Plan, test, measure, repeat – that’s the marketer’s mindset. Start with a small campaign, and see how it performs. Amplify what’s working, and put the duds to rest.

Marketers who embrace this mindset must pay close attention to data. Typically, they’re following a few key metrics – customer acquisition cost, immediate revenue, long-term user value, and revenue per unit of spend. These calculations provide clarity in what is otherwise a big data dump. Through algorithms, statistical software, and even sophisticated spreadsheets, it’s possible to (1) see what’s going well and (2) what should be done better.

Marketers will typically monitor the following key marketing streams: content, PPC, social media, offline, and affiliate referrals. But there’s one marketing channel that goes unnoticed – employees. Team members who engage in your brand’s content and social media marketing are exceptionally valuable assets. The problem is that this channel typically falls short – because organizations aren’t planning programs, testing campaigns, measuring results, or repeating successful initiatives around their own team members.

When you enlist your workforce to become a team of social marketers, you’ll accomplish two objectives: (1) you’ll create a high value, low-cost customer acquisition channel and (2) you’ll amplify employee engagement. Both goals require a commitment to structure, technology, and data.

Rely on the following metrics to reverse engineer your processes:

1. Average Shares of Per Employee

Unit of Analysis: Aggregate, Group Level

Why This Metric Is Important: This metric is important for both marketing and HR goals and will provide an indicator of your workforce’s engagement level. The more content that employees are able to share, the more influence your company’s marketing message will yield.

Dimensions for Analysis: Look for growth in average shares per employee over time. Track this number on a quarterly basis to minimize the potential for arbitrary fluctuation.

Caveat: Keep in mind that social activity is very personal and something that people need to feel motivated to do. Some of your team members will be introverted on social media and will not want to share your company’s content. That’s fine. Don’t push them. Instead, think like an anthropologist and wait for natural patterns to emerge. If employees aren’t sharing your brand’s content, try to figure out what’s going on. It could be the case that your content marketing efforts are falling flat and are in desperate need of a facelift. Don’t put unnecessary pressure on your employees by quantifying shares at the individual-level. Instead, look at the aggregate and keep individual behavior anonymous.

2. Proportion of Web Traffic From Existing Customers

Unit of Analysis: Aggregate, Group Level

Why This Metric Is Important: If your organization is client-facing, a significant proportion of your revenue will come from relationships with existing customers. Content can be a powerful way to provide value to these stakeholders. Your client service, account management, and sales teams are at the front lines of your organizations – and these individuals will be hubs for distributing content. Your company can provide a tracking code on links shared with clients to see how much referral traffic is making its way back.

Dimension for Analysis: Look for growth in referral traffic over time – over a period of several quarters. You can also monitor conversion rates and subsequent website browsing activity.

Caveat: Conversion funnels are complex – especially for client services organizations. Customers who engage with your company’s content may follow a series of steps, which means that you may lose the ability to track the initial tracking code. The best you may be able to do is understand that there may be a blind spot that requires forecasting adjustments.

3. Average Pieces of Content Read By Employees

Unit of Analysis: Aggregate, Group Level

Why This Metric Is Important: This data point will complement the sharing activity that you’re tracking from #1. The reason why we recommend this metric is to help organizations monitor the full spectrum of user types. Some of your team members will enjoy sharing while others will prefer to just lurk. They are still engaging with and absorbing with your brand’s content – they are just internalizing the information.

Dimension for Analysis: Look for growth over time to capture the convergence between your team members and company thought leadership.

Caveat: The act of absorbing content doesn’t mean that your team members are enjoying what they’re reading. Talk to team members to see how they feel, and what’s most important – maintain anonymity by only monitoring data at the aggregate (rather than individual) level. Nobody wants to feel like ‘big brother’ is hovering.

Final Thoughts

Employees can be a powerful marketing opportunity for your company – but only if you approach this channel with focus, rigor, and a systems mindset. Think about your goals quantitatively to reverse engineer your process.

Once you’re up and running, make sure to look beyond numbers to understand what your team members are thinking and feeling in addition to what they’re doing on the aggregate. But most importantly, don’t be intrusive. Focus on big-picture data to tell your story. If you’re too focused on individual employees, your marketing program will do the exact opposite of engage.