Don’t let marketing metrics scare you…

Metrics—the topic on every business leader’s mind. As marketers, we sometimes struggle with them, but we simply can’t do our job without them. For starters, marketing metrics can be intimidating because they’re associated with emerging technologies that many marketers may not understand, a wide range of key performance indicators (KPIs) that can be difficult to track, and the complexities of consumer behavior—which are always liable to change. 

While analytics and measurement platforms have certainly progressed over the past several years (remember when “impressions” were the metric du jour), the idea of attributing a finite “success number” to a highly creative process can be scary. Why? Because no matter how effective you think a marketing campaign will be, you won’t actually know until you figure out whether or not it’s driving the outcomes a company wants. This could be any number of things from general brand awareness to social media shares to lead generation. 

In other words, there is tremendous pressure on marketers to deliver tangible results tied to metrics, which in turn align with the business strategy and objectives of the C-suite, board, and other key members of the leadership team. Let’s take a closer look at how to make metrics a little more realistic, achievable, and a lot less frightening…

#1 – Begin with the end in mind

While it may seem obvious that you have to set a goal before you can track progress toward it, you’d be surprised at how often marketers fail to set specific targets with clear indicators of success. And even when the members of a marketing team think they know what goals they’re after, they frequently aren’t aligned with other leaders in the company. That’s why we have to establish open lines of communication and work in partnership with the C-suite, Board and other department managers to determine which outcomes the company is pursuing and develop a plan for reaching them.

It’s also crucial to decide which KPIs matter most. For example, a company may have excellent site traffic but lackluster sales revenue or conversion rates. In that case, the marketing team is responsible for coming up with a strategy to turn interested consumers into customers, and it can be held accountable by tracking the relevant KPIs. 

But if the goal to raise brand awareness for a new product, then the strategy must be about casting a wide net and attracting potential customers into the top of the funnel. This is where scalable advertising, PR, and social media tactics come into play; and metrics like pageviews and website traffic are most relevant.

Marketers often make the discussion about goals and metrics too complicated. Instead of trying to develop hyper-intricate metrics that take a huge range of scenarios into account, focus on simple and intuitive goals and measurements that every stakeholder can understand. That way, it’s easier to keep everyone moving in the right direction.

#2 – Human plus technology workforces equal success

Companies have never had more powerful tools for tracking the returns on their marketing investments—from advanced customer relationship management (CRM) software to a wide range of data collection and analysis resources. At a time when companies are increasingly reliant upon data-driven consumer insights, business goals, and ROI tracking, the services provided by companies like Salesforce, Shopify, and Qualtrics have never been more important. 

It’s no wonder that a Deloitte survey found that CMOs are planning to increase spending on marketing analytics by 200 percent over the next three years. However, this is a reminder that keeping up with the rapidly shifting technological landscape in the marketing industry can be very expensive. Not only do companies and agencies have to pay for the technology itself, but they also have to consider the implications for their workforces. While tech companies want their solutions to be accessible, companies and agencies will increasingly need their employees to be as technically proficient as possible. 

While some companies use outside technology experts, it often makes the most long-term sense to hire or train full-time employees who understand how to integrate the solutions you use with your business objectives and existing tech stack.

#3 – Don’t forget to ask “why”

It’s vital to avoid what we call “metrics for metrics’ sake.” Some companies and agencies become so obsessed with tracking everything in sight that they forget the purpose of gathering and analyzing this information in the first place. This produces the illusion of action – it seems like you’re gathering important information, but you aren’t putting that information to use in pursuit of better outcomes for the business. Meaning, what we want is actionable insights derived from metrics. That’s why we do anything measurement related (or at least, it should be).

As marketers, it’s our job to demonstrate why a company should pursue a certain strategy. From developing the right business goals (as well as a plan for tracking them) to brand-building, we have to clearly articulate what an effective marketing platform should look like. And once we’ve decided on a strategy for building that platform, the right marketing metrics will help us ensure that the strategy is actually driving results. 

The good news? According to a recent Harvard Business Review article, “Don’t let metrics undermine your business,” leaders are becoming more privy to the idea of strategy and tactics alignment. Translation: Performance metrics, while they certainly “give strategy form”, shouldn’t dictate how marketing and branding strategies are implemented or carried out; rather, they should exist as an extension of the strategy, not in spite of them.

To learn more about best practices when it comes to marketing metrics, listen to our founder and CEO Marisa Ricciardi’s recent SpinSucksAMA podcast.