Don’t even bother. The marketing effort in a professional services firm can’t be measured. It’s too complex. Too relational. Oh, and the sales cycle is too long.
Oh yeah? But, everybody keeps telling me, “what gets measured gets done.” And as my favorite business school professor used to say, “In God we trust….for all else bring data.”
So, should you be measuring this stuff? I’ll be honest. Not only do I feel like I’ve heard all angles of this debate, I think I’ve been on all sides of it as well. But, today, I have to say that I stand squarely on the “let’s measure” side. If you’re not measuring what you’re doing, you’ll never feel like you’re getting anywhere. Without measuring, even if you can clearly see that you’re having success, you may not entirely understand why. And that’s a scary thought — what happens when things aren’t working so well? How will you diagnose the problem?
Okay, So What Could You Measure?
So, let’s start at the beginning. What are the things you could be measuring? The way I see it you can lump these into 2 groups.
All these measures are either directly marketing activities or can be directly tied to them. While most of these metrics are meaningful to most marketing folks, they’re generally not meaningful to others in the firm. And, without other data, most of these measures aren’t terribly predictive either.
- Website page views
- Unique website visitors
- Traffic sources
- Content produced
- Social media likes, followers and shares
- Events attended
- Webinar registrants and attendees
- Email sign ups
- Website conversions
- Media impressions
- Click through rates
- Email open rates
- Leads generated
- Lead sources
All these measures are much more meaningful to the firm, and it’s leadership, but they aren’t terribly predictive about how your marketing model is performing, especially when viewed in isolation:
- Unaided brand awareness
- Opportunities by source
- New business won
4 Things To Start Measuring
I tend to believe that you should identify no more than four metrics that, together, provide a pretty clear picture of how effective your overall marketing is at creating new business for your firm (Ideally, you could bring it down to just one thing, but that’s probably not altogether realistic).
The metrics you choose will probably differ based on the type of firm you market and the selected marketing approach you employ (a promotional “push” model vs. an educational “pull” one – if you don’t know what I mean by this, check out the post, What is Content Marketing?). For a content-driven firm, I tend to believe you should measure these four things in a coordinated way:
- Unique Website Visitors
- Website Conversions
- Opportunities by Source
- New Business Won
Collectively, these four measures give you a pretty good handle on the success of your marketing effort both collectively and within individual tactics. They tell you how much reach your messages are getting, which content is turning “faceless site visitors” into qualified potential prospects, and which traffic sources are leading to new business opportunities. Finally, by looking at these things together you should be able to tell what types of content, which traffic sources and what types of opportunities are most likely to lead to won business.
But, How Do You Tie These Metrics Together?
Fundamentally, that’s the challenge, isn’t it? These measures are most meaningful when each one is tied to the other. This means that all your critical marketing and business development systems need to be talking to each other and not working in isolation. Your CMS needs to share meaningful marketing data with your CRM. And, your CRM needs to inform your CMS when opportunities arise and business is won. The two need to work in tandem to deliver meaningful marketing insight to business development personnel and useful business development data back to marketers.
Generally, marketing automation is the glue that holds these systems together (for more information on this topic, read the article, Your Website as an Integrated System).
How Frequently Should I Review This Data?
SEO experts will tell you to review your analytics reports at least weekly or monthly. While this is probably true in a really large firm, I tend to believe that once you have the proper systems in place that you can look at these four metrics together once a quarter and drive meaningful insight that shapes your marketing decisions for the next 2-3 quarters. After all, the only reason to review the data is to give the insight you need to make better decisions.
No Data (Or System) Is Perfect
No measurement model will ever be perfect. An integrated web system can tell you where a lead first came from and you can track won business all the way back to its original source. But, it’s always quite realistic that many other marketing activities influenced the purchase decision along the way. That said, just because there are unknowable factors at play, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t endeavor to visualize the whole picture from end-to-end. After all, “In God we trust..for all else, bring data.”