Editor’s note: This post comes from our Constant Contact UK office.

If you’ve ever heard me talk about the 3 1/2 Steps To Marketing Success, you’ll know that those steps are:

  • 1: Plan
  • 2: Test
  • 3: Implement
  • 3 1/2: Measure

I call this last half a step the magic one, because measurement is what really makes your marketing work and takes it to the next level.

Ever heard the saying that “what gets measured gets done”? Well it’s true, measuring the results of your marketing efforts will not only tell you how well your different strategies are working, but will also make sure that you’re actually doing your marketing in the first place.

That’s almost a bonus benefit of measuring your marketing though – the really meaty outcome of marketing measurement is that you will know what works, and can then make it even better (so that you can make more money).

Measuring your marketing should not be hard. In fact, you probably already have everything that you need successfully measure your marketing at your fingertips, and I’m going to show you 10 ways you can do it right now:

1. Turnover

Marketing is there to make you more money, so the ultimate measure of whether it’s working or not is your turnover. However, it’s amazing how many business owners couldn’t tell you this number without a great deal of research.

For most of us, monthly turnover (how much money comes into your business in each month) is the most sensible measure, and means that after 3 months you know your quarterly turnover, and after 12 months you know your annual turnover. For some businesses, weekly turnover is a more sensible number (for example, a sandwich shop).

Where you get this: your last month’s bank statement

2. Number of sales

Although increased turnover is the big goal, it’s important to know the number of sales that you’ve made over the same time period. This is because you could make 2 huge sales, or a hundred small ones, and come out with the same number both times. In each of these cases, it will tell you something important about how your marketing is working and what you should be doing more of, for example – if you are making most of your money from 2 huge sales, then going after a 3rd large order would be more effective than chasing another 100 small ones.

Where you can get this info: Look at your last month’s invoices.

3. Repeat customer numbers

I read a statistic a while ago which stated that repeat customers are 7 times less expensive to sell to in terms of marketing and sales costs, than a brand new customer. I have no idea if that figure is at all accurate, but your repeat customers are certainly a lot easier to promote to and convert into a sale, because they already know how great you are and have invested in your products and services accordingly. If you have ever been back to the same restaurant twice (or more) instead of going somewhere new because you KNOW this place is good, that’s what I’m talking about.

In a nutshell, you want more repeat customers (as do we all), and you can deliberately target them if you want to.

Where to find this information: Your recent invoices.

4. Google alerts

You want to know who’s talking about you online – we all want to know that! There’s a really easy way to find out. Just set up Google Alerts for:

  • – Your name
  • – Your company name
  • – The names of your main products

This is a free service from Google, and they will email you whenever they find that one of your search terms has been mentioned online. Of course, they’re not psychic, so you have to set up the Alerts for EXACTLY the terms that you want to get results for, but it’s easy to do, and totally free.

Where to do this: http://www.google.com/alerts

5. Social mention

So Google Alerts scans the web, but Social Mention scans social media platforms for mentions of the phrases you ask it to look for. Again, you have to tell it EXACTLY what you need, and then Social Mention will go to work on your behalf.

Whether or not you (or your company) are active on social media, you need to know if people are talking about you there, so check it out ASAP.

6. Alexa ranking

Alexa is not just a pretty name, it’s an online service which tracks and monitors all the websites it can find and ranks them on the basis of: [put in ranking details here].

You want your website to be higher up the Alexa rankings than lower, and you can use the Alexa website to track improvements in your website’s performance.

All you have to do is go the Alexa website, and type in your domain name.

Where to do this: http://www.youralexaranking.com/

7. Friends, fans and followers

Are you on social media? I’m talking Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and YouTube now. If you’re not there already, you should be. Social media levels the playing field for us small businesses and allows us to go up against big businesses on an equal footing.

One thing that is common to all social media platforms, is that they allow you to connect with others, and tracks who you’re ‘connected’ to, whether they call them a Friend, a Fan, a Follower, a Subscriber or anything else. A very simple way to keep an eye on your social media success is to monitor the number of people who have connected with you. Of course, it’s not just a numbers game as it’s really easy to get a lot of useless followers very quickly on Twitter, for example. You want real followers in your target audience, but if that number is increasing, you know you’re also increasing your reach.

Where to find this information: When you login to any of your social media accounts.

8. Newsletter signups and unsubscribes

Your newsletter serves to support and keep you in touch with your customers and contacts. The more people in your target audience who receive and read your newsletter, the better it will work for you.

Ideally, the number of people on your mailing list should be increasing all the time, and the way to keep track of this is to monitor your signups (new people choosing to join your list) and your unsubscribes (people leaving your list).

If you’re doing good things, sending out useful information, and being someone worth watching, then your signups will increase. However, if you’re not giving people what they want, then you will get more unsubscribes.

Of course there is always some natural ‘churn’ with people leaving and joining your list, but keep your eye on the big numbers to know if you’re communicating with your people in the best way for them (and if you want some help with doing that, check out www.nailthatnewsletter.com).

Where to find this out: Your newsletter software will show you these numbers when you log in.

9. Website statistics

Your website statistics (number of visitors, length of time they visit for, number of pages they look at on your site, most popular pages, etc) are the first monitoring tool that most people think of for their marketing. However, it’s only part of the picture, which is why I’ve put it near the end of this article.

Website stats are an important part of the picture though, so don’t ignore them. If you look at your statistics with an intelligent eye, you’ll be able to learn a lot about what your website visitors are looking for, and what you should give them more of.

For example, if you have a high bounce rate (lots of people coming to your home page and then leaving very quickly, without visiting any other pages), then you know that you need to grab people’s attention better here.

On the other hand, if you have a page on your site (maybe a blog article) that gets lots of attention, you could give that page a more prominent from your home page, or put a strong call to action on this page to grab your visitors whilst they are there.

How to find this information: Use Google Analytics http://www.google.com/analytics/ or WordPress Stats http://en.wordpress.com/features/stats/ if you have a WordPress site. Both are free!

10. What people say

This is one of my favourites, but often overlooked during the search for high-tech monitoring methods. The thing about having customers who are people (and we all do have customers who are people – even if they are representing a business), is that they have opinions. Like as not, they will also share those opinions with you if you ask them to.

That is all you actually need to do – ask. You can do this in a number of ways, for example:

  • Customer satisfaction surveys
  • Client focus groups
  • Post order or post delivery questions (e.g. “where did you hear about us?”)

Each one of these methods has it’s advantages, and all of them will tell you what’s working for your clients and which of your marketing techniques is the most effective – IF you ask the right questions.

However, there’s also more spontaneous feedback received by all businesses. These are the emails or calls that you get out of the blue where a customer expresses an opinion about what you’ve done for them.

These other opinions should also be recorded, monitored and acted on in order to capitalise on them. One way to do this is to have a simple feedback spreadsheet saved to your computer desktop. Everytime you get a piece of spontaneous affirming or constructive feedback, pop the details in the spreadsheet, and review it once a month to see what you can do more of, and what isn’t working quite so well.

Where to get this information: Straight from the horses mouth! Ask your customers.