An obsession with numbers

Numbers by stewf on flickr

Numbers by stewf on flickr

Why are marketing people so obsessed by numbers and measurability? Especially with large numbers which are often assumed to be better than small ones. This obsession clouds judgment and so we seldom stop to think much about those numbers, what they stand for and even to understand what a good number looks like, and we often measure what we can measure rather than what is meaningful to measure.

In broadcast media planning we look at Gross Rating Points (GRP) and opportunities to see and audience numbers, in Search Engine Marketing (SEM) we want to drive  people to our website, and we are looking for unique visitors and conversion rates, on twitter we are looking for followers – the more the merrier.

But do these particular numbers have any real relevance? I understand the need for a large audience if you are flighting a TV ad, if say only 20% of people notice the ad its better that its 20% of the largest possible number. The same goes for SEM driving as many unique visitors as possible to the site, really for the same reason.

But this assumes that the purchase process is a linear one (steo by step from awareness to sale) which increasingly its not (The new customer Journey : The OPEN Brand), it also assumes that the objective, the end of the purchase journey is THIS sale instead of this and all possible future and related sales.

Furthermore If the major task of marketing is idea diffusion then do the numbers matter?

I don’t think they do, I would rather have 100 of the right people engaging with me, on my site or wherever, my customers about whom I am passionate about or people who could be passionate about my product and influential enough to spread the word, than 100 000 randoms. In this case 100 is a far better number than 100 000.

The numbers that would make sense would measure the quality of our engagement and the quality of the interaction.

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Posted on September 25, 2009 at 10:05 am by Walter Pike · Permalink
In: Advertising, internet, Marketing, social media · Tagged with: , , ,