Cross-Channel Marketing Requires a Common Metric

What marketing measure is overrated or outdated?

Direct marketing across all channels is all about generating and measuring response. Considering the many new data sources available, what marketing measure is overrated or outdated? And what’s the replacement, if any?

As with any tough question, the answer to this one is, “it depends.” There are a variety of factors that can influence measurement. For example, it depends on the goals of the campaign. It also depends on the channels that will be involved, and what data will be available, which in turn is dependent on the channels involved.

Response rate’s relevance

Much has been made of response rate as being outdated, but it may still serve a purpose. Today, many marketers aim to optimize online campaigns in a very one-to-one way. Those who do often optimize return on ad spend (ROAS) or return on marketing investment (ROMI) or some other variant. But most marketers almost always start with click-through rate (CTR), because it’s the first of many steps along the path to conversion. And, in its place higher up the funnel, it’s the response signal that accumulates to meaningful levels earliest in the campaign.

To that end, response rate is not outdated. It’s a meaningful and viable metric that should be part of every campaign. However, it is often misused. In cost per click (CPC) campaigns or when CTR is the prime metric for a campaign, the partners on the plan are being given the wrong motivation. No business is measured on clicks, likes, opens, answers, or retweets, and no marketer should confuse metrics along the funnel with the goals of the campaign.

Campaign goals are more and more frequently tied to revenue. When this happens, then the marketers, their partners, and the entire business have the same goals and the same motivations. This not the obvious challenge faced by marketers and their partners. The real test is in how one goes about attributing revenue to marketing activity. Attribution is one of the most disputed parts of this industry. Because attribution of revenue is so challenging, marketers tend to rely on more readily available metrics.

Multichannel marketing metrics

In some channels, such as outdoor or out-of-home, views are the only metric available. Print, radio, and TV have a mature support industry that provides data on audience distribution, which enables marketers to calculate gross rating points (GRPs). Mobile channels can collect data on unique views and frequency. Telemarketing measures are answers, time on call, fulfillment, and the like. Email measures, most commonly, are opens and click-throughs. Online channels not only collect data on uniques and frequency, but online advertisers can often match down-funnel actions and conversions to specific users and specific ad interactions.

Within each channel, marketers should use any data available to get the most performance from the channel. Managing cross-channel marketing activities requires a common metric that allows comparison of the various channels and ties the effect of each to the bottom line of the business. It shouldn’t be response. Response has different weights in different channels and between campaigns. Answering the phone isn’t worth the same as clicking an ad or opening an email. How should we compare getting a call back from a mailing to engagement on a landing page?

Conversion attribution is possible in most direct marketing channels, although its complexities and merits can be argued indefinitely. By measuring all the way to the close and including the value of the conversion, a well-designed attribution model is the best way to measure interactive channels such as digital, mail, and telephone. Innovators are constantly improving measurability and adding response mechanisms to all channels so that other channels may eventually be measured by direct attribution.

Thus, we come back to bottom-line value. Sales metrics are almost always available, detailed, and accurate. Starting with sales metrics, many attribution partners can help marketers attribute revenue, sales, or even profits to marketing activities in almost any channel. Certainly, these processes require a great deal of effort and detailed understanding of the mechanics operating within each channel. And, yes, the results are less than exact, but we have learned to live with GRPs and last-click attribution, and few would argue that either of those is exact.

Cross-channel marketing that is properly allocated and well coordinated is highly effective. It moves the needle. So we should all keep our eye on that needle.


Eric Bosco, ChoiceStream

Eric Bosco brings nearly 20 years of experience to his role of CEO at ChoiceStream, where he’d previously served as COO. Prior to ChoiceStream, he served as the chief product offi cer at comScore. Before that Bosco enjoyed a long and successful career at AOL, where he held senior roles including SVP of global products and U.S. Operations for AOL’s Platform-A,, and multiple roles at the parent company. At ChoiceStream Bosco is charged with helping craft creative strategies to deploy ChoiceStream’s leading personalization technology. He is especially committed to providing brands with better ways to reach consumers through personalized marketing solutions. He has an M.S. in computer science from Stanford University and a B.S. in computer science engineering from the University of Pennsylvania.

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