How to track the success of your marketing plan

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Too often professional services firms put time and money into a marketing plan and then fail to follow up on their efforts by tracking their marketing impacts to gauge their success. To avoid making this common mistake, you first need to set some goals that will enable you to see how your marketing plan is working.

Setting your goals

Knowing where to set goals is something of an art form. On one hand, you must take into account the current level of baseline performance — what is reasonable to achieve given your situation? On the other hand, you must consider what it will take to achieve the business outcome you desire. The level of impact you need from a marketing technique will also influence your decisions on how much effort it will require.

Tracking your progress

With your goals in place, it’s time to figure out what you need to measure to track progress toward achieving them. This can be as simple or as complicated as you feel necessary. If you’re new to the process and unsure what you should be measuring, ask yourself:

  • What metrics would support our key marketing goals?
  • Are these metrics actionable — will the insights they provide enable us to improve anything?

The answers to these two questions will immediately reveal if you are simply gathering data for the sake of gathering data. If you can’t really do anything with it, don’t waste time collecting it.

For professional services firms, which sell intellectual value instead of tangible products, there are three fundamental metrics that make sense to track:

Business outcomes: These are things such as the number and types of new clients, revenue growth, new business (from existing as well as new clients) and profitability. These kinds of metrics can often be tracked in the firm’s financial or CRM systems without requiring new software.

Visibility: This metric can be tracked most easily by checking the increase in your website traffic. It can be further refined by looking at traffic in certain areas of your site; for example, the careers section to track the success of your recruiting campaign. Social media traffic and the growth of your email database in response to inquiries are other ways to track and measure visibility.

Expertise: Changes in perceptions regarding your firm’s expertise is one of those squishy metrics that can be hard to track, but it can be done. For example, you can track the number of whitepaper downloads and blog post views. Likewise, multiple content views and downloads can reveal growing acceptance and trust in your firm’s expertise and its value. An increase in speaking engagements and business event invitations can point to an increase in the market’s perception of your authority in a certain topic or industry segment.

Wherever possible, automate your data collection to increase speed and efficiency and generate more accurate reports. Platforms such as Google Analytics and Salesforce enable you to automate and customize dashboards for greater ease of use.

As you collect all this data to track progress toward your marketing goals, don’t forget to take the time to review and analyze it. If you’ve chosen the right metrics, the insights they can provide through proper analysis will reveal opportunities for improvement and faster, better ways to achieve your goals.

Track implementation as well as results

It’s important to remember that you won’t have any metrics to track and data to collect if your marketing campaigns aren’t properly implemented. That means you need to track your marketing techniques. Are your webinars and speaking engagements happening as scheduled? Are your articles and blog posts getting published as planned? A marketing technique will not work if it doesn’t actually occur, so it’s vital to track marketing campaign implementation as well as results.

Adjust and repeat

What you track over time will likely need to evolve as your business evolves, so evaluate your list of metrics on a regular basis to ensure it aligns with any changes in your services and operation. Reviewing your metrics quarterly, biannually or annually and adjusting them as needed will help you capture the data necessary to successfully grow your business.

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