One of the most difficult and frustrating elements of marketing is determining when a particular campaign or strategy is working and when it isn’t. Marketing isn’t an exact science, and it is even difficult for seasoned marketing veterans to determine the exact effectiveness of a particular marketing campaign. How can you, as the owner or manager of a small business, tell when your marketing is working and when it isn’t?

Marketing Is Vitally Important

Some small business owners and managers draw incorrect conclusions about the effectiveness of a particular marketing campaign, often simply based on whether or not they see a short-term increase in sales. It’s easy to determine if your sales increase or decrease, but what if those changes are caused by factors other than your marketing? When it comes to small business marketing, determining what’s working and what isn’t is not only difficult, but vitally important as well. Small businesses often have very limited marketing budgets, and quickly determining if a particular campaign is working or not can mean the difference between having the resources available to actually change course or abandon your marketing efforts altogether. Luckily, there are a few tools, strategies and tricks you can implement to better gauge the effectiveness of your marketing.

Set Realistic, Reasonable and Measurable Expectations And Goals

The most important element of measuring the success or failure of a marketing campaign is to set a quantitative set of goals for your campaign and then regularly measure the effectiveness of your campaign against those goals. For many businesses, the ultimate goal of a marketing campaign is to increase sales, but simply checking for an increase in sales may not be an accurate measurement of your campaign’s effectiveness, as other factors will influence those results. Instead, determine a set of performance metrics or goals such as increasing the number of unique visitors funneled to your website or increasing your social media followers. Be sure that the metrics you choose will end up playing a role in influencing your sales.

Solicit Feedback From Clients And Customers

Large businesses and marketing firms use many tools to measure the effectiveness of marketing campaigns. As a small business owner or manager, you likely don’t have the resources to invest in extensive and costly marketing strategies. Instead, leverage an advantage that you have over many large companies and firms – your one-on-one interactions with your clients and customers. Don’t be afraid to ask how a client or customer was referred to your business, or ask if a particular marketing campaign made an impact on them or influenced their purchasing decision. Most importantly, be open to constructive criticism and critiques, and don’t be afraid to change course if you receive a sustained negative reaction to your marketing.

Look Online For Feedback

Talking to clients and customers about your marketing face-to-face is effective, but many people aren’t fully honest when asked for their opinion in person – especially if their honest feedback isn’t positive or flattering. However, many people feel more comfortable providing feedback online, and social media networks provide an excellent platform for feedback. Look for Facebook comments and tweets from followers, and learn to separate the legitimate feedback from the mean and insulting feedback that is submitted primarily to elicit an emotional response.

Look At Your Competitors’ Feedback

If your small business doesn’t regularly receive feedback over social media, look to your competitors and other companies within your industry with similar marketing campaigns and study the feedback they have received. You can gain very valuable insights into the effectiveness of your own marketing campaigns, and quickly learn what is working and what isn’t within your industry, simply by reviewing as much public feedback about your industry as you can.