Reporting

Campaign Reporting: How to Gauge Long Term Effectiveness?

From setting benchmarks and projections to running a cohort analysis, 30 professionals reveal their best practices.

Jessica Malnik Jessica Malnik on November 19, 2021 (last modified on November 15, 2021) • 12 minute read

Most people overcomplicate the process of reporting on marketing and advertising campaigns.

They spend too much time aggregating and collecting campaign data and not nearly enough time identifying if they even need this data in the first place.

Without stopping to figure out what data they actually need, this means their campaign reports are usually too long and not as insightful as they could be. 

A concise campaign report shouldn’t take more than an hour or two to create, and it can help you figure out how effective your campaign was. 

In this post, we’re sharing some best practices to gauge short and long-term campaign effectiveness. 

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What Is Campaign Reporting?

A campaign report is a succinct document with all of the key highlights and metrics from a recent campaign. This is most often used for short-term sales, marketing, and advertising goals.

when running a campaign, what do you mostly focus on

However, you can also create campaign reports for both short and long-term goals across all functional areas in a business from sales and marketing to finance, support, and even product. 

Related: Business Report: What is it & How to Write a Great One? (With Examples)

Why Is Campaign Reporting Important? 

With most campaigns averaging 3-6 months (or longer!), according to the 30 respondents we reached out to, documenting your findings into a campaign report is important since you can no longer rely solely on memory or tribal knowledge for that length of time. 

Your reporting also becomes the source of truth that your team can revisit to inform future campaigns and initiatives. 

on average, how long do your campaign last?

The most important takeaways you can get from your campaign analysis are usually audience or sales-related.  

what's the most important takeaway of your campaign analysis

Determining the Effectiveness of Your Campaign: Tips and Best Practices

Campaign reporting allows you to evaluate how effective your current campaign was as well as inform future performance. Here are some best practices for how to do this. 

1. Know what your desired end goal is 

Before you even start your campaign, you should already have a consensus on what a successful outcome might look like. This will cut down on the ambiguity when it comes time to analyze your campaign.  

“Measuring the effectiveness of any campaign often comes down to the goal of the campaign in the first place,” says Alina Clark of CocoDoc. “Each goal inspires different tracking methods and different metrics. 

For instance, the goal of our recent social media campaign was to raise brand awareness and engagement on social media. We set up and tracked campaign hashtags to see how far they would go. Using a branded hashtag helped us augment the audience across different channels, and see how much engagement each channel was drawing. The effectiveness of such a campaign can only be measured if you start from the results of the campaign, backwards into how the campaign was undertaken. 

Campaign effectiveness can only be measured correctly if you cut out the measuring of vanity metrics. Things like the number of likes, or followers on social media don’t matter as much if your main goal is to attract engagement. Measuring the right metrics will unlock the campaign doors for your brand.”

And, Joan Siopes of Herrman and Herrman PLLC adds, “We consider several different factors when evaluating a campaign, such as goals, marketing channels, and KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). Other than taking everything into account and assessing if the campaign is on pace to achieve its goals, a great way to evaluate a campaign for our law firm is cost-per-lead. Cost-per-lead is measured by the number of case leads acquired versus money spent.”

2. Set campaign benchmarks in advance  

You can take the goal-setting process a step further by creating benchmarks. 

Johannes Larsson explains, “We use predetermined benchmarks to determine whether or not a campaign is worth continuing. This means we outline specific figures or milestones before launching a campaign to track its performance. If we fail to hit those targets within a certain time frame, we consider that campaign as unsuccessful. 

It’s important to note that there are cases when secondary metrics can also inform our decisions. Sometimes, we happen upon serendipitous results that we did not previously anticipate. If these are significant enough, we might consider continuing a campaign for a bit longer even if it is not meeting its performance targets.”

Tony Mastri of Park Place Technologies agrees, “To estimate a campaign performance threshold, we typically benchmark the average cost per opportunity from our previous year’s data. By measuring our current campaign’s performance against that, we can get a relative idea of effectiveness. The shortcoming of this technique is for products/services with a longer lead time. For some products with a longer lead time, it may be a full year after you’ve run a campaign before you can gauge effectiveness. In cases like these, you may want to benchmark performance against average cost per lead (instead of opportunity).” 

Related: Benchmark Reporting: How to Prepare, Analyze and Present a Good Benchmark Report?

3. Create projections   

In addition to creating campaign benchmarks, you may also find that running projections and estimations is helpful for quickly gauging a campaign’s effectiveness. 

“I do projections with some easy-to-use advertising math I developed called “The Barrows Popularity Factor,” says Robert Barrows of R.M. Barrows, Inc. Advertising and Public Relations.  “Businesses of all kinds can use the math to help them fine-tune their entire marketing program. The math will give you more of the information you need to make key marketing decisions with far less risk and you can use the math to help you increase your sales, increase your profit and decrease your risk.” 

To see how experienced marketers create projections on Google ads and SEO ROI, check our articles.

4. Analyze your campaign data 

By setting goals, benchmarks, and projections, this will reduce the amount of time you need to spend on data analysis since you’ve done most of the legwork upfront.  

