How do you know if your marketing campaigns are working? How do you know which ones are actually pulling in customers and which ones are just taking up time?

It’s the perennial question of anyone launching a business. I’ve covered it from different aspects here and here and here.

But today I want to give you a very simple, concise way of thinking about your marketing. You can use it to measure impact on your entire strategy, or you can use it on specific campaigns or channels. It’s up to you.

You want to look for 3 things

1) How many people did you reach out to?

2) How many of them turned into a sales conversations?

3) How many of those sales conversations became customers?

Obviously, not everyone will progress directly from initial outreach to sales to customer. People take all different paths before becoming a customer. But this will give you a way to think about your outreach methods and create comparisons.

1) How many people did you reach out to?

This is pretty straightforward. How many people were sent your newsletter? How many people saw your tweet? How many people visited your booth? How many people were sent your postcard?

Most marketing channels will be able to show you this number easily. With marketing automation tools, look at how many were sent your email. You can use Google Analytics to see how many website visitors landed on a certain page or post. Certainly if you send a direct mail campaign, you will know how many pieces of mail were sent. And if you place an ad – online or print – you will get data on how many people viewed or received your ad.

2) How many of them turned into a sales conversations?

This can be trickier to measure if you are not already set up with the right tracking processes and software.

A simple work-around is to ask in each sales conversation where the person heard of you. Of course, not everyone is going to know where they heard of you – even if they just saw your ad yesterday. So, if you find you are unable to trace the sales conversations back to a specific campaign, just use the overall number of sales conversations. That way you can at least get total number of sales conversations over total number of people in your outreach.

3) How many of those sales conversations became customers?

This is the easiest to track – obviously, you will know when someone becomes a customer. Asking how they learned of you – if you do not already know – is a foundational question to ask any new customer. And, as with the number of sales conversations, if you do not know where your customers come from, you can still compare your total customers to your total outreach and total sales conversations.

What you can do with this information

Obviously, you can determine overall numbers and compare customers to sales conversations to outreach efforts. You can go beyond that, though, and look at numbers in specific date ranges, which can help you see impact relating to time-sensitive campaigns. For instance, you might want to know how many sales conversations you get in the 2 months after you exhibit at a conference.

As healthcare is notorious for long sales cycles, you may find that longer time frames are more useful to you than shorter ones.

Of course, as any good epidemiologist will tell you, your numbers don’t mean anything without a comparison point. This can be baseline data or the results for a previous year or quarter. What you are looking for are trends. You also want to keep an eye out for big bumps, which could be meaningless outliers or might indicate a specific campaign had a significant short-term impact.

Set up a strong reporting process

To pull this information together once may not be a big deal. To do it on an ongoing basis, however, requires a defined process and the right tools. You want to make sure these data are being collected for every campaign, every sales conversation and every new customer. A good CRM can do that for your team and a simple spreadsheet can let you sort and visualize your data.

In marketing, there are plenty of data points to collect and they can help you see all the minutiae of your campaigns. But when your company doesn’t yet have that capacity, tracking the data on these three questions will be enough to measure your marketing impact.