The great thing about digital advertising is that it’s trackable. And measurable. Which means local businesses don’t have to spend blindly into the advertising abyss and wonder how much value they’re getting from that investment.

Instead, digital advertising can be measured and quantified to understand exactly what kind of return you’re getting on that spending. And, as far as your advertising strategy is concerned, performance metrics and other data-driven insights can help you identify your strengths, your weaknesses, and your opportunities to optimize and push your advertising success even higher.

But data analysis and performance measurement is easier said than done. With so much data being generated from your ad campaigns, how do you know which data points matter most? How can you fully understand what this data is telling you—especially when different data points seem to be telling you different things?

Insightful, accurate performance measurement is all about context. As a local business, you need to know which data points matter most, what each of them are saying about your ad strategy, and how those data points align with your advertising goals. While you can’t become a performance measurement expert overnight, a few tips and guidelines for analyzing this data can instantly make you a smarter business owner—and a smarter advertiser.

Here’s what you need to know—and what you should be looking for—when looking at advertising campaign data.

Reading Campaign Reports: The Metrics That Matter Most

Regardless of which analytics solution you’re using, your first glance at a campaign report can be overwhelming. While this vast performance data offers great value to you and your ad strategy, it can also be disorienting, and leave you wondering which data points matter most.

We’re here to help. As you evaluate the performance of your ad campaigns, here are the data points you’re likely to value most when gauging the effectiveness of your ads:

  • Impressions delivered. How many times is your ad being viewed? This is especially useful for awareness-level campaigns: More impressions equals greater visibility, which builds your brand in your local market.
  • Ad clicks/click-thru rate. How many consumers are taking action? Clicks through to a landing page, business website, or other destination shows that the ad is succeeding in sparking interest. When ad clicks are strong, you can better evaluate the rest of your sales funnel to determine whether your path-to-conversion is plagued by problems elsewhere.
  • Video completion rate. With digital video ads, completed views indicate a high level of engagement.
  • Conversion rate. How often are ads driving a successful conversion, whether you’re targeting an online sale, submitted form, or other action?
  • Average cost per customer acquisition (CPA). This is the best way to understand the ROI of your campaigns: By determining how much you spend per successful customer, you can then compare your CPA against the average value of each conversion to understand whether you’re driving short-term ROI. While this is a simplistic calculation that doesn’t account for the customers’ average lifetime value, it can offer a good indicator of whether your ad spending is creating value, rather than increasing your costs.

Understanding Performance Data Coming From the Business Side of Campaigns

Campaign reports are incredibly useful when understanding campaign performance, and identifying opportunities to improve your ad strategy over time. But small businesses don’t need a data-driven report to tell them whether their advertising is paying off. You can get a sense of your advertising success by paying attention to the following data points:

  • Increased website traffic. If the start of a new ad campaign aligns with a boost in your website traffic, it’s safe to say the campaign itself is largely responsible for that bump in hits.
  • Increased foot traffic. If you operate a brick-and-mortar location, have you noticed more customers visiting your store since the start of your campaign? Foot traffic can also be driven by other factors, such as increased awareness of your local presence and/or seasonal shopping trends, but you can learn a little more from your customers by asking how they discovered your business.
  • Overall sales. Revenue is the ultimate benchmark of success. Have your business sales increased? Does that increase correlate to the start of a new ad campaign? If so, that rise in sales probably isn’t a coincidence.
  • Inbound phone calls. If you’ve created ad campaigns that drive call referrals from Google and other mobile sources, pay attention to the calls coming to your business. Even before you read a campaign report, you might be able to see the rewards of those ads for yourself.
  • Online form submissions. Some businesses aren’t looking for a sale right away—instead, they’re looking for lead qualification and a point of contact to continue a longer conversation. Whether you’re targeting increased job applications or contact info for a buyer at a local business, online form submissions can offer proof of your success in using advertising to fulfill business goals.

No single data point is proof of a successful ad strategy. And even if you’re happy with the results of your ad campaigns, there’s always room to optimize campaigns and achieve even greater bang-for-your-buck with the next campaign.

As a local business leader, performance metrics are best used as a starting point when conducting a larger assessment of individual campaigns and your overall ad strategy. While individual data points can be important and insightful, you should always consider them in context alongside other data points coming from campaign reports and your own insights in running the business.

A digital advertising partner can help you analyze performance data and apply its lessons to increase your advertising ROI. Contact us today to see how we can help.