Defining success in advertising used to be relatively simple: An ad was constructed as cost-effectively as possible and then deployed in the right channel. From here, customer conversion and product sale rates could be measured, and the business owner would understand whether the initiative had been successful or not.
Now things are a little different. For starters, technology has changed, giving advertisers a viable means to deploy their advertisements wherever they are required and then providing them with a diverse range of tools with which to measure success.
Second, the environment has shifted. There were once only one or two channels used to connect with customers. Now these numbers have multiplied and advertisers are expected to be able to meet leads and prospects wherever they are found.
Finally, potential objectives are now pluralized. Digital marketing is no longer a flat-out sprint to the finish line, but rather a nuanced journey through divergent alleyways, with choices to be made at several key points. One marketer’s target for success may not necessarily be shared by another. The same marketer may even change his or her objectives between advertising campaigns.
So within this new frame, how can we define success?
New parameters, new definitions of success
There are a variety of ways to define modern advertising success. Following are just a few of the most common examples.
Direct sale increases
Perhaps this is a little old-fashioned, but a good way to measure the success of an ad is its effect on driving sales directly. This is relatively easy to measure and can be analyzed via direct clicks or simply the upturn in conversions after the advertisement is deployed.
Cost per acquisition reduction
Increasing sales is not the only way to increase revenue. Improving efficiency and reducing the cost of acquiring a new customer makes a business more streamlined, lowers costs, and is an effective way to build revenue over time.
Web site bounce rate
Bounce is when customers access your website and immediately leave. A high bounce rate can be caused by inaccurate content, poor site navigation, or substandard advertising, and it can have a marked effect on SEO performance.
Page views online
Similar to the bounce rate, the number of page views per visit gives you an indication of how users are engaging with your site. By developing a viable landing page to accompany your advertisement, you can determine the page views you receive per each visit.
Time spent on website
Like the metrics mentioned above, the amount of time a user spends on your website is important in gauging the effectiveness of your advertising strategies and website structure. A successful advertisement could dramatically raise the average amount of time spent on your site, boosting the page’s SEO credentials as well as its lead conversion performance.
Click-through fates (CTRs) represent how many clicks and website visits derive directly from an ad. This metric is ideal for understanding precisely which advertisements are eliciting interest online and which digital marketing efforts need to be tweaked.
Cost per advert click
For paid advertisements, return on investment needs to be optimized in order to make the media strategy cost-effective. Analyzing precisely how much each click on an advertisement costs the business is a good tool to help define success.
Direct traffic increase
Most digital marketing strategies require high levels of online traffic to be successful. This makes direct traffic increase a powerful metric to assess the success of a particular initiative.
Diversified traffic sources
The most successful web strategies are diverse ones, with visitors accessing the business’s online presence from a range of different platforms. Positioning ads within these platforms and using analytics to assess the performance of these ads can help you gain a clearer picture of where the traffic is coming from.
Analytics and unified data
Analytics provides the lens through which success can be measured. Ensure that powerful analytics software is deployed within each element of your business’s digital marketing strategy so it can provide direct insight into how well each advertisement is working.
Be ruthless with the data received from analytics. If one particular advertisement is not performing as it should, or is not pulling its weight in one or more of your targeted metrics, it needs to be dropped and then tweaked for redeployment.
The value of this data does not end here. As with all data derived from a business, it cannot be used and discarded. Instead, it must be unified, stored, reported on, and reapplied wherever appropriate as media service providers and broadcasters look not only to define the success of their advertisement strategies but to optimize their business models as a whole.
No area of a media business can operate in isolation. Each process must be unified and brought into line, and collecting and utilizing data is a major part of this.
Beyond instant revenue: Long- vs. short-term objectives
There are many different paths to success, and these objectives must be clearly outlined and planned before your advertisement is crafted and deployed—but aren’t these paths ultimately all heading toward the same end?
In a way, they are. However, this is a simplified view. The ultimate aim of any business is to grow and to make money in the long run, but there are other goals as well. In the short term, focusing on SEO and developing traffic is more beneficial to an organization than merely bringing a product to market with no support. SEO might not provide you with any instant profit gains, but it does help you to build a stable platform from which to pursue this goal.
Keep this in mind when assessing success in advertising. Each initiative must be balanced to achieve stability, and each must do its part to contribute to long-term success. If this means eschewing short-term profit booms in favor of slowly augmenting traffic or building authority in the market, so be it.
This is what it means to work in digital marketing today. Start defining your personal long-term and short-term goals, and position your business for success.
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This post is the seventh of a seven-part series, Reimagining Media in The Digital Age.