Inspect What You Expect: Six Questions to Analyze Your Campaigns, as seen on AdAge

Our CEO has a favorite phrase: “Inspect what you expect.” I hear him in my head whenever we do our campaign planning and review. We use lots of prospect data and insights in campaigns, but sometimes, things don’t work out exactly right — and I’m OK with that, as long as we can go back, review and improve. 

So what do you review and improve?

As modern marketers, our goal is typically pipeline and revenue. But so many things happen in the long, complex web between a buyer showing interest and it becoming pipeline and revenue. My company calls that huge hairball of anonymous and known activity the "dark funnel," and it’s the most difficult place to measure and understand what’s happening.

When you uncover the dark funnel, you find the real goal is engagement — and I don’t mean attribution with legacy metrics like marketing qualified leads. Instead, it’s a next-best action. It’s progression through the buying journey. Analyzing the dark funnel gives you rich insights about which accounts are best for you to sell to, where they are in their journey and what they care about — well before they fill out a form or click on an ad.

It’s easy to get caught up in what you want versus looking at what’s realistic. That’s why it’s important to build good campaigns, pick the best segments and set bold but achievable goals. If you fall short of your goals, you inspect the campaign against those goals, figure out where you engaged your prospects and where you didn’t, and adjust accordingly.

Six questions to analyze your campaigns

Completing that analysis and adjustment process is like squeezing a tube of toothpaste. You don’t start by randomly squeezing spots along the tube. You’ll never get out all the toothpaste that way. Instead, you start at the top and roll your way down to cover everything.

That’s how you analyze your campaigns. Start at the top of the program, and work your way down, one step at a time to find where things might have gone haywire. To help you, I’ll share the six questions I ask when reviewing campaigns.

Was the segment decent?

Start by investigating your segment. When you built your campaign, you used data and insights to create what you thought was the best segment for outreach. Did you actually include the right accounts? 

If your accounts weren’t what you hoped for, review your prospect selection criteria. Take another look at your ideal customer profile, and see how many accounts in your initial segment really fit the characteristics you want.

How many accounts did we reach?

If your segmentation looks good, it’s time to break down how many accounts you actually reached. This goes beyond legacy metrics like the number of impressions to better understand your true reach.

If your account reach fell short, investigate your outreach. Did you run your campaign long enough? In your setup phase, did you allocate a reasonable budget and set your max cost per mille and daily budget? Review your targeting: Did you target specific job functions and job levels? If you’re dayparting your ads, try disabling it and running ads for another three to five days. These steps can help you increase reach and get you in front of the right accounts.

What was the view-through rate?

Now you need to figure out how many accounts you reached with an ad actually came to your website. One engagement metric I love is the view-through rate, which tells me an account was reached with our ad and subsequently visited our website. While we still track metrics like click-through rate and cost per click, they are not our North Star.

Poor VTR results mean you need to review your creative for better ways to generate post-exposure engagement. Where can you tweak your ads to get prospects to take that next step?

Did our accounts engage?

If VTR looked good, what about the account engagement numbers? Specifically, look for an increase in how many accounts engaged, the time they spent on-page and what content they consumed. This is when accounts research and learn from you, so owning the mindshare here leads to wallet share later.

If you had poor engagement, evaluate your digital experience. Did you create a rude chatbot? Are you missing important information on the landing page, or does it need to be more compelling? Review your content, and spruce it up as needed to hook your prospects.

What was the response to our CTA?

What was your campaign’s call to action? Was it compelling? Was it easy to understand? Did it clearly communicate the “What's in it for me?” to your prospects? Did it push too hard too soon? Your prospects have engaged with all of the other steps before they get to the CTA. If they weren’t engaged well or didn’t receive enough compelling content, even the best CTAs will fall flat because your prospects aren’t ready.

Your CTA should bring prospects into the flow of your campaign and cadence. There was a next action you wanted them to take. If they didn’t, see if you have the right CTA, and try another action.

What happened in our pipeline?

Finally, if the prospect completed your CTA but still didn’t pan out, investigate your pipeline. What does your cadence look like? Are business development representatives doing the right amount of outreach? Was the outreach personalized, and did BDRs follow a multichannel approach?

Here, you can tweak the steps your prospects take in your pipeline. You’ll know you have the right accounts entering your pipeline, so it’s a question of where to improve your cadence to keep them interested and improve your conversions.

You learn from your mistakes. When you investigate why mistakes happened, you can build better campaigns for the next go-around. Use these six questions to solve a troublesome campaign, and let them guide you when creating the next one to put you on the road to predictable revenue growth.

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