Saturday, March 24, 2007

Marketing metrics: Process vs Progress Measures

It is amazing to see how often business owners, salespeople, and marketing professionals confuse process with progress, especially when it comes to evaluating the success of a marketing initiative.

One important distinction in the use of marketing metrics that should always be made clear is the difference between process metrics and progress metrics. What does this mean? Process metrics report on either activity generated by the team (e.g. we’ve spent six weeks building the marketing site for the promotion and the will be ready to launch in five days), or on actual consumer behavior change within the total selling cycle. Think of the latter as progress moving consumers or B2B purchasers through the buying cycle, perhaps from an initial prospect to a qualified prospect. Progress metrics are more tightly tied to the business results, and are generally more readily interpreted by those outside the marketing organization. Inquiries generated, sales produced, number of existing customers cross-purchasing the new product line, are examples.

The line between process and progress metrics is not always perfectly clear. For example, increasing the number of qualified customers may be a process metric when viewed as part of the complete customer relationship cycle. In a business with a clearly defined historical conversion rate, this can be treated as a progress metric (really, qualifications x conversion = sales).

When considering measurement of marketing program results, give consideration to the choice of metric to be used. Both process and progress metrics are valuable tools. It is important to understand the distinction, if only to maintain the rigor of your thinking. The closer you can get to measuring progress versus process, the stronger your evaluation of the program.

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