Superior measurement methods: metrics that actually matter

What do your marketing metrics tell you? If you rely on the standard measurement method, probably not by much.

Consider a classic metric like click rate. By most standards, a "successful" banner ad gets 15 clicks per 10,000 impressions, compared to an "unsuccessful" ad that gets only five clicks. That is a narrow, probably insignificant margin between success and failure. More importantly, it misses the point of the ad itself: increasing sales.

Video ads suffer from a similar problem. Marketers rate their efforts by how many times videos play to the end. But it's a desire to believe that every playthrough signals a dedicated viewer. Most people silently watch videos or skip straight to the end. The content therefore makes little to no impression and leads to minimal conversions.

Some of the most widely used and carefully managed metrics in a marketer's arsenal do not correlate with business success. However, a lot of time and resources are still wasted obsessing over it. What's worse is that many marketers are missing out on other opportunities to optimize digital marketing campaigns and convert ads into sales.

If your positive marketing metrics aren't translating into revenue, you are pursuing the wrong things. So focus on more insightful metrics and indicators of success that actually relate to your business goals. You have a much clearer view of what is working and what is not, and you have increased control over your marketing efforts.

Upgrade to advanced measurement strategies

Some metrics are more important than others. For example, visits to your home page are less valuable than visits to landing pages. This is because media metrics (the ones that measure your audience size) are less important than engagement and customer acquisition metrics that track your marketing efforts beyond a click or visit.

Advanced measurement strategies not only track business success, they also explain it.

However, marketers' ability to track and measure hundreds and thousands of digital touchpoints throughout the day has resulted in far more data than insights and explanations today. For example, some marketers may know about the success of individual ads or campaigns, but how those results affect the bottom line remains a mystery.

Advanced measurement strategies mute the irrelevant metrics and create connective tissue between the others so marketers can better understand how various campaign factors can support (or affect) sales.

However, there is no list of campaign performance metrics that are always successful. Rather, any metric you use should be directly related to a campaign goal. Things like click rate and impressions can still be useful when the goal is to increase brand awareness, but they can be distracting when your real goal is to get customers. The maxim "what is measured is managed" really applies here: if you don't track relevant metrics, you are probably not optimizing the campaign effectively either.

Outline your measurement strategy before the campaign begins. That means figuring out what metrics you're tracking, how to define successful marketing campaigns, and where to look for data. Marketers need to get this job done early so they can track the success of each campaign from the start.

Take B2B companies. Before the COVID-19 pandemic stopped in-person sales, a common goal for the B2B company was to schedule in-person demos and the strategy for doing this included online advertising. However, it doesn't make sense to expect every video view or click on a banner ad to translate a demo. B2B companies could learn more from dividing the digital ad budget by the number of scheduled in-person demos to get an estimate of the "cost" of each demo, and then adjusting spend across search, social, and programmatic channels accordingly .

Advanced measurement strategies have obvious advantages, and it's easy to use: if you want to keep track of metrics anyway, why not track the right ones in the right way?

Development of an extended measurement strategy

For those willing to test new approaches, advanced measurement strategies are proving to be much more accessible than most people expect – not to mention the impact.

Apply these marketing metric best practices to your next campaign for better results.

1. Focus on Brand Lift

Whether or not an ad leads to sales, it should always make a positive impression. That is, the audience likes what they see, remembers the message, forms a memory of the brand, and gets one step closer to a purchase.

Instead of tracking how many people see an ad, focus on whether that ad improves brand awareness – also known as a "brand lift".

Measuring brand buoyancy isn't easy, but with quality data (likely from a third party) and honest analysis, you can get inside your audience's head to see if your ads are actually adding value to your brand.

Depending on the media mix, you can, for example, provide single-channel measurements on Facebook or YouTube. Alternatively, you can provide cross-channel measurements in a demand-side platform environment using display, video, audio, native and connected TV methods.

2. Align digital channels to study sales drivers

Every brand needs to know where the sale is coming from. Online businesses have mountains of data and resources to do more. However, the situation is different for B2B brands that until recently relied on more traditional sales methods and interactions.

Customers' preference for digital interactions is reflected in their behavior: According to research by McKinsey, they are opting for more secure digital sales interactions and using online channels (mobile apps, social media and online communities). Accordingly, B2B companies that focus more on their buyers' digital experiences are more than twice as likely to be referred to as selected suppliers.

Your online channels should meet customer expectations: the services should be seamless, convenient, and easily integrate with and collaborate with sales channels to gather current customer insights and identify sales drivers.

3. Use the multi-touch mapping

With so many channels in the marketing mix, it's hard to know which ads (or ad combinations) will trigger a sale.

Traditional rule-based approaches only attribute the first or last impression. However, multi-touch attribution models can track touchpoints and assign a fraction of the credit to each touchpoint. These models use algorithms and machine learning to allocate a portion of the credit to each ad or impression during the individual customer journey.

Understanding the source of revenue at such a detailed level will help marketers use the most effective messaging and marketing mix possible.

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Advanced metering strategies don't guarantee successful marketing campaigns, but they do give marketers a chance to see when an ad is showing or not. More importantly, they provide a way to understand why certain ads are successful. You can also use it to optimize every ad you run.

We could call them advanced measurement strategies now, but it won't be long before they become standard and it is better to adapt and adopt them now than to try to catch up later.

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