Marketing Metrics: What Does Success Look Like?

In the past marketing was a creative function: the creative types in the advertising or PR agency came up with campaigns that would not only wow their clients, but promised to wow their clients’ customers as well. Editorial coverage was measured in EAV (Equivalent Advertising Value) and print advertising came with a rate card, all of which was based on audited figures for the size and demographics of a publication’s readership.

Then came the internet and social media with real and immediate metrics. Suddenly on web sites we had banner advertising where we could track click through rates, and web sites where we could track visits or page-views and use cookies and forms to capture behaviour and identity. Social media then gave us followers or likes and links with even more clicks. All these easy to generate numbers were volatile, but they appeared to be telling a story and they turned marketing into more of a science. Marketers now spend all their time looking at an endless stream of such quantitative metrics, but surely it is quality and not quantity that will help you understand the real progress of any campaign, and the impact that you’re really having on results.

So where are the qualitative metrics to tell you not only how a particular program is working, but why? And where is the intelligence to tell you where to prioritise efforts and how to differentiate between your many marketing activities so as to see which are being most effective?

I am reminded of the phrase “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics” which was popularised in the United States by Mark Twain (among others), who attributed it to the 19th-century British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli.

We would argue that the qualitative metrics that you really need to focus on are attention and influence. In a recent blog “The Future of Marketing is in the Cloud” I focused on the new marketing disciplines of Influencer Marketing and Content Marketing. Understanding real attention and influence are at the core of Influencer Marketing.

There are various social listening tools and apps that provide quantitative metrics, but to a large extent knowing how many times your name appears on the internet or was repeated on Twitter doesn’t really give you any useful information. You really need to know and understand how others react when your brand is being discussed.

For our monthly #CloudInfluence rankings we use Appinions, a tool that can recognise and discard inconsequential mentions, and instead focus on the real level of active attention. For this to work you need to understand the context of any opinion and the rate at which others of real influence respond to, report on or repeat any opinion.
It’s not a small task technically, but using natural language processing and a big data infrastructure Appinions analyses the full text of the world’s news, blogs, and social media every day. Going beyond just social media, it differentiates between authors (such journalists who report opinions) and opinion holders (those who the journalists quote), and uses natural language processing to analyse sentiment. Through this we are able to garner a more realistic indication of influence. Then we provide you with the results of #CloudInfluence each month for free! (… but you can always buy us a drink in gratitude if we ever meet).

Aside from Compare the Cloud, other Appinions media partners include Forbes magazine, which uses the technology to publish a list of the world’s most influential CMOs and The Economist, which uses the technology to publish a list of the most influential economists.

Here at Compare the Cloud we monitor and report on all the players and developments in the cloud arena. Differentiating between the winners and losers in this market is as difficult as ever. With Amazon yet to break out separate financials for AWS and other vendors including a host of different kinds of software and services in their disclosed cloud revenue figures, it remains hard to make direct market share comparisons on the basis of revenue. Added to this are the market distorting impact of widespread discounting as well as the use of credits to attract clients to a vendor’s cloud platform. Even numbers relating to client cloud usage are hard to get hold of and to compare.

In a market in its early growth phase, as cloud is, it is often mind share that has the greatest influence and as here at Compare the Cloud we hope that our #CloudInfluence rankings provide a useful additional perspective. Our #CloudInfluence tables are posted from the first Monday of each month, with a special report focussing on a specific industry arena released mid-month.

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