It's 2018 and you're covered in data. Choose your metrics wisely, in four steps. Let your primary objective be your guide in how you measure and what you do.
The list of methods that companies use these days in an attempt to create “success” seems to be never-ending. This is especially true of marketers and others who, supposedly, are dependent on so many different tactics to improve their company’s performance.
It is all too easy to just use (all) metrics you have available to you, and to overlook more important ones you cannot currently get your hands on. All your graphs are going up up up, all lights are green, and your hair is all sticky from Champaign on a regular basis… And then your accountant storms in to kindly inform you that the building is on fire.
Too many and too few metrics
The confusing truth is that you are probably using too many and too few metrics to determine your success, at the same time. You’re using too many - because a good number of the metrics you use now may not be indicative of the success you’re after. You’re using too few - because there may be metrics within arm’s reach that you aren’t using, which would measure success better.
So, the question is ‘which factors truly make a difference’? How can you choose metrics that matter most, as you evaluate your company’s performance and strive for improvement? As with all things, you start at the beginning and finish at the end. But that’s easier said than done.
Here’s what you should do: prioritize objectives, examine which metric consistently predicts their achievement, and identify which activities influence predictors, in that order. And continuously re-evaluate this process to keep up with the times.
The stairway to marketing heaven
Here are the key factors to consider as you work to improve performance.
1. Define your primary objective
Before you even begin to sift through the various metrics and statistics available to you, it is essential that your company’s governing objectives have been clearly established. As a B2B finance company, a primary objective could be to increase market share by 3% before the end of the year.
While an overarching goal such as this may seem somewhat abstract, if marketing metrics aren’t considered with this objective in mind, you’re bound to pick increasingly irrelevant ones over time.
2. Choose your metric(s) - determine cause and effect
Once a clear, overarching objective has been established, most marketing companies look to major metrics to determine their success—factors such as the generation of sales and leads.
But these metrics aren’t the only indicator of a company’s success. Less easily quantifiable factors such as customer satisfaction and brand loyalty also play a significant role in the ability to achieve overall marketing objectives, especially in the long term.
Examining the relationship between these metrics can allow marketers and others to develop a cause-and-effect theory to determine what drives the end results. You may be tempted to aim your campaign at a huge but diverse audience, so as to widen the top of your sales funnel. But as you start to develop a clearer view on the effect of you actions on the achievement of objectives, it may turn out that spending your budget on potential customers further down the funnel would yield more sales.
3. Create relevant activities
Digital technology has made it easier than ever to track the engagement of various types of marketing materials, be they a video, article, or even a podcast. Let’s look at how a marketing agency could help its clients to improve performance.
Once a marketing agency has determined that engaging content is what drives sales and leads for their clients, the agency must determine which types of content reliably generates that engagement.
By taking advantage of the analytical tools provided by various online platforms, a marketing agency could easily find that for one client, video content is the chief driver of engagement, while for another, lengthy, informative blogs are the most effective type of content. Within these types of content, further factors could also impact engagement (such as the length of a video or the number of list items contained in a blog post).
The marketing agency can then use this information to generate more effective and engaging work for their clients. Videos may be kept within a certain length, and articles may adhere to a particular format. These items are completely within control of the marketing company, and as a result, can remain consistent to drive engagement and sales.
4. Evaluate periodically
Of course, the ever-changing nature of marketing (and the business world as a whole), ensures that the measures you use to link activities with your primary goals must be constantly re-evaluated. The metrics and statistics that drive value for your clients can change over time, especially as new technologies emerge and target demographics shift.
Regularly evaluating your methods and adapting when necessary may cause you to throw away some of your work. But this is by no means a waste. Adjusting course on a regular basis, whether it is for objectives, metrics or activities, will ensure you remain competitive in the years to come. You’ll take a couple of small losses now, so you don’t have to unexpectedly take a huge loss in the future. Develop a habit of making small improvements in the present, so you’ll become a huge success in the future.
Try it yourself
Follow the 4 steps below and see for yourself ‘how much your metrics matter’, and how you can become much more effective on a daily basis.