As our digital environments evolve, what gets measured has to evolve in parallel or we end up measuring apples against pomegranates. Unfortunately, evolving in parallel is not as simple as it should be. Marketing Automation platforms, web analytics software, trackable link services (BudURL, for example) Blog comments, Twitter followers and ReTweets, etc. have all provided more things we can measure. Then you have your old standards of clicks, pageviews, website inquiries, download forms, blah, blah, blah.But, to what end?
Who cares if your white paper got downloaded 5,000 times if nobody takes the next step in their buying process with you?So you have 12K followers on Twitter but no one is actually "talking" to you. To which you say, but wait, we got 14 RTs from that last link we posted. And that produced...???As marketers, we not only need to be accountable, but also effective.
To be effective means we need to have goals and objectives and then achieve them. Those objectives need to play a role in creating customers. Tracking marketing's role in customer acquisition is a direct reflection on both the accountability and effectiveness of our marketing programs. (and potentially our alignment with sales)Did you notice the dependencies?This means we have to plant a stake in the ground about what we're trying to achieve.
The interesting thing is that, since we're no longer in control of how our messages spread, the means to achieving our objectives can veer from the expected. And we may not know how to measure those shifts. Or worse, be unaware that they're happening. Don't panic if you can't account for everything right away. By paying attention to triggers you can often back into this knowledge.Determine a defined number of triggers that play an obvious role in identifying prospects who actually become customers.
Determine what caused these transitions to sales readiness. The goal then becomes to create initiatives that get our prospects to pull those triggers.Start from the sale and work backwards. (Involving salespeople is wise.)What was the last online metric they hit before they purchased? (this could be after the handoff to sales, so look closely)How many pre-sale touch points can you track to that buyer prior to purchase?
Are those interactions related or all over the map?How did each of those pre-sales touches originate? (proactively or prompted and from what source?)Try to define shifts in recency and frequency that occur at various buying stages across the buying cycle. Pinpoint the cause. (Did they read a white paper and then click on a hyperlink in the PDF and then read another resource linked to that content?)Which content did they access and spend time with? (random clicks vs. demonstrated topical interest)
What you're looking for is repetitive behavioral patterns initiated and extended by your marketing initiatives that helped produce a sale. If you're using social media, is there a higher ratio of social dialogue or content interactions? Is one driving the other?It's important to consider the length of the buying cycle. A complex sale is usually too long to only measure closed deals. But by focusing on reinforcing the patterns you uncover that pull buyers toward purchase decisions, marketers can set milestone objectives to measure pipeline progression.
This isn't easy and it takes time. You don't have to focus on all the triggers you identify at once. Choose a few well defined transition points and work on getting more prospects to move past those. By ensuring that accountability reinforces effectiveness, your marketing metrics will work to build credibility for your initiatives within your organization.
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