Why is it so hard for digital marketers to come up with the right metrics?

Estimated read time: 4 minutes

I hear it all the time from digital marketer us.

We’re trying to prove that what we’re doing is working and we know there are metrics out there to prove it. We just have to go and find them.

Of course, there are so many different data sets out there already in digital marketing but it’s hard to believe that the right metrics and a way to actually measure and see them doesn’t already exist.

Sometimes I wonder if this is just a sign of us looking for the perfect measurement as opposed to the possible measurement.

And then of course sometimes there’s unnecessary pressure to measure something that’s not quite measurable yet.

ROI, which is measured in dollars, of course, is also important but given how nonlinear marketing and especially digital marketing is it’s not an easy number to come by as well.

Typically, I see the misunderstanding around ROI in marketing when people ask me whether or not this one tweet had a good ROI. Even for tweets that sell something it’s still not very easy to track since people don’t necessarily follow the purchase path in a linear away. They might see the tweet, leave and then later buy something related on the website and we don’t even know that tweet was one of the touch points that influenced them.

Other metrics are important – including share of voice, the size of your relevant audience and others.

Of course, we have some digital marketers who will say those are vanity metrics and then when I ask for better metrics they shrug their shoulders like everybody else.

Growing your audience is a definite sign of eventually being able to sell your product or services. Of course, you have to assemble the right audience and then you have to make it easy for them to actually buy whatever it is that you’re selling.

So how do we get to a place where we can measure what we think that we need to measure? Here is a proposed checklist:

Current state

Take stock of what actually can be measured already. What systems are in place and are all the owners of those systems in the room with us and part of this project? If they’re not figure out a way to get them involved.

Review how current data points are collected and analyzed. One thing that I have seen is that a lot of data exists-especially in silos.

Instead of reinventing the wheel why not see if we can measure what’s already being measured today-maybe just in a more structured way.

Next steps

Appoint somebody in charge of analyzing the data and owning that piece. If there are several people currently that do that in silos figure out a way for them to form a team.

Figure out some quick wins, some longer-term actions and we’ll talk about the future state in a moment.

I would also highly recommend weekly or bi-weekly meetings with the key stakeholders to review what the metrics are showing and what it means to the business.

Then the group can set goals together. We are trying to increase the number of audience members or amount of content read or whatever the goal might be. And then based on the goal determine tactics. So for example, if the goal is to increase the audience, potential tactics could include to blog more, to do paid promotions, to do better email marketing-those kind of things.

Future state

It’s always good to keep the perfect future state in mind. What does the perfect measurement system look like in the future? Keep in mind that that is wildly dependent on user behavior, technology and who knows what else but just because we can’t get to the future today doesn’t mean that we should fret about it.

I’m all for measuring things that can be measured and that matter. But we have to keep in mind that there is a time to be realistic and there is a time to push for futuristic change.

This can also be hard for me to remember as I’m often caught saying things like “in a perfect world…” but realistically the perfect world hardly ever exists and that applies to content creation, content distribution and also measurement.

Something to keep in mind as we are pushing forward and measuring what matters and also measure what can be measured today.