Let’s start with a simple fact – measuring, monitoring, testing and tweaking your marketing activity is a good thing… it’s essential.

There is both an art and a science behind any effective marketing campaign, and there are a lot of variables at play, including different messages, different creative, different timing, different media, different audiences, and so on. Finding the optimum combination of these variables for a particular business can require some trial and error; so understanding what works – and perhaps more importantly what doesn’t work – allows you to direct the budget to the tactics that offer the best return and to evolve the campaign to improve its effectiveness.

They say there are lies, damned lies and statistics. I don’t quite subscribe to that view. I believe that if the methodology is sound, the statistics are usually reliable. The problem tends to lie in how those statistics are interpreted. I’ll put this into context by looking at some key metrics.

marketing metrics

Website traffic

Your website analytics can measure with perfect accuracy the number of people who have visited your website in a given period. If this number is increasing, it must mean your marketing is working and all is well, right? Actually, no. It depends on who those visitors are and whether they are relevant to your business.

Think of a company that sells replacement windows and doors. They run a campaign with the headline ‘Solving your problems with windows’ As a result of their campaign, traffic to their website increases significantly… but closer analysis shows that their increase in website traffic is driven by people who are looking for an IT company to help resolve issues with Microsoft Windows. Whilst they have exceeded their KPI for visitors to their website, it is of no value to the business at all. Measuring traffic to a website can be a useful metric, but care is needed.

Bounce rate

The bounce rate is a measure of the number of people who visit a website and leave after only viewing one page. A high bounce rate used to be considered a bad thing on the principle that people who land on a site and leave without exploring, were doing so because the site was not providing what they were looking for. Google used to penalise sites with a high bounce rate, but they now recognise that a high bounce rate can be a good thing and it is no longer detrimental to your site’s SEO.

There are plenty of simple websites for small businesses that comprise a single page holding all the necessary information. Sites such as these would have a bounce rate of 100%, but it doesn’t mean the site is poor. Even for larger websites, if the SEO is working well, visitors can be directed straight to the page that provides the information they are looking for. For example, if you are searching for a company’s contact details or a shop’s opening hours, you may leave satisfied after only viewing one page – and that’s a good thing.

Dwell time

This is a measure of how long the average visitor stays on your site. A long dwell time can be good, if it means visitors are engaged with the site and finding lots of interesting information there. But it can equally be a bad thing if it means visitors are struggling to find what they are looking for.


As a general rule, it’s a good idea to have a selection of calls-to-action on a website. They may be to download information, place an order, request a quote, or to get in touch via email, phone or a form. Measuring the number of visitors who choose to interact in any of these ways is a great place to start when deciding which KPIs to track. Of course the quality of these enquiries should also be measured, and that should be based on clear metrics (like conversion rate) rather than just anecdotal evidence from the people answering the phones.

Campaign metrics

As a general rule, it is easier to measure the effectiveness of digital marketing than non-digital activity. Email campaigns offer the ability to not only see how many people have opened the email, but also to see how many of those have taken an action (like clicking through to your website, downloading a brochure, getting in touch via email and so on). Other digital marketing like banner advertising and affiliate marketing, can offer similar levels of insight.

Other more traditional media like print, TV, radio, billboards etc. don’t usually generate a direct response – you’re unlikely to turn off or pause the TV so you can call a company you’ve just seen on the adverts. But this doesn’t mean that these channels are not useful. Brand advertising has an important role to play in raising brand awareness and building brand equity… which are key to acquiring new customers and nurturing customer engagement. You can read more on this in a separate article – here.

Measuring ROI

It is increasingly the case that business leaders want to measure their return on investment for each element of their marketing activity. Whilst I wholeheartedly support the principle of monitoring the effectiveness of any campaign, there are likely to be some elements that are difficult to put a value on and don’t generate a direct response, but they are valuable nonetheless. Raising brand awareness is just one good example.

In the construction industry, it is often the contractors who are the paying customers for suppliers of building products. But the contractors are not the sole decision-makers. The architect, developer, end user and consultant may make a specification or have some influence. For the building products supplier, there is value in marketing to these specifiers and influencers… but as the specifier is not making the purchase, the return on investment metric will not place a value on this activity.

Should we measure ROI? Absolutely we should. But we should do so for the whole of an integrated campaign, with an understanding that some elements of that campaign will generate the measurable direct response, whilst other (equally important) elements will play a supporting role.

The experienced team at 49 Red can help with all aspects of your next marketing campaign, and can provide meaningful analytics that help ensure all your marketing activity is optimised to deliver excellent results for your business. Contact Hugh directly on 07808 365214 or hugh.moss@49red.co.uk for more details.