Corporate revenue projections have definitely changed during the COVID situation. When you see several NYSE and NASDAQ traded firms come out with many statements on earnings guidance, you know something is askew. COVID is wreaking havoc on their sales and revenue figures, so companies are constantly remaking their annual earnings projections. As marketers, sales and revenue figures are some of our key north star metrics to guide strategy and measure performance.
But it doesn’t take an epidemic to affect markets and make sales performance erratic. Something as common as a merger or the closure of a retail location can impact performance. We have all lived through those types of events. So, when sales production seems so far out of our control, how are we supposed to measure the impact of our campaigns and strategies?
Sales revenue and market share growth should always be the goals. Brand awareness, customer satisfaction and customer retention are also success metrics to consider. We, as marketers, should always have profitable revenue generation on our minds, as we make a meaningful, measurable contribution to its achievement. But, during times when revenue generation may be beyond our control, we have an opportunity to explore some other ways to measure our success and discover what else may be contributing to performance.
Our dashboards may be askew because of the extreme events that have changed consumer engagement behavior. But there are a few metrics that can help you get a handle on the performance of your campaign or strategy. We’ll start this conversation at the top of the funnel. This an older term for the broader, large-scale tactics and behaviors that help us see how our efforts are performing and scaling.
Click to Open Ratio (CTO or CTOR)
When markets fluctuate, consumer engagement can do the same — usually in a downward direction. While clicks may be down, we can still track the impact of email by seeing how many of our opens convert to visits. CTOR is a stat that we should always track because it shows the effectiveness of some critical elements, like message, offer and design to name a few. But when the world gets disrupted, it becomes even more important to watch CTOR, because it should remain consistent. Opens may drop during extreme market shifts, but Click to Open should remain the same. Your content should still be compelling and get consumers to take that next step in the buyer’s journey.
Time Spent on Page (TSOP)
Once visitors get to the next step, usually a landing page, we want to know what they did. Site traffic may fluctuate during times of disruption, but what consumers do once they arrive is a good indicator of many things. Generally, TSOP can help you determine two things. First, how well the experience delivered on any promises we made in an email or ad. Second, whether the visitor finds the content relevant and compelling.
Each type of page will have its own performance range when it comes to time. For instance, a 500-word blog post should have a longer TSOP than a lead capture page. Remember that longer TSOP is not always better. Sometimes pages are too cumbersome or have more content than customers can manage. The goal is to get them to convert, not overwhelm them.
Subscribers and followers
Economic turbulence can have an impact on a prospect’s ability to make a purchase. Yet, they can still show a strong interest in your company, product or content. They can subscribe to newsletters or become followers on social channels. This kind of behavior is a low-commitment and low-threat way for prospects to move into the buyer’s journey and, more specifically, your lead nurturing stream. Subscribers and followers are not the ultimate goal — many in our field consider this a bit of a vanity metric. But they are a good barometer of your ability to get a prospect to make a small commitment and progress in their path toward a purchase.
The bottom line is that market disruptions can impact a lot of things, including the dashboard that helps us track performance. Like I said, the disruption does not have to be related to a health epidemic. There are disruptions that happen every day in the marketplace. These metrics can help you keep an eye on performance and provide a bit of consistency to your reporting no matter what is happening in the market.
Don’t take this as an attempt to over emphasize the vanity metrics like views, clicks and opens. They have their place in measuring campaign performance. But conversion metrics will eat those vanity metrics for breakfast. While market disruption may cause us to temporarily look beyond revenue generation, anything we add to our dashboards should be a barometer for sales success.
Whether markets are disrupted or normal, we should always pay attention to the important metrics of lead conversion, cost per acquisition and other lower-funnel metrics. In other words, don’t fiddle while Rome is burning. We can have a better feel for the performance of our strategies and campaigns using metrics like Click to Open Ratio (CTOR), Time Spent of Page (TSOP), and subscribers/followers. These should remain consistent while others may be fluctuating wildly due to market conditions.