Track what matters

As marketers, we track and analyze countless metrics to help determine the effectiveness of our activities. We try to use them to defend our resources, identify areas for improvement and determine our competitive position in a crowded environment.

But how do we manage and make real use of so much raw, unfiltered data?

Keep it relevant

Do a quick online search and you’ll find over five million results for the most important marketing metrics from many self-proclaimed marketing gurus. The issue is that metrics are not one-size-fits-all. While some measurements might work well for some tactics they don’t make sense to use with others. For example, when placing video ads on YouTube Kids, impressions are one of the most important metrics to measure. (The platform doesn’t allow for click through links.) But when placing on ad on YouTube, impressions themselves are less important. We'd rather look at how the number of impressions relate to the number of clicks, i.e. click-through rates, to see engagement.

Don’t waste your time with vanity

Vanity metrics don’t add any depth to your understanding – they do little to prove ROI or measure company growth or positioning. Instead they’re just those “nice-to-know” stats that might help you fill up a slide. For example, take advertising value equivalency. AVE helps the PR industry put a dollar value on editorial coverage by multiplying the length of a printed article or broadcast spot by the respective medium’s advertising rates. Often a multiplier is used to account for perceived credibility and validity of press coverage, as compared to advertising. It sounds good, but is very difficult to calculate effectively. Not only do AVEs ignore the tone of the coverage, but they also overlook the impact of sharing and engagement. And since there’s no industry consensus on the multiplier, marketers can be calculating these figures very differently.

Watch and keep watching

Imagine the difference between a year’s worth of data versus just one month. It’s huge. When observing campaign metrics, longevity and consistency are key to a full, rich understanding of performance. Like the number of website visitors or page views – these numbers on their own mean very little, but when you view this data over years, it can enlighten your team on information gathering trends, shifts in usability, company growth and industry buying cycles. Be sure to carefully and intentionally determine what indicators are both relevant and measurable during your initial planning stages of any marketing activity.

Take action

If there is a significant spike or dip in one of your metrics, that is a sign that something has changed. You must determine if it’s a good change or a bad one, and how to either correct the ship or continue the positive wave. Start with adjusting something small like changing the color of a button in an email layout, or updating header text on your homepage. If that doesn’t appear to affect too much, consider a larger change, like reconfiguring entire layouts or updating navigations. If you’re working with something digital, try an AB test. It’s a relatively pain-free way to introduce a change and gauge effectiveness with your audience before fully committing.

Make the insights digestible and sharable

Just because you have data doesn’t mean its insights are actually understood. Especially when you share data outside of your team or marketing organization, data should be condensed into easily understood chunks. Visual items like digital dashboards and infographics make it easy to focus on what figures matter most and what these number really mean to the business. Some measures like click-through rates and cost-per-click display well as a chart or bolded number. Others like reach or average time per session might display better as a trend graph. A good mix of both types will make your information more intriguing and easier to understand.

Never stop optimizing

One conclusion the metrics should never lead you to is that you are done. There is always copy that can be updated or designs optimized to yield better results. That is the mindset you should have at all times when observing your performance. Stay curious and be inventive.