Unlocking metrics that matter




  • Technology that gives consumers a voice to tell brands what they think helps marketers measure the more valuable nuances below the top-line metrics noise.

    The defining feature of digital marketing is the ability to measure just about anything. That’s a wonderful development, but it can also be a double-edged sword. To borrow loosely from the title of a popular book, the ability to measure everything can cause us to amplify the noise and bury the signal. Here’s how marketers can tune out the noise of top-line metrics and unlock metrics that truly matter for their business.

    What are top-line metrics?

    Top-line metrics are common digital media measurements like impressions and views. In a recent eMarketer report, marketers cited a lack of consistent metrics as their number one concern. Perhaps that’s one reason why top-line metrics remain the common currency of industry discussions. After all, a view is a metric that a CPG marketer can easily compare with a TV impression. However, that comparison point has little, if any, value in marketing.

    Sophisticated brands succeed by measuring the nuances that live below the top-line. To do that, marketers must first embrace two ideas. First, technology gives consumers a voice to tell brands what they think. Second, brands must be prepared to hear those voices and act.

    It all begins with a clear objective

    Top-line metrics don’t do much in terms of driving business impact, but as the name suggests, they are a good starting point on the journey toward metrics that matter. That journey, however, isn’t about marketing for its own sake — it’s about delivering on specific business goals, and those goals are the products of a clear objective.

    Are you looking for aided or unaided brand awareness? For getting your product into a consumer’s consideration set? For changing perception of your brand? For establishing the values of your company in the mind of consumers? For establishing particular product attributes? These are the metrics that truly matter — metrics that measurably move a consumer down the funnel toward purchase.

    Honing in on the metrics that matter isn’t about taking the brand’s business goals and plugging them into the marketing stack. The key is putting a laser-focus on the brand’s values to identify and scale enthusiastic audiences that progress through a sales funnel and become customers.

    Consider a toothpaste marketer. Historically, those marketers were in a war for shelf space, but in a world that’s increasingly about direct-to-consumer, they’re fighting for mindshare. What attributes bring a consumer to your brand? Quality? Natural ingredients? Sustainability?  Whitening? Taste?

    As marketers move away from the top-line impression-based metrics, the relevant metrics become more refined and more relevant. Marketing is shifting to a discipline that’s about making one-to-one connections between consumers and brands, and then developing strategies to scale those connections. Top-line metrics are too much noise and too little signal to find discernable business value. The metrics that matter most are those that draw a measurable line between the values brands share with their customers and the actions consumers take.


    Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.


    About The Author

    Tod Loofbourrow is the CEO and chairman of ViralGains. Previously, Tod served as President of iRobot, where he helped grow market capitalization from $300M to over $800M. He founded and served as Chairman and CEO of Authoria (Peoplefluent), a $120M/year software-as-a-service provider of recruiting, performance management, compensation and talent management software. Previously, Tod co-founded and served as the President of iRobot Healthcare and was CEO of the strategic consulting firm Foundation Technologies, Inc. Since 2011, Loofbourrow has served as entrepreneur in residence at the Center for Digital Business at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, and he sits on the board of Jobs for the Future, ViralGains and Mobee.

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