When we’ve got a problem to solve in digital marketing analytics, chances are we turn to our measurement tools for answers. As I’ve often said in the past, the fastest way to boost our marketing results is to fix the most broken metric first. There’s no point in increasing audience by 50% if our lead capture rate is 1%; we’re better off boosting lead capture to 2%. This doubles our existing audience efforts.

How do we find the most broken metric? In our marketing operations funnel – and that’s what the funnel is today, an operations guide – we measure the change from stage to stage. How many people did we reach? How many people did we attract to our owned properties? How many leads did we capture?

digital marketing analytics comparisons

We measure the state change from layer to layer in the marketing operations funnel. For example, if 100,000 people reached became 1,000 website visitors, we effectively captured 1% of the audience. If 1,000 website visitors became 100 newsletter subscribers, we converted 10% of the visitors to subscribers. The most broken metric is the 1%.

None of this should be new. The challenge we now face is, what is the context of the broken metric? How do we understand it better and find clues for fixing it? For this, four digital marketing analytics comparisons are useful.

digital marketing analytics comparisons

Period over Period

How did this metric perform in the last 30/60/90 days? How does this compare to the previous 30/60/90 days? Short-term periodic comparison is important because it tells us if something significant has changed in the immediate past. Did an algorithm change? Did a website component break? The one vulnerability of period over period comparison is if our business has strong seasonality, which is why we also compare…

Year over Year

Year over year comparisons tell us how the metric performed this year compared to the same time period last year. How did the metric do in the 30/60/90 day period from last year, or the year before? If we have strong seasonality in our business, year over year can help us to understand a metric better. Be sure to model your year over year comparisons based on the shape of the week! Many year over year comparisons get fouled up, especially in B2B, if the previous dates are offset by a weekend or a weekday.

Competitive Benchmark

Context is everything in metrics diagnosis; if we can get a competitive comparison or benchmark, we can understand whether we’re facing an industry-wide problem or a problem unique to our business. Competitive benchmarks get more and more difficult to obtain the further down the marketing operations funnel you travel, so if we’re dealing with an ad reach problem, we’ll find much more data than a lead conversion problem.

Metric Inputs

The last context-creation method for a broken metric is to determine that metric’s inputs. What data sources go into the creation of that metric, and how are those individual inputs faring? For example, if we’re facing a social media audience reach problem, we know that the number of people following us plays a part in that metric. How are our follower counts faring? If we’re facing an email open rate problem, we know that spam scores/deliverability scores play a role in that metric.

These four comparison methods help me to understand better why a metric is broken, and what I can do to begin fixing it. Apply these methods to your own digital marketing analytics detective work!


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