Set the Bar: How To Establish Campaign Baselines

Measuring header

Jenny Force Jenny Force, VP of Marketing

In marketing departments and digital agencies all over the world, right now, ideas are flowing. These ideas might range from how to improve foot traffic at an in-person activation, boost engagement on social media channels, or get more people to sign up for a monthly newsletter. We, in digital marketing, are constantly being asked to ‘move the needle’ but often times we don’t know how much movement is needed to make a difference.

How can we, as marketers, report that a campaign or effort was a success or failure if we don’t know what a successful outcome is? Establishing goals and baseline metrics are the most critical pieces to scoping out and planning out digital marketing campaigns.

Start by Performing a Situational Analysis

To know where to start, it’s important that you know where you currently stand on the situation. The most effective answer to measuring marketing performance is to have clear and succinct expectations based on facts before your campaign begins. Also, it’s important to communicate the expectations of that marketing campaign – widely so that when results come in, the results can be clearly analyzed and learnings can be processed and put in to action.

There are a million ways to measure a campaign’s success. The key, dear reader, is to know your baseline – the intricacies of those baselines and what the baseline data was in the last iterations of similar campaigns. This data is invaluable in measuring future campaigns.

Sample Graph

So, let’s get started. For illustration, let’s imagine your company has a webinar coming up that you’d like to increase viewership and participation for. Since your webinar program is new (you’ve had five so far), attendance has been increasing, but at a slower rate than the VP of marketing would like.

The first step is to establish metrics that show the health of the webinars from episode to episode. The starter list might look like this:

  • Web traffic to individual webinar pages: measures captured attention to the webinar
  • Click-throughs from Twitter and Facebook to webinar page: measures registration efforts by drawing people in from social media
  • Conversion of sign-ups: measures the effectiveness of web copy on our registration page
  • Attendance rate: measures how effective we are at hooking those who’ve signed up
  • Conversation rate during webinar: measures the effectiveness of the topic, speaker, flow, etc.
  • Percentage increase of click-throughs from webinar follow-up content to owned web properties: measures the effectiveness of the entire webinar attendee journey

As you can see, choosing a seemingly simple example (such as a webinar program included in this starter) presents many metrics that measure different aspects of engagement. Let’s make it even more simple by getting more granular.

Break It Down


Let’s say we tell the VP of marketing that we want to improve our efforts on drawing people in to our webinars, so we’re going to focus on the recruitment efforts of our webinar emails and our social copy to draw folks to our webinar page.

Since we’ve conducted five webinars since the start of our program, we have a measurable pool of data to investigate and establish average metrics per episode. To start, it helps to focus on recruitment efforts, including recruitment emails and social cop,y to draw visitors to our sign up page. Let’s baseline three focused metrics:

  • Click-throughs from announcement emails
  • Click-throughs from social media posts
  • Shares of social media posts

To measure click-throughs, I suggest using a tool such as or something similar that allows a marketer to use shortened links in email/social and measure click-throughs in an easy way. Also, your social media software, such as Sysomos Expion, likely has a shortener you can use.

To measure shares of your social messaging, use your social media software’s capabilities for easy aggregation of the data. Again, Expion is useful here.

Look at your last five webinars and establish averages, looking at the data to establish the ‘seasonality’ of the data points. What is seasonality? Seasonality are the factors that might cause spikes or dips in the data from episode to episode.

The factors might include:

  • the time of day the emails or social messages were sent
  • the days of the week
  • whether the social posts contained images
  • how image heavy the emails are (or aren’t)
  • the tone of the language used in emails or social posts

Let’s Set Expectations

So far, in our webinar case, we’ve identified our aggregate program goals and narrowed down measurable facets that we’d like to tweak and measure engagement on. Now,let’s set expectations on goals we’d like to see moving forward.

From episode to episode, as we adapt copy, conversation tone, or image use to boost click-through and share rates, let’s be honest – we can expect to see single digit changes. So, let’s set a goal of boosting these rates by 5% from Episode 5 to Episode 6. Be sure to get buy-in on this goal from your management and teammates, so we can critique the outcomes with a joint lens.

In the case of social posts, we decided to include imagery with every social image to see if click-throughs and shared increased.

Hypothetically, after the sixth webinar, the results come in. We saw a 4% increase of both shares and click-throughs. The results were certainly favorable but not up to snuff completely because we had a goal of 5%. Here’s where the true value of the this entire exercise comes in: the learnings.

Establish Your Learnings

As a group, we investigated the data and the conclusion we’ve come to is that while having images in our tweets, LinkedIn messages, and Facebook posts boosted engagement, having images of our employees might make the messages more personal. The images used to bring the 5% engagement were stock photos of office workers using computers and while the images attracted more eyeballs, our real edge as a company is our people. So, next time, we’re going to try real photos of our employees and experiment again.

How have you set baselines in your marketing efforts and how did the efforts pay off? Let’s discuss in the comment below or on Twitter!

(Image credit: Flickr User chanceprojects)

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