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Business owner serving customers and wondering if her marketing is working

How to Measure if Your Marketing is Working (or Not)

By Greg Hatch

| Updated on September 2022

One of the most relevant concerns a business owner can have is knowing whether their marketing is working (or not).

Have you heard about Scott? Scott loves his car (bless his heart), but doesn’t know a thing about how it works. For the first year I knew him he was transfixed with blowers (that thing sticking out of the hood of muscle cars). He was absolutely convinced that if his car had a blower he’d be doubling his horsepower. So within that year, he had a big hole cut in the hood, spent a huge chunk of cash and got a blower installed.

Did it work? A little, but he still wouldn’t win a single race with that engine, weight, suspension, or those wheels. The fact is there’s more to car performance than just a fancy blower.

And you guessed it – the same goes for marketing. Every stage in your marketing funnel will give you a percentage increase to your results, but you have to tie it all together in order for it to actually win you that revenue.

Your first step in understanding your marketing is going to be understanding the stages of your marketing funnel. Don’t worry, we have an article on that too – Marketing 201: The 3 Key Stages. Once you’ve taken a look through there, the next question is what we’re really here for – how do you measure those stages?

Measure Your Marketing Based on the Goals of Your Funnel

Based on the 3 key stages of your marketing funnel, let’s start by defining the goals of each stage.


Your advertising has two goals – to increase the brand exposure and interest of people in your target market who may or may not be searching (yet). Basically, we want more relevant people to know about you. With this in mind, you need to measure:

  1. Do all my advertising tactics hit as close to my target audience as possible? (And can we improve this?)
  2. What advertising tactics do buyers really take note of and remember?
  3. How much traffic is my advertising bringing to our website and our business?
  4. How much does it cost for:
    • Exposure to 10,000 relevant people?
    • 1,000 visitors to the website?

That’s it. Every question beyond this, isn’t the job of your advertising. If your advertising has a green light from all three of these questions, then your advertising really is doing well.

Online Presence

The next stage in your funnel will be your online presence  (ie. website, business listings and social media, etc.), which has two distinct goals – to maximize the findability of your company, and to convert mildly interested users into highly interested leads. Translating that, our goals here are to make sure that searching buyers find you and when they do, we need to make sure they’re actually contacting you. With this in mind, you need to measure:

  1. How many people see our online presence? (Website/business listings/social media)
  2. When people see our online presence, what percentage actually contact us? (This is your conversion rate)
  3. Do the people who contact us understand what we do and inquire about our services?

It’s important at this point to keep in mind the separation between traffic due to your online presence vs. the conversion rate of your web traffic. These are two very different problems which have very different solutions.

Customer Experience

Following your advertising and online presence, your customer experience has two distinct goals – to convert leads into sales, and to convert customers into future business (referrals & repeat buyers). These goals break down into your sales process, delivery of service, and what after-service care looks like. With this in mind, you need to measure:

  1. How many leads actually turn into sales?
  2. How many referrals do we get compared to customers?
  3. On average, how many times does a customer purchase from us?

Each question is meant to diagnose the health of different areas in your customer’s experience. Your advertising, online presence and customer experience work together to form the full breadth of your marketing efforts; by separating them it becomes much easier to diagnose where your ship is leaking (or where it’s excelling). Having said that, there’s a huge difference between knowing what questions to ask, and knowing the best way to gather your answers…

Gathering the Right Answers

Unfortunately you can’t simply ask a client “by the way, how many people will you refer to us this year and how many times was our ad shown before you took note of it?” Some questions the client can’t answer, and others they simply won’t. Likewise, not all answers can be gathered by the same means. For this reason, we recommend gathering your data through three sources:

  1. Google Analytics
  2. Intake Questionnaire
  3. Internal Tracking

Different problems require different solutions and measuring your marketing is no exception. But with the right workflow, the job can be relatively easy and well worth the ROI of knowing exactly where your marketing stands.

Tracking Useful Data With Google Analytics

Google Analytics isn’t able to tell you everything about your website users, but it can definitely point you in the right direction. You’ll also find there is a line between what can be tracked, versus what is practical, cost-effective and useful to track.

Let’s start by taking a look at the measurement of “conversion rate” – ie. moving a user from mildly interested into engaged and contacting you.

Say you have some Facebook ads running and know that 1000 people clicked it – our next question is how many of these people converted into a lead. We know a lead could have contacted you via phone, email, or through the website form (let’s say we don’t need to worry about walk-ins). We can track form submissions and how they arrived on the site; that’s not impossible. But if they emailed? Well, for that we’d need the website to show a different email to people who saw the ad, versus those who came from a Google search. That requires some code (that costs a couple hundred dollars in setup) but it’s still doable. Next we need a special phone number too. We can get the code setup (separating ad/organic users), but then we also need a $30/month service counting calls for us (and whether the calls get answered) and the setup and monthly costs are starting to add up.

Now we need to address the elephant in the room. What if someone clicked on our ad, viewed our site, but then went away to chat with their business partner about it. How do we attribute that ad to a conversion two weeks later?

For this we would need to track that IP address, setup an “attribution window” of 30 days and attach their first visit to the contact which occurs two weeks later – but what if, after the two weeks, they Google us by name, see our business listing and punch our number into their cell phone? Can we track that? Unfortunately only the NSA can do that. BUT even if we could it’s so expensive and impractical that if you’re only running a $2000/mo campaign, you’d never bother trying.

