“If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” Those words of wisdom ring so true, especially these days. No business owner I know has the luxury of spending money without understanding the payoff. But that’s exactly what you are doing if you use mobile marketing without looking at your results.

Over a third of small businesses (35 percent) now market to customers on their smartphones, according to the 2013 AT&T Small Business Technology Poll. This is great news! As I’ve written on this blog before, mobile marketing can give small businesses a really strong boost. Yet so many companies struggle with what to do. In fact, nearly three in five marketers consider themselves either novice or inexperienced in measuring mobile, according to 2012 research by ClickZ and Google Analytics.

Measurement doesn’t need to be complicated. Here’s my advice:

Set a clear goal

What does success mean to your business? Is it increased sales? More customers? More web traffic? The small business owners in the Tech Poll cited these goals. I suggest identifying the most important objective to your business right now. Otherwise, your marketing program can lose focus, and you’ll find it harder to track results. Once you achieve your most important goal, you can move to ones further down on your priority list.

Having a clear direction in mind helps you choose what results to look at. If you want to increase sales, you clearly need to watch your revenue. But that’s just a start. Which mobile tactics can increase income the fastest? Which promotions work best? The more data you collect, the better you will understand your results and what to do next.

Ready to take a stab at this? Here’s what you can do for two frequently used mobile tactics:

1. Mobile website

There are plenty of metrics available for a mobile website, but your goal is to focus on the most helpful ones. You’ll want to measure conversions, or the proportion of visitors who take the action you want them to take. Other useful metrics include number of visitors, page views, keywords used to reach your site, and time spent on it. Your analytics dashboard should allow you to track these and more.

Do you want to raise awareness of your business? An increase in the number of unique visitors can tell you a lot. Do you want to educate customers about your product or service? Watch how long visitors spend on your site and which pages they view most. The key is to zero in on the metrics that relate closest to your goals.

2. Text messaging

In many cases, the most critical metric to track with text messaging will be the response or redemption rate for specific messages or offers. If you want to increase customers, watch the growth rate of your subscriber list. If you want to build customer loyalty, look at the response history for individual phone numbers and the number of subscribers who opt out. If you want to increase traffic to your website or a landing page through text messaging, count the hits on the link and watch what people do once they get there.

Learn along the way

You can learn a lot by experimenting with different mobile marketing approaches. The most common tactic is A/B testing, which compares the performance of two very similar messages with one different element, perhaps the subject line or the offer. In a text messaging campaign, for example, you might try sending half your subscribers a discount coupon and the other half a buy-one-get-one-free offer. Or consider testing two versions of a product page on your mobile site, each with a different image. You may be surprised by what you find out.

You should also have a process for gathering and nurturing leads. For example, a realtor should create a system to stay in touch with prospects who send texts asking about certain properties. After sending a response, the realtor could follow up with texts inviting the prospects to learn about other properties that might interest them. This kind of follow-up can help improve your conversion rate and teach you more about your customer base, which can help improve your outreach.

How do you measure your mobile marketing efforts? I would love to hear what you’re doing.

 

Alice Bredin is America’s foremost small business expert, with more than 15 years of experience in the small business market. She has provided highly practical, actionable advice to millions of business owners through her books, syndicated newspaper column, radio commentary, and small business forums.