Monday, December 04, 2006

On Metrics: Avoid The Hangover

On Metrics: Avoid The Hangover
by Douglas Brooks, Monday, Dec 4, 2006 5:00 AM ET


WITH ALL THE BUZZ AROUND marketing metrics and dashboards, in some organizations, believe it or not, it has become a case of "too much of a good thing."

Often started with the best of intentions, marketing accountability programs in some companies are spiraling into many-headed monsters that do nothing to help a business and everything to stifle it.

It is not uncommon, for example, to see organizations having more than 40 metrics on their dashboard. Addicted to metrics, these marketers create new metrics every time they initiate a program. Ask a company why they are capturing these metrics and they can't tell you. Not only that, but the metrics captured aren't even relevant to the business. And they can't be acted on.

This is not to say that many marketers aren't making tremendous investments into metrics as a result of all the attention around "accountability."

But for these investments to produce returns, the metrics need to be treated as a corporate asset, and managed accordingly. Metrics should be a living, breathing part of a dynamic business, rather than a collection of dusty artifacts without relevance. To ensure that the proper metrics are being captured and companies don't get into a "measure for measure's sake" mentality, consider these three strategies:

Establish traceability Be able to link your metrics with your marketing strategy and marketing decisions throughout the year. The idea is that you can retrace your steps to why you are measuring in the first place.

Ensure insights become actions Simply, make sure that the metrics support the company's objective, and that senior management supports measurement as a step in improving efficiency all around. Without these in place, insights can be come "fun facts" because the metrics are not grounded in business decisions. Gaining buy-in on these metrics from decision makers requires up-front involvement in the definition of the metrics, and visibility into the data and analytics that support these metrics.

Relevancy As marketing and business strategies change, organizations need to review their metrics to be sure they still reflect business goals. Without this step, organizations will be knee-deep in metrics, many of which are no longer meaningful. One organization I consulted for approached this by establishing a committee that is responsible for metrics maintenance. The group meets once or twice a year and insures that the metrics are still relevant and needed for the business.

Douglas Brooks is vice president, product marketing, Marketing Management Analytics. He joined MMA in 2004 as part of its initiative in continuous marketing planning. MMA works with clients to develop fact-driven marketing strategies, comprehensive brand plans, on-demand marketing effectiveness, and comprehensive analysis of brand plan execution results. Doug can be reached at, or visit the company's Web site at

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