“Since my focus in campaigns is email marketing, I check the numbers on the email trackers we use,” says Veniz Guzman of SEO Hacker. “For example, we use Drip – a marketing automation platform. What I check are open rates click-through rates, and unsubscribe rates. When the open rates steadily increase and the unsubscribe rates steadily decrease, that is how I know a campaign is working. At some point, the click-through rate will follow and increase – what I need first is to get people to open their emails and choose to not see them as a nuisance. If open rates and/or unsubscribe rates are dropping, that is how I know it’s time to shift strategies.”

5. Run a cohort analysis 

If you want to take your data analysis to the next level, then running a cohort analysis is one way to do this. 

“In my opinion, Cohort Analysis is the most important way to interpret and analyze data for digital marketing,” says James Vukasinovic of InMoat. “When it comes to estimating the future effectiveness of a campaign, you should consider cohorting the data based on the acquisition date. This will allow you to see how the leads/users/registrations you acquired performed since their acquisition date. Are they in line with other past campaigns? How are they comparing to organic traffic or other advertising channels? 

By isolating your new campaign and comparing it to past and other channels you can get a feel for how the cohort is trending. If the data is showing you that the cohort is performing well, then you may be able to project improved long-term results meaning you should double down. 

Of course, finding strong performance early on is not always indicative of long-term value. You want to keep your new campaign running long enough to where you typically see when the majority of a cohort will drop off or convert. This threshold is important to understand and will be your guiding light when making a judgment call on a new campaign.”

6. Set check-ins during the campaign to evaluate progress     

For longer campaigns (3 months or more) that you outsource to a contractor or agency, creating regular check-ins throughout the duration of the campaign can help you stay on track and avoid any unpleasant surprises later on. 

For example, Mitch Chailland of Canal HR says, “We review analytics with the agency we work with. Canal HR is committed to long-term growth, so we set goals, measure the metrics, and evaluate progress on those goals along the way. That allows us to determine if we’re receiving enough value from the campaign, but we try to focus on the long-term vision. If your business is well established, short-term growth is nice, but it’s the long-term trends that are really important.”

7. Keep an eye on profitability for sales campaigns 

For sales campaigns, it is vital to pay attention to both direct revenue as well as overall profitability. This ensures that your campaign is sustainable. 

“We evaluate future performance by looking at the direct ROI the campaign is generating,” says  Felix Yim of Moi Moi Fine Jewellery. “If it is profitable, we scale up the ad spend, if not, then we either rework the ads, though either a new creative or new targeting or we end it and try a new campaign so we don’t waste resources on an ad that doesn’t affect our bottom line.”

Ryan Jeffors of Buy Here Pay Here adds, “Simply measuring the amount of revenue generated by a marketing campaign is one of my favorite ways to gauge its success. However, a company’s definition of success may use a variety of secondary calculations, including return on investment (ROI), customer lifetime value (CLV), or customer acquisition cost (CAC), all of which measure success in terms of the number of customers acquired in a given period (promotional expenditures) divided by the total number of customers acquired. As a result, your marketing tactics will not only yield questionable, measurable value for your business but also lack the assessments and critical indicators required to dictate further action.”

8. Consider future events 

In addition to looking at past, related campaign performance, it is helpful to think through any future events that could impact a campaign positively or negatively. 

For example, Eden Cheng of PeopleFinderFree says, “We try to think of the nearby future events and our target audience to understand if a campaign will do well or not. For example, if the new year is a week ahead of our campaign, we will try emphasizing ‘ this year is ending, but we can make the next one better for you.’ Secondly, we clearly and concisely detail users about our USPs and features. Most importantly, we do not lie for click-baiting in our campaigns so that we only get meaningful clicks. Besides the above efforts, we try to understand the trend of the current market through our campaign’s each passing day. 3 continuous bad days signifies it is time to stop the campaign (after trying all possible ways to improve the campaign’s performance on each of these days).”

9. Analyze campaign failures and shortcomings too 

Not every campaign you run will be successful. It is often the campaigns that don’t perform well that you can learn the most from. 

“Effective campaign performance doesn’t rely specifically on the success rates,” says Martin Luenendonk of founderjar. “It has to deal with negative reviews and failures too in discovering the problem origin to renew it. As a business owner, I keep campaign metrics as the basis for our present and future campaign performance estimation. Also, giving a chance with lead generation, visibility, and engagement improvements data could be part of the reinforcement. We ensure that it must be related to our goals and the channels we used for the postings. Our company believes that we don’t have to focus on numbers alone, we somewhat need explanation and further information about it. That’s why we should explore more rather than staying in the same loop.”

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In sum, creating and reviewing your campaign reports can help you not only evaluate how effective your existing campaign was but also inform future ones. 

About the author
Jessica Malnik
Jessica Malnik Jessica Malnik is a content strategist and copywriter for SaaS and productized service businesses. Her writing has appeared on The Next Web, Social Media Examiner, SEMRush, CMX, Help Scout, Convince & Convert, and many other sites.
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