“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” – John Wanamaker, Philadelphia department store owner and marketing pioneer
Metrics is one of the most important aspects of marketing, and yet one of the most challenging. In many ways, marketing is more of an art than a science, and it can be incredibly difficult to measure the results of your efforts, especially when you have more than one interconnected campaign. However, in order to know where to focus your ongoing marketing efforts, you must evaluate the success of your tactics in meeting your overall objectives.
Identify Your Successes (or Failures)
If you made your objective measurable and specific, as we discussed a few weeks ago, there should be no question about whether your marketing efforts met your goals. Let’s say your objective was to increase book sales by 10% within a particular time frame.
1. What increase in sales did you experience as a result of your marketing efforts (measured against the same period last year/last book launch/last quarter, etc.)?
2. Did this meet your goals?
3. If not, how close were you to meeting your goals? For example, an increase of 9% could be still considered a success, even if it did not technically accomplish your objective.
4. Questions to consider if you did not meet your goal:
— Did your marketing efforts bring in sales/awareness from the quarter you expected? Perhaps you set out to increase sales on Amazon but found that your marketing efforts actually translated into an increase of bookstore sales. Or perhaps your social media efforts actually converted to an increase in newsletter sign-ups.
— Was the time frame too ambitious? If you’ve seen results, just not to the degree you expected, it may be worth extending the marketing efforts another 1-3 months to see if you experience an exponential increase.
— Was the objective too ambitious? While your objectives should be achievable, sometimes it’s difficult to set a reasonable goal the first time out of the gate. If you partially met your objective, you may want to reevaluate either the scope of your efforts (whether expanding them would yield greater results), the tactics (trying different options for reaching the same objective), or the objective itself (lowering expectations).
Once you’ve measured the results of your marketing efforts and asked yourself the questions above, it’s time to reevaluate your objectives, strategies, and tactics. In some cases, you’ll find that while you met your goal, the investment of time and/or money required to meet it was too high given the results. You may choose to focus your efforts on other tactics instead.
On the other hand, you may find that some marketing strategies could be even more successful were you able to devote more time and effort to them. You might choose to expand your participation in that area and cut back in others.
If this all sounds very vague, it’s because there are dozens of ways to measure every type of marketing effort. You could certainly check out one of the excellent books on marketing metrics, but most of it tends to be MBA-level stuff, for which most writers don’t have the patience. The best advice for determining which half of your marketing is working is to change slowly. Maintain your marketing campaigns for a sustained period, changing one tactic at a time. If you see a spike in sales or web traffic, it will be instantly clear which tactic is responsible.
This concludes our series on writing your book marketing plan! Next week, we’ll begin a series of interviews with authors, editors, marketing professionals, and publishers on the topics of platform, marketing, and publicity… you won’t want to miss it!