5 Marketing Metrics Mistakes (2)

5 Marketing Metrics Mistakes

As a marketing strategy consultant, I see marketing measurement errors happen repeatedly, so let’s look at the five most common marketing metrics mistakes and how you can avoid making them in your organisation.

Mistake 1. Unrealistic expectations

Too often business owners, bosses, and therefore the marketers working for them have unrealistic expectations around what marketing to measure and how long it will take to set up those marketing metrics.

There’s a myth that there’s one key thing to measure, and if you track that, you don’t need to measure anything else.

It’s the idea that marketing relies on one activity that will turn your fortunes around. Marketing is all about influencing people’s behaviour – and we all know it is never just one thing that makes us act in a certain way.

So, you have to be realistic. You need to have marketing metrics set up throughout the entire Buyer’s Journey. This varies from organisation to organisation, product to product.

You need to break down what key marketing metrics you need to measure at each point of the Buyers Journey and what the final measurement of success is (usually, something like customer acquisition or income or profit).

But this final measurement is not the one marketing measurement. It really is the final one.

You also need to be realistic about the investment of time and effort it can take to set up your marketing metrics dashboard. The first effort is taking the time to figure out what to measure, how often, and how to measure it.

This is crucial and if you skimp on time here, you’ll set up something that doesn’t really help you run your marketing successfully.

Then, you have to pull it all together into something that can be updated on a regular basis. I’ve seen everything from sophisticated Marketing Metrics Dashboards on CRMs to Excel sheets that are manually updated with data from multiple sources.

Whichever they’ve been, they have all required thought to set up, then ongoing time to update them and run them.

How to avoid unrealistic expectations

Preparation, thinking, and sharing are essential here. Set time aside and map out what you need to measure and why.

Involve the right people. Then figure out where you will get those marketing metrics from and what you will collate them in.

Finally, determine how long it will take to set everything up and how long to run it every time you need to collect and look at your marketing metrics. 

A key activity throughout all of this is sharing. Involve people in the thinking. Share your thoughts about how long it will take to set things up, to take the measurements, and what you hope for them to show.

And be prepared to keep communicating and sharing when the first set of marketing metrics come in, and people ask why you’re measuring those things and what it all means. 

Mistake 2. Focussing on one, not both –  outcome and activity measurements

Many marketing measurements are activity measurements – metrics that tell us what you are doing and how often you are doing it

We also need to measure the results (or outcomes) of those activities. Here are some simple examples:

Stage of the Buyers Journey

Activity measurement

Outcome measurement


Sent 75 invitations to follow our page

50 people followed our page


Sent 500 e-shots to the database

35% open rate

10% click-through rate

Aware / Interest

Attended three networking events over November

Connected with 10 new people


[all of these activities]

1 new client

You can see how if you only measure marketing activities, you would never know how successful your marketing was.

But, conversely, if you only measured the results, you wouldn’t know how much marketing to do.

Watch the Outcome Vs Activity Measurements Insights video where I cover this particular topic.

How to avoid this mistake

A great and easy way to avoid this mistake is to draw up a table like the one below and map out all your activities and the desired outcome for each activity.

I have put in one row per stage of the Buyers Journey, but you’ll probably have more than one activity per stage, so you will need more rows.

I always recommend that you just sit down and bash through the initial one. Then you can go back in and fill in the details.

Stage of the Buyers Journey

Activity measurement – what, where, how often

Linked Outcome measurement – what you want each activity to achieve


Paid adverts delivered on LinkedIn for five working days with three different adverts and a budget limit of £500

100 clicks through to Landing Page


Write one blog post per month which is promoted on all three of our social media channels within 5 days of publication

25 clicks through to the Blog Post each month


Have 5′ Discovery Calls’ per month with prospective clients

3 out of 5 Discovery Callers per month request a Quote


Chase up all Quotes that haven’t replied.

1 new client per month


Send out Seasonal Gifts to top 50 clients

All 50 Clients respond with a thank you (a key part of them remembering us).

Take this table, make it your own, and make it work for your organisation.

Mistake 3. Vanity Metrics

There’s a lot of rubbish out there regarding marketing metrics and marketing measurements. And Vanity Metrics top the league.

vanity metrics marketing meme

These are measured because they make you, your boss or your shareholders feel good. 

Often, they are easy to measure or find out. Often, they can be helpful when used in the right way. But, unfortunately, far too often they are a load of crap that’s quite dangerous.

Typically, vanity metrics focus on volume. This might be the amount of activity you are doing (‘We post 50 times a day on socials!’) or the outcomes you are achieving (‘We get 1,000 hits a day on our website!). It’s the ‘bigger is better’ school of thought.

