Even in an industry as seemingly young as ours, history seems to repeat itself over and over again. Like many of you I have been listening with a wave of déjà vu to the chatter about various social metrics, including the number of fans, tweets, posts, likes, and shares relative to objectives and ROI. The social metrics discussion is reminiscent of prior evolution in the metrics surrounding display, website traffic, search marketing, and other forms of paid, earned, and owned media.
Click-through rate (CTR) is a prime example of a perfectly fine metric that somehow became a campaign objective. While we as an industry still struggle to get beyond the click, we maintain a conflicting and pervasive obsession with CTRs. If you do a Google search on click-through rate you will discover articles on CTR for PPC, reporting on CTRs for tablets, as well as studies that report on CTRs as a standard for what matters.
Social media metrics have similar confusion in the marketplace. A quick search on "Do Facebook likes matter" produces an array of various published opinions and advice including:
"There are many reasons why having more fans in Facebook matters…"
"Like's are critical factor [sic] in building an audience with potential to convert…"
"Total Likes will influence the frequency in which a business's Page appears in search results. Therefore, the more Likes you have, the better you'll rank and reach new customers…"
"Feel free to disagree with me, but I really don't think that Likes matter…"
"Facebook Likes and Comments do indeed have a significant impact on the reach of your brand…"
There is no one-size-fits-all solution to finding and measuring what matters, and approaches need to evolve with new media and technology adoption. Industry benchmarks only become relevant in the rare situation that they describe something that is directly comparable.
How do we make sense of what metrics matters and develop an approach that reflects our current industry dynamics, changes in human behavior, and our respective businesses, but remain flexible as the market evolves?
It's a unique process and result for each of us.
Digital marketing has a well-earned reputation and a history of accountability and measurement that surpasses all other marketing channels to date; but the ability to measure tons of data points and the ability to extract value from those data points are two different things. To ensure value in your metrics you have to ignore the hype and keep asking yourself what really matters to your business. What are the key questions I need answered? And how will I be able to use the information I am gathering?
If you ask the wrong questions even the most accurate of answers won't help you succeed.
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Robin is the CEO and cofounder of NetPlus Marketing Inc., a top 50 interactive agency established in 1996 to focus exclusively on online marketing and advertising best practices. Robin brings innovative strategy and a depth and breadth of marketing experience to the agency's practice and management. As one of the industry's pioneers, she is a driving force behind NetPlus Marketing's ongoing success with a diverse and discerning client base that considers online results critical to their business success.
Robin is a frequent speaker at national industry events, including ClickZ, internet.com, OMMA, Ad:Tech, SES, Online Marketing Summit, and Thunder Lizard conferences and is a sought-after resource for industry and business publications for her insight and advice on such topics as digital strategy, social media marketing, and behavioral targeting.
June 18, 2013
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