“So, How’d it Go?” Tips for Measuring Marketing Campaign Success
Written By Hannah Jurius
Owner of Sparrow Marketing
You just spent weeks planning and executing an impressive campaign for your school. You worked with a designer to create stunning visuals. You sent out hundreds of mailers and hung flyers in local businesses. You spent thousands of dollars on online ads. Now that it’s over, you’re being asked to report on the results. Did all of your hard work pay off?
You know how many dollars were raised or how many inquiries were generated, but are you able to report on the full picture? Do you know what worked? What didn’t work? What’s worth doing again and what can be improved upon? Does the thought of having to answer all those questions give you a nervous feeling in the pit of your stomach?
Whether you’re running a paid ad campaign to raise awareness in your community or creating a targeted fundraising campaign for your school donors, measuring campaign success does not need to be difficult. Here are a few quick tips to help you measure success for your next campaign:
Define Campaign Success Before You Start
Before you even start creating your campaign, spend some time defining what would make the campaign a success. Development Directors have very specific fundraising goals to achieve, so in those cases, success would be defined by the amount of money raised. Schools may run lead generation campaigns, where success is measured by the number of inquiries generated and the number of students enrolled.
Defining success helps you identify which metrics matter and which don’t. For example, if your campaign goal is to generate admissions inquiries, the number of “likes” on your digital ad is not a truly helpful metric to show the return on your investment. Marketers call these “vanity metrics.” It’s tempting to share these metrics when they look good for your campaign but if it’s not relevant to your campaign goal, it’s not a meaningful metric to report on.
Whatever your campaign goal is, get specific about the results you’d like to achieve, and make sure you can track those success metrics along the way. Using online channels is one of the best ways to do this.
Use Your Website
All your campaigns will (or should) have a digital component. If you’re still sending letters with return envelopes and giving slips, that is fine, but make sure your donors have an option to give digitally. A QR code in the footer of the letter is a huge step toward providing a convenient way for your donors to engage with you. With a QR code sending users to a specific landing page on your website, you can measure:
- How many people are compelled to scan (measured through QR code generators)
- How much time users spend on your site (measured with Google Analytics)
- How users engage with your content (measured with Google Analytics)
- How many people follow through and actually give financially in response to your call to action (measured on your giving platform or online form)
This information is immensely valuable because it helps you understand what is working and what is not working. If 20% of your direct mail recipients scan the QR code but only 1% continue to make an online donation, your website may not be user-friendly. Or you’ve done a good job with your initial “hook” but haven’t done enough to tell your story on the website. Take full advantage of the online tools available to you so you don’t miss the opportunity to capture this valuable data.
Track Success by Channel
When an inquiry is generated or a gift is given, it helps to be able to track that action to a specific element of your campaign. If your campaign includes a digital component and a direct mail component, make sure to use two different forms or landing pages so you can identify which actions came from which channel.
You may get 500 clicks from your social media ad, but if you have no way of knowing which inquiries or gifts are coming in from that channel, you have no way of knowing how successful that element of the campaign was. By tracking success by channel, you’ll know for certain which efforts are producing the strongest results.
Improving for Next Time
You now have a wealth of information about how your audience engaged with your campaign. You know how many took initial action, how many dropped off before they could give or inquire, and how many inquiries or donations you generated. Take some time to review this data. What seemed to work? What didn’t work? Where can you improve? Oftentimes simple website updates, changes in messaging, or technical adjustments can make a significant difference in the results you see. Enlist the help of a marketing professional to understand standard conversion rates for similar campaigns and work with them to improve those rates next time.
And one more thing to remember: disappointing metrics are helpful too. Of course, we all want to see our initiatives succeed but don’t fear reporting on disappointing metrics. If your campaign flopped – if nobody clicked, nobody gave, nobody engaged – you now have solid data to tell you what not to do next time. Be realistic about what you’re seeing and report the truth with optimism and assurance that you can deliver a stronger campaign next time.
Hannah Jurius is the Admissions Director at Sussex Christian School in Sussex, NJ, and the owner of Sparrow Marketing, a marketing company focused on supporting businesses and nonprofits in their online marketing efforts. Hannah’s previous experience focused on supporting Christian schools in their enrollment and marketing efforts. To learn more about working with Hannah, visit sparrowmarketingco.com.