Wednesday, January 26, 2005
Confessions of a Number-Loving Designer
One of the selling points of a creative career used to be not having to crunch calculus or attack algebra (we weren't so lucky when it came to geometry). We could work up a killer creative concept, blend it artfully with copy and, violá! — an award-winning piece would emerge, dazzling the client (an oversimplification, but you get the idea). Today, where corporate accountability is at the forefront of business consciousness, it should come as no surprise that it's no longer enough to have great creative strategy & execution that the client loves (though that's still part of the equation). CEOs and CFOs are demanding more accountability from the marketing organization: they want to see that every dollar spent on marketing initiatives is generating an [insert number here]-fold return on their investment.
That's a good thing. Before measurement systems were developed and put into place I never had any idea why a campaign that was well designed, beautifully executed and flawlessly distributed brought in no leads — zippo. You're left scratching your head and hoping the next one does better. In a recent multi-month e-newsletter advertising campaign with the measurement systems I designed in place, I noticed barely 1 month into the campaign that we were in trouble: the campaign simply wasn't pulling any leads.
Armed with our measurements, we were able to have a productive discussion with the media provider and hash out changes on both sides that could be implemented quickly to turn the campaign around: we revised creative and messaging, provided an enticing and clear call-to-action in the form of a white paper download, and created an extensive pull-through microsite built with visitor tracking mechanisms in place.
The result? On the first new ad placement we saw a 200% increase in click-throughs to our microsite. 40% of those visitors were also willing to provide basic contact information to download the white paper. Suddenly a foundering campaign had been rescued from the trashbin because of near-realtime tracking. Subsequent ad insertions were adjusted after each run to incorporate new insight and maximize lead generation with the next run. Over 200 prospects were gained for future marketing outreach and lead nurturing by the time the campaign was over.
I still don't like to calculate my taxes and I don't do math brain teasers, but this marketing and creative professional is convinced. We need numbers in marketing & graphic design.
Yes, I love numbers — when they help me do my job better.