A Blog by Jonathan Low


Apr 16, 2015

Vanity Metrics and the Dangers of Deceptive Data

Despite the ostensible rigor that data has imposed on the process of business decision making, we remain all too human when it comes to interpretation.

Which means that we are, by and large, highly susceptible to any information that reflects our own view of the value we believe our efforts are generating.

The problem, as the following article explains, is that with so much data and so little time, quality control is too often subordinated to convenience.

While the increase of data availability has increased the possibility of allocating resources and effort more productively, it has also increased the exertion required to squeeze meaning from the data trove.

The result, as the following article explains, is that investing more time and thought into second-order implications of the data we receive may produce results that multiply the accuracy and impact of that initiative. JL

Yuriy Boykiv reports in Inc.:

Instead of gawking over vanity metrics, uncover and analyze the metrics that lead to performance, conversions, and increased market share.
You're responsible for keeping a finger on the pulse of your business. But if you don't know where to look, measuring your company's livelihood--and knowing how to restore it--is nearly impossible.
With so many marketing metrics to consider, it's easy to lose sight of the numbers that really matter to your bottom line.
To help you focus on more meaningful success metrics, here are a few measurement mistakes you need to avoid:
1. Valuing Lead Quantity Over Quality
Initiatives that generate droves of unqualified leads nearly always fail. Contests, online polls, and the like are great ways to build your brand's presence, but gathering a few email addresses and sign-ups doesn't indicate much.
The new normal needs to include metrics that monitor and track the lead quality and account for shifts and seasonality that affect how you optimize.
2. Prioritizing Marketing Activity Over Results
When you zero in on marketing activity rather than producing actual results, you're measuring what you can't see, which can lead to time and cost inefficiencies.
This is especially dangerous with social media. Focusing on likes and retweets rather than actual ROI will lead you astray. Sure, more people might be aware of your company, but will they choose to purchase from you just because they liked you on Facebook? Not likely.
Consumption, sharing metrics, and qualified lead generation numbers are important to track, but shares rarely indicate sales potential. Instead of gawking over vanity metrics, you need to uncover and analyze the metrics that lead to performance, conversions, and increased market share.
3. Getting Caught Up in Purchasing Impressions
Prioritizing impressions over engagement will steer you wrong every time in today's digital ecosystem. Start measuring bounce rates, page views, and duration as well as bottom-line metrics such as revenue and profit. A/B testing can help you glean performance and optimize your marketing spend from there.
4. Basing Marketing Decisions on Demographics and Ignoring Intent
Yes, you'd be foolish not to clearly define your target audience and their media and lifestyle habits. But if you ignore intent, you're turning a blind eye to opportunity knocking. Content consumption and search can reveal intent and correlate with increased revenue potential.
5. Assuming You're Targeting the Right Audience
It doesn't matter whether an initiative attracted or engaged thousands of people. If you're targeting the wrong people, the path to business success will be much more rocky.
Just look at Vespa Motor Scooters. After a 15-year hiatus from the U.S. market, it re-entered with its eye on Millennials. But after further research, the company discovered that consumers ages 50 or over tended to purchase more flashy high-end models than younger demographics. The company's marketing strategy was completely off track. Even if it seems obvious, do your audience research, and never assume you've captured the right group.
Brand advocates are crucial to a company's longstanding success. So, the ultimate goal of every marketing initiative should be to convert followers into loyal brand ambassadors. With an army of dedicated fans spreading your message and elevating your brand within their networks, your marketing efforts will start driving real business value.


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