Web Analytics: Forecasting Campaign Impact

  |  March 27, 2007   |  Comments

Campaign success should focus on business impact, not raw traffic numbers.

We're often asked to help our clients determine which online campaigns they should focus their efforts on. They ask questions such as, "How much traffic should this campaign drive to our site?"

Eleanor, one of our analysts, was asked this by a new client just the other day. As this is a new client, we're still getting their analytics practices established and converting them into a data-driven organization, so we're still in the heavy education phase.

When Eleanor and I talked, it dawned on me just how common this type of question is. While a bit misguided, it's a really good question to ask. In our discussion, we kept returning to two key points:

  • Focus on business impact, not just traffic.

  • Create indexes and baselines so you have something to compare different initiatives to.

Focus on the Right Measurement

Traffic alone shouldn't be the primary focus of a campaign over 95 percent of the time. While you need to make sure your site can handle the traffic load, focus on traffic should be fairly low on the priority list. That said, if you launch a site that's hosted on a single server and are running an ad during the Super Bowl, you should be prepared for that traffic (so ends my quick disclaimer).

After making sure you have that covered, the focus needs to switch to your ideal conversion. What do you want those visitors to do once they're on the site? What does success mean? Is it selling a product, generating leads, collecting requests, driving other forms of behavior? A combination of those things? You must define and understand the business value of the different types of conversions.

Which would you rather have, a campaign that drives 90,000 visitors but only converts 0.81 percent, or a campaign that drives 22,000 visitors and converts 4.12 percent at the same average value? In actual converted visitors, that's 729 compared to 906. In real dollar terms, if a conversion is worth $500 in profit, it's nearly a $100,000 difference.

Clearly, campaigns success should focus on the business impact, not raw traffic numbers.

Create Indexes and Baselines

Too often, companies don't use past experience to forecast future performance or, more important, to improve future campaigns and initiatives.

Creating indexes and baselines that allow you to compare different campaigns and initiatives can help you understand what to expect. By tracking different campaigns and which ones are the most and least successful, you can begin to identify commonalities between the top and bottom performers.

You can get very advanced in analyzing different campaigns, but you can also start with the basics. Begin by throwing your campaigns into a basic spreadsheet and comparing performance of your primary initiatives. Track the differences in the campaigns. Again, this is just a starting point, but it can provide a ton of value fairly easily and be extended beyond basic online campaigns to everything else you're doing online. Remember, focus not on the traffic that's driven but on the conversions.

This process can help you understand and compare what performs best. You'll know where and where not to allocate resources. It also helps establish realistic goals and targets for different campaigns.

Start with these basic techniques, then explore the many more advanced and complex methods to take it to the next level.

Shoot me an e-mail and share the different ways you forecast the potential impact of campaigns and initiatives.


Jason Burby

As President of the Americas at POSSIBLE, Jason is responsible for leading the long-term stability and growth of the region. With more than 20 years experience in digital strategy, he is a long-time advocate of using data to inform digital strategies to help clients attract, convert, and retain customers. Jason supports POSSIBLE's clients and employees in driving new engagements and delivering great work that works. He is the co-author of Actionable Web Analytics: Using Data to Make Smart Business Decisions.

Follow him on Twitter @JasonBurby.

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