The measurement tail is wagging the marketing dog … and it’s turning your marketing into a dog. Unfortunately, few marketers have the insight needed to illustrate the problem, and even fewer have the guts to take it on within their organizations.
Content marketing strategy begins with an understanding of audience and context — everything from analyzing your competition, to assessing economic pressures and exploring competing priorities. Based on that understanding, you identify the opportunities or challenges marketing needs to tackle.
- Are you losing opportunities because of a perception problem?
- Are you not in the consideration set at all because of low awareness of what makes your solution different?
- Are you not being discovered when people look for a solution to the problems you solve?
- Is the problem that your product or solution addresses a challenge that has simply become accepted as a part of doing business today and is no longer seen as a source of pain?
Now you should be ready to establish your strategic plan. But instead, you are going to toss everything you just did and cave to the demands of the measurement dictocrats.
Here are just a few of the changes you will make. By the time you are finished, there won’t be anything left of the plan you could have created — or the difference it could have made.
You will ignore the biggest opportunity you have
You could create a great article, white paper, and video that address the opportunity or challenge you identified and ensure they are broadly distributed, consumed, and discussed. For many marketers this is probably appropriate.
Not so fast. You need to measure that effort and definitively tie it back to revenue. Easy enough: You add a registration form.
Now you know who actually saw your content (not just how many times it was seen) and can tie future revenue back to that form completion and your marketing effort. There are just two elephant-sized problems you are overlooking: You decimated the distribution of your content and replaced your original content marketing strategy with rote lead capture.
Sure, your results look OK on paper, but you are now all but ignoring the biggest challenges or opportunities you have.
You will sacrifice the customer experience
Creating a great experience is critical, right?
Unfortunately, there is often a trade-off between measurement and experience. Usually marketers opt for the measurement and end up leaving results on the table. Here are three examples that are far too common:
- Social-sharing buttons that require authorizing a new application before sharing: Sure, you get some great data, but at what cost to the visitor experience or the social distribution of your content?
- Limiting RSS feeds to headlines and abstracts lets you track views of your content but increases the distance between your audience and your content. You created that content because you wanted people to see it; now you are making it more difficult.
- Unnecessary thank-you pages make measurement a snap but they often become a dead end, keeping visitors out of the experience you were drawing them in to.
Every break point you add to the experience gives you a way to measure activity or collect additional data, but each additional step may compromise customer experience and your ultimate results.
You will slowly adopt the most obnoxious marketing tactics
Strategy is not infallible, but measurement is not either.
Visits, sign-ups, sales meetings, and closed deals may be in nearly every report, but you will never see a line for the number of people who screamed, “I am sick of Acme Company!” because of an aggressive appointment-setting firm you hired.
You likely know to avoid aggressive telemarketing, but what about these common content missteps? Would your strategy lead you down these obnoxious and destructive roads, or just your measurement?
- Interruptive online ads — like the not-at-all-welcoming welcome ads major publishers sell — deliver traffic from everyone who missed that tiny Close button by just two pixels. That includes practically every mobile visitor to the site. How many of them frantically hit the back button in frustration while your landing page loads?
- Sensational, yet misleading, headlines increase traffic but leave your visitor feeling duped and wary of clicking again.
- Expanding your retargeting program: I recently saw five retargeting ads for a single company on one page, each one bought through a different provider. Measurement, not strategy, made an agency do that.
Obnoxious marketing tactics look great in reports, but are they really great for your business?
It is time to resurrect strategy and stop sacrificing real results for the sake of misleading numbers on a piece of paper.
Are you with me?
Cover image by Joe Kalinowski