We recently participated in a panel on marketing measurement for the Massachusetts Innovation & Technology Exchange and it got us to thinking about all the hubbub around marketing measurement and analytics today.  Everyone is talking about it.  Everyone has vast quantities of data.  And yet despite the increased sophistication of measurement tools and practices, the debate about how to really do it continues.  No one has yet come up with an answer to the question: How do you measure marketing?  Here are just a few thoughts on why this is and what marketers can do about it: 

  • Marketers’ quest for “standard metrics” blinds them to measurements that really matter.  Since the early days of internet advertising, marketers have been looking for internet equivalents to gross ratings points (GRPs) – the way they have “measured” traditional media.  But the reality is that GRPs measured reach of television ads, not effectiveness.  GRPs are becoming obsolete as television advertising models change. And – although various attempts have been made to create a single way to track marketing impact across channels – it is extremely difficult to define a cross-channel equivalent to the GRP.  This insistence on identifying “standard metrics” makes marketers pay more attention to industry benchmarks over their own company performance. 
  • Most marketing measurement efforts lack strategic vision.  Marketing analysts (especially those from a direct marketing or internet marketing background) are really good at tracking campaign results and even predicting future response.  But their responsibilities are often to maximize individual program performance rather than measure the influence of marketing across their firm’s strategic goals.  Marketers should develop sophisticated program measurement schemes, but without losing sight of higher level, company objectives, like growing market share or increasing margin.
  • Organizations have inconsistent internal success criteria.  One of the points raised in the MITX panel was that sometimes marketing analysts are goaled on one set of standards, while others in the company might have differing – even conflicting – expectations.  While marketing analysts do what they can to share their findings and recommendations up the corporate ladder, organizations where all employees are goaled on the same success factors will have a better chance at tying metrics to their corporate strategy.
  • Measurement efforts often focus on discrete events rather than changing customer behavior.  We continue to find that marketers track campaign response, or sales lift due to a marketing event, when they should look at customer engagement.  That is, how is a customer’s relationship with your firm changing over time?  Check out the standards of engagement put forth by the Advertising Research Foundation.

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