So what’s practical, cost-effective and useful to track? Lead indicators. If we simplify our measurement to track how many users hit the contact page, (eg. 10% of people go to the contact page) that shows us their intent to contact us. When that conversion percentage moves up, we know we’re improving things and when that percentage moves down, we know our changes were poorly chosen. Good analytics don’t need to tell us every tiny detail, as long as we trust our lead indicators and can see if we’re moving the needle in the right direction. With that in mind, alongside the questions we really need answers to, here’s what you’ll want to be tracking with analytics:

  1. Advertising – How much traffic is my advertising bringing to our website?
  2. Advertising – How much does it cost for 1,000 website visits and 10,000 people see our ad (and brand)?
  3. Online Presence – How many people find us through organic search?
  4. Online Presence – What percentage of website visitors make it to the contact page or click to call us?

Gathering Data From Your Intake Questionnaire

Few businesses utilize their intake process (right after the sale) for measuring their marketing, and fewer still are asking the right questions. We recommend you ask at least two questions (via email or on paper) every time you make a sale.

*For businesses with 30+ customers each month you can also choose a sample audience (eg. rewards card members) instead of 100% of your customers.

The issue is that most customers only factor in their most recent interaction when asked. This means that you have disproportionately high responses for only a few of your marketing tactics, while some of your best brand awareness strategies are going unmentioned.

Here are the questions we recommend asking customers right after making a sale:

  1. Thanks again for working with [company name]! Can we ask what caused you to choose us?
  2. Where have you seen us before? [check all that apply]
    (Magazine, Radio, Online Ads, Word of Mouth, Mail Out, Trade Show, Social Media, Website, Online Business Listing)

For the first of these questions we always like to leave this open-ended. It can often reveal new insights into what customers really care about, as well as highlight what areas of your marketing are really closing deals. For the second question we prefer a slightly different approach – check boxes including some outliers which you don’t actually use. By using checkboxes, you’re now able to gather all of the touch points that would have affected their decision, as opposed to just the most recent or memorable. The outliers allow you to see how accurate their answers are and can also tell you where they’ve likely seen/heard similar content.

Between this questionnaire and your analytics you’ll now have gained the majority of your insights for your advertising and online presence. Lastly, you’ll need to do some internal tracking.

Completing your Data With Internal Tracking

Internal tracking is critical. BUT it’s also the most neglected area as anyone tracks their marketing. The problem is that it requires your team to prioritize it as high as the busy day-to-day “real work” they’re doing. In the end it will be up to you to impress upon them the importance of this and turn your tracking into a habit.

That barrier aside, this tracking pulls all of your other numbers together and fills in some of the gaps from what they miss. The best person to track this will be your Sales Manager (in coordination with their team), or Operations Manager.

Here’s what your internal tracking should address:

  1. Advertising – Are all of our advertising tactics as well targeted as possible? Can we improve this?
  2. Online Presence – Are the people who contact us relevant to our services and understand what we do?
  3. Customer Experience – How many leads actually turn into sales?
  4. Customer Experience – How many referrals do we get compared to customers?
  5. Customer Experience – On average, how many times does a customer purchase from us?

Lastly, you’ll also be using your internal tracking to aggregate the results of your Google Analytics and your Intake Questionnaire. What’s the best way to do this? We’d recommend a good old fashioned spreadsheet. For your convenience, we’ve gone ahead and created a Google Sheet with each of these metrics included:

Marketing Review Checklist

The great news is that as long as these numbers are being recorded, you’ll only need to pull them together once every few months for your quarterly review.

Quarterly Review – Making Use of Your Data

As suggested by the title of this article, the primary purpose of this data is to tell you if your marketing is working. The secondary purpose is to tell you where you should look to improve your results.

We recommend that you do a full review of your numbers once every quarter. While you absolutely should be looking at tactics, campaigns and tweaks much more often, your quarterly meeting is to take a look at the broad direction of things and make course changes for the next 3 months.

In your quarterly meeting you’ll want to discuss:

  1. The questions highlighted in this article (with stats prepared beforehand)
    • What areas are holding us back from getting better results?
  2. Are any new opportunities present?
  3. Are there any key changes to our business that need to be considered?
  4. Any seasonal shifts, upcoming dates to plan for or one-time campaigns to create?

With each of these questions your primary objective will be to set the course for your next 90 days. Rome was not built in a day, nor was your business, and neither will your marketing be. The most important outcome of these questions and meetings is the continual improvement of your marketing.

No marketing strategy can be as effective in month one as it can be in month six, and with the right questions you can guarantee that growth over time.

Learn more about our marketing strategy, graphic design, web development and SEO services and check out a case study of one of our marketing strategy projects.

True Market is a full-service marketing agency serving Calgary and other valued clients throughout Canada and the United States. Our work is built on down-to-earth, brass tacks solutions from a team of really talented people. We help build out your strategy, equip your team to do as much as they can, and bring in our team right where you need it most, We’re really good at educating, measuring and guaranteeing you understand your marketing channels and exactly why they work.


Let’s talk marketing

About the Author

Greg Hatch, owner of True Market and Fire Flower Apps

Greg Hatch

Greg Hatch is the co-owner of True Market, Fire Flower Apps and Amplify Community, serving as Brand Strategist, CMO, and Director (respectively). While his primary passion is for people and the world we create, he is an expert in marketing theory, SEO, brand identity, website strategy and loves chatting business.

Outside of work, Greg volunteers for his church and is on the board of Helping Families Handle Cancer. He has two amazing daughters, a beautiful wife, and two fluffy bunnies. If he ever finds free time, you’ll probably see him on the Disc Golf course.