Three Ways to Build Smarter Campaigns with Data

Megan Kessler


Image by Jorge Molina used under C license.

One big mistake marketers often make is to save measurement until the end of a campaign.  At PAN, we have built measurement and benchmarking into our quarterly planning process to ensure that our strategies are always built on proven tactics that produce the results our clients care about.  Below are three of our top lessons learned when it comes to measurement and analytics.

Identify your Buyers

The first step toward successful marketing must be a comprehensive understanding of your buyer. If you haven’t already, spend the time to create buyer personas based on third-party research and existing customer and prospect data to inform your future marketing programs.  One of the very first questions we ask our clients and prospects is “who is your target customer?”  If it is an everyday consumer, we ask for details about age, sex, income and interests.  If it is a professional, we inquire about title, department, size of company and vertical industries, among other details.  Having this information at the ready to inform your integrated marketing efforts will have a huge impact on your likelihood of success. Why?  Because today’s customers expect a personalized experience. Knowing your target customers’ pain points, needs, interests, resource restrictions and more will help you to deliver the content and solutions they are looking for, through the most impactful channels, at just the right time in their buying process.  In fact, recent research by Econsultancy found that businesses that use personalization are seeing an average uplift of 19 percent in sales. If you have yet to create marketing personas to inform your communications efforts, or feel yours may need to be refreshed, HubSpot offers a great guide to creating buyer personas here.

Benchmark at the Beginning

The best way to capture the true impact of an integrated communications campaign is to benchmark at the beginning. Without this, you can quickly find yourself two steps behind, rather than a step ahead, of key stakeholders’ expectations. Whether you are launching an earned media campaign, a content campaign centered around lead gen, a social media effort or some combination of the three (which we always recommend), is vital to measure where you stand today in each arena before you begin. Just a few of the metrics we benchmark at the outset of any campaign include:

Website traffic – Measure average monthly web traffic and ratio of new versus returning visitors so you can quantify positive shifts. If your goal is exposure, look for an increase in new visitors. If your goal is further engagement, look for an increase in average time on your website and a decrease in bounce rates.
  • Top traffic sources – Measure share of total website traffic coming from organic, direct or referral sources. Your goal should be an even split between the three, but a dedicated awareness campaign should drive direct traffic, while a content campaign should impact referral traffic. Measure these channels upfront to show impact during and after a campaign.

  • Top performing content – While marketing automation systems like HubSpot, Marketo or Eloqua will allow you to measure the impact of content efforts on lead generation, you can also leverage Google Analytics for this insight. Take time during campaign planning to look at your recent content campaigns – we often go a year back – to identify which types and topics drove the most referral traffic. You should not be surprised to find that your best performing content was comprised of the pieces you supported with a dedicated earned media or digital advertising push. The more external exposure your content receives via earned or paid channels, the better it will perform.

  • Top social media referring channels – If social media is a focus of your awareness and lead gen strategies (and it should be), it is also important to measure which platforms are driving the most referral traffic today and in the future.  Google Analytics can help you benchmark which channels are generating the greatest impact and can even offer insight into which posts are performing best with regard to driving traffic to your content.  This is only part of the picture, of course.

  • Social media audience and engagement – Additionally, you should be leveraging insights available directly through Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to measure additional metrics including increases in audience and total impressions and, most importantly, engagement.  Look at re-tweets, likes and comments, as well as most popular posts, to identify content that is resonating with buyers – insight that can be used across your integrated communications programs.  Other tools we love for social media measurement? Check out Netbase, Twitter Counter and Muck Rack, to start.

Looking at these benchmarks in aggregate can offer valuable perspective on where and how to invest resources into an integrated marketing campaign. This exercise is also vital in identifying what is

working and what is not in your current marketing mix and the true impact of your next campaign.

Leverage Google Analytics to Streamline Earned Media Efforts

Public relations has always been known as an awareness driver, but in the age of immediate impact it’s important that we can prove PR’s power in lead generation as well. The best way to do this is to leverage a purpose-built earned media linking strategy. One of the top ways to showcase the influence of linked press coverage is to measure its effect on referral traffic to your website.  A quick peek under the hood of your Google Analytics can help you define your top sources of earned media traffic down to the exact article and reporter.  As a rule, when we kick off campaigns with new clients and measure those we have recently executed, we always benchmark top earned media traffic sources, then leverage our most powerful influencers and outlets as a part of our next program.

While some sources will seem intuitive – those industry influencers with tens of thousands of social media followers tend to appear here – others will surprise you. Across the board, our teams on the business-to-business side of the house have found that trade outlets are often more impactful in driving both volume and quality of traffic to our clients’ websites than earned media heavy-hitters like Forbes or Fast Company.  For example, prior to launching Fuel3D’s Scanify 3D scanning technology at CES 2015, our team did a deep dive on earned media referral traffic for the year prior to help understand the startup’s existing relationships and opportunities.  We found that 3D trade outlets like and “techsumer” publications like Slashdot were responsible for driving the bulk of the website’s traffic to date. We built these outlets and similar into our launch strategy, supplementing with known referral heavyweights like The Next Web and Mashable. The strategy worked – among Fuel3D’s top referral sources post-show was a broader base of 3D trades, technology outlets and, to our surprise, LinkedIn (resulting from one influencer’s round-up of top tech from the show). Referral traffic rose 61 percent, and total website traffic rose 167 percent in the month of January. The takeaway? Knowing who and what is driving your website traffic at the outset of a campaign can help you streamline your efforts and pull only the most impactful levers.

How are you using data and analytics to build better marketing campaigns?



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