What Channels are Included in Digital Marketing and How Do You Measure Digital Marketing Success?

by Linda Pophal

My first job out of college was working in traditional direct mail marketing and I spent ten years with that company. I loved the work because it was so measurable so you could tell what worked, what didn’t and continually make improvements to boost response. Digital marketing, of course, offers even greater opportunities to measure the effectiveness of content in a variety of ways so it’s a field I really enjoy.

Literally any content that is accessible online–e.g. via the internet–is considered to be digital marketing. That can include website copy, blog content, social media content, YouTube videos, Google or social media ads, etc. Whether you know it, or not, chances are you are already engaged in digital marketing. You just may not be leveraging this cost-effective and highly responsive marketing channel as effectively as you could. One of the biggest benefits of digital marketing is that it is highly measurable.

How can you measure ROI across these different channels?

ROI, or return on investment, technically means tracking the amount of revenue generated from digital marketing efforts. That can be measured in various ways depending on the channel. For instance, if you were running ads on LinkedIn to generate leads you could track the responses that came through those ads to determine how many leads you received and, then, how many of those leads you were able to close.

ROI is always the best indicator of success from a business standpoint. Very often what marketers actually measure are process metrics–a good leading indicator of ROI, but not the same. For instance, the number of followers, numbers of clicks on an offer button, number of likes, etc. These may all eventually convert into ROI but, on their own, are not good business metrics–e.g. not the type of thing that board members, or members of the C-suite would value.

Yes, there are times when goals/objectives will be more related to raising awareness or building an audience than immediately generating a sale. So you might have metrics around building a following on Instagram, for instance, or raising awareness of a product or service. Ultimately, though, you will always want to move toward measuring actual bottom line impact, or ROI.

How should SMB owners think about digital marketing in terms of expenses, sales and revenue?

Digital marketing can often be very cost-effective because out-of-pocket casts may not be high or may even be nonexistent–e.g. when setting up a Facebook account without any ad spend. But digital marketing takes time, so SMBs should also track how much time is spent on various digital marketing activities to get a true sense of actual cost. Sales and revenue, while both can be tied back to digital marketing efforts, will also often include other types of activities/expenses–e.g. salespeople who may need to follow up with and, hopefully, close leads that are attained through digital marketing efforts.

The top things to understand would be: the audience for each digital marketing channel you choose and whether it includes your actual target audience (to be effective, it absolutely should, but often doesn’t), that it often takes a multi-channel approach (which may also often include traditional marketing efforts) to generate success, and that it can take time to build the following, awareness and preference that will ultimately lead to sales.

In addition to ROI, SMB owners may also want to consider the following metrics to help them monitor digital marketing effectiveness. These can be especially useful when monitoring relative to top competitors:

  • Awareness
  • Understanding (e.g. of product benefits/attributes)
  • Preference (for your product/service vs. competitors)
  • Favorability after use
  • Likelihood to recommend (also known as “net promoter score”–a measure of loyalty and driver of positive word-of-mouth)

Digital marketing is a fast, efficient and highly measurable form of marketing making it a solid investment for even the smallest business. How are you leveraging digital marketing channels to boost awareness and downstream ROI?

About Us

Strategic Communications, LLC, works with B2B clients to help them achieve their goals through effective content marketing and management with both internal and external audiences. We work with clients to plan, create and publish high-quality, unique content. Whether on- or offline, or both, we’ll help you achieve desired results.

(Strategic Communications is certified as a Woman-Owned Business Enterprise through the Wisconsin Department of Administration.)

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