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The Metrics That Marketers Muddle

Book Description

A big challenge for marketing is demonstrating its business value. As the finance function becomes more powerful within companies, some see marketing’s influence as declining. One major reason is the difficulty of measuring its impact. The article has two purposes, the authors say: First, to clarify marketing metrics so that managers select the right metrics and use them appropriately; and second, to help senior managers understand when marketers are cherry-picking the data or using inappropriate metrics. The authors assess five popular marketing metrics: market share, net promoter score, the value of a “like,” customer lifetime value, and return on investment. They conducted interviews with marketers and administered formal surveys to managers. They found that popular marketing metrics are regularly misunderstood and misused. The authors’ goal is to encourage appropriate and consistent use of popular marketing metrics. Market Share: If the aim is to maximize the returns to shareholders, the authors argue, increased market share offers no benefit unless it eventually generates profits. Still, in a survey the authors conducted, they found that more marketing managers prioritized maximizing market share than prioritized maximizing profitability. Although, they note, companies with superior products tend to have high market share and high profitability, this does not necessarily mean that increasing market share will increase profits. Using market share as a metric of success simply because other marketers do it can be counterproductive. Net Promoter Score: Companies in a variety of industries have embraced net promoter score as a way to monitor their customer service operations. One of NPS’s strongest selling points, the authors write, is its simplicity: It’s easy for managers and employees to understand the goal of having more promoters and fewer detractors. However, they note weaknesses in how the theory has been presented to managers. Value of a “Like” The authors caution that managers shouldn’t automatically assume that differences in value between social media fans and nonfans are caused by social media marketing activity. When there are differences, managers need to investigate whether they existed prior to the social media marketing effort. Customer Lifetime Value: Marketers often use CLV to help them decide whom to target in acquisition campaigns. The authors recommend basing CLV on the value of the customer relationship -- not the value of the customer relationship minus the acquisition costs. Return on Investment: Although ROI may not be a perfect metric, the authors concede, it can facilitate communication with nonmarketing colleagues. But to communicate effectively, marketers must use the term in ways that nonmarketers can understand. In order to calculate ROI, there must be a return (profit associated with an investment) and an investment. Unless you have both, you cannot calculate ROI.