Where is the “break” in your campaign or initiative?

A chain with a link that is broken
“Las cadenas se cortan por el eslabón mas débil / Chains break by the weakest link” by Hernán Piñera, via Flickr Creative Commons is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Previously, I discussed measuring marketing/initiative success based on outcomes, not actions. So what if your campaign isn’t successful? How do you find the “break”?

The best way is to compare to previous data and industry standards.

Previous data

Previous data is your data from previous campaigns.


  • During your last three sales events, percent of people who walked into your dealership purchased a car.
  • Percent of people who click on your web ad who then come in to purchase a car.
  • Percent of the faculty you invite to a workshop who attend the workshop.
  • Percent of the faculty who attended a webinar and then adopted an OER textbook.
  • Last year, you upped your gym time to x hours per week and lost x inches within x months.

Industry standards

Most industries, especially trade organizations, publish industry standards and research studies that show data comparison points.


  • Health experts say that if you cut x calories every day, you will lose x pounds in a year.
  • A national statistic shows that x% of faculty who attend an Open Educational Resource workshop and write a public review of a book will adopt the book they reviewed.
  • Auto industry statistics say that x% of people who walk in the door will purchase a vehicle on that day.
  • Email campaigns have an average of a x% click-through rate.

Comparing data to find the “break”


  • Previous car sale weekends drew in x number of people and industry standard is a closure rate of x%.
    • The number of people coming in was higher than previous data.
    • The close rate was lower than industry standard.
    • So the break is your closure rate.
  • In the past, x faculty have attended your Open Educational Resource conference, and x% of faculty who attended adopted OER.
    • The number of faculty who attended was down this year from previous years.
    • The percentage of faculty adopting was the same as previous years.
    • So the break is the number of faculty attending.
  • You’ve increased your workouts, which has worked in the past, and you’ve cut back your calorie count as industry statistics have suggested.
    • The break could be either your diet or your workouts, or something else.

A word of caution

Just because you find where your “break” is, doesn’t mean the reason for the break is easy to identify. You need to do a lot of research to find why the break happened.

For more information on this, read Addressing the Question: Measuring Advertising ROI.

From the above examples:

  • If more people walked into the door for your car sale event but less people bought, there are a number of potential reasons:
    • Your advertising campaign attracted the wrong type of people, such as non-buyers.
    • The economy is uncertain, so the industry standard closure rate isn’t accurate currently.
    • Your sales team is new and not at the normal closure rate yet.
    • The computer system to check people’s credit scores went down, which significantly slowed the sales process.
  • If you have fewer people coming to your Open Educational Resource workshop, but the rate of adoptions amongst those that do show is still good, there are a number of potential reasons:
    • The workshop was on a day with competing events going on.
    • The way you marketed the workshop didn’t work.
    • Bad time of year for the workshop.
    • Another initiative (and meetings surrounding it) are the priority right now.
  • If you increased your workouts and cut your calories but are still not seeing a reduction in your waist, some potential reasons are:
    • Not enough variance in your workouts (only doing cardio, doing the same thing every day).
    • There’s “hidden” calories, such as in sauces, that you aren’t factoring into your daily caloric count.
    • Your calories are down, but they are mostly from processed foods (high sodium, sugar, etc.).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s