Five Meaningless Marketing Metrics

I have a CEO friend who uses the expression the “anxious parade of activity” to describe the way marketing people often present results to him.  I’m sure you have seen this before.  “First we did this tradeshow, then the agency made this pretty brochure, then we ran this ad in Magazine x….”  The entire thread is usually devoid of any connection to the impact these programs have on tangible business results.

As 2009 budget season approaches, conversations inevitably shift to “what did we get for all the money we spent on marketing this year”.  These discussions can be much easier with the right marketing metrics in place.  I often find that the trouble with metrics is separating the meaningful from the meaningless.  OK, meaningless is probably too strong a word. For the sake of this post, let’s use the terms “activity-based” and “result-oriented”.

I have created this list of five meaningless marketing metrics to illustrate the differences between the activity-based and result-oriented measures.

  1. Page views: Web traffic is a leading indicator but it is conversion that really matters.  Google Analytics makes it pretty simple to add conversion tracking to any website or blog so there is no excuse for not tracking web results.
  2. Leads: These are also a directional indicator. The challenge is that until you move them along the purchasing cycle this number doesn’t tell you much.
  3. Impressions: They are the fuel for our marketing machine but don’t give you any idea of how you are performing.
  4. Events attended: This also misses the point.  Did you have specific goals for the event like getting firm commitments from prospects to trial your product? Did your rainmaker sales guy close any big deals?  I was recently accused of being “anti-tradeshow”.  Over the last 10 years, I’ve seen a steep decline in the productivity of events. I reality, I am skeptical of programs that are difficult to measure or have weak ROI.
  5. Email open rate: I certainly want people to read my emails but it is more important to get them to take action.  Clickthroughs are a better measure and conversions are the best.

This is certainly not an exhaustive list.  As always, I would welcome any additions.

Author: Frank Days

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