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What is Successful Digital Marketing?

Posted by in Content Strategy, Data and Analytics, Digital Marketing, Social Media Strategy

Illustration of upward moving graph with person at top of it

In this article we explore different ways to measure your digital marketing success.

“What does success look like?” It’s an important question we ask all our clients in early strategy sessions or discovery workshops. Success in digital marketing can mean different things to different organizations, so it’s critical to build consensus on success criteria early on.

Most organizations focus their digital marketing efforts around improving the performance of a website, social profile, or online campaign. While this approach is essential to any digital strategy, the definition of successful digital marketing shouldn’t be limited to only these things. In fact, there are several facets of a business that can be improved through digital marketing. Your definition of its success should be tailored to your organization, just like your digital activities should be tailored to your needs and available resources.

Below is a breakdown of the different types of digital marketing success metrics that your organization should consider monitoring:

User Engagement

Measuring user engagement is one of the most common ways of tracking success in digital marketing. It makes sense: by measuring how users engage with your online activities, you get direct metrics about the people you are targeting. That’s important to every marketer. The key to deciding which metrics to track is to figure out what information will help you make decisions in the future. You don’t need to track everything, just the metrics that your digital activities are trying to improve.

Metrics to consider:

  • How many people visit your website?
  • How long people spend on your site?
  • What are the most popular pages on your site?
  • Number of followers you have on social media
  • Engagement rates (likes, shares, comments) on social media
  • Open rates on email marketing
  • Click-through rates on email marketing
  • Click-through rates from search engine results or online ads

The options for user engagement metrics are endless, so choose 5-10 that are most important to you and work on improving those.

Conversion Funnel

In addition to measuring whether users engage with your organization online, you should also track the process they go through as they engage with you. Most organizations will have a conversion funnel that they want their target audience to complete. Typically this involves the following steps:

  • Awareness – At this stage, a user is learning about your organization and what it offers.
  • Consideration – The user is seriously considering your organization and wants to learn more before converting.
  • Conversion – The user takes an action that you want them to complete. This can range from purchasing a product or making a donation to filling in a form or signing up for an email newsletter.
  • Loyalty – At this stage a user who has already converted makes additional conversions and establishes a relationship with your organization.
  • Advocacy – The user starts to refer your organization to others.

Think about how you can improve this funnel and track metrics that reflect your users’ progress through it.

Metrics to consider:

  • How many people are entering your funnel?
  • How many people are moving through each stage in the funnel?
  • How easy is it for users to get through the funnel? Are people having problems that you can fix?
  • How many people are converting?
  • How many people drop off before or after converting?
  • What channels generate the most funnel entries?
  • What channels generate the most funnel conversions?
  • How long does it take for people to move through the entire funnel?

If increasing conversions is a goal for your organization then improving conversion funnel metrics are critical for success.

Brand Perception

Establishing and maintaining a good reputation is very important for a brand or organization’s success. This can be hard to measure because emotions are difficult to track. That said, if digital marketing is able to positively influence these metrics, then the whole organization will benefit.

Metrics to consider:

  • What is the social sentiment when your organization is mentioned by online users? There are dozens of tools out there that will determine if user-generated content about your organization is generally positive, neutral or negative. You could also consider using digital surveys or conducting other user research to find this out.
  • Do your users think the content you create is valuable?
  • Do people link to your website?

A better perception of your brand can lead to stronger relationships with users so it’s worth considering how your digital marketing can help with this.

Digital marketing brainstorming session

Internal Collaboration

Successful digital marketing relies on team members working together to create consistent messaging and a unified strategy. This can start to get complicated when there are multiple groups involved. Larger organizations often end up with siloed departments that don’t communicate with each other on their digital efforts. Working on improving this collaboration will lead to a better strategy and improved results. Try consolidating schedules and running human-centered design workshops to build consensus among different stakeholders.

Metrics to consider:

  • How many departments are using the same strategy and content calendar?
  • Are departments sharing information with each other?
  • Has collaboration decreased the internal workload?

A digital marketing strategy that improves internal processes will help your organization’s overall productivity and that is certainly worth considering when measuring a strategy’s success.

Customer Service Processes

By providing users with access to online content and functionality online, you can improve their customer service experience while reducing your internal workload. A digital strategy should include plans on how to deal with online customer service inquiries or complaints while providing users with clear directions on how to get in touch.

Metrics to consider:

  • How many customer service phone calls are we receiving?
  • How many customer service inquiries are we receiving online through email, social media, and form submissions?
  • What is our response time to online customer service inquiries?
  • How many people viewed content that answers frequently asked questions?

Working to improve the online experience for your customer service will not only benefit your relationship with each individual user, it will also help to strengthen the processes for your internal teams too.

SMART Goals

No matter what goals you set for yourself, we recommend you use the SMART approach:

  • Specific – Your goal should be clear and explain what you want to do.  
  • Measureable – Your goal should have some measurement that defines success. This should be a metric you can track. Even improvements to team collaboration can be tracked through SUS scores.
  • Achievable – Is it possible for you to fulfill the tasks you need in order to meet these goals? Do you have enough money, resources, etc?
  • Realistic – Your goal should be realistic to achieve, not pie-in-the-sky aspirations that are impossible.    
  • Time-bound – Define a time period for achieving this goal. At that point you’ll need to assess whether or not you were successful and whether to continue pursuing this goal.

Defining what “success” means when you are creating a digital strategy will help you determine what activities you should undertake and what metrics you should track. By expanding your understanding of what it means to have successful digital marketing, you’ll be able to broaden the impact of your efforts to more areas of the organization and for your users.

Veronica has managed digital marketing projects for over seven years and her past clients include BBC Worldwide, Pfizer, The Building and Social Housing Foundation and the NHS. When she's not working, Veronica enjoys travel, working on craft projects, and playing board games. Connect with her on LinkedIn.