Why False Assumptions and Wrong Metrics Can Kill Your Marketing Success

In marketing we make many assumptions:

  • How will people perceive a message?
  • Who is our typical buyer?
  • Where is our target audience?
  • How can we attract the most buyers?
  • What is the key trigger that makes people buy our product.

Our marketing success largely depends on us making the right assumptions, measuring the right numbers and noticing as early as possible if we have made a mistake. Jonathan wrote an article about the Lean Marketing Process, where he explains in detail the process: Make assumptions, test/measure, adjust.

A very common mistake is to measure marketing success with a number that does not really tell if you are successful in reaching your goals.

Here are a few examples, to show what I mean:

1) You count Social Media followers – but is it your goal to gain followers? Or are you rather building followers to reach a totally different goal? Should you not really be measuring the clicks on your articles or even the number of sales you can generate with your activity in Social Media?In marketing we all make many assumptions. Marketing success can only come if we question our assumptions and use the right metrics to measure success.

2) People count retweets, or shares and comments – but people who share do not necessarily click first. If traffic is your goal with your social media activity, you will have to take a closer look at how much traffic your activity actually generates. Some tweets (or posts) can produce quite a lot of retweets without any clicks. And one Tweet-text might generate retweets while another generates clicks.

3) Many people have in the past few months complained about the declining reach on Facebook – but should they not measure first if interaction, clicks, comments (or sales coming from Facebook) really are declining with reach?

In the end, we have to admit: The right follower, who produces one click that is followed by one sale is worth much more than millions of followers or clicks without any sale.

Wrong Assumptions Will Kill Your Marketing Success

Often marketers make the assumption that more of one thing automatically means getting more of the another. It might be true in some cases, but it does not have to be. And further: There might be a much easier, faster and less annoying way to reach your marketing goals than going for the large numbers of something far away from our goals – if you first think about what your goals really are and how to measure them.

Sticking with the followers and clicks example – it might seem natural to assume that more followers will produce more clicks, and more visitors to your site will necessarily produce more sales. But in truth, there are many other factors that play a role in this: How well targeted are your followers? How well does your shared content match the interests of your followers? How well optimized is your website to convert visitors into buyers? How much do people actually want/need your product.

Jon Loomer in his recent blogpost analyses just this for Facebook reach: People are complaining about the decline of Facebook reach. But Facebook actually aims to target your updates at exactly the part of your followers who are likely to be interested in your updates. Thus, Facebook does not really give you less marketing success but filters out the people from your potential reach, who are not interested in your posts anyway.

One of the most obvious reasons Facebook had to take these steps is obviously that we marketers failed to get our job right. Had we looked at the right numbers (i.e. clicks, interaction, conversions from Facebook) and targeted the right people in the first place, instead of going for the big – but wrong – numbers of followers, Facebook would not have to do our job now and get our targeting right.

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Many Marketers today seem to be very lazy

Going for the big, the easy-to-get, or the obvious numbers is just plain lazy. Instead of really figuring out what we want to achieve, who our target group is and how we can find them, many marketers just say: If we achieve something big somewhere close to our goal, our chances are good that some marketing success will come from it. Translated to Facebook fans: Instead of getting our targeting right, we collect a huge number of fans and hope that a fraction of these will be from our target group.

For Marketing Success: Test your assumptions and get your metrics right

We should take it as a reminder not only to question our actions but also to question the metrics we use and the goals we are pursuing. And we have to do this again and again: Not only goals develop and the playing field changes, but also we and our standing in Social Media changes giving us new chances every day.

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In marketing we all make many assumptions. Marketing success can only come if we question our assumptions and use the right metrics to measure success. marketing metrics, blogging metrics