Improve Your Marketing Decision Making

How are your marketing programs doing? What's your average response rate, cost per sale and size of sale? Which publications, venues, ads and offers have received the best response?

If you're like many business owners you've got a gut feeling about all of these things, but a dearth of hard data. If so, you're really flying blind…and you may be wasting much of your marketing budget as a result.

Better Data = Better Decisions

Every business should systematically track and analyze responses to their marketing programs, so that future decisions can be based on historical results. What data should you capture? As much as you can! For example, for print ads I recommend that you track the publication name and circulation; ad name, date and cost; offer and coupon code (if applicable); date and amount of customer's purchase; and customer name and contact information (if appropriate). Remember, it's not enough to know that a customer saw your ad in XYZ Publication; you want to know if she saw this month's ad or the one you ran last fall.

Analyzing Your Responses

So what do you do with all of this data? Start by looking at your response rates for each marketing program. This is the number of people who received or had the opportunity to see a particular ad or marketing piece divided by the number who actually responded to it. Look to see how this response rate changed if you changed the ad, offer, publication, mailing list or other factor. How many sales were made? Compare the average cost per sale and size of sale of each program, and then look at the return on investment (ROI) by comparing the total net sales (or the anticipated lifetime sales to these new customers) to the cost of the program itself.

Think of your historical data as a valuable treasure trove of information, and use it to fine tune and maximize the success of your marketing program.