Measuring the success of a digital campaign is one of those areas that often can be misunderstood. Some business owners still only look at a “click through rate” as a means to determine the worth of how their campaign has performed. It tells part of the story, but definitely not the entire story.

I like to break down digital advertising into groups, with a different reason why each group would be recommended to a client.  It’s an opportunity to dig deeper into what the true challenges are for the business, what are the goals and ultimately what are the expectations (as it pertains to how success will be measured). Two of these groups are branding campaigns and direct response campaigns.

Let’s break this down. We have all heard that one of the benefits of digital advertising is that it’s easily trackable. What does this really mean? Does it mean that if my online display campaign shows a low click through rate, that this campaign is a failure? Not necessarily.  Online display ads are a branding tool. I like to measure branding campaign success by the number of impressions contracted vs. the number of impressions delivered. Click through rate analytics are a secondary benefit at this point. If the beginning stages of campaign development has uncovered that the business owners’ benchmark of success is, in fact, a high click through rate, an entirely different recommendation would be made. More on that in a moment.

Think of the last new story you read online, were you suddenly interrupted by an ad loaded on the side right of your screen?  Did you stop reading and immediately take action and click on that ad?  Or did you perhaps notice that the company is having a 50% off clearance sale on Saturday? You didn’t need to “click” on the ad to show its worth. It did its primary job by creating awareness. The main takeaway is that online display ads are a great tool to create awareness, build a brand and are easy to target to your audience. They are also trackable in terms of how many impressions were served or delivered to a targeted audience.

If increased foot traffic, phone calls and high click through rates are on the top of your “measure for success” list, there are other options that drive you from point A to point B much faster than online display ads. In this case, the recommendation offered is based upon other products that provide a more direct response.

One of my favorite direct response products is search engine marketing; this is a great way to capture those people that are already online and raising their hand, searching for your services. It is easily trackable and typically yields a higher click through rate when compared to display marketing. Ideally, you are reaching people who are much further along in the buying process. This, in turn, brings more phone calls, foot traffic and website traffic to your business. Simply put, your next customer is already online looking for what you provide.

Working with a knowledgeable digital consultant can help sort out what options will work best to meet expectations and business goals.  Above all, it is important that consultants educate businesses new to digital media. Your consultant should clearly communicate the benefits of each element and how results should be measured.