It's the same with advertising. In the bid to be completely measurable and provide every figure a marketing executive could ever need, digital marketers are at the point of having an excel sheet worth of figures but not a whole lot of meaning. Many of the metrics I can think of are now turning into hygiene. Did my ad run, did it appear where it could be seen, did we keep it away from porn and was it actually seen by a human rather than a bot?
I've been talking to people in the London industry recently, and there is a widespread acceptance that metrics can measure performance but they don't always tell you what you really want to know -- did my campaign have an impact, will it change consumer behaviour and can i claim to have achieved something through it to the board?
For many, then, the very old-fashioned process of market research is once again a key requirement. If you can't be sure whether an ad really led someone to convert in-store, at least you can ask people if they remember seeing your message, if they now see you more favourably and are they likely to purchase from you when they are in market for your goods and services?
That's why it's so interesting and timely to see Marketing Week's finding that although marketers are backing brand engagement as a meaningful metric that can lead to a better understanding of ROI, they're not sure the rest of their organisation agrees. Nearly four in five use brand engagement in working out ROI, and more than half take this figure to quote to the board. However, 39% don't quote any figures around brand engagement because they don't think the term is considered to mean anything at board level.
This isn't just the board being awkward. There's a very real business reason for prioritising sales figures against those who have said they quite like you and might consider you when they next buy a garden sprinkler or laptop.
So, here's the pretty obvious next step for marketers. Find out what brand engagement means for the business. Somehow, sentiment needs to be tracked against future sales -- potentially even among the same group of people as they progress through the sales funnel. It's important because old fashioned brand metrics are great for marketers but they'll only mean something when they can be converted into a wider meaning.
So, brand favourability is up 10% -- which means we can expect to see an uplift in sales of x% over the next quarter. Or awareness is up x%, and that means over the next year we'll be on x% more prospects and can expect x% more sales leads.
If digital marketers can turn the engagement figures they know to hold marketing meaning into the language of business, they will find far less resistance to metrics -- which the board knows are nice to be able to quote, but are ultimately meaningless until turned into a business value.