The problem with vanity metrics is they don’t actually lead you to more sales.

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Over the past decade, there has been a dramatic shift in how brands are able to effectively market to consumers. It’s hard to imagine that over this 10-year time period, digital marketing has gone from its infancy to accounting for an average 41 percent of marketing spend.

Related: 7 Key Selling Habits All Sales Professionals Must Develop

Brand experiences have also seen significant growth, with companies increasing budgets year-over-year and investing in face-to-face marketing strategies. Not only have these proven to have a higher ROI related to changing consumer behavior (98 percent of those who attend a brand experience are more likely to purchase), but according to a report by Event Marketing Institute and Mosaic, these experiences result in extremely high frequency content creation and sharing, which further feeds a company’s digital strategy.

But, in marketing, we are nothing without measurement. In attempting to measure marketing impact, companies often look to those metrics that are readily available. These might be impressions, likes, shares or other “vanity metrics.” Many times, brands focus on these for several reasons:

  1. They are easy. They are readily available and give marketers something to show to executives that gives the appearance of progress.
  2. They mirror traditional marketing. We love what we are used to. Focusing on likes and shares is a lot like using traditional advertising metrics related to Nielsen ratings for television ads.
  3. They provide immediate gratification. In the digital age we have lost patience. We want instant results and often lose sight of the need to examine multiple data points, some of which may take time to gather and require additional investment.

Related: AI Is Taking the Art Out of Sales

Looking to vanity metrics does not provide the answers we need to truly understand campaign impact. We are not able to translate this data into revenue numbers or identify and qualify “leads” to nurture into a sale.

How to maximize marketing impact and deliver measurable results

Put the vanity metrics aside. Marketers should be focused on driving sales while achieving the lowest cost-per-acquisition. To do that, we need to establish performance-driven metrics that go beyond the “low hanging fruit” of simple interactions. We need to understand how our efforts tie directly into revenue.

There are ways beyond traditional or vanity metrics to better illustrate marketing and brand activation impact. Pay attention to the following to increase conversion rates, reduce cost-per-acquisition and better demonstrate campaign ROI.

1. Optimize your campaigns.

Embrace the Pareto Principle: In 1997, Richard Koch authored “The 80/20 Principle,” which tied the Pareto Principle to business. This principle, a.k.a. “the law of the vital few,” or “the principle of factor sparsity,” is relatively simple. It asserts that, “for many events, roughly 80 percent of the effects come from 20 percent of the causes.” In other words, 80 percent of your revenue comes from 20 percent of your core offerings. Eighty percent of your sales come from 20 percent of your targets. Whether you are creating digital campaigns or face-to-face ones, optimize your efforts by embracing the 20 percent that is performing and hyper-focus on improving metrics in those areas.

Related: 7 Tips for Getting More Sales Meetings With Prospects

Know when to fold ’em: Do not target consumers in areas where you haven’t seen activity for the past few months. Reduce cost per acquisition by working to increase sales in locations where you are already finding success. This applies for ad spend and brand activation. Still work to break into new markets, but do so in a targeted, measurable way that does not consume a significant percentage of your resources.

Short- and long-term planning: Know what success looks like today, this week, this month, quarterly and yearly. It’s important to view a marketing campaign as more than a single effort or interaction. For most companies, the sales cycle might be longer than they think, or can see.

For example, if a shopper at a mall is stopped by a brand ambassador and invited to demo a company’s newest smartwatch, she could very well purchase the product as a result. The problem is, it might not be that same day. It could be a week, month or even a year later. Just because she didn’t buy it that first day doesn’t mean that the demonstration didn’t succeed in driving purchase.

Our agency, A Little Bird, recommends that you don’t design campaigns that “close” after a short period of time. Consider what you will track and measure now, as well as later, to determine success. Put attribution tracking methods (discussed below) in place so you can better understand campaign impact, your typical sales cycles, and more.

Related: 11 Ways to Boost Your Sales Performance

2. Use the right technology to track sales attribution.

Tying the right technology into your campaign is critical in determining success. You need to know what happened after the brand interaction or click on your website. You also need a method by which to analyze, segment and personalize future interactions to nurture consumers toward the sale.

Your consumer communication strategy must be specific to each activation, person and product. Choosing the right technology that provides the conversion tracking you need should be at the top of your list of priorities. For digital, this might be marketing software, such as HubSpot or Marketo. Also look to Google for analytics, or some social media ad platforms to pre-qualify, track, and nurture leads.

For in-person brand experiences or marketing events, you can use digital tracking related to event registration, digital kiosks, photo marketing, offer redemption — whatever your company dreams up as an engagement strategy. 

Related: The 15 Characteristics of People Who Succeed at Sales

3. Retarget and re-engage.

A clear and targeted ongoing engagement strategy must be incorporated into every marketing campaign. Marketers can no longer expect to close the deal in the moment. We must be conversation starters to succeed in driving sales and earning consumer trust.

The initial consumer touchpoint, whether in-person or digital, is that first step in starting a two-way dialogue with the consumer. By utilizing attribution and engagement technology, consumer data is captured and later used to personalize your brand’s communication with your consumers through relevant content and ongoing retargeting communication.

In all cases, marketing must live by a “consumer first” ideology, with establishing attribution and driving conversion at the forefront.

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