Are you measuring the right things?

I’d like to share a story about a time when I thought I was measuring the right thing (but wasn’t).

I had decided that paid search was the right answer for my business.  Many of my competitors were buying keywords and there was plenty of traffic in the space.  The popular terms were bid up to the $2-3 dollar price range and based on my conversion assumptions, I thought I could get the customer acquisition cost tuned to the point where we would have a strongly positive ROI.

After about six weeks of adjusting bids, killing off bad ad creative, inserting new ads, and reorganizing ad groups, BINGO, the cost per customer landed within about 5% of my target.  Needless to say, I felt pretty good and was thinking it was time to “pour some gasoline on the fire” by making a big budget request.   It seemed like a sensible thing to do given the acquisition cost and conversions rate.

Before making the “big ask” for budget I decided to take one more look at the numbers.  I wanted to make sure these new sign ups would become productive long term customers.  My back-of-the-envelope estimates prior to the campaign had assumptions for the average revenue per customer.  The real data, however, showed that these customers yielded 75% less revenue than our “typical” customers, pushing this campaign into the red.  I was relieved to discover this before dropping  a large sum of money into this medium.

The moral of the story: make sure you are measuring the right things and they are connected to real results. In most businesses, activity-based measures like leads or traffic are directional indicators.  In the end, revenue and sales are what really matter.

So, what are you doing to connect your marketing activity to bottom line results?

Author: Frank Days

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