Do not follow “best practices” for your marketing metrics

It makes me cringe when I see the “need to track” articles, prescribing “must watch” metrics. A data set isn’t applicable across a single industry and overlaying “best practices” across a multitude of industries is imprudent. I understand that individuals are trying to add value and a few of the data points may be suitable, but your analytics need to trace back to your business objectives.

Our marketing team sits next to the accounting team. I have a bit of a running joke with them; they conserve money and I waste money. This may be an over exaggeration, but there is some truth to it. I piece together a bunch of tactics with the expectation of a return. If my return isn’t driving the business, then I am wasting money. Unless everyone has the same business objectives, following best practices regarding analytics won’t wholly validate your marketing.

Determine Data Set
It’s not suitable for anyone to tell you which metrics will best inform and drive performance with your marketing, unless that person has a clear understanding of your goals. And it might sound easy to align marketing analytics to business objectives, but in reality it’s not that clean. Often, marketers are creating a marketing plan before they’ve determined their metric plan. To have a clean line, take your business objectives and establish data points that directly drive to goals. Then take the data set and build your plans with explicit targets for campaigns. This direct line enables marketers to have clarity and the ability to impact the business.

Benchmarking Key Performance Indicators (KPI)
You may have access to KPI benchmarks through research partners, but these data points don’t necessarily provide you the ability to compare apples to apples. While they may be industry-specific benchmarks, there are numerous factors that can make them unsuitable. In the event you can’t find a benchmark or don’t feel a benchmark is appropriate, it’s completely acceptable to proceed for a certain time period, and subsequently use your own historic data to benchmark for KPIs. Being a wrestler has provided the ability to ignore opponents and wrestle my own match.

John Wannamaker was famously quoted, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” Mr. Wannamaker wasn’t blessed with our current access to all the possible forms of data to tell him which half of marketing was working. Following best practices or industry benchmarks for metrics can leave you as blind as Mr. Wannamaker was to his marketing. But tailoring your metrics to your business objectives will open lanes to drive results.

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  • […] It makes me cringe when I see the “need to track” articles, prescribing “must watch” metrics. A data set isn’t applicable across a single industry and overlaying “best practices” across a multitude…  […]

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