Creating and implementing a marketing plan are good first steps to boost your business, but it’s also necessary to measure whether your tactics are working as expected. Some business owners try a marketing technique for a too-brief period, and potentially miss out on lucrative opportunities due to impatience.

That’s why it’s useful to intelligently track your marketing methods throughout history so you can tweak and revamp them as necessary. Keep reading to learn about why tracking your marketing performance is necessary, and find out about several solutions that can make keeping tabs on your marketing efforts easier than expected.

How Marketing Tracking Helps Businesses

One of the main reasons business owners track marketing efforts is because they want to determine the degree to which such techniques actually boost profits. If it turns out a marketing method is extremely expensive, yet doesn’t have a positive effect on profits, a company might want to consider doing something different. However, there are many other things companies learn by watching marketing trends across time:

  • If the marketing methods directly meet stakeholder needs
  • Whether the techniques put a company closer to its year-end goals
  • Which parts of a marketing plan to alter for overall greater effectiveness
  • When it’s time to admit that something isn’t working and things aren’t likely to improve

Maybe you’re inexperienced in marketing tracking methods, or perhaps you want to improve the ones you currently use by supplementing them with new data. No matter where your business falls on that spectrum, the strategies below will help you scrutinize how your marketing is benefiting or hindering your company, and come away with valuable insight.

Customize the Metrics Your Company Uses

Marketing professionals caution there’s no one-size-fits-all metric that can capture how your company is doing. One expert even revealed he knew of over 100 different marketing metrics. That’s why you can’t just take a metric that worked well for a competing company and expect it’ll also bring useful knowledge to yours.

Instead, focus on customized metrics. It’ll be easier to do that if you remain well aware of the goals you hope to achieve through marketing. Maybe you’ve just begun running a print advertisement in a new magazine and want to know precisely how many people contacted your company because they saw the promotion in that particular publication. One easy thing you could do is add text to the advertisement that says something like, “Enter the code [name of magazine] in the discount code field of the online shop, or mention it when you contact us by phone to get 20 percent off your purchase.”

Then, create a custom metric that tracks the number of responses or dollar amount of total purchases across time. It’ll give you a good idea of whether to continue running that advertisement in that magazine, or if it’s better to take a different approach.

Hire a Professional Team (or Switch to a Better Company)

Maybe you’ve made business marketing a priority, but just feel there aren’t enough hours in the day to get adequate momentum. If you’re perpetually short on time, tracking marketing efforts might feel out of the question, especially if you scarcely have time to launch campaigns at all.

On the other hand, maybe you’re already working with marketing professionals but don’t feel they’re using current techniques to get the results you expect. Switching to a new marketing company often requires pausing your marketing campaigns for about two weeks. Thinking about that may cause some alarm, but don’t fret. That length of time usually isn’t long enough to cause your website to drop in search engine rankings. If you have other concerns related to putting the brakes on existing campaigns, speak openly about them with the marketing manager and see what options exist.

It’s a little scary to hire a marketing team or switch to a provider that seems better. However, doing so could really pay off — not just for streamlining your tracking efforts, but also for allowing you to hit the ground running with new, and ultimately more effective, campaigns.

Track Effectiveness Through Dedicated Phone Numbers

If your business gets a lot of engagement from people who reach out by phone, and you’re curious what made them call you, getting answers is as easy as setting up one phone number for each marketing campaign you use. You might have separate phone numbers for:

  • Promotions mentioned on your Twitter feed
  • Special offers broadcast on the company’s Facebook page
  • Direct mail correspondence
  • Television advertisements
  • Website campaigns

This is a relatively low-tech solution, but it’s something you can easily set up. Track the number of calls associated with each number across time. There are many software suites that aid in creating phone numbers and gauging call traffic. If one of the numbers consistently gets much less engagement than the others, that’s a strong indicator of whichever campaign it’s associated with isn’t working well.

Invest in Marketing Automation Software

Although it’s an essential part of running your business, marketing tracking is very time-consuming. Also, it’s not something that can simultaneously be performed quickly and thoroughly — at least not on your own. Marketing automation software could take your efforts to the next level by letting you see all pertinent metrics in one place.

Many programs track lead generation, too, helping you see what’s driving interest levels in new customers. HubSpot, Pardot and TargetEveryOne are just a few of the many software suites to consider. Free trial versions are often the best ways to understand featured functionality and to determine if interfaces are user-friendly enough for your needs.

Depending on the size of the business, you might initially balk at forking over the cash for one of these products. If you get one that’s geared toward the way your company operates, it’ll probably be clear the time you save is well worth the money spent.

In closing, remember how even the most well-established companies launch ultimately unsuccessful campaigns from time to time. When you’re responsible for one or more dismal efforts, that doesn’t constitute failure.

The best thing you could do after such events is to put some of the tracking suggestions above in place to figure out what went wrong and to avoid similar future outcomes. No matter how you specifically go about tracking your marketing performance, you’re already moving in the right direction by finding out practical ways to make improvements.

Sarah Landrum

Sarah Landrum is a marketing specialist, freelance writer and blogger. Her career blog, Punched Clocks, is all about creating a career you love and are happy in. Subscribe to her newsletter and follow her on social media for more tips on growing your career and your business.