When marketing budgets are tight, your marketing needs to work harder and smarter than ever. Evaluating your activities needn't be expensive and it can save you money in the long term. Fiona Blades, CEO of market research company MESH Experience, explains how small firms can measure their marketing
Use your website to measure your marketing
A lot of marketing activity is designed to drive customers to your website - so you should analyse your website statistics on a regular basis. You need to know how many people are visiting your site, what pages they are looking at and when. Timing is everything. If you are running adverts in the press, for example, you can see whether website traffic increased during the specific time when the advert was in circulation.
Ask customers how they found you
When customers come to you, always ask them how they heard about you. It could be via word of mouth, an entry in a directory or they could have come across your firm at an exhibition. Asking where they heard about you should be common practice. Keep a record of what they say. It will help you to see which marketing methods are most effective.
Ask customers why they picked you
You may know what channel your customers have come through but what was it about your message that triggered their interest? Ask a selection of customers what made them contact your firm. It could be anything from reputation to value for money. The marketing message that proves most effective should be the one you focus on in future.
Measure your advertising
If you advertise in different places, or across different channels, you can use distinct phone numbers or bespoke tracking URLs for each one to see where your enquiries are coming from. This way you can compare response rates and judge which variant is giving you the best ROI.
Measure your mailings
Whether you send a mailshot or letter, include a reply-paid card or envelope. The less someone has to do to respond, the higher the response rate you will get. The reply cards should have a code according to the recipient's market segment, so that you can track exactly where the response came from.
Ask your customers about your marketing
Response rates to mailings tell you how many, but not why. If you've sent 1,000 mailings, you could call a small sample of 50 recipients and ask them (for example):
- Do they remember receiving the mailing?
- Did they open it?
- Can they remember the key message?
- Did they respond?
This is the ideal job for a work placement student. You may find that while a mailing was positively received, many people just had not got around to replying. In that case, a follow-up mailing will undoubtedly increase response rates. Or you may find that using other channels with the mailing, such as phone or email, will boost responses.
Use the data to improve your marketing
As you evaluate your marketing activity, you gain more and more market knowledge. Your tests will show which media channels work best for your business. The evaluation will also reveal which customer groups are most responsive and which marketing messages are most powerful.
Armed with this information, you can make your marketing even more effective in future.
Written by Fiona Blades of MESH Experience.