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Chapter 2: Using Metrics as a Basis for Decision-Making

There are plenty of starting points when addressing the issue of noise in your marketing efforts. I like to start with a concept that makes the most impact on all aspects of your marketing: Metrics. Using metrics for decision-making may seem like an obvious practice, but in most cases, this one idea challenges business owners on several core habits and perceptions. I'd like to blow up some of those for you today.

On the first day of any PR 101 class, they teach a simple concept about persuasion and decision-making: You can fight fact with fact, but you cannot fight opinion with opinion. If you are a business owner, this tells you two important realities you must keep in mind:

  • Using facts for decision-making gives you an objective means of evaluating, and
  • If your decision-making is based on subjectivity (opinion), there's a good chance you may be ignoring truths. That means no expert will be able to help you unless you begin using facts for evaluation.

So, the noise I'll be addressing in this blog is subjectivity in decision-making. To give this exploration a little framework, here are some common examples of subjectivity in decision-making that I encounter every day:

• "I haven't had one patient say they found us on Facebook."

• "My front desk keeps track of all incoming calls, so I know how many we get."

• "If I'm not ranked No. 1 on a specific search term, my SEO is bad."

All of these common statements are opinions, and they are cleverly disguised as facts. This is a self-reinforcing trap for business owners. The truth is, those three statements prevent many doctors and dentists from embracing strategies that can give them real control over growth. I'll explain each briefly.

• If information comes in from any place other than a technological measuring tool, it is anecdotal and therefore faulty. When you ask a patient where they noticed you, they answer with an opinion or a memory. In most cases this is inaccurate, chiefly because it is not a priority for them to document such things. The way we measure the value of a Facebook strategy is by using Facebook Insights and Google Analytics. When your Facebook strategy is reaching thousands of local, targeted users and hundreds of people are clicking back to your website through those links, that is proof your Facebook is working. However, if you are focused on the unreliable patient opinion that you were not found on Facebook, you're leaning toward throwing away thousands of on-target exposures and hundreds of website visits.

• Even if the call log is 100 percent accurate, your front desk is not logging all calls. The manual method does not record hangups and people who do not want to leave a message or wait on hold. Add in all those instances after hours that are not recorded on your voicemail, and you can see easily that manually tracking calls is nowhere near accurate for volume. I once had a client who sent their phones to voicemail for their lunch hour. When they added a tracking number that measured incoming calls with tracking technology, they saw that they were missing three to four calls a day during the lunch hour. Most of those callers did not leave a message. Was their front desk recording all the calls? No, they were recording all the calls they could field.

• Unless you are a real outlier, your Organic Search traffic has the best user experience. We see this on the Organic Search channel in Google Analytics. So, knowing this, what you want is more organic traffic. It makes perfect sense that a Page 1 ranking on the most obvious and highly trafficked keyword creates more traffic. Everyone knows that, including the sites on that first page and the businesses making large investments to protect those positions. How else can you get more organic visits, then? There are plenty of strategies that make your website more visible and more highly ranked in a variety of searches. And, to know those are working, all you need to do is watch the Organic Search channel in Google Analytics. So, there is no guesswork involved in whether your organic search traffic is increasing. As search trends move away from keyword searches to more contextual searches, it is more important than ever to focus on improving organic search traffic, rather than focusing on keywords. A focus on the wrong task here undermines otherwise productive efforts.

In each case, an opinion rather than a reliance on metrics and facts is guiding decision-making. This widely affects how your marketing functions and benefits you. This is the first noise I think most dentists, doctors and small-business owners should address. For most, doing so will require a paradigm shift.

It starts here: Ask yourself, what do you hire an expert to do?

Prior to this digital age, marketing experts offered the value of experience. That included being able to subjectively create and evaluate a message and a strategy. In other words, you could trust the talent and experience of an expert to produce a successful marketing strategy.

Now, in the digital age, we have the ability to measure and evaluate the performance of creative work and strategies. This means rapid adjustment is possible if you are using facts to evaluate. This factor completely reframes what it means to be an expert.

Today, a marketing expert should offer you the ability to evaluate and adjust the creative, content and strategies by using metrics and analytics. To support this effort properly, you as the owner need to commit to using metrics for evaluation, rather than subjective opinions (AKA: noise). By making this paradigm shift, you will empower your marketing efforts to respond to user experience.

The biggest single step you can make is insisting on using the metrics, and not casually. If you do this, you will seek out marketing experts who use metrics to adjust and refine your marketing strategies, always moving you toward real improvement. This is how we apply our strategic expertise at Dog Star Media. If you have a question about how to read your metrics, email me at donald@dogstarmedia.com. 

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