It’s Time To Stop Obsessing Over These 4 Marketing Metrics

It’s Time To Stop Obsessing Over These 4 Marketing Metrics

Marketers today rely on a plethora of tools, programs, and software systems that offer a wide variety of metrics. After all, a large part of marketing is being able to measure and report on the ROI (Return on Investment) of an initiative to the bottom line.

The internet has numerous ways to capture and analyze traffic, and for marketers, wading through these metrics to determine which ones are most relevant to them can be overwhelming. Some metrics that seemed important in the past have outlived their usefulness and should not be used as core KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) for your objectives.

Here are 4 marketing metrics it’s time to stop obsessing over.

1. Keywords

Keywords are often the first thing people think of when it comes to SEO. In the early days of Internet marketing, clients would give an SEO company a list of keywords, and it was the company’s job to make sure the client showed up for those terms. This led to some unscrupulous tactics and gave SEOs a less than stellar reputation for gaming the system.

But even today, many marketers and business owners are focusing too much on keywords and trying to “fit” as many as possible into the content of their posts, websites, and other pieces. The obsession with keywords has caused spammy, keyword-stuffed content, and keyword rankings have decreased in value as the search engines (like Google) have caught up.

Location, personalization, search history, and other factors all influence search results now. Rankings fluctuate all the time and are in a near constant state of change, which is why the outdated practice of focusing on where a keyword or keyword phrase ranks as a KPI (Key Performance Indicator) should not be the main focus of your marketing strategy.

2. Facebook Likes & Follower Count

Just like the search engines adapted and changed based on what was happening with keywords, Facebook also changed the way content was delivered to its organic users. Facebook’s organic reach for brands now sits around, oh, I dunno, zero? Marketers who report on fan count as a means of showing their worth to their clients are not focusing on the right metrics. Engagement metrics with a brand is a better strategy and a better indicator of value.

3. Ad Impressions

One major advantage that online advertising has over other forms of advertising – like billboards and flyers – is that it allows us to see how many times our ads are viewed. But while it sounds helpful to know how many people are seeing your ads, this metric doesn’t say much about behavior beyond the ad.

Digital marketers who sell their services on putting an ad in front of as many people as possible are at best, behind the times, and at worst, deceiving uninformed clients. Ad impressions are best used in conjunction with other metrics – such as clicks, calls, and conversions – to gain deeper insight into the customer’s decision behavior.

4. Reputation Scores

As the Internet landscape has evolved for businesses, so too has the digital marketing space. Many such companies use a “free scan” to pare down a company’s online reputation to a single number, which they can then “fix” with their services. These scores often do not take into account search engine best practices, and many of these services are geared more towards brick and mortar businesses, not service area businesses.

Taking something as complex as a company’s online reputation and whittling it down to a single number or grade should not be the cornerstone of your marketing strategy. It’s more important to know the different facets that factor into the score, rather than aiming to get the number above an arbitrary threshold.

The Big Picture

Here’s the thing: any metric used in isolation without any additional context will not provide much insight into how, and if, you are reaching your business objectives. The above metrics are just pieces in what comprises an online strategy. To truly know how well an online strategy is performing and get an accurate measure of KPIs, marketers need to take a look at several metrics in combination. Learning which metrics are relevant to your business or your client’s business and focusing on improving them will help you see the big picture and separate you from the competition.

Are You Out of Touch with Your Marketing?

Are You Out of Touch with Your Marketing?

One of the things I find extremely interesting is the number of small business owners who are out of touch with their marketing efforts, both online and off. It’s more than having an ad or making a payment to the same marketing company that you’ve made payments to for years. It’s understanding the metrics and data, and comparing it to other data sources in order to make good decisions moving forward.

It is about knowing who your customers are and what they truly want, and understanding how they shop for your services or goods. It’s about putting out consistent messaging on your business cards, your ads, your website, and your social sites in graphics and words.

Yet for many very overworked small business owners, it’s just easier to hand your marketing over to whoever is the cheapest or the easiest to deal with — to just get something done and “out there.” After all, if you throw it “out there,” someone will eventually see it and call or click. At least that’s what you’ve been told, or what you want to believe because you’ve just spent a lot of money on that approach.

The problem is that when you are dealing with multiple people and companies, it’s easy to duplicate efforts and have multiple ads showing up on the same websites. You can easily end up with a bunch of different ads with different logos and messages because you left the creative to each marketing business you are working with.

This does not mean your marketing vendors are not professional or don’t know what they are doing. It means you haven’t taken responsibility for your own company’s messaging. Here’s the thing: you are the business owner, the one responsible for making the decisions that surround and affect your business. To paraphrase Harry Truman, the buck stops with you.

Do You Know What Your Message Is?

