Don’t Let Doubt Distract From Measuring Digital Marketing Results

Which two mistakes marketers need to avoid

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Tweak metrics so they go from vague to valuable. Getty Images

Some marketers consider benchmarking and metrics tracking to be distractions—busy work that takes time away from just getting down to it. But for those who stray away from examining their work face an uphill battle when results begin to falter or best practices shift.

Metrics do matter, obviously. In all but the smallest of organizations you have to be able to communicate the effectiveness of what you’re doing and defend your plans going forward. “I just know” is a tough way to defend your budget for the coming fiscal year to someone with a more analytical mindset.

Second, another self-evident truth: Knowing your audience, your competition and your own position in relation to each is indispensable. That should go without saying, but the biggest mistakes marketers make are:

  • Not understanding the difference between themselves and their target audience.
  • Viewing themselves as exceptional when their target audience does not.

Diving into the data that your marketing work generates is a critical part of maximizing the impact your work can have. The attitude of ignoring metrics seems to come from one of three attitudes toward measuring marketing success:

Fear

Some marketers are just plain afraid of what they’ll find. Nobody wants to stare their failures in the face, so marketers who aren’t sure that what they’re doing is really contributing to their organization’s bottom line may resist measuring their efforts because they fear they’ll come up short.

Of course, sticking their heads in the sand doesn’t change anything, but if no one else is asking, why draw attention to ineffective efforts?

Uncertainty

Other markers seem to be unclear as to whether or how they can effectively measure their marketing work. This is especially true for b-to-b marketers supporting complex sales processes.

Without a “buy now” button being clicked or a straight path that can be drawn from, say, a conversation at a trade show to a series of phone calls and meetings to a sale, it’s tempting to ignore the possibilities rather than do the hard work of setting up and tweaking metrics so they go from vague to valuable.

Doubt

Most interesting of all are those marketers who feel there is no need to worry about metrics and measurements because they’re getting results and, hey, the proof is in the pudding. Why stop all the great stuff we’re doing just to gaze at our own navels? I’d break these folks down into two groups:

First, there are those who are fortunate to be getting results without really knowing how they’re doing it. At some point, the competitive landscape may change or some internal factor may change and they’ll flounder, but for now what they’re doing is working gangbusters, so they don’t want to waste any time keeping the wheel turning.

Second is the group who, despite never even considering the spreadsheets and dashboards that so many of us rely on, are able to adjust their efforts on the fly and keep their efforts effective no matter what the market or their own organization throws at them.

They have an innate sense of whether overall campaigns are continuing to produce or need to be adjusted or scrapped. It seems like magic to the rest of us, but they’re that dialed in.


Since founding Andigo, Andrew Schulkind has asked clients two simple question: what does digital marketing success look like, and how can marketing progress be measured? Andigo’s work includes web design and development, content marketing, and digital strategy, among other digital marketing components, with a goal of helping firms encourage audience engagement through solid information architecture, a great user experience, and compelling content. A dash of common sense doesn’t hurt, either. Andrew graduated with a B.A. in Philosophy from Bucknell University. He engages in a range of community volunteer work and is an avid fly fisherman and cyclist. He also loves collecting meaningless trivia. (Did you know the Lone Ranger made his mask from the cloth of his brother's vest after his brother was killed by "the bad guys?”)
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