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With so many different variables in digital marketing, predicting future campaign performance can seem like an impossible task. But if you’re trying to justify budget expenditure or a particular marketing strategy, it’s imperative to demonstrate why you think it’s going to work.

The first thing you need is data.

Hopefully, your marketing team has been compiling and analysing data from previous campaigns. With the right tools, this data can be used to predict the success of new campaigns. Did your YouTube creator sponsorship deal last year prove particularly popular with the under-30s? You can analyse that data and apply it to your future YouTube-based marketing strategies.

But before we can start projecting future campaign performance, we need to define what makes a campaign successful.

The Two Metrics You Should Forecast

I’m a firm believer that there are two metrics you should always forecast anytime you’re planning to allocate budget a marketing channel or campaign.

  1. Your goal metric
  2. ROI

Your goal metric is whichever “Northstar” or OKR metric your team has agreed is most important. Assuming this is established, every campaign should have a clear expected impact on that.

ROI calcuation is relatively straight-forward, but is often only measured retrospectively once a campaign ends. Yet, ROI is equally – if not more – valuable to forecast before a campaign even starts as it gives an indication of how successful you feel it’s going to be, before spending any budget.

Forecasting ROI up front helps identify campaigns likely to produce a negative ROI before spending budget

How to Predict Campaign Performance

So you have an idea for a new campaign. You’re sure it’s going to be a success, but you need to back up that belief with facts and stats before your team invests time and resources pursuing it. How do you predict how it will perform in a quantifiable way?

Here are four key steps to help you anticipate a campaign’s performance.

1. Set your goals

Before creating any prediction models, you need to know what you want your campaign to achieve. How is it supposed to perform? Your goals should be based on clearly defined metrics, such as conversion rates, traffic, click-through rates, and other quantifiable data. Once you have established your success criteria, you can start analysing previous campaigns.

2. Collect data

Now you need to aggregate data from similar campaigns. Compiling this data, from as many streams as possible, will allow you to recognise performance patterns. The more data the better, but to ensure it’s accurate, it should be from campaigns similar to the one you are planning to create. Comparing like with like will provide a more accurate projection.

The two most important data points you’ll likely want to find are:

  1. What result do you expect this campaign to generate?
  2. How much is that result worth?

These two data points will allow you to predict an ROI and expected result. If you’re not sure what result to expect, you can use a range instead (e.g. 100-150 leads) which will give you a ranged ROI that can be interpreted as a worst-to-best case scenario (e.g. -25% to 100% ROI)

truenorth roi

3. Extrapolate the data

When you extrapolate something, you take information about the past and assume that it will also apply to the future. And yes, assumptions are not always correct. But when you are dealing with the unknown, it’s the best prediction tool you have.

If you’ve had a previously successful campaign that targeted a particular demographic or used a specific media format, it is fair to assume similar campaigns will achieve some form of measurable success.

4. Create a visual representation

If you’re presenting your predictions to team members, you must be able to convey the information clearly. Mass amounts of data are difficult for the human brain to absorb if they are not represented in a visually digestible format.

If you’re using a tool like TrueNorth this doesn’t need any extra work as all of the campaign forecasts are created automatically based on your spend and result data – and can be accessed by clicking on a campaign.

However, if you’re not centralising your marketing in a growth marketing platform like this, you may want to consider some other means to quickly and easily visualise campaign forecasts and share with your team.

If you’d be interested in trying out TrueNorth’s platform you can do so here.

Marcus Taylor

Marcus Taylor

Marcus is the CEO of TrueNorth, a growth marketing platform that helps marketing teams focus, align and track marketing in one place.

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