Measuring and optimizing creative work drives performance and business impact. Here’s how to figure creativity into your overall measurement strategy.

Creativity is an essential driver of marketing performance. Marketers that focus on creativity deliver stronger business results than those who fail to understand its correlation to campaign KPIs.

To be sure, there’s a ton of data to support this claim:

  • McKinsey found that most companies with a high Award Creativity Score see above-average organic growth, total return to shareholders, and net enterprise value
  • Data from Nielsen Catalina Solutions suggests that creative is responsible for 47% of sales revenue generated by an organization
  • James Hermann’s The Case for Creativity finds that, between 1999-2015, the Cannes Advertiser of the Year outperformed the S&P 500 by a factor of 3.5

Notice that, in each of these scenarios, the focus was on the level of creativity employed within a given initiative. The financial impact these companies experienced soon after is merely seen as a byproduct of their efforts.

By focusing on creatively attracting and engaging your target audience in ways that resonate with them, you’ll inherently generate interest and engagement. Brands that undervalue the elusive qualities of creativity, on the other hand, stand in danger of undermining their marketing efforts.

Creativity is indeed hard to nail. It’s hard to define, and even harder to measure. In an industry that thrives on performance-related metrics and lives by the axiom “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it,” that’s a definite drawback. So what is the relationship between creativity, performance metrics, and value—and how can it be measured?

Don’t confuse cause and effect

I’ll risk saying the obvious: performance metrics and actual value don’t always coincide.

While marketing teams are heavily focused on performance-related metrics, the data itself isn’t what defines a campaign as successful. Looking at just your performance metrics will inadvertently cause you to overlook the factors that led to them in the first place. Whether a campaign succeeds or fails, you’ll merely be reviewing the outcome, rather than extracting actionable insights related to the root cause.

Marketers who overemphasize performance metrics may attempt to replicate campaign success by simply replicating campaign content. The problem with this is that novelty and creativity get old almost as soon as they see the light of day. Like telling five variations of the same joke in repetition, creating multiple marketing campaigns without evolving their overall premise in some way is a surefire way to put your audience to sleep.

If you don’t know why a given initiative succeeded, you’re going to end up trying in vain to mimic its success. By digging deeper into the reasons the initiative resonated with your audience, though, you’ll be much more equipped to evolve your strategy.

A true understanding of the overall quality of your marketing creatives

The performance-related data is evidence of a campaign’s success. What actually makes a campaign successful is the quality of the campaign in question.

For example, take a look at this ridiculous(ly creative) commercial from Pizza Hut UK, which aired on Boxing Day 2018 and generated over six million views in its first six weeks:

Those marketers focused solely on the bottom line might be saying, “So what? It’s great that millions have watched this humorous clip… but how many of these individuals actually went to Pizza Hut after seeing the video?”

First of all, the campaign definitely had a positive impact on the company’s sales numbers. Pizza Hut UK CMO Beverley D’Cruz uses attribution studies to understand how different channels perform and how many sales a piece of work has driven. According to Iris Worldwide, the agency which led the campaign, it resulted in 5.4% year-to-date sales growth.

But this is only one part of the equation. Yes, you do want to be confident that your marketing campaigns will have a positive impact on your bottom line. But when assessing the overall effectiveness of a campaign, there’s a lot more to attend to.

In order to get a true understanding of the overall quality of your marketing creatives, you need to consider the following:

  • Engagement Metrics: While earning a ton of likes, shares, comments, etc. may not positively affect your bottom line per se, a campaign that doesn’t generate engagement definitely won’t boost revenue.
  • Audience Alignment: Here, you’re more concerned with the quality of engagement generated amongst your target audience. Essentially, you want to know how well your campaigns resonated with the audience on a visceral level.
  • Communication of Value: Creativity isn’t just about providing surface-level entertainment to your audience; it’s about communicating the benefits of your products or services in an engaging way that matters to your audience. Simply put: they need to come away from your initiative knowing exactly what you have to offer them.
  • Brandedness: If you’ve ever seen a commercial or advertisement and instantly known what company created it, you understand what I’m talking about here. Your brand’s unique voice and personality must shine through within your marketing campaigns.
  • Strategic Alignment: Here’s where you start thinking about the bottom line and thinking about whether the campaign brought you closer to attaining your overall marketing goals. For example, were you able to generate awareness from the new audience segment you recently uncovered?
  • The Call-to-Action: Ultimately, your marketing content needs to spur your audience to further action. Your CTA must align with their expectations, as well as your overall business goals—otherwise, you’ll have wasted all the creative effort you’ve put into the campaign throughout the initiative.

By taking this more holistic approach when assessing your marketing campaigns, you’ll gain much more knowledge than if you were to simply look at the results of these initiatives. Not only will you be able to clearly see the impact the campaign had on your audience, but you’ll also know exactly why it was so impactful in the first place.

This will allow you to continue developing creative content that provides true value to your customers—and do so with confidence, knowing that your efforts will lead to great returns for your business.