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A measurable result is one of the touchstones of any successful marketing campaign. But how do you define it? Most folks look at number trends before, during and after a promotion and look for an uptick in sales. Metrics are an obvious measurement of whether or not our marketing efforts (and investment) have paid off. But, they are not the only yardstick of success.

Increasing your sales, and ultimately your bottom line, is the prime objective. However, specific marketing efforts rarely correspond directly to an increase in units sold. A lack of a sales spike, however, does not necessarily mean your ad plan has failed. There is more than one way to measure success. For example:

Increased Visibility in the marketplace – every campaign or promo you run will at the very least garner you attention. Most of the people who see a sponsored post, tweet or Instagram ad respond impulsively to the concept if it interests or appeals to them. They will “like” your promo, but don’t click through to purchase. They aren’t actually shopping. But that doesn’t mean you didn’t make an impact. The hope here is that when they are looking to buy, they’ll remember you. There are sales conversion formulas that calculate how many impressions (number of times someone sees your ad) it takes to convert a sale. It varies, but every person who notices you gets you one click closer to that purchase. In  the long run, how many “likes” you get matters.

Audience Capture is just a sexy term for saying followers or fans, and is another important measurable result. These are folks who aren’t yet ready to buy, but have more than just a passing interest in what you have to offer. They take the extra step of connecting with you – becoming a fan of your FB page, following your blog or Twitter or Instagram account – in order to keep you and your offerings in their que for later reference.

Referrals (or “shares”) are also a powerful measure of a successful ad or promotion. It’s harder to track these results directly because there’s no way to follow the sale back to the source, but every time someone retweets your Tweet or shares you FB ad or blog post, you are reaching a new potential market you had no way of reaching otherwise. It’s essentially free advertising, and should be counted as a win.

The biggest mistake you can make when it comes to evaluating your marketing plan is to expect a dollar for dollar return on your investment. Factor the long term payoffs from increased visibility, audience capture, and referrals into the equation. In other words, don’t sell yourself short. Building a customer base or audience takes consistent effort over time. And remember, sales metrics are not the only measurable result that matters.