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Once, Twice, Three Times Trackable

December 29th, 2009 :: Michael Dougherty

Whether you’re creating a marketing piece/strategy, or getting into social media, you need to be conscious of how you will measure the success, or failure, of your endeavor. Like sending a package through UPS or FedEx, you’ll want to know your items were received and arrived. It could be the amount of emails you collected, the number of page views you hoped to achieve, the amount of sales you intend to make, or any number of reasons, but you need to be conscious, as you start your efforts, that you have a way to track your leads back to its source.

There are tons of ways you could to track your efforts. You could create specific urls to direct people back to a page on your website they could only reach by that marketing piece/effort, a phone number that is only used for that marketing piece/effort, or by the number of physical bodies that show up on the scheduled day. Whatever you choose, decide on what it will be before you get started. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked people how they determined the success of their piece only to hear “We didn’t think about that until after we printed it”.

I am not suggesting, in any way, that you should throw out everything you’ve created till now if you can’t track them. If there are pieces you have that don’t have a way to be tracked, find a creative way to make them so with the resources you have at your disposal. Here are a few creative ideas:

  • Use mailing labels on your brochures/postcards to update your information.
  • Call the places you’ve placed advertising with to see if you can alter the type in the next edition.
  • Place analytics tools, like Google Analytics, on your site to see where people visiting it are going.
  • Use sites like bit.ly to shorten, and track, the website links you put out in social media.

Once you’ve got the means in place to track the items, you need to determine what success means to your project, strategy, or piece. I’m going to ask you exercise some patience when it comes to tracking your success. Overnight success or an instant explosion of interest is not, and I repeat not, likely. It will take time, but you should determine what timeframe you are comfortable with or accepting of.

A little thought on how to figure out what success will look like. Please understand that it might take a few days for people to get a hold of your effort and that you can’t factor for people who many not be interested in your effort sharing it with others. There are multiple theories of success that you could use to determine your final outcome. One theory of success is the Pareto principle, often called the 80-20 rule, states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. The 1 Percent Rule is another, and Wikipedia defines it as “the 1 percent rule or the 90-9-1 principle reflects a theory that more people will lurk in a virtual community than will participate. This term is often used as a euphemism for participation inequality in the context of the Internet.”

Lastly, please don’t think I’m saying tracking your items is a quick thing to do. Tracking your efforts is a task unto itself. You’ll need to set aside some time to review your statistics and outcome as they come in. This could be day to day, month to month, or an accumulative total in a year. It’s best to take a step back and remember it’s not personal, but in these numbers you can find what works and what doesn’t.

The last thing you want to do is feel like any piece you’ve created was out there with no means for you to know it works. I hope this post has inspired some ideas of how you could begin to track the success of what is working and what doesn’t. This is me giving you a bit of permission to experiment with what works and what doesn’t, but always give each thing you choose to do a way to measure it’s success.

I would love your thoughts on today’s post here in the comments or you can reach me on Twitter by sending a message to @wickedjava, or on Facebook at facebook.com/mcdougherty.

As all ways, if you have been reading, thank you and stay wicked.

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  • Great post, Mike. I think people get so lost in the "shiny new toy" aspect of social media that they forget it's really easy to track, if you set your mind to it.

    What makes even more sense to me (and people are probably tired of hearing me say this) is selecting specific outcomes you want, and setting those as your measurable objectives. So when people click through those shortened links, for example, are they actually taking the action you need them to take? That should be the ultimate arbiter of success, in my opinion.
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