Marketers are asked to justify marketing investments and provide proof that programs are working. And with the economy struggling and many marketing budgets flat or trimmed, the mandate to measure is stronger than ever. You must have metrics to track how your programs are performing.

The first rule of measurement is having objectives to measure against. You should work with your executive team to understand their expectations for marketing, and then develop objectives you can measure against.

Here are three examples of measurements:

  • Overall objectives related to your marketing plan, such as generate 25% more leads for your sales team, or 200 new inquiries from a new market sector
  • Objectives for individual programs, such as getting a certain percentage of prospects who visit your site to complete a RFQ, or a certain number of visitors to download product specs
  • Brand visibility objectives, such as expose 1,000 prospects to your company and message

Choose Measurable Marketing Programs

In today’s challenging economic environment, it makes good business sense to justify your marketing spend by choosing programs that are measurable. The challenge is that not all marketing programs are easy to measure.

Here’s an example: How do you measure the effectiveness of an advertisement in a trade publication? Your phone number is probably in the ad, but does whoever answer the phone on your end always find out how the prospect heard about your company? Or how do you measure the effectiveness of a company listing in a print directory? Traditional media is difficult to track.

On the other hand, online programs are built for measurement. With online programs you can easily track page views, impressions, clicks, and conversions. Each of these metrics gives you a different piece of valuable information that you can hold up against your objectives:

  • Page views correspond to how many times a Web page is displayed to a visitor on a Web site. It can help you track which pages are most/least popular. Page views can also give you a measurement of brand exposure — how many people are exposed to your message.
  • Impressions are typically associated with the number of times an online banner ad is presented to a Web site visitor. With online banner ads, you might purchase a number of impressions over a certain period of time. Impressions are not the same as page views unless your ad appears every time the page is displayed; usually ads from different advertisers rotate in the same positions.
  • Clicks and Click-through rates measure the level of interest in the message or offer you are presenting, whether on an online banner ad, an e-newsletter ad or link, or any other Web site link.
  • Conversions is the number of people who sign up for your offer — such as submitting an RFQ or completing a form to download a white paper —converting from a nameless, faceless viewer of your message into a real lead.

While measurement is an advantage of online programs, there’s another significant benefit to online marketing: your target audience of engineering, technical and industrial professionals sources products and locates suppliers online by using search engines, going to GlobalSpec, subscribing to e-newsletters and visiting Web sites.

According to the GlobalSpec 2009 Engineering Trends Outlook Survey of engineering, technical and industrial professionals, 42% of respondents spend six or more hours a week on the Internet for work purposes and 62% visit six or more work-related Web sites every week. Combine the behavior of your customers and prospects with measurable programs and your advantage multiplies.

Integrate Measurable Programs

Marketing programs don’t work in isolation. For example, if your company is promoting a new white paper or Webinar or launching a new product, you should select a variety of measurable programs to get the word out and capture new leads. Rather than using a single tactic for promotion, try online banner ads, e-newsletter advertisements, and landing pages on your own Web site to generate leads. The performance of all these tactics can be tracked.

Here’s another example: clients who advertise on GlobalSpec typically implement a variety of measurable programs, from searchable product catalogs and publishing technical articles, to sponsoring industry-specific e-newsletters and displaying product announcements. Easy access to updated lead information and tools to monitor program results provide the data and support marketers need.

Conclusion: when it’s time to measure marketing, it’s time to be marketing online.

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