How to Stop Middle Metrics From Killing You and Win Today
The marketing department has been charged with reducing cost per lead. It embarks on a new campaign in earnest, and within a couple of months, the number of new leads generated explodes by 15 percent, at a cost reduction of 20 percent per lead. Business is about to boom — only, it doesn’t. Instead, topline revenue declines by 10 percent. What went wrong?
The marketing was guided by a singular metric: cost per lead. However, achieving reduced cost per lead resulted in an unfortunate, indirect consequence: Those leads that were generated were of poor quality. The sales department converted them at a lower rate, and those that did convert were of lower value. Despite wild success achieving its measurable result, the marketing department inadvertently sabotaged sales and killed revenue.
This is what can happen to businesses that rely too heavily on middle metrics, or those data points that measure granular components of the customer journey. Things like user flow through Web pages, time lag from first engagement to conversion and clickthrough rates of abandoned cart emails are just some examples of the practically infinite middle metrics that exist. These data points are superb diagnostic tools and should be used to help companies understand business trends and consumer behaviors, but using them to set primary goals is extremely dangerous.
To avoid negative impacts on your organization, keep the following in mind when using middle metrics to guide marketing efforts.
The Customer Journey Is Your Roadmap to Success
The path from first engagement to conversion is rarely linear; yet the granular nature of middle metrics limits them to measuring unique aspects of the sales funnel. Understanding how consumers move through the funnel is vital to extracting actionable insights from middle metrics. Many companies neglect to map the customer journey, but it is the foundation upon which all marketing efforts should be based. Customer journey maps do not need to be overly complex to be helpful — all they really have to do is map every touchpoint to its primary metric.
When every touchpoint and metric is mapped, it becomes clear how they interact with each other and what impact changing one will have on the entire process. The butterfly effect is quite real in customer journeys, and any changes made should be deliberate and thought out completely before executing. Tweaking middle metrics without a map is shooting in the dark and easily results in unintended consequences.
Use Middle Metrics Wisely
The opportunities best uncovered using middle metrics are specific. For example, if marketers notice that a specific lead form is not converting optimally, they can examine metrics like conversion rates from that particular form and the clickthrough rates from individual landing pages to the form. Taking a mindful approach like this will help uncover where the problems are and how to fix them.
Looking at middle metrics from this vantage point isolates gaps in the customer journey and can determine which touchpoints should be targeted for improvement. If the form is converting at an expected rate, it could be that there simply aren’t enough prospects clicking through to the form; this would indicate the channels leading there are not optimized. If leads are clicking through but not converting, the problem is more likely with the form itself. Systematic approaches to diagnosing marketing opportunities ensure that the correct action is taken.
Steve Bonnell is the Director of Digital Analytics at unified.agency. He leads web analytics and campaign optimization strategy for unified.agency clients. In addition, Steve guides digital testing programs that deliver improved performance and insights that can be applied across channels. When he isn't helping clients uncover customer insights, Steve is reviewing the latest advanced stats for his beloved Chicago White Sox and Bears.