetary Value) Number of recommendations Number of Forward to a Friend Unsubscribe rate Number of unique website visitors Number of impressions Open/Click-through rate Time spent Pages viewed Search keyword impressions Integrating social and mobile into your marketing program? Track the number and frequency of social and blog comments to help measure awareness. Or, measure the response rate to specific contests or special offers to your followers, fans or mobile users. Verify Your Impact with Benchmarking Benchmarking against your identified metrics allows you to both have a greater impact in your marketing programs and cut out any ineffective activities that are distracting you from achieving your desired goals. For example, if your shopping cart conversion rate is 15%, is that good, bad or just average? You don t know until you have identified shopping cart conversions as a metric and benchmarked it against existing numbers. There are two different approaches to use when benchmarking; both of which yield useful intelligence about campaign performance. The first type is referred to as internal benchmarking. This type benchmarks performance against prior experience for your brand or past marketing programs. The other type, or external benchmarking, compares your metrics to industry norms. Here is another way to think about it. The first type answers the question Are we doing better than we used to? The second answers the question Are we doing as well as we should be? Most online retailers begin by answering the first question because it is the information that is readily available. However, if you re new to tracking your online performance and don t have a history, then now is the time to start. Industry statistics are harder to come by because it requires publicly available data, which is potentially incomplete or over-aggregated. But, if you can find comparable statistics on your competitive set, then you can ensure a successful comparison. Look for various marketing organizations that support your industry to see if they offer the information you need.

4 Factors That Influence Your Metrics As part of your evaluation, there are specific factors that not only impact an online retailers performance, but also affect your other metrics. Get these factors right and you significantly increase your odds for marketing success and the ability to drive revenue. These factors include deliverability, relevancy and segmentation. Ensure Deliverability If your never makes it to your intended recipient s inbox, it is virtually impossible to determine your campaign s effectiveness, not to mention the loss of revenue. Although you are sending legitimate , your messages may not be getting to its final destination due to a variety of reasons. So, ensuring deliverability is not a nice to have, but a necessity. In order to determine your deliverability, you should measure: Number of complaints Number of bounces (hard, soft and general) Number of messages delivered Size of the messages Optimization of your deliverability rate includes incorporating best practices and closely monitoring the aforementioned metrics. Monitoring your campaign delivery rates, cleansing your data routinely, watching for list fatigue, implementing a subscriber preference center and requesting to be added to the customer s address book are just a few ways to safeguard your from getting caught in the SPAM filter. Unsure whether you re headed into the SPAM category? Remember, it s okay to have a lot of great time-sensitive promotions such as free shipping or incentives to offer your customers. However, keep your subscriber s preference in mind. That means frequency and relevancy become your two closest allies when managing your deliverability. Relevancy The truth is that your customers tastes and styles will continue to change over their lifecycle. For instance, if you sell books, your loyal customers buying habits could go from science fiction to weddings to babies, depending on their life stages or demographic information. Delivering a message that doesn t speak to the customer can disengage a valuable relationship. Being irrelevant in your marketing can result in decreased open and click-through rates, increased unsubscribes and decreased sales. Targeted messaging creates a one-toone relationship with customers, which means you get them as a customer and a shopper. Understanding your customers needs and preferences is crucial to delivering relevant content in your messages. Strategies such as trigger-based messaging allow you to be timely and relevant based their needs and behaviors. According to The Relevancy Group, the cost of untargeted is nearly four times higher than targeted mailings. Creating a message that meets the needs of your customers enhances your relationship as well as reinforces your trust factor. Shift your focus from the masses to those more likely to buy and start turning your subscribers into sales conversions to see uplift in your overall performance. Segmentation Segmentation ensures that your message is delivered at the right time, to the right person and with the right content. Collecting valuable data about your customers and strategically acting increases engagement and will take your marketing performance to the next level. Consider segmenting your subscribers on preferences, behaviors, RFM (Recency, Frequency, Monetary Value) data or customer lifecycle stages. Ecommerce provides marketers a great opportunity to gather and slice and dice available data, so take advantage. As a result, you will see a boost in conversions, repeat purchases and engagement with your brand. In addition, it s critical to maintain a healthy relationship with Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to which you are sending . Most reputable ESPs constantly evaluate these relationships and address issues that may negatively impact your sender rating.

5 Evaluate Your Performance Now that you have your goals and correlated metrics in mind, here comes the interesting part evaluating your performance. Begin by carefully comparing your results with past performance to determine what is and isn t working. Here are two things to keep in mind during your evaluation: Test, Test, and Retest. Testing is critical for marketing success. Once you have identified areas for improvement, use testing to tweak offers, call-to-actions and content. With your endgame of increased revenue in mind, take the time to create a better brand and shopping experience for your customers. Utilize testing methods such as: A/B testing. Test one campaign element against another. It may include varying the offer, call-to-action, look or subject line of a message. Multivariate testing. Test multiple changes simultaneously in a live environment. Optimize. Now that you ve determined your metrics and addressed the deliverability and relevancy of your campaign, it is time for optimization. Analyze your metrics and determine where there is opportunity to increase performance and convert low hanging fruit. Assessing your marketing performance is not a one-time affair. Once you have your goals, metrics and results in-hand, the next step is updating your strategy and reprioritizing. Drive sales and reach the goals for your online store by taking action on your evaluation results. About Bronto Bronto Software provides solutions for retailers and other commerce-focused companies to drive revenue through targeted and cross-channel marketing. More than 1,000 organizations worldwide, including Party City, Armani Exchange, Timex, Samsonite and Trek Bikes rely on Bronto s software and services to fuel customer engagement and sales. Bronto won the Stevie Award for Best Customer Service in 2009 and 2010, was named a CODiE Award Finalist for Best Marketing Solution in 2011 and is one of Inc. Magazine s top fastest growing software companies. Bronto is headquartered in Durham, NC with an office in London. For more information, visit. For more information, visit or call 888-BRONTO-1.

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