Mismatched Digital Marketing Metrics

ID-100107531Comparing disparate data doesn’t provide a lot of valuable insight. However, this sometimes happens when trainers, consultants, or professional coaches try to rush the numbers to get trend data.

Here’s a common example we might run into.

An industry standard of a metric, like search engine hits to a website, is used as a comparison to gauge the effectiveness of an SEO campaign. Typically a comparison timeframe will account for at least twelve months to account for seasonal or industry shifts that would affect the overall average. An initial comparison can be run for the same twelve month time period to show a direct correlation to find where the SEO campaign falls against standard results. So there is immediate gratification in setting the benchmark.

But then the process slows considerably as changes need made, the data needs compiled, and then progress can be measured. Typically that will take at least a few months. And while smaller sections of time can be used to infer progress, overall improvement can’t be gauged until the average has had time to increase.

This is where impatience can result in false comparisons. The twelve month average will only be improving gradually because the newest months can’t immediately offset previous months. In an effort to prove the effectiveness of the current campaign, a request might be made to compare the current month to the twelve month average. While this helps show the progress it doesn’t account for seasonal or industry based fluctuations.

As an example, many Business to Business companies see a slow down over summer and in late December. Business to consumer companies might see an inverse effect. Certain industries, like health insurance, have a quoting and enrollment period which sees substantially more activity than other times of year.

False comparisons often disregard these fluctuations which can lead to overly positive or negative conclusions. For instance, if a consultant works with school districts that set staff engagements in August only, every other month is going to look lackluster compared to that single month. Even a single anomaly period can skew an average up or down significantly which will offset the accuracy of any time period that does not account for that trend.

Make sure your trending and data analysis is comparing apples to apples and not apples to oranges. Making conclusions on incompatible data degrades the entire purpose of data driven decision making in digital marketing. Have the patience to track gradual improvement, rather than rush to infer more significant shifts that may or may not be accurate.

Image courtesy of  Mister GC / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Marketing Shouldn’t Take Vacations Even When People Do

Everyone needs a chance to get away from work for a while. However, when it comes to trainers, consultants, and professional coaches, one person’s vacation can become a vacation from the firm’s marketing. With some planning and effective use of available digital marketing tools, there is no reason that vacation schedules should result in a lull in marketing.

Typically the suggestion that marketing not take a vacation is met with one of two excuses.

  1. It’s only (insert amount of time).
    The fact of the matter is that in digital marketing the expectation is real time responses. There’s not a lot of patience for delays. Even a day’s gap can lead to disinterest about something that in the moment was a priority. If the gap affects the assigned schedule of communications, it can disrupt consistency and have a lasting negative impact if it’s a communication your audience has come to expect.
  2. I’ve got (whichever digital marketing element the marketer finds important) covered, the rest can wait.
    Good digital marketing campaigns are built so that one channel reinforces the other. Removing one channel weakens the others. The entire process should be set up to function in someone’s absence either through automation or temporary responsibility reassignment.

The concept sounds simple but can be complex when analyzed. As an example, we have a client who owns a sales training firm that was taking a two-week vacation. The client was proactive in reviewing their digital marketing campaigns and asked us to fill in a few gaps that would exist in their absence.

We reviewed the plan for the two-week period and found that it looked solid. Emails and social media posts were pre-set and authorized by the client so that there was no delay in the approval and send process. All supporting promotions for the time period were set up on the website so that materials could be requested and delivered and events could be registered and confirmed, both in an automated way.

It looked pretty solid until the end of our review when we realized that while the requested material would be automatically delivered to the requester, the notification went to the owner who would be on vacation. So a follow up on the lead would be delayed until the owner returned from vacation or checked in to their email account. As a workaround we rerouted the notifications for the two week period to distribute to a few consultants in the firm that could follow up with a lead in the owners absense and set text message notifications so the owner had a record of leads for the time period.

This illustrates how a simple step in the process can undo a marketing campaigns goal of generating leads or sales. It also shows that overconfidence in the process or automation can result in critical errors. Even the best and most efficient marketing systems require human input. Make sure that the systems will continue to function if one of those people is absent.