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.
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 Rankings fluctuate all the time and are in a near constant state of change, which is why the outdated practice of focusing on where a keyword or keyword phrase ranks as a KPI (Key Performance Indicator) should not be the main focus of your marketing strategy.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. Last year, Facebook’s organic reach for brands began a trend toward 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
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.
You’re in a new town for the night and you start to feel a little rumbly in your tumbly, so you pull out your smartphone and search for “Chinese food near me.” Three options pop up: the first has 4.5 stars and reviews saying things like “Best egg rolls of my life,” “The kung pao chicken kung fu kicked my butt,” and “Holy egg drop soup, y’all;” the second has a mediocre 3 stars and a comment that says “Works in a pinch, but not my favorite;” and the last has 1 star and comments that make you feel queasy. Without hesitation you choose the first option on the map because, not only is it within walking distance of your hotel, but it also apparently has some killer shrimp lo mein.
Now imagine you’re back at work and you get a notification of a negative review for your chimney sweeping business that says you left someone’s living room covered in soot and grime. Suddenly you’re the 1 star Chinese restaurant. No one wants to invite you into their home just so you can stomp around in dirty boots and leave soot on grandma’s favorite picture of little Bobby. Instead, try to be like the first restaurant: let your work inspire 5 stars and comments like “We’ll never call anyone but Joe’s HVAC ever again!” and “Such wonderful customer service, we recommend Pop’s Plumbing to all our friends!”
Why do reviews make such a big difference in a business’s success? Social proof. When people are unsure of what to do or how to react to a situation they take cues from their peers – in the online marketing world this means they’re checking out your reviews. Just like you trusted total strangers when it came time to choose your Chinese restaurant, your customers are trusting other internet strangers when it comes time to choose a service company.
Ok, Reviews Matter, But Does It Really Matter How We Respond To Them?
No one can be perfect all the time, and sometimes a customer’s experience isn’t stellar – be it from a customer service mishap or a miscommunication. If they leave a review (which is way more likely if they’ve had a bad experience than a good one), it’s imperative that you leave a positive reply. Before you start furiously typing away about your side of the story, do the following:
- Stop and calm down. When you own a service business a negative review can feel like a personal attack, but don’t let it agitate you. While every negative review needs a response, they don’t all need a response the minute you see them.
- Ask yourself how you can turn this into a positive experience for your bummed out customer. Sometimes all it takes is a thoughtful response saying that you understand their concerns and it won’t happen again. Other times it might need an offer of goodwill: meet them halfway on a high-cost estimate that they don’t feel comfortable with; offer to pay a cleaner to fix the carpet your tech dropped his tools on; offer to talk to them personally to discuss their side of the story, sometimes people just need to know they are heard.
- Send the review to your Spark Marketer account manager if you need help with a response. Let us know your side of the story and what you’re willing to do to accommodate the unhappy customer.
Look at every negative review as a second and third chance to get a 5 star review. Not only will the initial customer that you respond to hopefully be satisfied by your help in resolving an unpleasant situation, but potential customers viewing the review and response in the future will have the opportunity to see how much you care about each and every customer’s experience.
So How Can You Get More Reviews?
Each time a technician leaves a job he should be asking the customer if they’re willing to leave a review of their experience. Don’t pressure your customers, but make it clear that their reviews absolutely have an impact on your business and that they can personally make a difference. Google and other search engines use reviews as a ranking factor and they can greatly improve map visibility. So ask! You’d be surprised how many people are more than willing to help you out when you phrase a review request right! There are also tools you can use to facilitate the review asking process.
Have you ever gotten a negative review that you weren’t sure how to respond to? Or have you ever gone above and beyond the call of duty to make sure your customer’s negative experience got a happy ending? Tell us about it!