Brand Building

5 Unique Marketing Metrics To Help Differentiate Your Brand

This is a great time of year to reset your marketing goals and metrics, especially in the face of continuing digital transformation and business acceleration. Dave Lavinsky, president of Guiding Metrics, shares these five key digital metrics that are definitely worth focusing on (1):

* Number of New Leads
* Conversion Rate from Leads to Sales
* Cost Per Advertising Conversion
* Top Converting Emails
* Contribution Margin

However, in this challenging environment, if you want marketing results that drive customer loyalty and set you apart from the competition, then you and your team will need to go beyond these key digital metrics and start concentrating on things that your competition doesn’t even pay attention to. With that in mind, here are five differentiated marketing metrics to consider adding to your standard roster of KPIs, conversion rates, and cost per clicks.

1. ROI: Return on Interesting
If you want to be interesting to your customers, be interested in them. What sorts of things do they find to be incredibly interesting, helpful, and timely? Focus on delivering quality content, tools, and products that keep your customers engaged and make it easy for them to achieve their particular needs and goals. If you want outstanding results, you will need to stand out.

2. CIQ: Customer Intelligence Quotient
Interesting content is directly linked to having a high Customer Intelligence Quotient. CIQ is not about finding smarter customers; rather, it’s about you getting smarter about them. How do you know what customers really want? To answer that question, you will need to dramatically up your CIQ level. Hopefully you are tracking new leads as they show up — either from your marketing automation efforts, the sales team, referrals, or even happy acts of serendipity. Regardless of the channel by which new leads arrive, make sure to lavish them with attention once they have expressed interest. But remember, the goal is not to automate your outbound conversation to them, but exactly the opposite: how quickly can you get to know and understand their likes, dislikes, interests, and motivations?

For the most part, your customers don’t care about your content or your brand positioning, and certainly not your KPIs. They want to know if you can help them, and how quickly. If you are too busy burying customers with automated content then you won’t ever learn how to really help them. Architect your marketing automation engine as a platform for gleaning detailed customer insights. Pay attention not just to how many new leads you get — but also to how quickly you are learning about them. What is your CIQ? How quickly can you improve it?

3. MVA: Most Valuable Assets
What content and campaigns are working really well and for what audiences? What types of content are your customers returning for again and again? These Most Valuable Assets (MVAs) should be promoted, celebrated, studied, and repurposed — especially as you look to attract new customers. Fortunately, thanks to a host of increasingly powerful SEO tools, it is now possible learn a tremendous amount about your potential new customers long before they even show up on your site.  Customers are searching on ever more specific terms; and thanks to changes in the Google search algorithm, they are receiving search results much more closely aligned to the explicit and even the implicit details of their search. This means you can closely align your existing MVAs to specific search terms and even start creating new MVAs based on search patterns to reach these potential customers.

According to Simon Penson, founder of Zazzle Media these changes to search behavior and results: “appear to be reshaping the traditional long-tail curve we all know so well. That’s a noteworthy shift. With another client of ours, we have seen a 135% increase in the number of pages receiving traffic from search, delivering a 98% increase in overall organic traffic because of it. The primary factor behind this rise is the creation of the right content to take advantage of this changing marketplace.”(2)









Image source:

In the graph above, the large gray area represents the New Curve, where you can create entirely new types of niche, targeted, high-performing assets that are now discoverable via more precise and powerful search algorithms.

4. CES: Customer Effort Score
Recent studies have shown that customers place high value on companies that make interactions easier. According to the Harvard Business Review, “When it comes to service, companies create loyal customers primarily by helping them solve their problems quickly and easily.”(3) This approach of minimizing customer effort and reducing confusion yields powerful results. “The easier a brand makes the purchase-decision journey, the higher its decision-simplicity score. Brands that scored in the top quarter in our study were 86% more likely than those in the bottom quarter to be purchased by the consumers considering them. They were 9% more likely to be repurchased and 115% more likely to be recommended to others.”(4)

Decision simplicity in the online environment is measured by an intuitive user experience, text and images that are readily understandable, and an appropriate tone and literacy level. Don’t place the cognitive burden on your customers for figuring things out. They’ve already got enough other things to think about. Keep things simple, lower their effort level, and customers will respond.

5. LCE: Loyal Customer Engagement
Providing valuable products and targeted, timely content, making the small things easy, and eliminating annoying interactions is the baseline for attracting and keeping customers. But, to be truly successful in business (as in life), you need to shower the people you love with love. This means knowing exactly who your best and most loyal customers are, and then going above and beyond to make sure that they not only remain customers, but also buy even more from you. Marketing strategist Fred Reichheld writes in his book The Loyalty Effect that “a 5% improvement in customer retention rates will yield between a 25% to 100% increase in profits across a wide range of industries.”

Don’t be afraid to focus your marketing efforts on existing customers. Customer engagement guru Stan Phelps observes that “tell and sell marketing no longer works. Today’s consumer is empowered. Empowered to find their own information, empowered to share their opinions and empowered to avoid marketing. Brands need to find ways to leverage their most important asset: current customers.”(5) Research by Gartner backs up the importance of focusing on existing customers. “Customers don’t just want access to support or basic account management, but also frequent contact, tailored offers, white papers and other things that should be coming from product marketing and management rather than sales.”(6)

How much content do you create just for existing customers? What percentage of your online engagement originates from your best customers? How often do key opinion leaders share your content? Targeting and activating your best customers with tailored marketing assets not only helps to maintain and grow those accounts, but also impacts their wider network, influencing smaller customers as well as potential new customers.

While it’s critical to track metrics such as number of new leads, conversion rate from leads to sales and top converting emails, these types of metrics will only take you so far. To take your marketing to the next level, it’s time to start creating a set of metrics that provide unique and detailed insights about the core of your customer’s behavior. These insights will allow you to stand out from the competition. As we have seen, these five metrics are a great place to start:

1. ROI: Return on Interesting

2. CIQ: Customer Intelligence Quotient

3. MVA: Most Valuable Assets

4. CES: Customer Effort Score

5. LCE: Loyal Customer Engagement




1. Lavinsky, D. (2015). 5 Critical Digital Marketing Metrics Every Business Should Have.

2. Penson, S. (2015). Off with Your Head Terms: Leveraging Long-Tail Opportunity with Content.

3. Dixon, M., Freeman, K., & Toman, N. (July-August, 2010). Stop Trying to Delight Your Customers. Harvard Business Review.

4. Spenner, P., & Freeman, K. (May, 2012) To Keep Your Customers, Keep It Simple. Harvard Business Review.

5. Phelps, S. Five customer-centric marketing lessons from Apple to Zappos. (2014, August 18).

6. Berkowitz, T. Why companies need to market – and not just sell – to existing customers. (2014, March 6).


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Jim Walker

Jim Walker

Jim Walker is Director, Marketing Strategy at Cadient, a Cognizant Company. Jim provides innovative marketing insights for a wide range of clients, as well as leading Cadient’s content marketing strategy. He is particularly interested in helping brand teams effectively leverage their digital content. He can be reached at
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