How to impress your friends: great sources of statistics

I always try to arm myself with primary research when making a presentation or principled argument.  Many times, however, I have to do some searching for that data so it is great when I find a site that does the heavy lifting for me.  Here are some data sources I really like to use: 2007 US Economic Census – Your tax dollars underwrite this methodical cataloging of US industries by NAICS codes.  I have frequently found this helpful when market sizing.  Their latest innovation is graphical snapshots by industry in PDF form. ClickZ Stats – This is a great resource for a variety of online marketing and traffic statistics. The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) – While the juiciest bits are reserved for DMA members, there are some very interesting research reports available for free.  The paid reports are jammed with more numbers than you could ever need. Bureau of Labor Statistics – Some of the numbers are depressing in light of our current economic malaise, but this site still contains more great stuff from our friends in Washington.    National Center for Charitable Statistics – Excellent summary stats of the nonprofit world.  Nonprofit organizations can also get access to the raw data tables. Any other suggestions?  Please feel free to add as comments. Thanks FM...

Read More

Marketing Metric of Last Resort

Pretty much all marketers do it.  We spend money on programs that we “know in our our heart” are the right thing but are extremely difficult to track.  What am I talking about?  For me it has been PR.  PR has always been a no brainer as a cost effective way to tell your story in long form and present your organization as a category leader.  Plus from a team building standpoint, everyone likes to see the company’s name or the CEO’s smiling face in the Wall Street Journal or your hometown newspaper. The challenge always arises during budget season when the pointy headed types ask the inevitable question: “So, what did we get for that $120K we spent on PR last year besides some glossy reprints?” As always it comes back to measurement.  In a perfect world, one could connect the prospect who read the product review in a magazine and then bought your product.  In reality it is much more complex.  Different stakeholders learn about you through different media, leaving you with a series of indirect measures. So what is the marketing metric of last resort? When in doubt, I’ve seen people use a measure called “advertising equivalents”.  This is defined as the cost to purchase an equal amount of advertising in the publication where you received PR coverage.  If you get a half page editorial, then this is worth a half page of advertising.  You get the idea.  This is certainly better than nothing but here are the problems: This metric is more about activity than results It assumes you would actually buy media in that publication if you had a choice It has no reflection of the quality of the coverage So, how do you measure those hard to measure...

Read More

Customer Retention Metrics

How do you track the success of customer or account management programs?  Here are some examples I’ve seen: Customer retention rate = The percentage of customers who stay with you over the total number of customers.  The downside is that this number ignores the fact that some customers are more important/valuable than others. Revenue retention rate = Percentage of total potential revenue retained.  This metric misses the impact of account expansion but works better in environments with predictable customer contracts. Average customer revenue (revenue yield) = total revenue divided by the number of customers.  This  gives you a sense of how well you are growing your wallet share with customers. Repeat purchase rate: As the name implies, this reflects the percentage of business from existing customers. Net promoter score: The industry standard metric captures how likely a customer is to tell a friend about your business. I’ve seen a range of approaches and find that more than one metric is often needed to tell the whole story. Did I miss any other meaningful retention...

Read More

Thursday night in Beantown

It is always difficult to be in three places at one time so I had to make a difficult decision about what where to go last night.  I had three options: MIT Entrepreneurship Center Reception, WBUR Tweetup or the Mass High Tech All Stars.  In the end I chose the E-center reception and the tweet-up.  Here are some of the story lines from the evening. MIT Entrepreneurship Center Reception What can I say – Ken Morse knows how to throw a party.  I didn’t count but there must have been over 400 people crammed into the MIT Faculty Club.  The idea is bring together entrepreneurs, students and venture capitalist together for one evening to mix and mingle.  I know, MIT people have a lousy reputation for networking skills but Ken is trying to change this.  The event was sponsored by Highland Capital, Goodwin Proctor and Agilent. If there is a slowdown in the Boston startup world, it wasn’t obvious to me. People were enthusiastically pitching ideas to friends and investors.  This is one major reason why I love Boston.  Even in the midst of our current capital crisis, the universities continue to churn out technology start-ups.  They may need to work a little harder for capital right now but they will always drive our growth in good times and bad. I met great people like Brian Halligan, CEO of Hubspot and learned more about their inbound marketing platform.  It seems like the social media infrastructure guys like Hubspot will continue thrive as business figure out how to make money using these new technologies.  I also bumped into fellow Sloanies Sean Brown who has returned to McKinsey after a stint running Alumni Relations at the Sloan School as well as Tim Rowe of the Cambridge Innovation Center.  It was also nice to catch up with Jack McCollough of the CCR Group and my former Sloan protege John Hebert who is doing well at Genzyme. As a favor to Ken (many of us owe him a great deal for his sage advice and candid feedback), here is a plug for the E-center at MIT.  Take a look at the link for ways to get involved.  It isn’t just for MIT grads. More from the WBUR Tweetup to come this weekend.  Stay tuned. FM...

Read More

Metrics that Matter

A couple of weeks ago I poked fun at the array of numbers that frequently masquerade as metrics.  As a follow-up to that post, here are some additional thoughts about the attributes of meaningful marketing measures: Connected – The best metrics are related to your overall business goals. This means things like program revenue or cost per new customer. Results-oriented – Whenever possible try to connect activity to specific results.  Don’t get confused by activity-based metrics like homepage visits or page views. Think about measures that reflect real results like converted leads. Have benchmarks – Are there industry-specific numbers you can compare your metrics with?  Checkout  Lynne Harrold’s recent post for some ideas for selecting the right benchmark. She references a variety of places to find relevant numbers for comparison including the Direct Marketing Association and Marketing Sherpa. In the end, they are numbers not an answers.  They can illustrate progress (or the lack thereof) and help mediate differences of opinions.  Choose them...

Read More

Can you trust anyone?

The issue of trust seems to be everywhere today. Can we trust our politicians when they say we need a massive bank bailout? Can I trust that this charity will spend my money wisely? Can I trust this online business is not some elaborate phishing scheme to clean out my bank account? Over the years, some of the brightest marketing minds have explored ways to build trust between a customer and business. In 2003, Glen Urban, former Dean of the MIT Sloan School of Management (and my grad school research adviser) published a paper titled “The Trust Imperative” which shares things you can do to build trust. It highlights specific ideas like “being transparent in all you do” and “helping customers help themselves”. Even though this research was performed almost 10 years ago, I marvel at how the key points of it are still relevant today for online businesses. You can find the full paper...

Read More