Why Businesses Fail to Measure Marketing Results – and How to Overcome These Challenges

There's a lot of talk in the business world about the importance of measuring marketing results. But when it comes down to it, many businesses simply don't do it (or do it incorrectly). Why is that? In this post, we'll explore some of the reasons why businesses fail to measure actual marketing results and offer some tips on how to overcome these challenges.

Not Knowing What to Measure

Many small business owners do not know what to measure with a seemingly endless number of marketing metrics to sort through. As a result, 'analysis paralysis is a common predicament for many businesses. In these cases, nothing ends up measured because no one can agree on what should be measured.

Many small business owners recognize that they do not have the knowledge or the time to perform their marketing. In these cases, owners rely on others to select the appropriate metrics. Unfortunately, third parties often choose metrics for reasons other than the interest of business owners. In some cases, the same challenges presented in this article apply to marketers and business owners. The need to report something to business owners while facing some of these same challenges can lead marketers to conclude that it is better to track anything than to track nothing. Since business owners do not know what metrics to track, they believe the metrics reported are the 'appropriate' ones.

As a hypothetical example, Freddie and Dan's Chicago Pizza is a trendy pizzeria in South Tampa. Freddie and Dan have enough challenges running a busy pizzeria they do not have the time to perform their marketing. They also recognize that their expertise lies in making a hot deep dish and not dishing deep on social media. Freddie and Dan decide to hire Dan's cousin Sammy "Social" Smith to manage their social media. After all, Sammy spends most of his day on Tik Tok and Instagram, so he must be an expert. After a month of working with Sammy, Freddie and Dan received a report that shows the number of followers and engagement they have received across their social channels. Happy that 'marketing' is being done, Freddie and Dan reshift their focus back on making pizzas.

Not Knowing How to Measure

Data collection is one of the biggest challenges businesses face when measuring marketing results. To accurately track and measure results, businesses need to have a system for collecting data. This can be a challenge, especially for small businesses that don't have the resources or manpower to dedicate to data collection. Another challenge is ensuring that the collected data is accurate and reliable. This can be a problem if businesses rely on manual data entry or don't have a consistent system for tracking results.

Returning to our example, Sammy has a lot of experience as a social media creator. He knows how to create content that captures attention. Sammy is very familiar with the reports the different social media platforms provide and forwards these to Freddie and Dan every month. Sammy has read blogs about other marketing metrics, such as cost per acquisition (CPA) and lifetime value of a customer (CLV), but he does not know how to measure them.

Using the wrong Measurements

Another challenge businesses face is measuring the right things. Focusing on measurements that will give you insights into your marketing performance is essential. Otherwise, you're just spinning your wheels and wasting time and money.

After a few months of flat or declining sales, Freddie and Dan realize they may have a marketing problem. They meet with Sammy, who shows them how their social media metrics have only increased since he has managed their marketing. At this point, Freddie realizes that the social media metrics they have been monitoring do not necessarily align with their business goals. Sammy explains that there are other marketing measurements, but he doesn't know how to track them. Freddie and Dan decide to hire a marketing agency to oversee marketing, with Sammy reporting to them.

Not Having the Resources to Measure

Many metrics are difficult or expensive to collect and therefore are outside the capabilities of many small businesses to measure. In these cases, companies often track other metrics that may not provide an accurate or meaningful depiction of marketing results.

Let's check in on our pizza shop. Freddie, Dan, and Sammy met with the new marketing agency, Absolute Marketing Solutions. The team at Absolute Marketing Solutions held a workshop to establish marketing targets. As part of the workshop, Absolute Marketing Solutions President, Alfred Goldberg, works with Freddie and Dan to uncover their business objectives and develop a marketing strategy to help them achieve them.

For example, one common business goal amongst small business owners is to increase sales. Therefore, a business objective might be to increase the number of customers within a particular target segment. One of the strategies to accomplish this objective was introducing a new Vegan Deep Dish pizza to attract more vegan and vegetarian customers. A corresponding marketing objective might be to increase brand recall amongst vegans and vegetarians in the Tampa Bay market. A business could measure the effectiveness of a brand-building marketing campaign by surveying the target demographic at the start of a branding effort and then again after the campaign.

After reviewing the plan, Freddie and Dan believed that, like many small business owners, they did not have the budget for such an effort. Because of these concerns, Absolute Marketing Solutions shared with them how digital tools such as survey monkey and social media made it cheaper and easier to do market and brand research than ever before.

Not using the Measurements

Finally, businesses need to be able to use the data they collect to make decisions. This can be difficult if you don't have the right tools or are unsure how to interpret the data. Without being able to take action on your marketing measurements, they're essentially useless.

Revisiting Freddie and Dan, we discover that despite demonstrating that the current marketing tactics were not producing a noticeable change in brand recall amongst Tampa's Vegans, Sammy continued to pursue the same tactics. Absolute Marketing Solutions worked with Sammy to show him how he could adjust his content and targeting to better reach the target audience with the right message at the right time. The agency also showed Freddie and Dan some other marketing tactics that could promote their Vegan Deep Dish. Freddie, Dan, and Sammy agreed that all marketing meetings would conclude with an explicit declaration of what changes would be made based on the current information provided by the tracked metrics.

Fortunately, there are ways to overcome these challenges. By developing a clear plan for measuring marketing results and using the right tools, you can set your business up for success. Then, with a little effort, you can ensure that your marketing measurement efforts are paying off.

What do you think? Do you have any other tips for measuring marketing results?