Metrics, statistics, or stats, are measurements of performance. There are industries where these are more than just totally accepted – they are revered. As in, who has won the most Super Bowls?
Athletes and sports teams run on metrics, from batting average to yards per carry to winning percentage and 60-yard dash time.
High School and College students operate on Grade Point Average. This is used in evaluating scholarships and after-graduation hiring prospects.
CEOs of publicly traded companies are judged by their company’s stock price or “Market Cap”.
Why shouldn’t marketing run on metrics as well?
MARKETING AND METRICS
The answer is, of course, it should.
Marketing effectiveness is measurable in many respects. And that is a good thing. Otherwise it becomes completely a matter of opinion.
That’s like driving a car with no dashboard to tell you how fast you’re going. Worse, no GPS to check you are going in the right direction. Worse still, it’s like driving with your windshield blocked so you can’t even see where you are going. Crash, here we come! Well that’s pretty dramatic. Marketing without metrics would be barely less disastrous.
But, you say, what about all the organizations that DON’T operate on metrics. Like governments.
I rest my case.
Marketing companies and departments operating without metrics, or without correct metrics, accurately measured, and used, are engaging in marketing malpractice.
Most marketing service offers include metrics. But are they the right metrics?
The simplicity is, without metrics, you are just guessing. Marketing people are being paid to produce results. To arrive at the destination. So you’d best have a GPS to point you in the right direction and tell you when you stray from the correct route.
The good news, if you are primarily engaged in online marketing, you are able to get more, faster and better metrics than was ever before possible in the history of marketing.
Claude C Hopkins, who invented scientific marketing back around 1900, had to wait weeks to months for results, usually from people clipping coupons out of magazines and mailing in a money order. And then try to guess how the weather in Des Moines affected the numbers.
Google Analytics offers an enormous amount of numerical insight into your website and marketing effectiveness. Who your visitors are, where they are coming from, what they do when they arrive on your site – just about everything except their brand of toothpaste (wait until next week).
Google’s Search Console (formerly Webmaster Tools) gives you information such as the actual number of search impressions various keywords generated, your average position in search, and the percentage of clicks (“CTR” or Click Through Rate).
There are many other potent sources of information.
The real problem comes in determining the correct metrics to track, and then to ensure they are accurately computed and interpreted. Inaccuracies are the great bugaboos of metrics that will completely invalidate a powerful and vital tool.
THE RIGHT METRICS
It may sound great if someone promises to get you 20 keywords ranking on page 1. Or if they send you a report on how they got 20 #1 search rankings!
What if the combined search volume of all 20 of these are only 2 searches a month? Don’t plan your next yacht purchase just yet.
The closer you can get to measuring the actual bottom line, the more appropriate the metric is going to be. So if you have an online store, a key metric would be Total Revenue. Even better would be Gross Profit (Revenue minus the Cost of Goods Sold). Or, taking it one step further, Return on Investment (ROI). Subtract what it cost to generate those sales.
If your ROI is negative, too low, or going down, well, Houston, we have a problem.
A lot of times you can’t get the exact ideal metrics you want. Informational websites typically are being used to generate leads. This could be measured by phone calls and contact forms. What you really want is a count of LEADS, but not all calls and contact forms are leads.
Spammers and people trying to sell you things often fill out contact forms, for example.
There’s a great deal that can be said on this subject, so, being me, I’m going to write another article going into more depth on that.
Accuracy can be a major problem. Metrics have to be accurate or they are useless. I’ll give you an example where this is problematic. A key metric for a website is often total sessions – basically, the number of visits to the website. But this can be inflated by what is called “referral spam.” Evildoers, for evil reasons, send traffic to your website. If this is not filtered out, it can completely distort the metrics.
Sometimes tracking codes are wrong and for some time the metric is not correctly tracked. Google sometimes has bugs and inaccurately reports metrics in Analytics, Search Console or Google Ads. This happens more often than you might think.
So this cannot be ignored or you can be led down the garden path. If a metric looks wrong – it just may be wrong.
THIS IS ONLY AN INTRODUCTION
I could write a book on the subject. I will spare you. But I will say again that there is a lot to the subject of the use of metrics in managing ANYTHING, and most certainly your marketing.
I’ve touched on key points. It sometimes makes it a challenge to get the right metrics operating and used correctly.
The plus side of this, the HUGE upside, is the ability to be in control of your new business generation. This company (thirteen05 Creative) has been using these techniques for more than 12 years. Organic searches have been our primary source of new business for almost all of it.
By watching the metrics, understanding them and making changes to improve, we continue to have, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, a volume of new leads greater than we can comfortably handle.
Call that an enviable position, but it is something we’ve made happen, and this is a key element to how we’ve done so. You can do the same. It may take a lot of work, and some time to accomplish.
Is it worthwhile?