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Move Over Vanity Metrics: It’s About Prescriptive Metrics Now

October 2, 2019 |

Vanity Metrics

Marketing leaders today are prioritizing analytics, measurement, and performance measurement. Why? According to Gartner, CMOs are feeling pressure from their CEOs to prove the value and ROI of marketing beyond just awareness and brand.

57% of CEOs are prepared to invest more in marketing, but budgets are at risk if marketers continue to prioritize measures such as awareness over ROI.

It’s time for marketing leaders to move beyond those vanity awareness metrics and move toward more prescriptive metrics that present a more holistic ROI picture and better inform marketing strategy. Vanity metrics present a surface-level understanding of what’s going on in marketing, but aren’t able to tell the full story on their own. Because of this gray area, many CEOs will then view marketing as a nice-to-have rather than a must-have in their organization, putting budgets at risk. Prescriptive marketing metrics, on the other hand, are able to tell the full story about how content and marketing activities have performed in market without any gray areas. To win the trust of CEOs and other C-suite executives, marketing leaders must be able to use these prescriptive metrics to tell this more complete story.

Both investment and customer metrics can easily transition from vanity to prescriptive metrics. Here’s how:

Investment Metrics

Marketers today typically consider investment metrics in terms of spend: how much they’ve spent on their marketing programs, and what kind of return they’re getting back. While investment metrics are often linked to digital, agency and media spend, more modern marketing organizations are getting better at measuring other types of spend like time spent on marketing activities, number of people working on marketing programs and activities, number of rework cycles, and more.

Making Investment Metrics Prescriptive

Investment metrics are still critical, and many marketing organizations still need to do a better job of measuring these to become more prescriptive. Marketers should consider how to link investment metrics like spend and resource investment with marketing attribution and mixed modeling data. With these linked data, marketing leaders can eliminate the murkiness of vanity metrics and tell a more holistic story about what exactly the investment ‘got’ in terms of returns. This enables marketers to better connect investment data with actual marketing returns.

Customer Metrics

Customer metrics are all about evaluating what happens when we put marketing campaigns out into the market. Today, most marketing teams are basing these measurements on reach. How many eyeballs were on a piece of content? This is measured by things like views, retweets, followers, and other similar metrics. Some might get more sophisticated by doing some testing, or measuring sentiment. But generally, these metrics are limited to measuring basic awareness.

Making Customer Metrics Prescriptive

But awareness doesn’t typically help marketing teams justify investment to the C-suite. What does awareness actually do for the business? Many marketers today have already begun taking the first step to make these metrics more prescriptive: they’ve started to measure what marketing campaigns actually compel a customer to do. Are they purchasing? Churning? Advocating?

This is a step in the right direction toward making these metrics more actionable. But they could go even further with the power of AI. AI has changed the game for marketing measurement. AI can enable self-adjusting attribution or mixed modeling analysis. AI can help marketers surface new content ideas to help inform future experiences and campaigns. AI can also help marketers not only understand what has happened in the past, but also help  predict future customer actions and results, which is critical when justifying funding for future marketing programs to CEOs who want to see predicted business impact.   .

Use Prescriptive Metrics to Inform Marketing, Brand, and Content Strategy

This is just a start. There are many more nuanced ways that marketers can make metrics less descriptive and more prescriptive, more actionable. No matter which metrics marketers track though, all that work can amount to nothing if these metrics aren’t linked back to inform strategy—and not just overall marketing strategy, but key areas like brand strategy and content strategy. By leaving behind vanity metrics and embracing prescriptive ones, marketers can turn that C-suite pressure into true progress.

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