Message development is one of the foundational principles of any business marketing effort. Do you know what your message is? If you think it’s, “I sweep chimneys,” you are missing the point. Every chimney company sweeps chimneys. Why should your potential clients choose your company? Are you the best, the cleanest, do you have the sexiest technicians? Hope you laughed at that last one… but seriously, what separates you from your competition? Why should I call you? That’s what your message should be centered around.

Of course, if you don’t like your current message, you can always change it. Just do it in a way that makes sense within the context of your overall story. Most legit marketing companies have ways to help you get this right. And if you need help defining your message, start talking to other business owners in the chimney services industry. Ask your customers what makes you special. Why do they call you every year? Why do people pass you over for your competition? It may be that your message is poorly communicating your best, most distinctive qualities. If so, you can and should change it.

Is Your Message Consistent?

When it comes to creating an effective message, consistency is key. Whether you pass the strategy and the work off to a marketing partner, or do all the heavy lifting yourself, make sure your marketing efforts are consistent. Getting your message out there takes a tremendous amount of effort, especially in the beginning. It’s like getting a rocket off the ground – it’s never gonna happen if you only give it a little fuel every now and then.

If you don’t have a consistent message, or the time or money to be consistent with your efforts to get it out there, your business is going to hobble along in fits and starts, and never gain the momentum it needs to truly flourish. You need to be consistent.

As people come into contact with a consistent, unified message on a consistent basis, your company will start owning real market share, and your competition will never know what hit them. Please believe me when I say that this is worth getting right.

Advertising & Marketing Are Megaphones, What Are You Amplifying?

Advertising & Marketing Are Megaphones, What Are You Amplifying?

Since the day the first group of enterprising cavemen got together and created the first business (let’s assume for the sake of this article that it was a fire pit sweeping service, shall we?), there has been a need to get the word out to potential consumers, in order to increase sales and sustain the business.

I’ve often thought about these hypothetical primitive business owners, and how they might have tried to market themselves. Without the benefit of the internet, email, television, radio, postal service, or even newspapers, what methods would they have found successful to build their customer base?

Would they have stood on the nearest hillside overlooking the village and beat their chests, shouting their offers to the villagers below? Would they have wrapped the company mastodon with a banner fashioned from tree bark, and paraded it through the community? After all, selling to hundreds of potential customers all at once has always been a lot more efficient and cost-effective than going door-to-door.

Regardless of the era of history we examine, it would seem that wherever there is a person marketing a business, there is a megaphone of some sort in his hand. But even early marketers soon discovered that mass marketing could cause their business to grow explosively, but it could just as quickly cause it to fail.

Why? The answer is a simple one, but it may surprise you nonetheless.

Mass Marketing: The Impartial Megaphone

Most business owners think of marketing as an inherently positive activity. The logic goes that if you market your business, hire marketing experts, and engage in marketing and advertising activities, then you will get more work, people will happily pay you for your products and services, and your business will grow.

Maybe. But this is not an entirely complete way to think of marketing or advertising.

Marketing is an impartial, transparent amplifier of the best and the worst of any business. Market a business that has spent countless hours getting their standards of customer care as high as possible, and the results can be amazing. Take the same marketing budget and apply it to a business with deep internal management issues, and those issues become even louder, larger, and more apparent to the public.

Because of this transparency, it doesn’t really matter what you say in your marketing message, or even how you say it. Marketing isn’t a way of cosmetically hiding failing business models, or white washing lazy, unethical business practices using fancy language and tactics of misdirection.

When it comes right down to it, you can spend thousands of dollars saying you are a clean, professional, timely, and reasonably-priced service, but if your customers experience something different, then you’ve just wasted a lot of money and loudly announced to your potential customers that you would rather lie to them than serve them well.

Whatever the state of your business when you advertise it, THAT is what gets amplified.

What are you amplifying with your marketing? Is it good for business or bad?

You’ve heard the phrase, “Whatever you feed grows.” Marketing is an investment in your business. It’s like feeding and watering a garden. If you have weeds in your garden when you feed and water it, well guess what? Those weeds are going to grow, too, and may even rob the essential nutrients from the plants you really want to grow.

The broad tools of mass marketing are like garden sprinklers: you can’t feed and water just the best parts of your business. The whole garden gets watered, which means that marketing causes the good and the bad to grow.

You cannot hope customers will ignore the sloppy-looking techs at their door, and tell them to only focus on the good deal they are getting. You can’t market the beautiful masonry work you do, and expect customers to overlook the huge mess you leave behind. And you certainly can’t keep selling the fact that you are prompt and courteous if you fail to call ahead or show up for the job on time.

Just like feeding and watering a garden, marketing a business works indiscriminately. So make sure you are pulling your weeds out by the roots before you feed and water your business with marketing.