How do you work with the CEO or CMO to identify which metrics matter most?

Identifying metrics that matter most requires asking the obvious questions first.

Chad Latz, President, global digital and social media practice, Cohn & Wolfe

Bill Ogle, CMO, Motorola Mobility

Adam Schoenfeld, CEO and cofounder, Simply Measured

Dan Scott, CMO, Scott Kay

Eve Stevens, VP, measurement, Waggener Edstrom Worldwide

Chad Latz, president, global digital and social media practice, Cohn & Wolfe:
Identifying metrics that matter most requires asking the obvious questions first. What are the biggest issues facing the business? What are the most pressing priorities and objectives? Is the main focus reputation, financial, or a combination of the two? From there, you have a barometer to help set key performance indicators (KPIs) and outcomes.

Knowledgeable executives and marketers are not mired in the confusion between monitoring and true measurement, which is actually focused on a quantifiable result. Unfortunately, the conversation around measurement is often tool-centric and not outcome-oriented. The value is in the analysis and having a business-aligned measurement strategy in the first place.

We are often asked to create an integrated measurement strategy for clients that evaluates the relationship and output of earned, owned, and paid media to drive action and intent. While fan acquisition is part of the strategy, it typically isn't the result the CMO is looking for. Executives want measurement outcomes that can impress the audiences that matter most to them, whether it is the board of directors or the investor community.

Digital and social media help us evolve our approach to measurement with tools and the ability to accumulate and track vast amounts of data. Social media has allowed us to introduce new KPIs into the vernacular, but statistics such as number of likes or followers are meaningless if they can't be tracked through to an outcome.

Paid media has long been held to a standard that demonstrates conversions. As a result, I haven't met a CMO who is content to let their PR or social media agency off the hook with a measurement strategy simply based on reach and impressions. Instead, they demand more value and a measurement approach that highlights and presents business outcomes.

By establishing business-driven KPIs, defining process inputs and a baseline, you have the foundation for an approach that measures and optimizes your program while quantifying impact and ROI.

Bill Ogle, CMO, Motorola Mobility:
For most companies, the overarching goal - whether through marketing, sales, or product development - is to find a direct link between brand engagement and financial performance. Yet, despite all the measurement tools at our disposal, identifying metrics that accurately reflect this relationship is often a challenge for CMOs and their marketing operations.

Key metrics are critical to determining how successful your marketing activities have been in terms of aligning with your company's strategic goals. This means identifying performance-based metrics to build efficient measurement frameworks that go beyond answering "Was this campaign a winner?" The question we should be asking is, "How impactful was this campaign to our overall business objectives?"

My own firsthand experience has taught me that consumers want technology to connect every aspect of their busy lives. More and more, this demand influences how and when consumers make purchase decisions. It also provides guidance that helps us shape and measure our advertising, PR, and social media campaigns.

It is crucial to constantly examine various metrics that demonstrate how consumers experience and interact with our products, channels, and company. By viewing the entire playing field, an organization will be better able to see which marketing efforts make its audiences engage with them most, amplify its brand, and map to its goals.

Of course, you must not ignore popular metrics such as website visitors, event attendees, media impressions, and share of voice. These measurements are as important today as ever. However, to gain valuable insights and build a consumer-centric brand, it's important to take a broader perspective. That means identifying the points at which various metrics intersect, as well as understanding how consumers behave at these intersections.

Adam Schoenfeld, CEO and cofounder, Simply Measured:
Gone are the days of presenting a crowded table of KPIs to your executive team. Marketers and PR pros are working in a world with no default KPIs, no established reporting practices, and a marketplace full of tools and conflicting opinions.

Marketers that turn data into compelling stories for management rise above the noise. The best storytellers use their data to answer broader business questions that are top of mind for the CEO or CMO.

In order to show digital metrics in context with broader business themes, marketers have to start by asking the CMO or CEO what they care about more generally.

If management is focused on growing market share, then create KPIs that relate your programs to the competition, measure brand leadership, and compare performance to industry leaders. However, if management is focused on e-commerce sales, build a complete story to show the downstream impact of each of your social channels, rather than focusing on conversion rates during a particular month.

This approach moves you away from disconnected Excel data tables and lets your story become something bigger. It puts context behind your actions and your organization can begin to view digital programs as a key part of broader business goals.

In a space where new channels and analytics tools are cropping up all the time, being able to tell a clear story to management will help you to better allocate time and resources. This is something your team can rally behind. It also helps executives understand what "marketing is up to" relative to their larger business goals.

Dan Scott, CMO, Scott Kay:
As the CMO for a luxe, designer jeweler brand, we rely on consumer metrics on two key platforms: The pre-engaged, 24- to 34-year-old age bracket for engagement rings and wedding bands, and the married group of those 34 years old and above for jewelry gifting and customer retention. One key component we pay attention to for both groups is local market penetration.

PR is handled in-house by our marketing team. We call it "social relations." In order to measure either of the two aforementioned groups, we find a brand ambassador within a local market.

For bridal, we take a very narrow look at niche online venues. Facebook means nothing unless the people in a group are active prospects or the influencers to those prospects. Do you really care that you have 500,000 likes or friends if they came one day and not the next or if they aren't within the preferred preference group?

We would rather cater to 250 brides- to-be a month in Boston on a site such as, hone in on key conversations, and gauge click-throughs and conversion on those discussions.

It's important to remember that content isn't really king, context is. Fine-tuning a local message online and engaging the pre-engaged has been a very financially rewarding part of our "social relations" plan for the last year to determine success metrics. Local conversations lead to local sales. We've collectively realized it works to write to those small online groups and see the good word spread like wildfire, thus igniting sales.

Eve Stevens, VP of measurement, Waggener Edstrom Worldwide:
With accessibility of online, offline, and social data, we live in a world of data excess. It seems we can measure everything and anything. The opportunity is overwhelming.

The trend is to report on everything. Not only is this inefficient, but it does not answer the problem that measurement intends to solve, which is to reveal actionable insight to drive better business fundamentals and show value to the organization. Communications pros must remember the fundamentals of business excellence - we must be able to articulate what we are trying to achieve and then be able to repeat it.

It starts with clarifying the business problems clients are trying to solve through communications actions and then determining what actions will be used to achieve results. Is it increased brand awareness? Changed perception? Or is it driving engagement?

Identify how each communications tactic affects the outcome and then socialize the intention across the organization. The next step is to create measurable objectives and success metrics that are clear and specific.

The measurement program should focus on measuring those goals and be a critical priority within an overall communications mix. The return will involve insights that clearly link to business outcomes. The next key step is to continue consistent measurement to help inform what works best and why so we can more efficiently and effectively achieve results that impact business.

Finally, by taking an integrated view of influence across paid, earned, and owned categories within the marketing mix, we can better understand the intention and impact of influence across these three categories and how to drive the integrated marketing strategies our clients seek.

The Takeaway

  • "Was this campaign a winner?" is not as relevant as asking "How impactful was this campaign to our overall business objectives?"
  • Being able to tell a clear story to management helps comms pros better allocate their time and resources.
  • Content isn't king, context is. Fine-tuning a message to a local or smaller group often leads to better word-of-mouth and, in turn, sales.

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