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Lies, Damn Lies and Marketing Metrics

Lies, Damn Lies and Marketing Metrics Eric Wittlake
Without metrics, marketers cannot manage investments or show the value of marketing. However, without careful selection of metrics, diligent analysis and a clear overarching vision, measurement can become the biggest barrier to successful long-term marketing programs.

Short term metrics are easily gamed, and it can happen unintentionally. Here are a few common metrics and ways some B2B businesses influence the metric without driving long-term results.

  • Is social sharing a success measurement for your content? If so, as Mark Schaefer's post shows, a few more posts about Klout will make you successful on paper.

  • Is traffic a key goal? High volume, low cost traffic sources will immediately your metrics, but they may not improve your business.

  • Is cost per lead a key metric? Reducing online display and traditional advertising investments based on performance will quickly lower cost per lead, but long-term it will hurt search results and leads from organic traffic.

  • Is revenue key? Increasing your use of time sensitive promotions will definitely give you a short-term lift but it also creates a reliance on margin-eroding promotions.

Even good metrics can be misleading. If you don't do all three items below, your marketing metrics will eventually mislead your marketing.

1. Pick the Right Marketing Metrics
With the wrong metrics, your investment in analysis and optimization is wasted. This should be obvious to everyone, yet we continue to hear about click rates on banner ads, a metric that is easily accessible but wrong for nearly everyone.

The wrong metrics lead to the wrong marketing investments.

2. Do the Analysis
Simply optimizing a campaign based on your success metrics may quickly improve measured results, but you will be left with a subset of your original plan.
Insight into why elements of your marketing performed well or missed the mark is critical. More than driving tactical decisions, insights improve all the marketing decisions that follow.

3. Follow Your Vision
If you are in enterprise B2B marketing, your metrics will never reflect the entirety of your vision and purpose and be granular and timely enough to use for ongoing management. Metrics may inform your vision, but purely following your metrics will lead you away from it.

Or as Twain would likely have summarized it: Lies, Damn Lies and Marketing Metrics.

Your Turn
How have you seen metrics mislead marketing or what other critical steps would you add? Share your views and examples in the comments below or with me on Twitter (@wittlake).

Eric is a marketing strategist and the head of media at Babcock & Jenkins, where he works primarily with enterprise B2B marketers. He is also blogs about content, social and digital marketing for B2B on his personal B2B Digital Marketing...

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