And even if they were, it can be challenging to understand the numbers which will truly make a difference as opposed to those which won't. Keen to know the difference? Read on.
I’m going to start by talking about marketing goals. Spoiler alert though, a marketing goal (often total leads, sales or revenue) is not the #1 marketing number for transforming your business.
That said, if you don’t have a clear and written goal, you better sort this out ASAP. One study suggests we’re 42% more likely to achieve our goals if we write them down.
A clear and written goal is an important part of your marketing strategy. However, the reality is that no matter how hard you focus on this number, success is unlikely to just happen.
Success is going to come down to three things:
Here’s where things go wrong:
In my experience, the most important marketing numbers are those that predict the future by telling you if you’re executing on your strategy effectively. Sometimes it’s a single number, but typically it’s a few different numbers.
A lot of marketing teams put their energies into the wrong activities because they focus too heavily on the wrong numbers:
Don’t get me wrong, for most marketing teams there is value in the above numbers. Depending on your role, these numbers might be the most important thing you look at each day. Outcomes can often be improved by tweaking how you’re going in these areas. It’s even possible one or more of these metrics will be perfect to tell you if your marketing team is on track in terms of executing a strategy which will see you reach your goal.
But it’s much more likely that focusing on these numbers will be telling you how you’re performing in individual channels relative to other time periods, or they’ll tell you how you performed in the past. They are unlikely to let you know if things are drifting in terms of executing the strategy required to reach your goal.
In summary, these sorts of metrics are typically found in marketing reports and tell you how you’ve performed in the past. They are not generally the marketing numbers which will transform your results.
As already mentioned, the most important numbers predict the future rather than summarise the past. These numbers will tell you at a glance exactly where you are in terms of the execution of your strategy and taking those steps which matter.
As an example, let’s look at a B2B company with a long and complex buyer journey. The overall marketing goal might be to generate a certain number of sales opportunities (highly qualified leads) each and every month.
The most important marketing numbers will be those that show they are executing on activities they know from past experience (and the current strategy) will result in generating sales opportunities in the future.
The B2B marketing team in this example knows that if they can set (and hit) targets for each of the above questions they are well on their way to hitting their big picture goal. If they lose momentum in any of these areas they will risk a setback at some point in the future.
Again, I’m not suggesting that you dispense with your existing marketing reports. Knowing what is happening within different channels and understanding current performance is critically important to making sure things are being done well across the board.
What I’m proposing is that you create a separate and simple scorecard which contains only those numbers which will tell you whether your strategy is being executed. Are you on track to deliver future success based on actions you know from past experience will move you closer to your goal?
Good scorecards can be created quickly and without a lot of fuss. You can use Excel or Google Sheets to track a small number of key numbers. It’s fine if this is a manual process as you won’t need to calculate too many numbers. Want to get team buy-in? Consider displaying and updating the scorecard in a place where everyone sees it on a regular basis. Talk about scorecard progress in weekly meetings. The scorecard should genuinely change behaviour and keep you on track as a team.
Great scorecards are the result of creating a good scorecard and evolving it over a number of months as you learn what really moves the needle.
Through trial and error, we have a scorecard that works brilliantly for us. It didn’t happen on day one though.
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