Congratulations! Using the S.M.A.R.T. outline, you’ve now scoped out some goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. These form the basis of the action plan behind your marketing campaign strategy. How carefully you defined these goals will dictate how effectively you measure your success and, ultimately, whether you see a positive return on investment.

If being S.M.A.R.T. is good, it’s even better to be S.M.A.R.T.E.R. So let’s move to the last two steps of our process.

To evaluate and reevaluate whether you’re meeting, exceeding, or failing to reach the goals you’ve defined, you’ll need a way to measure the performance of your campaign. The best way to do this is to identify, track, and record a set of key performance indicators (KPIs) on a regular basis.

For example, you might decide to track the number of unique visitors to your website, the number of visitors from a particular campaign, the cost per click (CPC), and the number of sales or conversions you’ve made. These actions are measureable, and you probably decided on them when you did the measure step. If you’ve done that work thoroughly, then the results of your measuring will allow you evaluate and reevaluate with the best possible outcome.

Evaluation means assessing your progress in attaining your goal. It also means evaluating the goals themselves after completion. Here, you can use the S.M.A.R.T. model again. Were the goals specific enough? Did you measure the right things? Were the goals attainable and relevant? Did you set a reasonable timeframe? What might need to be changed in the future?

It’s important not only to look at your KPIs but to record them regularly so they can be reviewed and compared with previous weeks, months, or years. This enables you to track the success of your campaign and gives you insight into which metrics affect others. For example, the number of visitors may have a positive effect on the number of sales. Conversely, the number of visitors from a certain campaign may have no effect at all on sales.

A case like this will show when a campaign isn’t working. This is really valuable information. With solid data you can then decide whether to stop or change the campaign before spending any more money on it.

People are sometimes afraid to alter a strategy once it’s been implemented. This is a natural response, but change is constant and new information is always coming to light. So expect the unexpected and look for anything actionable. For instance, you might find that a keyword you previously missed is attracting a lot of searches but you aren’t focusing on it in the search engines. The best goals and strategies will be flexible enough to accommodate new information and the needed alterations.

Attaining a positive ROI relies on creating a well-thought-out campaign and then evaluating and reevaluating your data regularly. It also requires that you take the appropriate action (that is, change the campaign strategy) based on that data.

The S.M.A.R.T.E.R. model is one of the best tools a data mechanic can have in her bag of tricks to help accomplish these results. It prevents many problems from happening and allows for correcting small ones as they develop.