Marketing measurement is flawed09/18/2012 | Follow Neil | Connect with Neil

“More about magic, less about logic”

In marketing we’ve become obsessed about proving our worth and it really frustrates me. It is part of the reason I’m organising this conference. Don’t get me wrong, it is essential that we deliver value greater than what we’ve invested (in terms of marketing budgets and personnel) but I don’t think that analysing this at a tactic or campaign level is always possible.

To business managers and the C-suite, the only measure that is important is how much revenue it/you generated. Products, divisions, stores and sales people can all be measured by weighing up their cost and what they generate. They expect marketing to do the same, so when we talk about unique visitors to websites, influence on social networks or column inches, it doesn’t mean anything to them. It is just fluff.

With so many customer touch-points and so many channels, I’m not sure we really can measure what we do. For example, if somebody receives a mailing campaign and buys online, can you be sure that was the only thing that they have ever received? If yes, then you might be able to connect that sale with that campaign. However, if they’d just seen one of your senior execs speak at a conference and then got the campaign do you split the revenue generated between these two? They both required marketing time and effort. What if the campaign and conference prompted them to visit your website, follow you on twitter and then speak to a member of the sales team. How do you take credit and what level of credit should you take? Is it just a straight split? Maybe there needs to be a weighting that indicates which was the most important? What if they’ve been following you for years, clicking on the occasional email but something outside of your control led them to being interested and it just so happened that the campaign arrived? This gets ridiculous after a while, but I think I’ve made my point.

I was even asked by one ex-MD how much our LinkedIn group was worth. How do you answer questions like this? Surely, having lots of senior people from target and client companies in our group, discussing and sharing our content with each other is a positive thing – it doesn’t require a metric to prove that it is worth doing (even if it was possible or not time-consuming).

My problem with metrics is that people base decisions and assumptions on what we share and the lack of credibility or effectiveness offered by most metrics means that we leave ourselves wide open to criticism. Or, worse still, we don’t do something because the ROI metrics aren’t readily available and as a result how do we prove that we are worth keeping. The result is that we avoid going with gut feel and miss an incredible opportunity to demonstrate our value.

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