Marketing has always been a bit like juggling. Lots of balls in the air, and everything seems fine until… it isn’t.

Digital has just added significant complication, try juggling on a unicycle.

Many small businesses shy away from measuring the effectiveness of their digital marketing investments, to hard, too small to be bothered, no time. I have heard all the excuses.

Too often they do not even see their marketing expenditure  as investments, they are just table stakes, one of the costs of doing business.

Digital enables measurement of marketing effectiveness as never before.

Why should small businesses miss out? Indeed, their agility is the source of their greatest advantage over their larger rivals, as they can make decisions quickly and act on them immediately, usually before their bigger rivals have finished the first meeting to discuss the situation.

Too often the ease of measurement, lack of real understanding of what the measures mean, and easy availability of pro forma “vanity measures” such as “likes” substitute for meaningful measures that guide decision making and shine a light in the digital corners.

Digital has many paths, many options, and layers, but the common factor in all of it should be the presence of a functional and well maintained website as a focal point of activity.

It makes sense therefore to have a few simple measures of the effectiveness of that focal point.

Following are 4 that I have used effectively for clients

Registration.  It has become common practise to seek email addresses in return for some item of value. In effect this is registration. The registrant is offering you the permission and  opportunity to market to them. The simple measure is the number of visitors divided by the number of registrations. It is in effect the first step in the development of a process that can lead to a transaction, and we have all heard the cliché ‘The money is in the list’.

Activation. This can come in many forms, and is often driven by the reason for registration. For example, how many of those who register for a webinar actually turn up and listen too the whole session. Again this is easily calculated as registrations divided by the activation activity.

Retention. Once activated, how many are retained? In other words, they become active participants in the activities you have on offer. This may be purchasing after a webinar and returning for a further stage, perhaps just turning up for the next webinar, but at some point there needs to be a transaction, often offline.

Referral. How often does an active and retained customer refer others to you? We all understand the most successful marketing tool is a satisfied customer motivated to refer their networks to a product or service. This being the case, measure it.