I’m sure you’ve heard the saying: You can’t change what you can’t measure. This certainly holds weight in many aspects of marketing, especially in the digital space. And while measuring and gathering data is relatively easy in the digital world, it’s how you reflect upon and react to this information, that makes all the difference.

You can access a seemingly endless amount of data related to digital marketing these days. Technology lets you measure practically anything, but measuring alone doesn’t really help you. Sure, it’ll tell you if your marketing has had impressions or hits, it can tell you the location of your audience and other demographic information. But just looking at these figures doesn’t give you the full picture; you need to put on your analytical hat to determine if your marketing needs some tweaking.

Drowning in data

Let’s take a moment to think about your digital marketing options and what sort of data you can collect. You’ve got Google Analytics, that can tell you anything from how many people are visiting your site, to what pages they visit and how long they stay.

If you’re using social media you can get a similar set of information, but you also need to look at what posts people are reacting to and what audiences you were targeting with paid ads. On Facebook for example, you might find a campaign aimed at getting website visits had more responses than a simple boosted post, or single images performed better than carousel posts.

You might be paying more for boosted engagement on LinkedIn than Facebook, but if you’re reaching more appropriate people, isn’t the extra cost worth it?

Campaigns need to run long enough to gather useful data, but not so long you’re just throwing money in a wishing-well. Sometimes dipping your toe in the water of digital marketing isn’t enough. You need to try something for enough time for the wonderful world of digital to generate some results — good, bad or otherwise.

The data alone can’t tell you if your digital marketing is successful, you need to delve a little deeper, and even still there’s a few assumptions to be made.

A time to reflect

It’s tempting to jump in with all guns blazing when it comes to digital marketing. Almost all platforms have made it really easy to spend your money. Facebook and Instagram let you create ads or boost posts with just a couple of clicks on your mobile phone, and Google even have people ringing you up to “help” with your Ads campaigns.

monkey with mirror

But before you go spending more and more, take some time to look at the data and really try to work out what it’s telling you.

On social media in particular, “vanity metrics” can be an expensive habit. Views, clicks and likes from people who aren’t genuine potential customers might make you feel good, but they won’t actually impact your business goals.

Look closely at the results you’re getting to determine if they are moving you towards your business goals. There’s a need to combine the digital stats with your real-world outcomes to gauge how successful any campaign actually is.

Considered reaction

Only once you’ve reflected on your digital results, should you allow yourself to react. This doesn’t mean taking forever to take the next step, but it does mean taking as long as you need to really understand what the metrics are telling you.

In the digital world there are a lot of things to react to and a lot of ways in which to respond. Do you have a high bounce rate? This might mean your website navigation is a mess, or maybe your SEO is set up in a way that people are landing on your site by mistake. But it could also mean that your blogs or individual pages are delivering exactly what the searcher is looking for so they don’t need to explore your site further. Looking at bounce rates along with the time spent on page could help you make more sense of the numbers you’re seeing.

On a similar token, maybe your social media posts aren’t getting the engagement you hoped for. Is it because the text is too long or too short? Are you sharing too many images, or are they just not resonating with your audience? Are your sponsored posts hitting an audience a few degrees away from where you’d like, and as a result is this sending your marketing miles off course? You might need to engage in some A/B testing, changing just one thing at a time to see what’s really going on.

The full marketing picture

Marketing can be the thing that turns a business around. It can also be a huge disappointment. You can spend a lot of money learning what works and doesn’t work for your business. While spending some money in the “learning” stage of marketing is inevitable, letting this money be a complete waste is not a foregone conclusion. In fact, if your marketing dollars are going to waste, you’re doing it wrong!

Unleashing your content on the world is really just the start of your marketing journey. Success comes when you closely monitor the results and adapt as necessary. Don’t let yourself down by taking your eye off the ball just when you need to be paying attention.

Despite the speed of the online world, digital marketing is not a “get rich quick” or “get results quick” scheme. Campaigns can be set up relatively quickly, generating the data, assessing the results and tweaking the strategy all take time, so enter with patience.

If you’re not willing or able to measure, reflect and react with your marketing, find someone who can do this for you, or take the time to learn. It’s a slow process in the beginning, but you’ll save yourself headaches and wasted marketing dollars in the long run.

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