How to Measure Online Marketing Success (Without All the Metrics)

One of the most attractive features of marketing a business online is the ease of tracking your return on investment. At least it should be easy. With an endless list of metrics to monitor and key progress indicators (KPI’s) to track, how do you cut through the noise and make sense of what really matters? Simple. You log off the internet and talk to people who matter.

You read that right. This online marketer is telling you to log off the internet.

But don’t go just yet. Hear me out.

Measure Online Marketing Success

Why You Should Go Offline to Track Online Success

As it turns out, one of the best ways for measuring online marketing momentum might just take place offline. It all comes down to goals. Ask yourself this. What are you trying to achieve with your online marketing efforts? Think big, not granularly.

I’d bet my buttons your long-term goal isn’t to improve your website’s bounce rate. No, your goal is to bring in more of what keeps the lights on at your business – customers, of course.

When you decided to hire an online marketing professional to drive growth to your business, you probably weren’t thinking about things like visitor click paths, search engine referrals, backlinks, or any of the other thousands of jargon-filled metrics that proud marketing geeks like myself fuss over every day. Your purpose was simple. Bring more customers to the door so your business can grow.

In short, you are marketing online to build offline growth.

Ask This One Simple Question to Gauge Progress

Think about how you used to track the success of your marketing campaigns before the internet became the behemoth it is today. When you placed an ad in the phonebook, or broadcast a radio ad, how did you find out which of those marketing efforts referred your new customer to you?

Simple. You asked.

“How did you hear about us?” This question that was once heard at every cash register across the country is just as important today as it was decades ago. It continues to be one of the most powerful ways for you as a small business owner to track the return on your investment in online marketing.

Ask yourself what your goal is with online marketing

The Internet as a Community

The internet is a community just like the one you live in. While it can seem impersonal, it’s full of living, breathing people who use it as a tool to find the things they need every single day.

The goal of an online marketer is to connect those potential customers with your business by making your business as visible as possible online. That means making your business visible on many different communities and locations across the internet in order to reach as many would-be customers as possible.

Ultimately, the transaction that converts a potential customer into a paying customer takes place offline, in person. Closing the gap from an online search to the experience a customer has with your business offline is a step that is often overlooked. It’s a step that requires your active participation and that of your employees. Fortunately, it’s also one that brings about positive growth and builds loyalty and positive word-of-mouth with your customers.

Avoid Too Many Chefs in the Kitchen

When done correctly, online marketing involves optimizing every single online property your business has a presence on from Google to Facebook and beyond. What benefits one will likely benefit the other. Conversely, what harms one can harm the others. This is why an online marketing campaign that is coordinated by a single team of professionals working together often leads to better outcomes for the small business than those who rely on numerous entities providing often overlapping services.

shop worker talking to customer at checkout

There are many reasons to not have too many chefs in the kitchen when it comes to your online marketing campaigns – data integrity and the dangers of duplicate listings for one. But a campaign that is centralized also makes it easier to track your success without relying on complex reporting and he said/she said scenarios. You can just as easily rely on that one simple question to get a bird’s eye view of the progress of your campaign and know where to attribute the results.

When you ask your customers who come in or call in “how did you hear about us?” and their answer is “online” or “on Google (or Facebook, Bing, etc.)” you can be sure that this customer came to your door as a result of your investment in online marketing.

Simple, right?

Now, log off the internet and start asking your customers how they found you. We can’t wait to hear the results!