Seasoned marketers know that marketing should be data driven. The primary reason is simple. It can be summed up as the advice my uncle once told me was the most important take away he had from Harvard Business School: “What you measure goes up”.
The Holy Grail most organizations seek to understand is their return on investment (ROI). Yet most marketers seem hard pressed to provide useful ROI base metrics.
Why? The web is much more measurable than other forms of marketing. You can install Google Analytics on your site in under 15 minutes and have access to over 200 data points.
When we say the web is measurable, what we are talking about is volume metrics. Visits, page views, traffic sources are very easy to capture. What is more elusive is returns.
A common trap many businesses fall into is to measure what is easy, not what is meaningful. Our human brain loves accuracy, so much that we ignore what is important.
It is like the old joke where someone is looking for a lost contact lens. When their friend asks them where they lost it, they point to the other side of the room. The friend then asks, “Then why aren’t you looking over there”. The reply, “Because the light is better over here”.
The question marketers should be asking is what should they measure? What do they want to go up? Visits, page views, time on site, social media followers and other volume metrics are all well and good. But they are, at best, intermediary measures and, at worse, can be red herrings distracting the marketing efforts down inefficient paths.
So what should we measure? The bean counters would push for sales revenue and gross profit. Unfortunately, only ecommerce sites where purchases actually happen online can directly measure such things. Leads are the next best thing to measure. But often it is hard to nail down the value of a lead, particularly for businesses with long, complex sales cycles.
Maybe your organization does not care about sales leads. Maybe you are a startup wanting registrations or downloads. Maybe you’re a non-profit or political campaign and looking for donations or volunteers.
The first steps of becoming more successful online is to determine what outputs are truly valuable, and devise ways to measure them. The measures will not likely be clean or accurate. But it is better to have a fuzzy number around something that is meaningful than an accurate number around something that is not.
photo by Theis Kofoed Hjorth