Certain metrics have become so ubiquitous in marketing that many brands have stopped questioning their real value. A higher-than-average click-through rate? Hooray! Break out the champagne, the campaign was a success!
Wait. Was it? Where did all those extra clicks ultimately end up?
But it's not just the click that needs to be re-evaluated. Too many marketers today are being handcuffed by traditional media-buying metrics. Other common KPIs such as impressions, viewability, and completion rates are widely accepted -- and even obsessed over -- but they don't give a true gauge of campaign effectiveness. Shouldn't your marketing metrics align more closely with your business objectives?
It's time to shift the focus to post-click behaviors like average order value, time-to-first purchase, order frequency, time spent in-app, and others. Let's take a look at why such behaviors are a far more valuable way of gauging the success of your marketing efforts.
The limitations of traditional media-buying metrics
First off, let's talk about the traditional media-buying metrics that marketers have come to take for granted. Are click-through rates, viewability statistics, completion rates, and the like worthless? Of course not. When it comes to top-line metrics, these figures can yield insights and guidance for marketers, particularly when it comes to optimizing creative. The problem arises, however, when marketers begin to rely on such figures as complete gauges of success. Superficial ad measurements, such as clicks and views, don't necessarily translate to real business results.
Beyond that, certain coveted metrics are actually at odds with one another. Marketers might crave both high click-through rates and high completion rates. That sounds good, right? But when you think about it, those two metrics are in conflict with each other and can't necessarily be applied jointly within a campaign.
There's another problem too -- one that digital marketers often don't like to discuss in too much detail, but let's be honest: Many common online metrics are easily misrepresented or skewed. Although estimates vary as to the true size of the problem, few marketers will argue that fraudulent online activity, as it relates to advertising, isn't a problem. The ease with which online campaign results can be fudged is just one more reason that marketers need to be focused on real, tangible media goals.
Of course, many advertisers today have come around on the notion that counting clicks and impressions can be a futile pursuit. In their place, they've begun to focus instead on engagement -- often in the form of "likes" and comments on social media. Such metrics represent real, tangible consumer reactions, don’t they? But here, too, we encounter the same fundamental problem: A "like" does not necessarily move your business forward.
In the end, marketers need to take a step back and remind themselves why they advertise in the first place. Is it because they want consumers to click on a piece of creative or complete a video? No. They want to drive real revenue results. So why wouldn't you look to reflect that desire in your metrics?
Post-click metrics that matter
So how can marketers start to connect their campaign results with their business objectives? The key is to begin to focus on the measureable actions that happen after the customer clicks on your ad. Here are just a few you might want to consider incorporating into your evaluations.
Average order value
How much does the average customer spend when they shop on your site? Perhaps more importantly, how much do they spend the first time they shop on your site, versus subsequent visits? If order values sharply decline following a first purchase, you'd want to evaluate your campaigns to understand what's going wrong. On the other hand, when average order values begin to climb, look just as closely to see what is going right -- and then replicate such campaigns more broadly.
Time to first purchase
Similar to average order value, the time to purchase following exposure to a campaign can help you understand the effectiveness of your messaging and approach. Fast buys indicate a solid campaign configuration, while slow buys suggest there might be some structural flaws in your approach.
A slightly more long-term metric, order frequency can help you gauge your marketing effectiveness with existing customers. Short times between first and second purchases, as well as subsequent orders, suggests good campaign configuration and execution, as does an increasing order value.
Time spent in app
This metric is especially relevant to mobile game publishers, which rely on immersion within their apps to drive social sharing and additional installs. The residual benefits of these activities are also measureable, of course. In the case of other apps in which transactions are completed, the time spent within them is so correlative to sales and order volume that it becomes a useful metric in itself.
Of course, the post-click behaviors that matter most will depend not only on a brand's vertical, but also on the brand itself. No matter your industry or company, aligning your campaign metrics more closely with your true business objectives will always yield more meaningful results.