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Build the right metric for your marketing (Pt. 2)

Yesterday, we started looking at how to build the right metric for your marketing. We’d gotten as far as tracking monthly unique visitors by typed/referred domain.

Throughout the process, we had made a number of assumptions, such as what type of URL would get the best results and what duration to track unique visitors. Once you’ve made these types of decisions, move on. Debate your assumptions until your team fully understands the pros and cons of each assumption. But, unless you’ve got better options, some tracking is better than none. From this point forward, you will be tracking the trends of your metrics and validating that the trend correlates to business results. You may find better ways to correlate later. But don’t change the underlying data if you can help it. As long as you’re comparing apples to apples, it doesn’t much matter if the apples are rotten.

OK, now back to our case study. So, what happened next?

To this point in the process, we already knew how we were going to track awareness of the media, by type. What we needed now was a way to track that awareness through to purchase.

Fortunately, this proved relatively easy. When each customer came to our landing page, the site placed a cookie – a small data file containing some distinct identifiers – into their browser. One of those identifiers was a key that told us their source ID – that they’d seen the landing page and whether they’d come from the URL for the billboard or from the print media. The problem was that our e-commerce engine didn’t have a database field for that value. The solution: a simple database that captured both the order number and the source ID. Finally, we made sure to capture information such as name, address, and email address on all purchases, to see if these were new customers or matched individuals already in our database.

To complete the picture, the team developed a weekly dashboard showing the identified metrics:

  • Monthly unique visitors, by source ID (remember, these told us whether the customer saw the billboard or the print advertisement)
  • Net change in monthly unique visitors from the prior week (later versions of the test incorporated year-over-year, once enough data existed)
  • Sales generated, by source ID
  • Net change in sales
  • Ratio of sales to unique visitors, by source ID (aka “conversion rate”)
  • Net change in conversion

That’s it. At a glance, we had a good sense of which media type brought in both prospects and customers, and the change in those numbers over time.

More important, we were able to make changes to the landing page and the ad copy over time to improve the capture rates for both media, increasing sales among a new customer group. And that’s really why having the right metric makes all the difference.

How did we match up to the 7 keys of successful metrics? Quite well. Clearly, our dashboard was tied to business results and were actionable. They also were timely, trended, segmented and meaningful. They also showed us precisely what we wanted to know. And that’s a good day’s work.

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Tim Peter is the founder and president of Tim Peter & Associates. You can learn more about our company's strategy and digital marketing consulting services here or about Tim here.

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