The Environmental Defense Fund is one of the world’s largest environmental organizations. With more than half of its operating budget coming from its two million members, how does it measure marketing? We asked Lauren Guite, Senior Specialist, Digital Marketing at EDF to share her insights.
The Environmental Defense Fund has some pretty sophisticated content marketing strategies in place. Tell me about the progression of tracking your data and analytics – where did you start? What tools and processes have you added over time to measure marketing?
Well, since I started at EDF before Facebook even had a like button, my main tool for data was Google Analytics. Eleven years later, I still use it almost every day. There is simply no other tool that provides the robust, reliable data we need with so many opportunities to customize. Most of the progress we’ve made is in using the advanced features of GA. I can now look at traffic segmented by audience persona, for instance.
Beyond pulling insights from all the social platforms, we also use a tool called Crazy Egg that shows us scrolling and heat maps of our web pages. It has allowed us to dive even deeper into what our audiences like – and don’t like –about our content.
I was very lucky to join a team that was already very driven by data – and we keep pushing ourselves to get better at tracking and analyzing it. We went from tracking general traffic numbers to being fairly confident that the right people scrolled through 75% of a blog post.
If you’re trying to get better at data but haven’t taken the Google Analytics Academy, that’s a great place to start – and it’s free.
Ok, those are some great suggestions. Now tell me about some mistakes you made – what can you tell emerging marketers about what NOT to do, what money NOT to spend to measure marketing?
I think it’s easy to get distracted by cool metrics or a sleek platform. But all you really need are unsexy tools like GA, Google Docs, Trello, and the social media platforms your audiences use for a successful marketing program. Save your money for paid promotions so you can target your audience better and study their engagement with your content.
As marketers, we have this urge to measure everything. Today’s tools make it pretty easy for us to give into that obsession. What do you think is most important when we measure marketing? What can you skip? How do you find the balance?
It’s easier to think about measurement in terms of your marketing funnel. What are the metrics that will tell you if your audiences are moving from one level to the next? Is it click-through rate at the top level? Is it engagement – bounce rate or scrolling – on your landing pages? Sign-ups to your newsletter to finally convert them?
Skip any metric that doesn’t have to do with your goals. Do I need Facebook likes to get my blog post read? No.
How far ahead do you plan your content? Do you create a skeleton for the full year, or do you manage it month-by-month? Please don’t tell me that you wing it every day …
We definitely do not plan out the whole year. We DO have to react to politics and news so you can imagine how nimble we need to be. On the other hand, we also try to plan out as far as possible. This means we have two editorial tracks. One needs a weekly, sometimes daily turnaround. The other is less time-sensitive and allows us a few months to plan. Either way, we have clear decision makers and processes that make things easier.
What are your favorite sources for staying up-to-date in marketing? Do you have any podcasts, websites, or other resources you recommend?
I actually use Buzzsumo and Flipboard to curate the most important content marketing news for me. These apps surface the most talked about content on a topic and include publishers I wouldn’t know about otherwise.
What did I forget to ask? Is there anything that you’d like to share that we haven’t covered about how you measure marketing?
I just want to reiterate that all this is a lot easier when you have clearly defined, measurable goals that your whole team can agree on. Here’s an explainer for the system my team uses to do that.