7 Advanced Digital Marketing Metrics Most Brands Don’t Use, But Should

May 11, 2022 | 7 minute read
Chad S. White
Head of Research, Oracle Marketing Consulting
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What marketing metrics might you not being pay enough attention to in your marketing campaigns?

Brands are increasingly recognizing metrics like email opens, web traffic, and social media likes for what they are—surface metrics that churn wildly and are directionally noisy.

While it’s still important to track those high-level metrics, optimizing for them often doesn’t translate into deeper engagement. Indeed, sometimes maximizing those metrics leads marketers to adopt clickbait-y headlines and other tactics that erode customer trust and lead to:

  • Fatigue
  • Audience loss
  • Poor performance

To get better aligned with both their customers and long-term business goals, more marketers are adopting a range of advanced analytics and performance metrics. Let’s talk about some of the ones that our experts at Oracle Marketing Consulting most frequently use with our clients.

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This is a measurement of whether an individual’s engagement with your email, SMS, loyalty, or social media channel is accelerating or decelerating, indicating that they’re probably in-market or disengaging, respectively. This will naturally ebb and flow over time depending on where the customer is in their lifecycle. Being aware of this metric can allow you to respond effectively to these changes.

The trick is to determine which ebbs are okay and which ones are warning signs of something else going on, says Clint Kaiser, Head of Analytic & Strategic Services at Oracle Marketing Consulting.

“For example, right after a promotional signup, you’d expect some acceleration—unless the signup occurred during checkout,” he says. “And after a purchase, it can decelerate or accelerate depending on the product purchased and the related product mix available to complement it.”

Marketers can use velocity to power segmented campaigns and in selecting their active emailing audience, allowing them to get more campaigns in front of those with accelerating velocity and fewer in front of those with decelerating velocity.

Average weekly frequency 

Brands generally have a good sense of how many campaigns they’re sending their audience on average. However, when you track average weekly frequency at the individual level, you see the effects of sending segmented campaigns and setting up action-triggered campaigns.

“In particular, take a look at how many campaigns your most active customers are receiving,” says Peter Briggs, Director of Analytic & Strategic Services, Oracle Marketing Consulting. “Chances are you’ll be surprised by how many communications they’re getting.”

While your most engaged audience members should be getting more touches, it shouldn’t get out of control because more isn’t necessarily better. Consider re-examining your message hierarchy to make sure that less valuable campaigns aren’t diluting your most valuable ones.

For example, if someone browses a product page and then leaves, but soon returns and puts that product in their cart and then leaves, that person should only receive a cart abandonment email and not a browse abandonment email.

You should examine the behaviors of your abandoners to determine how long is reasonable to wait after an abandonment to send these emails. In both cases, subscribers shouldn’t receive them immediately (except for perhaps on high-stakes days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday).

You might also consider suppressing subscribers who receive a cart abandonment from your promotional mailings, so those lower-value campaigns aren’t potentially distracting those subscribers from that higher-value abandonment campaign.

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Click reach

This is the percentage of your audience that has clicked at least one of your campaigns during a period of time. Brands often track this over multiple time windows, such as their click reach over the past 1, 6, and 12 months.

“I’ve been working with a number of clients lately on click reach, which they sometimes refer to as engaged per contacted,” says Briggs. “This metric cuts through a lot of the campaign-level metric noise and lets you see the engagement health of your list. Recently, it has really showcased the massive drop in unique customer channel engagements following the launch of Mail Privacy Protection by Apple.”

See how a customer data platform (CDP) might help with challenges created by Apple Mail Protection Privacy.

Revenue per subscriber

This is the amount of revenue that your email, SMS, loyalty, or social media channel generates per subscriber. This metric controls for increases or decreases in your audience size and allows you to see audience productivity in terms of per subscriber contributions that topline program revenue numbers might otherwise hide.

Revenue per subscriber could also be measured longitudinally like click reach, says Kaiser.

