Don't Inflate Digital Marketing Metrics: Stay Grounded in the Results that Matter

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We're going to pretend/accept that the Internet is a thing with a brain that makes decisions and has intentions. Are we cool with that leap? Great.

The Internet is the biggest exaggerator. Seriously. Want an example? The Libyan embassy was attacked. First there's one set of facts. Then there's another. Some people tell one story, but there's always another side with an equally compelling narrative.

The Internet, animated thing that we agree it is, loves inflating a good story. It gets huge kicks out of faking celebrity deaths and making a huge deal out of nothing.

That's why, when we switch gears and talk about digital marketing, it's important to stick to the facts — the facts that matter.

It's important that we don't get tangled in weightless metrics that are unique to one specific platform. It's important that we don't get sucked in to companies and publishers with valueless options that have, in a "classic Internet" move, inflated their own effect.

In social media and digital marketing it's important to be one of the few who follows the real story.

If you're not sure how to set up metrics that tell the truth, here's a primer:

  • Benchmark your data at the beginning of any campaign: How will you know how to give the results context without knowing where you were at the start?
  • Decide what metrics mean the most to your company: This is where you'll set your goals. Are you aiming for an increase in leads? Brand awareness? Bounce rate? Clicks? Choose some goals to focus on and decide what results would correspond with that goal (e.g. Conversions corresponds to leads).
  • Decide what outcomes determine success: Come up with some measurable and attainable objectives for what you'll consider a successful campaign. Do you want to generate 50 leads from a campaign? Do you want to increase traffic to your site by 15% in 30 days?
  • Choose the tactics you'll execute to get there: If you want to increase leads, you'll need an offer matched with killer creative, likely presented on a landing page, accessed by a form, measured with a tracking URL. How will you execute all of the pieces on your roadmap?
  • Measure as you go: Compare the metrics you chose to focus on for the campaign at hand to the benchmarked data and continue reporting with metrics from a social media dashboard or a marketing automation software. As you go, you'll see your performance trends against those of the past and you'll start to see where you need to make changes to get closer to your goals.

This is all rudimentary, obviously. Marketing 101.

But I'm amazed at how often digital marketing metrics get inflated by using new, unproven metrics — with no mention of the tried and true grandaddy-metrics of digital marketing.

You can certainly learn a lot from likes and retweets. You can learn about the quality of your content. You can learn about the tweaks you might need to make to make your social sharing routine more effective.

But if you want to prove real ROI from social media and digital marketing, you have to go back to digital marketing basics and prove impressions, clicks, conversions and, ultimately, leads. Even forward-thinking companies who embrace the ambiguity that comes with enterprise social media will want answers for their investment someday.

Don't get caught in the Internet trends of inflating news and value. Stay grounded. Social media and digital marketing can hold up to intense scrutiny.

The Starr Conspiracy built a social media offering based on tried and true results while embracing social media-specific metrics. We believe social media increases brand awareness while contributing to the success of traditional B2B lead generation activities. Read more about creating a B2B Social Media Strategy that's worth noticing in our free white paper.