Everyone has their opinion on marketing metrics. Some brands measure only revenue and profitability — which leaves them lacking insight into which activities are effective. Others measure every possible metric from A to Z, overburdening themselves with unfocused information.
At Bonfire, our approach is this: We will measure as far as we reliably and meaningfully can. When it comes to results, we want the facts. We want absolutes. And we want insight that informs both our strategic and tactical decision-making.
It’s true that you can’t measure every aspect of marketing perfectly, but you should never stop chasing that perfection. Here is how you should think about your metrics program to maximize impact.
1. Know your objectives.
Sound like a given? It is. But it can’t be skipped.
Too many brands invest in certain forms of marketing merely because it has been identified as the “next big thing” — or because Fast Company told them to.
Think about marketing mediums in terms of your business objectives. Are you looking to expand awareness for an event? Increase retention? Grow revenue? Change your brand positioning?
Being crystal clear about your objectives will allow you to choose the right platforms and assign meaningful KPIs.
2. Assign Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).
In order to assign KPIs, you must first understand the difference between a Leading Indicator (LI) and a KPI.
LIs are the conclusive, wide-ranging set of metrics that are related to your KPIs but don’t definitively inform progress. LIs are very useful for analysts and community managers to understand the likelihood that a given campaign or content initiative is going to perform well. LIs are critical because they tell you whether or not you need to tweak your message or tactics early on. Examples of LIs are reach, click-through rate (CTR), cost-per-click (CPC), and frequency.
KPIs are the few, critical metrics that inform progress. You should have seven to 10 overarching marketing KPIs to analyze your strategy and a few KPIs that are attached to each channel or medium to optimize your tactics.
If your objective is brand awareness, your KPIs might include search engine rankings, channel engagement, PR coverage, or target influencer mentions.
If your objective is direct conversion, your KPIs might include download volume, lead conversions, or lead-to-sale conversions.
3. Set KPI goals.
Most companies set revenue, margin, and profitability goals. Far fewer set marketing KPI goals, and without good reason. A graph pointing “up and to the right” isn’t specific enough. KPI goals should be SMART (specific, attainable, relevant, and time-bound) like any other goal.
Set goals that stretch the abilities of your team, take year-over-year data into account, and are ultimately inspiring to those working on the project. Achieving a certain engagement rate may put people to sleep, but beating an all-time record or accomplishing a tenfold increase may be significant enough to rally the team and conquer it together.
4. Conduct an effective review.
Above all, an effective metrics review includes:
- Executive summary. What did we accomplish for our core KPIs (only)? The executive summary should be a concise, scannable slide or three that tells the main points of the story for that month.
- Performance context. How does this compare to last month, last year, and all-time? Reviewing YoY is typically a more helpful comparison because it accounts for seasonality. At Bonfire, we also like to run an 18-month percentile to understand where the current month stands against a semi-recent history.
- Strategic insights. Now that everyone understands what happened and how we’re doing, strategic and tactical insights should be explored. Which content performed the best? What trends are we noticing with our audience and what can we learn from it? What are our competitors doing well or poorly that we can learn from?
Great marketing changes course constantly based on results. You can tell you’ve had a meaningful review if you have a hefty list of action items at the end for tactical and/or strategic pivots.
The saying is true: What gets measured gets improved. Above all, make sure you’re measuring what matters and taking action on your insights. Your marketing will be all the better for it.