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 Rankings fluctuate all the time and are in a near constant state of change, which is why the outdated practice of focusing on where a keyword or keyword phrase ranks as a KPI (Key Performance Indicator) should not be the main focus of your marketing strategy.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. 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.
No matter how prominent your ads are on Facebook or how stunning your website is, no one wants to do business with a service company that isn’t all that committed to serving people. So, why are you obsessing over the ROI (Return on Investment) of your social media efforts, campaigns, and Ads, and constantly checking your rankings instead of doing a little internal work?
If you want truly measurable returns that will exceed your expectations, develop true customer loyalty, and keep business steady, it’s time to focus on the service you’re providing and the value you’re *actually* offering your customers.
ROS = More Business Without Additional Marketing Costs
Sure ROI matters, but in the service world, ROS (Return on Service) is where it’s at. Why? Because it leads to more business, without a bigger investment in marketing and advertising.
Think about it: there are so many service businesses out there, and unless you’re incredibly lucky, chances are, you’re in an oversaturated market full of competitors. While marketing efforts, a big budget, strategic moves, and retention tools and techniques can help you stand out among competitors, there’s one thing (that you have total control over) that can make all the difference in the world: your service.
These days, it seems anyone can smack a sign on a truck and drive around town saying they’re the best, most qualified service provider in their local market. But not everyone has the service to back that up. When you can back up your claims and build your reputation by providing an excellent customer experience, you get some pretty fantastic returns.
Because let’s face it: word-of-mouth and referrals are still the best methods of marketing. Plus, they’re (kinda) free.
So give your customers a reason to shout your company name from the roof tops. Commit to providing the best possible service, each and every time. When you do, your customers will do a lot of marketing for you, and when they need your services again, they won’t even think to Google another company or go with a cheaper price. That’s what ROS is all about.
What Can You Do to Boost Your ROS?
Here are some ways you can really wow your customers and ensure unbeatable service and higher ROS:
#1 Go the extra mile. You know there are competitors out there that can perform the same work you’re performing. So what can you offer above and beyond that service? Take the time on each and every service call to look for ways in which you can make the customer’s experience even better. Whether that means wearing booties and laying drop cloths or taking the time to listen to the customer and really hear them, if you open your eyes, there are so many little ways to make your services memorable and remarkable.
#2 Hire service-oriented employees and make sure they’re happy. Think carefully about each new hire you bring into your company. Are they caring, friendly, understanding? If your employees don’t have a heart for service, they shouldn’t be in the service business. After all, each interaction your employees have with your customers sends out a brand message, and you want to ensure that your customers are receiving consistent and caring messages. Make sure each employee has the knowledge, heart, and scripts to send out the message you intend your customers to receive.
#3 Deliver on your word. Are you promising your customers one thing and delivering another? That’s the fastest way to send customers running. If you pride yourself on being the cleanest and most respectful chimney sweep in town, but show up to a house covered in soot, you’ve set one expectation and delivered something far different. Stand by your word! If your customers receive consistent service that meets their needs and speaks to what’s important to them, they won’t consider working with anyone else.
#4 Don’t be right. Do right. We have a saying that goes around here at Spark Marketer: “Do you want to be right or do you want to win?” Sometimes your customer is “in the wrong.” Maybe they misunderstood a recommendation your techs made and blasted your company on Yelp for no good reason. It sucks, but it’s ok. Approach that customer with a little grace and a little empathy and take the time to make it right. Educate them on why your techs recommended the work they recommended, and seek out true understanding and harmony. Let them know you’d like to make things right, and that you value their satisfaction. You may have to eat a little humble pie, but in the end, you’ll have a happier, more loyal customer. And that is a big win.
Don’t Take It Personally
So, you’ve committed yourself to providing the best value and the highest quality, but you’ve still lost out to a lower bid. Unfortunately, even though quality may mean the world to you (and it should), it may not be the most important thing to every potential customer. Don’t take it personally! If you’re providing true value, honest estimates, and the best possible service, when you get turned down, you can still walk away with pride.
That said, it’s your responsibility to educate your customers and let them know that, while there is more than one way to do something, you do things the right way. Take the time to explain to them what that looks like and why it matters. To some, like contractors focused on flipping houses as swiftly and inexpensively as possible, doing things “the right way” may not be all that important to them. Those aren’t the customers for you.
Hold yourself to higher standards, make it obvious to those that do business with you or are considering doing business with you, and keep on trucking. You’ll develop a reputation that will do a lot of your marketing for you and have you reaping big returns.
One of the most difficult things a business owner faces is the budgeting and accounting aspect of their business. Many of us rely on our CPAs to deliver the “news” annually, semi-annually, quarterly, or monthly, depending on how numbers-averse we are. But is this really the wisest way to do things?
The thought of getting into the numbers when it comes to marketing may overwhelm you quickly, but the truth is: you can’t create a good marketing plan without knowing a few key metrics. While tracking down these numbers might never be “fun” for you, if you can reframe the process and look at it as a treasure hunt, you can find gold. Here are the metrics all business owners should know.
Getting Down to Brass Tacks
Cost of a sale is one of the first things you’ll need to know. For the most part, you control the costs of a sale. Knowing your current cost is essential to determining return on investment (ROI). And once you know it, you’ll be able to make better-informed decisions from first touch (prospecting), through the process of conversion, and through the final sale or lack thereof (close).
You can go about figuring the cost of a sale out in one of two ways: calculate the average or calculate for individual products and services. Getting a feel for your overall business can easily be done with an average, but if you need to find out which product or service has the best profit margin, you might want to do some individual calculations. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide which one will give you the information you need.
Number of Prospects and Number of Leads in a given time frame are two easy (and important) numbers to figure out and track. (For general purposes, a prospect is usually defined as someone who fits a set of common characteristics shared by your best customers, while a “lead” is a prospect that has identified themselves as being specifically interested in your products or services.)
You should always keep track of these numbers so you can gauge the cost of your marketing and sales activity. Knowing how many prospects you began with and how many became qualified leads is also a must in order to calculate our next metric.
Conversion rate gets confused with close rate all the time, but it’s different. A conversion is what happens when a prospect steps up in some measurable way and says, “Yes, tell me more” to some kind of marketing message or initial call to action. It’s these people or companies that should be placed into your company sales process.
Close rate is simply how many leads became actual sales (revenue into your business) within a given time frame. You can find keen insights as you further segment your close rate by individual products, services, or salespeople, to get a very good understanding of who or what is performing well for you.
Revenue is a number that should never be confused with profit. Profits are considered after everything is accounted for and the bills are paid. Profit is the number that’s left, which can even be a negative number if it is costing you more to produce and sell your products or services than you are bringing in from your sales.
But revenue is the total amount of money that has been brought into your company, and this is the amount that you use to gauge your overall marketing efforts. Expenses should be calculated, of course, but they need to be expenses that are associated with the marketing process.
There you have it: The key metrics you need to know. Not as bad as you thought, was it? Good. With these numbers, you can create your own treasure map to success. So revisit them regularly and empower yourself to make better decisions!