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Developing effective metrics takes center stage in online marketing

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New York—Marketing executives must continually devise new ways of measuring their online marketing communications or risk other executives jumping in to fill the void, according to panelists who participated in BtoB’s NetMarketing Breakfast on Wednesday.

“If marketing doesn’t set the agenda for Web metrics, somebody else will, and then it becomes a question of whether you will be able to recognize whether integrated metrics have been successful,” said Boyd Mark, trade marketing director for Microsoft Corp.

Mike Moran, distinguished engineer and manager of site architecture at IBM Corp., said metrics should provide an “early warning system” if Web marketing efforts haven’t been as successful as they can be. “Use five different [metrics] versions if you have to and find out which ones work the best,” he said. “Listen to your customers. They’re voting with their mice.”

There was some disagreement on whether it is cost-effective to use online marketing metrics that may not be fully baked. “Having some data is better than having none at all,” Moran said. “If anything, it constrains creative” from tweaking the Web site to make it look pretty without having any bearing on generating leads and sales.

But Mark stressed that there’s a “big danger” in bringing incomplete data to the table. “There may be the perception that one single approach is the best way to measure, but that one approach doesn’t give you the full picture,” he said.

Moran countered: “The danger is no worse than thinking that the guy who your CEO played golf with the other day is smart about these things.”

—Matthew Schwartz

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