We all know campaign reporting is important—in fact, we’ve talked about campaign measurement here before. But all too often, what marketing folks are talking about when they refer to campaign reporting is little more than end of campaign reporting.
The problem is, campaign reporting is so much bigger than that! In fact, regular campaign updates and mid-campaign check-ins are, in my view, even more important to your marketing campaign strategy than a final wrap-up because they’re a primary driver of mid-flight optimization.
The magic of mid-flight optimization.
What does mid-flight optimization mean? It means tweaking and adjusting your marketing campaign strategy and execution while your campaign is live so you can maximize performance. At the end of the day, that means your marketing and advertising dollars are better spent.
So where do you start to get to that great outcome?
Start with the end in mind.
Let’s back up a minute to the beginning of a campaign and goal-setting.
All campaigns have specific goals. Perhaps your goal is to:
- Raise awareness of your brand on a national level because you only have niche awareness.
- Expand the distributor of your product to specific retailers.
- Compel end of purchase funnel consumers to act.
Whatever the case, your strategic goals will change. To understand whether you’ve been successful, you will need to define KPIs related to your campaign strategy, and those should always ladder up to your overall brand strategy.
But before you can even think about reporting—and before you begin running your campaign—you also need to have a detailed plan for exactly how you’re going to measure and report on the success of that campaign.
Picking your metrics and reporting dates.
There should be a variety of tracking metrics incorporated into the plan. Generally, the more metrics you report upon, the more complete the picture is—but don’t go overboard. It’s also important to focus on what matters most, lest you get overwhelmed by meaningless data.
This process includes setting in advance the dates for when you will pull and review data and report back to the team. And don’t just say “at the end of the campaign.”
Mid-campaign check-ins are a key opportunity to make improvements of your campaign while it’s still running. There’s no excuse for getting to the end of your marketing campaign and realizing you weren’t successful simply because you didn’t optimize throughout.
Generally, it’s a good idea to run some data by the internal team on a weekly basis, perhaps with a scrum to discuss anything that may need further investigation or attention. If you’re already doing that, a monthly dashboard for a larger team highlighting 2-4 of your most important KPIs will be easier to pull together.
What will your reports look like?
Outlining those goals, KPIs, and schedule are only part of the battle. It’s also critical to pull together all the data and disseminate it to the team in a way everyone can understand.
Remember: Whether it’s an internal or external team, dashboarding and reporting is about imparting knowledge, not showing off how much jargon you can use.
Think visual—a pile of numbers and tables is no way to uncover insights. And be sure you give people on your team everything they need to really understand the data.
Bonus hot tip! (Hint: Be patient.)
Remember that not all media plans are created equal. Don’t expect that you can or should be able to see trends or make big decisions based on data you’re seeing in the first few days—or even the first few weeks—of your campaign.
It may take as many as 4-6 weeks before you’ll have enough impressions to really understand the nuances of the data you’re seeing.
It all depends on the particulars of your media plan when and how you can start getting useful information from the data, or even from your A/B tests. This is where savvy media planning comes in—a good media planner will help you get your head around when a major change to your creative or tactical executions may actually be in order.
How can these mid-campaign check-ins save your bacon?
Here’s a recent example. In the middle of an Amazon campaign for a national CPG brand, we optimized the digital video portion of the campaign based on mid-flight intel. When we saw that the 15-second digital video was performing better in terms of both View Through Rate (VTR) and Click Through Rate (CTR) than the 30-second video, we adjusted our spend.
By checking in mid-campaign, we optimized in real-time and greatly improved our end of campaign results.
Measurement and reporting are part of your marketing campaign strategy.
Your marketing campaign strategy doesn’t stand on its own. Measurement and reporting should be a central component of your strategy—they’re not something that comes after.
The fact is, measuring success, tracking metrics, and putting together reports is probably not going to be as much fun as brainstorming, outlining plans and coming up with creative ideas for most of us. But they’re as essential to the overall result—so don’t skimp out!
At the end of the day, without a smart, strategic approach to measurement and reporting, your marketing campaign strategy is just aiming. You’ll never actually find out whether the arrow hit the target.