- 1.1 What Is a Metric?
- 1.2 Why Do You Need Metrics?
- 1.3 Marketing Metrics: Opportunities, Performance, and Accountability
- 1.4 Choosing the Right Numbers
- 1.5 What Are We Measuring?
- 1.6 Value of Information
- 1.7 Mastering Metrics
- 1.8 Where Are the "Top Ten" Metrics?
- 1.9 What Is New in the Fourth Edition?
- 1.10 New Developments in the World of Marketing Metrics
1.8 Where Are the “Top Ten” Metrics?
Working on this book, we received many requests to provide a short list of the “key” or “top ten” marketing metrics. The intuition behind this request is that readers (managers and students) want to be able to focus their attention on the “most important” metrics.
Although some readers may have enjoyed reading the earlier editions from cover to cover, it is safe to say that none of the authors have had that pleasure. We view the book as a reference book—something to keep on the shelf and use when confronted with a new or less familiar metric. The list of metrics covered is therefore long so as to be useful for those occasions. It is not intended to be a guide to the X number of metrics you must apply to monitor marketing. It is this view of the book as a reference guide that helps explain why we do not rate or rank the long list of metrics. We see you pulling the book from the shelf as needed rather than us pushing our preferred metrics upon you.
Specifically, the reasons for us not providing the short list of “really important” metrics are as follows.
First, we believe that any ranking of marketing metrics from most to least useful should depend on the type of business under consideration. Thus, what metrics you prefer depend upon what you need them for. For example, marketers of business-to-business products and services that go to market through a direct sales force don’t need metrics that measure retail availability or dealer productivity.
Second, even what might begin as a short list tends to expand rapidly as metrics come in matched sets. For example, if customer lifetime value is important to your business (let’s say, financial services), then you are also likely to use measures of retention and acquisition costs. The same notion applies to retail, media, sales force, and internet traffic metrics. If some of these are important to you, others in the same general categories are likely to be rated as useful, too.
Third, businesses don’t always have access (at a reasonable cost) to the metrics they would like to have. Inevitably, some of the rankings presented will reflect the cost of obtaining the data that underlie the particular metrics. Some metrics may be interesting to know but are not worth considering if they cost more to obtain than the value of the information and insight they provide. The size of the organization thus matters. Small organizations may use metrics that are cheaper to obtain, whereas larger organizations are more likely to be able to realize the full value from expensive, proprietary, or custom-created metrics. The same goes for stages in the product life cycle. Managers of newly launched products often have different concerns and metrics to monitor them than do managers of mature products.
Fourth, we believe that some metrics currently ranked lower by managers will ultimately prove to be very useful when managers fully understand the pros and cons of a particular metric. For example, for many years, advocates for Economic Value Added (EVA) have argued it is the “gold standard” of profitability metrics, but when we discuss it with many managers, it ranks far below other financial performance measures, such as Return on Investment (ROI). We believe one reason for the low ranking of EVA is that this metric is less applicable at the “operating level” than for overall corporate performance. So even within the same business, depending on where a manager sits in the organization, some metrics are more relevant than others. Also, like EVA, many metrics that we have included are relatively new to marketing, and many managers don’t understand them well or know how they might be relevant to their particular business. Customer Lifetime Value is another metric that is gaining acceptance but is still unfamiliar to many managers. If all these metrics were perfectly understood, there would be no need for a book of this type.
We included the results of our survey of marketing managers in the second edition of this book so that readers could learn what metrics other managers thought were potentially useful. However, we became less convinced that the survey results were useful because metric use and understanding remain an awfully long way from where we want them to be. In the third and fourth editions, we have not included the survey and have instead used the space to explore more metrics.
Here we simply note the key points from the survey. For one thing, managers value the profit-related metrics Net Profit, ROI, and Margin most highly, even though these metrics have less to do with day-to-day marketing decisions. We presume this is because those are the metrics they are asked about by the people who control budgets. Customer Satisfaction was the most popular “non-financial” metric. Sales-related metrics, such as Sales Total, also proved popular.