“What gets measured gets done”

So true.  Team members who know what metrics they are accountable for will be keen not to let the side down.

This is of course particularly true of sales teams whose performance is linked to remuneration – poor sales = poor pay!  This makes complete sense of course when it comes to measuring sales; however, what about other parts of the business. If a management team measures incorrect metrics it might end up rewarding performance that doesn’t deliver sales. This is a particular challenge when it comes to digital marketing.

The measurement of marketing performance has long been an important debate, one that has become even more complicated in this world of digital marketing. There are myriad of marketing metrics now available including reach, ad views, clicks from pay per click advertising, engagement rates and many many more. It would be understandable for the modern business owner or management team to become mesmerised by the details of these metrics; however it is all too easy to lose sight of the metrics that matter the most – i.e. the ones that are linked to sales.

So let’s get specific and identify which metrics are most important. Please don’t misunderstand my message – most metrics have something to offer the development of a successful marketing strategy; but most are a drill-down from the most important metrics. For simplicity, I have divided these metrics into two categories – “inputs” and “outputs”, where the “outputs” refer to metrics that are most important to the business.

Inputs metrics – the sanctuary of the average digital marketer

Digital marketers love to impress their clients with big numbers. These numbers include the following “input” metrics:

  • Visits to the company website
  • Number of pages viewed on the website
  • Number of people who viewed a post on social media
  • Interaction / Engagement rate of visitors to your digital channels
  • Open rates of email marketing campaigns
  • Views of your Google Ads campaigns on Google search
  • Number of organic search impressions for a particular search term

Whilst it is important to drive visitors to your online channels and therefore important to measure this, it is of no relevance if these visitors don’t buy something or contact the business to book an appointment. If we think of the customer buying process as a funnel, these metrics refer to the top of the funnel, i.e. the start of the buyer journey.

Of course we should measure these input metrics, but we need to have systems in place to measure the most important metrics- the “output” metrics.

Output metrics – where business owners should focus their efforts

My recommendation to business owners is to produce a dashboard of their key digital metrics. Avoid the temptation to include the input metrics as mentioned above, unless they provide meaningful data with which to make important decisions. So what should these key digital metrics be? Well that depends on what each business considers to be a conversion.

For an e-Commerce business that’s fairly straightforward – here is a list:

  • Number of orders
  • Sales revenue
  • Average order value
  • Sales by digital channel
  • Conversion rate (sales by number of website visits)

For a professional services business it will include:

  • Appointment form completions
  • Contact form completions
  • Facebook appointments and messages
  • Live chat interactions

These metrics should be included in the dashboard showing the contribution by each channel – organic, email, pay per click, referrals from other sites, social media and other sources. It should be clear what the conversion rate is per channel against these output metrics.

The dashboard should be simple enough to be read in 30 seconds and conclusions drawn within a few minutes by the management team. Of course, where more detailed questions arise there is always the opportunity to drill down to the more granular data lurking within Google Analytics, Facebook Business Management, Mailchimp, Google Ads and so forth. But typically, where the time period is long enough the dashboard should be sufficient.

So where do I go from here?

As mentioned, “what gets measured gets done”. So let’s decide what the output metrics for your business are and build the framework for measuring them. If a key output metric is the completion of an appointment booking form for example, make sure that your website is tracking this and reporting it to a dashboard. The dashboard needs to be splitting these conversions by online marketing channel. And let’s hope that because it is now the focus of measurement that it will yield results that deliver genuine business impact.