Many B2B firms nowadays are able to report on marketing leads generated or they have initiated projects that will get them there. It requires groundwork involving CRM, marketing automation , campaign IDs and tracker links. Marketers well on their way to tracking marketing generated revenue sooner or later will find themselves asking: What about the soft metrics?
Soft metrics are the measurements concerning awareness, conversations, interactions and advocacy – metrics that are not directly tied to revenue. In reality these metrics are not really soft. After all, if they do not impact revenue one way or another, why bother? Engagement for the sake of engagement? Probably not.
For soft metrics to be useful for marketers, it is important to understand how they relate to one of the three marketing goals that align marketing with company objectives:
- Finding customers
- Keeping customers
- Growing customers
Let’s have a closer look at awareness, engagement and advocacy and see how they relate to finding, keeping and growing customers.
Awareness is the outcome of your promotional activities. The target audience is exposed to information about the company or its products and services, transforming individuals from ‘unaware’ to ‘aware’. Typically results are measured in terms of number of page impressions/views. There is no activity required from the prospect.
Awareness can be an outcome in itself, but if driving prospects into the funnel is what you are after then awareness is a step before the so called ‘interest and consideration phase’. Awareness often is connected to the marketing objective of finding new customers. However, if for example the marketing program or campaign concerns a new product or service for existing customers, then of course awareness contributes to the marketing objective of growing customers.
An engaged audience shows a certain level of interest by acting in response to a piece of content or other marketing activity. Engagement can be measured in terms of likes, shares, retweets, clicks, downloads, participation in an event/webinar, information requests, etc. There are two ways in which engagement is connected to marketing goals:
- Likes, shares and retweets increase awareness by expanding the initial reach of the content or message. Engagement therefore is linked to the marketing objective of finding customers.
- Clicks, downloads, participation in events and information requests can bring new prospects into the marketing funnel, where they are nurtured and transformed into leads, and they build up the lead score of existing contacts. Again, engagement contributes to finding customers.
Advocacy is about creating customers who actively promote your company and its products and services. Customers can advocate for companies by, for example, mentioning the brand on social media, by providing testimonials or by participating in surveys and advocacy boards. Often Net Promoter Score (NPS) is used to measure recommend intention. NPS has one central question: How likely is it that you would recommend our company/product/service to a friend or colleague?
Based on this question one might conclude that advocacy is related to the marketing objective of finding customers: how much new business does the company get from customer referrals? However, research suggests that brand advocates spend significantly more compared to other customers and that the retention rate for this group is higher. If this holds true for your company then advocacy can contribute to the marketing objectives of keeping and growing customers as well.
Context is key
Discussions involving marketing metrics are often about definitions and opinions on which metrics are ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. Don’t get sidetracked by all the noise. What really matter are the goals you want to achieve and making sure that what you measure is logical and helps you steer towards reaching those goals.
At spotONvision we’re always interested in learning how marketers select and use both the hard and soft metrics to drive marketing performance. Feel free to contact us, or explore our marketing performance management services to see how we help our clients to measure and improve marketing programs and campaigns.