When people set out to measure the success of their marketing programs, they usually start with vanity metrics — indicators like followers, video views, or impressions. They’re a great way to measure awareness over time, but they don’t do much to help you understand whether your marketing efforts are actually leading your audience to take action.
Vanity metrics don’t tell the whole story, and they’re rarely tied back to business objectives. But, most importantly, vanity metrics aren’t an actual representation of your customer experience. Consider time on site, for example. The average visitor is spending five minutes on your page. If the page was a five-minute blog post, this could be a great indicator. But if we’re talking about a page designed to answer questions your customer might have, spending five minutes looking for the answer reveals a poorly-designed page.
When our clients realize they need to update the right metrics for their performance reporting, we always recommend starting with objectives that tie to each stage of the audience-to-customer journey:
Whether you’re speaking to a “problem unaware” audience or a “heard of you” audience, your objectives should be to move your audience closer to whatever you’d consider a “win.” This includes conversions like a purchase, appointment scheduled, form completed, or post shared.
Even in awareness campaigns, you should have specific objectives. Your wins there might rely a bit more on vanity metrics, but instead of saying “impressions” and leaving it at that, are you also considering brand recall, net promoter scoring, and audience retention?
But it’s important to consider objectives after you’ve made the sale, too. You want to keep your customer experience strong, developing loyalty over time. Your objectives here might be to increase customer lifetime value or to inspire customers to advocate for you through word of mouth or social media.
For us, performance isn’t just about external factors. When we work with new clients, we start by assessing their internal processes, ranking them on a scale from “reactive” to “strategic.” By determining where your team stands, you can better understand where you can improve how you operate, and you can even reveal opportunities for workflow automation.
Where does your team stand on this scale?
When you’re operating at a truly strategic level, you’re working more efficiently, eliminating much of the stress of daily outreach and engagement tasks you experience with reactive communication.
Bring it full circle
Now, none of this really matters unless you actually take a look at the numbers and make some meaning of them every once in a while. We typically track data monthly, or at the end of a campaign, but it’s important to track against the right periods — month to month or week to week isn’t always the best way to know how well you’re doing.
Reporting is a way to bring everything full circle, so make sure you’re tying your results back to your objectives. It’s great if you’ve got a million new Instagram followers this year, but how much did your sales increase? When you tie your results to a dollar amount (like cost per acquisition, earned media value, or plain ol’ revenue), it’s easier to communicate your return on investment.
Having trouble understanding which KPIs relate to your objectives? I like to think of measurement and reporting as a story: “I want to measure _____ so I can determine _____, which impacts _______.”
Here are some examples of how it looks in practice:
- I want to measure how complete our content calendar is so I can determine how well we’re planning, which impacts our internal effectiveness.
- I want to measure time on site and bounce rate for our blog posts so I can determine whether people are reading, skimming, or bouncing from the posts, which impacts the content we create and how it’s structured.
- I want to measure the CPC of our annual campaign compared to last year’s CPC so I can determine whether the changes we made this year were more effective, which impacts the budget for next year’s campaign.
With solid objectives, a good understanding of what’s happening with your team, and a reporting process that turns your data into meaningful results, you’ll be ready to dive deeper than vanity metrics and to create well-informed, strategy-driven marketing content.
As part of our Brand Recharge program, we’ll spend six weeks working with our team to outline your objectives and identifying the best KPIs to track. Schedule your Discovery Session today to learn how we can put our system to work for your business.