Defining Results and How to Measure Them

Social Enterprise Marketing Campaigns Part 2

Now that we’ve determined what our goals are and how our branding directs our goals, how will we know when we’ve achieved our goals? If you don’t have an immediate way of answering it, then you need to define what measurements you are going to use, and what results will indicate a completed goal.

So, how do you determine what counts as positive results? This will depend on what kind of goals you set for yourself. If you selected an unlimited goal, then you’ll want to set up measurements that test your efficiency, or your recurring impact. If you have a bounded goal, then you will want to set up measurements that allow you to measure progress towards the desired endpoint the goal describes.

Say you are looking at an unlimited goal such as trying to reduce the amount of time that it takes you to bike 50km. For unlimited goals like this, you shouldn’t care about how many times you’ve biked 5km sets in the past 3 months. You also wouldn’t care about measurements like your heart rate, the temperature or the speed at which someone else can cycle 50km. These don’t matter because none of them directly relate to your personal speed. The main result, and therefore measurement is the speed at which you can bike 50km, the change from the previous attempts, and perhaps, how long it takes you to complete several segments of the 50km total.

Another example of an unlimited goal is: increased use of public or active transit options. You could measure this by taking surveys of a specific area such as a city to find out how many people use alternative transportation options. You could also go by total number of fares that the city collects on their buses, trains, subways, etc. You could also get people at several intersections around the city and count how many people are driving, walking, or riding bikes, etc. None of these measurement methods would be perfect, but they would give you an idea of whether you are making progress based on the percentage of commuters who use alternative transportation.

When setting a bounded goal, you should be using different kinds of metrics to measure your progress. Continuing with the biking example, imagine you are trying to qualify for a regional cycling race that requires all participants to have placed in the top 5 in at least 2 minor races. You would want to use measurements such as the speed of previous qualifying cyclists in the minor races. Based on those times you could work at tracking your personal time in similar conditions to see if your exercises are producing the results you want.

Here’s another example of a bounded goal. You are running an event and your goal is to have 500 attendees. Clearly the number of registrations is the primary metric that will be used, but how can you tell what is helping you get registrations? You need to know how people are finding out about your event, which could be gathered by asking during the registration process. This would help you understand which of your marketing efforts are producing results because once you know how each registrant found out about your event, you can compare how much you are spending in marketing for each registration.

As part of selecting which measurement you use to analyze whether you are producing results towards your goals, you will want to avoid vanity metrics. These are measurements that look good but are not helpful for understanding the progress towards a goal. These are measurements such as number of the number of media stories or the number of hits on your webpage. Just like measuring your heart rate will not tell you whether you are biking your 50km any faster, these metrics will usually just distract from the more important measurements. It should be mentioned however that as you start to achieve your goals you will also see changes in these other measurements, but that is more likely because you are achieving your goal not that you are achieving your goals because of the measurements.

There are some very helpful tools that you can use to see if your marketing efforts are helping your social enterprise. The first is you must know if your marketing is costing you more than each customer brings in. There is a handy formula that allows you make a quick estimate to see if your marketing is effective.

Average Profit per customer <=> Cost per customer acquisition

Using this formula, you can make a quick judgement about your marketing channel. If you can see that the cost per customer you acquire through google ads is $30 and you get a profit of $25 per customer on average, then you know that you either need to work on your google ads or cancel them. This can be more complicated when you use options that appear free, such as attending networking meetings, or volunteering with potential customers in order to hopefully build up some business. In situations like this you need to come up with an estimate of how much your time is worth, because if you’re using a free option, you are likely gaining value by putting in your time.

Another possible complication with this formula is if you often have customers that refer other customers to your social enterprise. If in the above example each initial customer you bring in through google ads costs $30, but then each customer you earn through google ads brings in another customer without any additional cost, then the ads are worth it, as you will have paid $30 for $50 in profit. 

This is why we set up measurements that are specific to our goals, as they will help us to make educated decisions about programs, prevent us from losing money on marketing efforts, and help ensure that we are working towards our desired impact. I’ve also included some resources to help you measure the results your social enterprise is achieving on other bottom lines. Knowing your impact is an excellent way to amplify your marketing and help you market your brand effectively, and can be used to prove how your brand is different.

This is part of a 5 part series on Marketing Campaigns for Social Enterprise. The introduction can be found here: Introduction

Previous section: Part 1: Building a Brand and Goal Setting

Next section: Coming soon.

please email your questions about social enterprise marketing to me at, or tweet at me @MatthewRempel.