Our CEO usually says, if it doesn’t bring revenue to the table, it’s a vanity metric. That’s because, in this era where everything is measurable with shiny dashboards and beautiful spreadsheets, we tend to get swayed by these beautiful tables that don’t convert to company earnings. In marketing, vanity metrics are metrics that make you look good to others but are hollow on the inside. They only look nice on the surface but hold little substance.
So how do you look for marketing metrics that matter? When planning for marketing, you probably hear a lot of talk about high growth. Teams usually take this into consideration in terms of what marketing techniques might contribute to high growth. But once you have executed your plans, what happens after?
Holding Yourself Accountable
Metrics are all about holding your strategies accountable, testing them, and continually improving. Metrics help you scale your business. But how do you measure those? How do you know that you’ve chosen the right ones? Now, I think it’s relatively easy to figure out the how around metrics. There are a lot of marketing automation tools, apps, and CRMs that help you with your data. Some are free, some are not, but there’s a lot out there that enables you to figure out the data thru dashboards and reports.
Only, most companies are so spoiled for choice when choosing what to measure. In the era where everything is trackable, it’s so easy to get lost or figure out the why and the what.
Which brings us right around to marketing metrics that matter. How do you hold yourself accountable? I bet most articles will rattle off a list of metrics that you should be tracking. There’ll be things like cost per acquisition, engagement rate, and website traffic. These are actually our top three metrics, but we won’t be talking about that in this article. We’d be starting with something that is more basic.
Your Business Objectives
As a marketer, you must begin with your company’s business objectives. At the very basic, each company’s target is revenue. Once you determine your company’s high-level strategic objectives, define the specific marketing metrics by cascading down from there. Keep things simple. Choose no more than five high-level measurements, and then define goals for each metric and track results against those goals.
Then, for each metric, measure results against goals for every campaign, channel, product, sales rep, region, and so on. The best-performing companies do this weekly, monthly, and quarterly, and they continuously improve just as often.
According to Paul Albright said on his webinar on Demystifying the Strategies of High Momentum Marketing and Sales, some of the specific metrics that he recommends to include are:
- Marketing’s contribution to the pipeline.
- The size of your active, in-profile target prospect database. This is a critical asset in the business.
- Your key revenue cycle conversion rates, including demand to qualification to pipeline to close. Compare yours to those of similar companies.
- The number and performance of your various lead sources. This metric will enable you to manage your sources like a portfolio.
You must find these metrics among your data and ensure that these metrics are communicated to your team. Your team should have a clear understanding of what you have already achieved and what to expect to accomplish in a specific time frame. Prevent overwhelm by posting your numbers with their key takeaways, so people know what to do. Present as specific a call-to-action as possible. But most importantly, set a recognition system so you can celebrate your team’s successes. This creates excitement for the company and makes your team feel valued.
Your Marketing Analytics
Set time aside for data analysis. Shockingly, 50% of lead marketers devote as little as 5% of their time and resources to marketing analytics. After gathering all the pieces in place to collect the necessary data, you need to sit down and analyze it. Unless you set aside time to develop a useful, analysis-driven strategy, you will not be able to utilize them effectively.
It is essential to mention: Any metric can be a vanity metric. For example, 10,000 total users are fascinating numbers, but when you realize that you only have a hundred paying users that support the entire infrastructure. Even then, paying monthly users could be another vanity metric if those users aren’t analyzed appropriately.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with taking pride in your earned numbers and nothing wrong with thinking about how your business or department appears. But it is crucial to consider these as nothing beyond an angle for press releases. They rarely have a place within a company or project, and ultimately, it is the actionable marketing metrics that matter.