And the reason vanity metrics are dangerous is that you can have high volumes and big numbers, and your marketing is actually doing badly. Vanity metrics can hide the truth.

For example, it’s no good getting 1,000 hits a day if your bounce rate is at 85% or higher. Likewise, it’s no good posting 50 times a day on socials if they’re all being ignored – or even worse, annoying people.

How to avoid Vanity Metrics

You stop vanity metrics dead by having a Marketing Metrics Dashboard. One metric taken on its own can be skewed, pumped up, and made to look amazing.

Place that volume marketing measurement next to the horribly high bounce rate and the hideously low engagement metric and you are showing it for what it is – a dangerous ego boost to make you think your marketing is working when, actually, it might not be. 

Mistake 4. Forgetting Conversion Rates 

Conversion rates are essential to excellent marketing. Therefore, you should be as obsessed with your marketing communications conversion rates as salespeople are with theirs.

My slightly cross Insights video, ‘Cut the crap, Conversion is everything’, makes my feelings on this clear.

By conversion, we mean what percentage of people are moving through the Buyers Journey to the next stage.

So, you sent out an e-shot to 1000 people. How many clicked on the Call To Action link? 50? 500? 5?

  • 50 out of 1,000 gives you a conversion rate of 1,000:50 or 100:5 or 20:1 (for every 20 people it was sent to, 1 clicked the CTA)
  • 500 out of 1,000 gives you a conversion rate of 1,000:500 or 10:5 or 2:1 (for every 2 people it was sent to, 1 clicked the CTA)
  • 5 out of 1,000 means a conversion rate of 1,000:5 or 200:1 (for every 200 people it was sent to, 1 clicked the CTA)

Which is more cost-effective? Which is yielding better results? It’s the one where for every 2 people the e-shot was sent to, 1 reacted. 

We can be quite good at focussing on the Conversion Rates lower down the funnel – e.g. for every 10 Quotes we write, we get two new clients, so 5:1 – but we forget how important it is to look at Conversion rates higher up the Buyers’ Journey.

These ‘higher up’ conversion rates can show us which of our Awareness and Interest marketing is actually yielding results. And, as a handy side effect, they also help get rid of vanity metrics.

How to avoid forgetting conversion rates

Put them in a table like this:

Stage of the Buyers Journey

Activity measurement 

Linked Outcome measurement 

Conversion Rate


Paid adverts delivered on LinkedIn for 5 working days with 3 different adverts and a budget limit of £500

1,000 ad views that led to 100 clicks through to Landing Page

1,000 ad views: 100 clicks = conversion rate of 10:1


Created one new Landing Page per month with a gated piece of content (content they have to give you an email address to be able to access)

50 requests per month for gated content 

100 clicks led to 50 requests.

Conversion rate = 10:5 or 2:1


Follow up all Gated Content downloads with an email to ‘Book a Discovery Call’

2 Discovery Calls booked

50 requests leading to 2 Calls = 25:1


Follow up all Discover Calls

1 new client 

2 calls: 1 new client


Looking through this, I’m concerned by how few Discovery Calls are getting booked in. It’s the worst Conversion Ratio of them all.

Many people would say, well, to get more Discovery Calls booked in, we need to get more requests for Gated Content:

  • to get 100 requests for Gated Content, you need to double the amount of ad spend to £1,000, but…
  • …it could be that your process for getting them to consider a Discovery Call is wrong
  • Or you are getting the wrong people to download the Gated Content – people who will never buy.
  • And if that is the case, it’s better to find that out now and stop wasting money and effort bringing the wrong people into your funnel.

This is why Conversion Rates are so important.

Mistake 5. Not spending enough time analysing 

You do it all properly. You set it up brilliantly. You are measuring the right things. You are gathering them in one place. And then you aren’t looking at them. Or you glance at them quickly before moving on.

This is dangerous because marketing is all about people – the people we are trying to influence. This means you need to be on top of how well your marketing communications are being received by those people, what is working and what isn’t.

But you need to get the bigger picture to see if there are trends or patterns emerging – and that requires time spent analysing.

How to avoid this

Book that time in your diary. Whether it is weekly or monthly, however often your Marketing Metrics Dashboard is scheduled to be pulled together, then book in 45 minutes to sit down and look at it and share the results of your analysis with key people.

Look at those activity measurements – too much or too little? Look at those outcomes – are they what you want and need?

And finally, analyse those Conversion rates and figure out which one you need to improve.

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