“For instance, if you look at revenue/subscriber for month one, year one, year two, and so on,” he says, “you can measure that trend pattern to understand the effectiveness of your program during different periods of time on the list and how it’s changing. Then you can use the changes in those data points diagnostically. For example, if revenue/subscriber starts falling during the first-month period, that’s a signal to investigate and reassess your onboarding and other program elements that impact early engagement. ”

Lifetime value (LTV)

This is the total average profitability of an individual subscriber. In the age of customer-centricity, lifetime value is an increasingly important metric because it focuses on maximizing your customers' value rather than that of your campaigns. Just like maximizing opens doesn’t always maximize clicks and other down-funnel behaviors, maximizing campaign value doesn’t always maximize lifetime value.

If you’re growing lifetime value, you’re either getting customers to increase their rate of spending or keeping them engaged longer, or both. If it’s falling, customers are investing less money or time in your brand—a trend you’ll want to reverse.

Also, pay extra attention to your high–lifetime value segments, says Kaiser.

“Are they growing or declining? If the latter, investigate why and change your messaging, personalization, segmentation, and other strategies to reverse the trend.” He adds, “You can also use this segment as an input for look-alikes in customer acquisition efforts.”

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Acquisition cost per subscriber

This measures the average expense associated with gaining one new email, SMS, loyalty, or social media subscriber. Those might include the cost of:

Comparing your cost per subscriber to your revenue per subscriber allows you to see your net revenue per subscriber. Clearly, you want that number to be positive. And ideally, you’d also like for it to be expanding by either reducing your acquisition cost per subscriber or increasing your revenue per subscriber, if not both.

By comparing your cost per subscriber to your lifetime value, you can see your net profit per subscriber. Beyond that top-level calculation, this calculation becomes particularly insightful when you use it to examine individual audience acquisition sources.

Check out our Audience Acquisition Source Ideas to Explore checklist for inspiration.

“Doing that work allows you to identify which acquisition sources are driving the highest net value subscribers and which are not—or may be costing you money, or perhaps causing most of your hard bounces or spam complaints,” says Kaiti Gary, Senior Director of Analytic & Strategic Services, Oracle Marketing Consulting. “Strategically, that’s golden information. It tells you which productive sources you should invest in optimizing further and which ones you should deemphasize or potentially even abandon.”

Return on investment

This is a measure of how profitable your email, SMS, loyalty, or social media marketing program has been over a period of time. ROI is also commonly used to measure the profitability of a project or initiative, such as a new automated campaign or a preference center update.

“An ideal ROI calculation at the campaign level would factor in all costs associated with creating and sending the campaign,” says Briggs. “This would include:

  1. Platform costs
  2. Average production costs (i.e., headcount, hours, etc.), and
  3. The financial impact of opt-outs generated by the campaign, which would ideally come from universal control group learnings.

Incorporating these three costs often tells a much different story about a campaign than just looking at revenue per email.”

If you’re trying to calculate the ROI of all of your channel efforts, you’ll want to mirror those calculations, but on a program-wide scale. Knowing the return you’re getting on your marketing investments across channels allows your company to make better decisions about where to invest next. It can also allow channel owners to make stronger arguments for larger budgets.

Marketers tend to overemphasize the metrics that are easy to measure. Typically that undermines their business goal by depriving them of the deep, impactful data they need to make strategic decisions. Get the audience insights you need by investing the resources needed to measure some of these advanced metrics.

Need help improving your analytics? Oracle Marketing Consulting has more than 500 of the leading marketing minds ready to help you to achieve more with the leading marketing cloud, including Performance Reporting Services and Analytic & Strategic Services teams that can help you gain better visibility into your digital marketing performance and understand how to improve it.

Talk to your Oracle account manager, visit us online, or reach out to us at CXMconsulting_ww@Oracle.com.

Subscribe to the Oracle Marketing Consulting newsletter for the latest on campaign best practices, how to use your metrics, and tips on connecting with customers.




Chad S. White

Head of Research, Oracle Marketing Consulting

Chad S. White is the Head of Research at Oracle Marketing Consulting and the author of four editions of Email Marketing Rules and nearly 4,000 posts about digital and email marketing. A former journalist, he’s been featured in more than 100 publications, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Advertising Age. Chad was named the ANA's 2018 Email Marketer Thought Leader of the Year. Follow him on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Mastodon.

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