Data, Data, Who’s Got the Data?

We all want to make better decisions, right? And the best way to do that is to base them on data, right? And the first piece of data everyone always wants is ROI, right?

Let’s not get into “why” at the moment, but what if money’s not your primary consideration? What do you track to determine whether a marketing initiative has been successful?

That’s the question I’m currently considering as NACHRI sets up a centralized marketing function (aka, me) for the first time.

It occurs to me that the first question to ask in figuring out what to track is: what are the goals for this particular activity? So, for instance, for a meeting, generally speaking, you want to see more exhibitors. For membership, generally speaking, you want more members. But there’s a potential problem (or, I should say, at least one potential problem): most exhibit halls have hard limits, otherwise known as the walls. Some fields have a finite amount of players, and once you have them all, then what?

Social networking provides another layer of complication: money is almost definitely not the right thing to track there. We all like to talk a big game about Return on Engagement, but (other than Andy Steggles), how many of us are actually measuring ROE?

So association pros, what data points do you track to measure the the success – or failure – of your marketing efforts?

(Notice I wrote this whole thing without using “metrics” once? Go me!)