measurementBy Sue Duris

For marketers to be successful, they can’t muddle through with blinders or rose-colored glasses on.

They must be informed and know which marketing activities work, and which don’t.

That means understanding the mechanics of measurement.

Marketing and measurement are like lock and key.

You need both to be successful and grow.

Unfortunately, some marketers still don’t take responsibility for understanding the purpose of metrics, creating a plan, taking the time to test and measure, and adjusting their marketing as a result of the insights they gain through measurement. 

The Mechanics of Measurement: Understand the Purpose of Metrics

We all know metrics and measurement are important. In fact, according to The CMO Survey, in 2013 companies were spending five and a half percent of their marketing budgets on marketing analytics.

This number is expected to increase to almost nine percent by 2016. Expectations are high and companies are figuring out how to deliver deeper insights from data.

The pressure is on.

Recently, eMarketer published a post citing results from an April 2014 study conducted by VisionEdge Marketing and ITSMAnoting that 85 percent of marketers worldwide said the pressure to measure marketing’s business value and contribution had increased.

eMarketer cited another study in the post, one conducted by ifbyphone in May 2014, which indicated that much of this demand was coming from the top of the organization.

Forty percent of the respondents said that applying formal processes to gathering, handling and analyzing, and reporting data was a top challenge to measuring the business contribution of marketing.

Marketers should know the answers to these questions:

  • What is my purpose for measuring this?
  • What insights do I expect to achieve?
  • What will I do with these insights?
  • How will these insights help my business?
  • Being clear on what you want to do with metrics is the first step.

Create a Measurement Plan Unique to your Business

Even though the pressure is on, marketers must think strategically.

The double-edged sword of Big Data is that while there is a plethora of data at marketers’ fingertips, there’s a plethora of data at marketers’ fingertips. It is easy for marketers to lose sight of what is important.

It is critical marketers align metrics to their mission, vision, goals and strategies. Stick to the measurement plan that’s unique to your business. 

Don’t compare yourself to what others are doing. If your competitor is measuring 20 different things, does that make sense for you? Only measure what makes sense for your business.

There are four hot areas marketers should be testing:

1. Consumption

Measure what visitors are interacting with when they visit your website. Which pages are they viewing? What are they downloading? What blog posts are they reading? Are they new visitors or are they returning visitors? How long do they stay on your website?

Look at pageviews, traffic, opens/click-throughs, and bounce rates. View your subscription metrics on newsletters—view new subscribers, unsubscribes, open rates, and click-through rates.

View comments in your forums or blog (Hint: this is a great place to find future content). Understand where the visitor is spending their time when they visit your website.

This is the starting point for any type of relationship you have with prospects.


While vanity metrics such as pageviews, likes, and followers are fun to monitor, place limited focus there. Instead, focus on solid social media metrics such as sharing, engagement, share of voice, and reach. 

Reach may not be as significant as the others, but it is important to review those statistics and get a feel for how many people could be exposed to your content. Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Twitter all have free analytics tools to help measure reach.

As for sharing and engagement, how often are your prospects sharing your blog posts, community content, or other website content? How often are they commenting on your blog posts or in your online community?

How are they sharing your social media content? How are they engaging with your social media content?

When you analyze share-of-voice, you are measuring social mentions your company receives against what your competitors receive. Research your social mentions, and then research your competitors’ social mentions.

It is important to be consistent and specific with what you are measuring. As an example, your share of voice on Twitter may be very different than your share of voice on Facebook.

3. Conversions

While a marketer’s role is to drive engagement, they must help move buyers along their journey and that starts by converting visitors to leads. Understand a visitor’s  “point of entry”—how are they finding out about your website and what is piquing their interest to go to your website in the first place?

How did the visitor turn into a lead? Incorporate a lead scoring program to weigh the actions leads are taking, such as the events moving a lead further along the buyer journey.  How do you monitor which events triggered a lead converting to a customer?

4. Retention

Once the lead becomes a customer, there are a number of post-sales analytics you should monitor to help you ensure your customer retention goals are met. Two in particular include the performance of your post-sales content and customer engagement.

In your plan:

  • Address the Why: What is the goal of your metrics plan?
  • Answer the What: Define each metric and determine what will be tested.
  • Define the How: How will it be measured?
  • Determine the When: What is the duration of the test? What is the frequency? When will the tests be conducted? Be realistic and balance the length of time it will take to get accurate results with timeliness.

Ascertain how you will compile and analyze your measurement results, create insights, and determine how you communicate and implement each. Ultimately, optimization is key for maximizing your marketing efforts.

Execute Your Metrics Plan

Put your plan into action and remember ABT—Always Be Testing. Testing is not a single point in time, but a mindset that needs to be integrated into your culture.

Marketers must continuously be testing in order to be successful and achieve growth. Remember to be consistent with testing and measurement or you will produce inaccurate results.

Then, compile and analyze results. What insights did you generate? What do they mean? What did you learn? How will you communicate results and how will you adjust your marketing to incorporate these insights?

Not only should marketers know which tests, experiments, and analytics are delivering ROI, they should be proactive and continually educate themselves. Be able to work your way around Google Analytics.

Keep up with the latest analytics news through Google Analytics blog, KiSSMetrics blog, Avanish Kaushik’s blog, and the Crazy Egg Blogto name a few.

When looking at metrics in this way, marketers will realize extrinsic (better ROI which will result in more growth and time savings) and intrinsic (feelings of accomplishment and your knowledge that you are helping customers and prospects) rewards, which ultimately will lead to happier customers!

photo credit: Shutterstock

Sue Duris

Sue Duris is the Co-Founder and President of M4 Communications, Inc., a Palo Alto, CA-based marketing strategy and communications firm that helps startups build strong marketing and customer experience infrastructures that enable them to grow. When not at M4, she’s cheering on her favorite Pittsburgh sports teams.

View all posts by Sue Duris