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 Rankings fluctuate all the time and are in a near constant state of change, which is why the outdated practice of focusing on where a keyword or keyword phrase ranks as a KPI (Key Performance Indicator) should not be the main focus of your marketing strategy.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.
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 Adwords, and constantly checking your rankings instead of doing a little internal work? If you want truly measurable returns that will exceed your expectations and develop true customer loyalty and keep business steady, it’s time to start focusing on the service you’re providing and the value you’re actually offering your customers.
Don’t Just Serve, Serve Well
Sure ROI matters, but in the service world, ROS (Return on Service) is where it’s at. 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. Are your customers and potential customers really taking note of what makes you the best choice? What makes you different? Are you providing remarkable and consistent service and customer care to each person you come in contact with? If not, you’re missing out on some pretty fantastic returns.
Let’s face it: word-of-mouth and referrals are still the best methods of marketing. Are you giving your customers a reason to shout your company name from the roof tops? Are they shouting or ranting? To truly stand out today, you don’t need a bigger budget (although that sometimes helps); you need to invest in 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.
What Can You Do To Boost Your ROS?
Here are some ways you can really wow your customers and ensure unbeatable service:
Go the extra mile. You know there are competitors out there that can perform the same work you’re performing. But 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.
Hire service-oriented employees and make sure they’re happy. If your employees don’t have a heart for service, they’re in the wrong business. Think carefully about each new hire you bring into your company. Are they caring, friendly, understanding? If not, they probably shouldn’t be dealing with customers. 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. By treating your employees with care and communicating your values to each member of your team, you’ll be encouraging them to treat your customers with that same care and communicate those same values that make your company stand out from the rest.
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, leaving footprints and ash all over the home, 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.
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 that 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 and you get turned down, you can still walk away from that job with pride.
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. Asking a business owner to know their numbers when it comes to marketing can overwhelm him or her very quickly. With that said, 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. You can go about this in one of two ways: figure out the average, or calculate for individual products and services. Getting a feel for your overall business can easily be done with an average. However, 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.
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).
Number of Prospects and Number of Leads in a given time frame are two easy numbers to figure out and track, and this is the foundation of gauging the cost of your marketing and sales activity. Knowing how many prospects you began with and how many became qualified leads is a must in order to know our next metric (conversion rate). Also, determining what defines a “prospect” and a “lead” for your business is important. 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.
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.
With these numbers, you can create your own treasure map to success!
Taylor Hill – Co-Founder & Crew Chief at Spark Marketer – Taylor is the perfect combination of frank and funny, and manages to lead the motley, yet brilliant crew of creatives at Spark Marketer to get the job done. Though he can’t spell, he is passionate about helping service business owners navigate the Internet oceans filled with sharks and unsavory pirates.
What is value?
According to Dictionary.com, here are the 3 relevant meanings for the word Value:
- Relative worth, merit, or importance: the value of a college education.
- Monetary or material worth, as in commerce or trade: land that greatly increases in value.
- Equivalent worth or return in money, material, services, etc.: to give value for value received.
Taking these definitions, how do you determine the value of a website for your business?
Relative worth, merit, or importance
First you will need to decide if a website has value to your business. For example: I know people that have never had a college education. They are quite wealthy and successful, but place little or no value on a college education for themselves. However, for their children, they place a uniquely high value on it, because they see that it might be more valuable today than it once was.
As another example, here at Spark Marketer, we have seen the value of YellowPages decline relative to Google+ Local, which has increased tremendously in importance. This tells us that the value of things do change with changes in industry, technology, education and time. These days, all roads lead to a company’s web site. It is more important than ever.
Monetary or material worth, as in commerce or trade
If you have a current website you will want to determine if it has value to the bottom line of the business. If you sell your business, what is the website worth in the transaction? Do you own the domain and the content, or does another company own it? Does it have value in the asset column of your business, or is it just another expense? It should be an asset. If it’s not, there is work to be done to make it a valuable asset over time.
Equivalent worth or return in money, material, services, etc.
Are you getting a return on your investment in your website? Are you getting back the value you expected from it? Is it helping you sell your services? Are you getting a higher ticket from those visiting your website? Are the people coming to your site price shoppers, or are they looking for quality at any price? These are all great questions to answer in order to really understand the value of your website.
When discussing “value” with many business owners it has become overwhelmingly clear that:
- Some do not see the value in a well done website and, while we can give them all kinds of data and statistics, until they believe they need a great website, they won’t invest in one.
- Some business owners do not see the value in owning their own website and domain. They prefer renting the pipelines that feed their business and don’t want the expense or responsibly of ownership and maintenance of their own pipelines.
- There are business owners who believe they are buying a “product”, thus are price shopping websites as opposed to understanding they are “investing” in a website that can become a great sales tool and funnel over time.
Here’s Another – Perceived Value
Perceived value is the worth that a product or service has in the mind of the consumer. We are all responsible for educating our clients and customers so they understand the value we bring to the table, no matter what the service or product is. Once the education process takes place, then the consumer of your product or services will better understand what you bring to them.
This week we launched the first-ever website for a company that has been in business for almost 20 years. The owner and I have had numerous conversations because he was very nervous about having a website. It was a leap of faith because he had no idea if a website was valuable to him or not. I just got off the phone with him and he related the following story.
Tim owns a remodeling company, and received a referral from a networking group in which we both belong. He called the gentleman and talked to him about his problem, and gave him his best sales pitch. The guy seemed to be not all that interested, but asked, “You got a website I can look at?”
Tim gave him the new website address and he figured he would never hear back from the potential customer. However, the next day he did get a call back from the guy, who raved about the pictures on the site, and now Tim has an appointment scheduled for early next week. Our client said the work, if he gets it, would easily pay for the site and all the online marketing he’s investing in for a couple of years!
Then Tim got to the heart of what perceived value really is, when he said, “I realized that most of my referrals in the past year have gone nowhere, and I now think it’s because they were not able to see my work. I am finally seeing the value in a website and what you guys do!”
We hope all of you are getting the value you want out of your web site as well.