There’s a debate in the baseball world around one very conventional statistic: Pitcher wins and losses.

For decades, both fans and team executives have looked to this metric as a key indicator of a pitcher’s value. And while most have all but abandoned pitcher wins as any kind of meaningful indicator of pitching performance, it remains a part of a game’s official scoring and has prominence for many old-school baseball fans.

Here’s the basic problem with the stat: A pitcher has no control over his team’s offensive output. He could lose a game by a score of 1-0 and he could win a game by a score of 10-9 — in other words, earning a win for a performance nine times worse than the game for which he received a black-mark in the loss column.

In much the same way, when it comes to marketing, many businesses still cling to ‘sacred cow’ conventional metrics. Maybe your clients are this way — perhaps their previous marketing agency or in-house marketing person was fixated on one of these metrics (like pageviews or raw leads). How do you get your client to instead pay attention to more meaningful marketing metrics?

Clearly, constantly delineate between marketing conversion types

Obviously, conversion types vary greatly in quality. If someone downloads a white paper from your client’s website, that’s great — you’ve got another prospect you can nurture.

But it’s obviously way more valuable when someone fills out a form requesting a consultation from your client’s business. So, if you have any kind of lead-scoring in place for your client, the consultation form will dwarf the white paper download in terms of points ascribed to the conversion.

But what about an inbound phone call to your client’s business — one that inquires about pricing, or results in a booked appointment? How does this compare with a form fill?

Getting your clients in the habit of immediately recognizing the difference between conversion types will give them more certainty about the ROI your agency is providing. And being able to put the spotlight on the most valuable conversions you’re generating is ultimately better than diluting your reporting by emphasizing high-funnel, low-value conversions.

Don’t be afraid of anecdotal proofpoints to give life to marketing metrics

In some circles, ‘anecdotal’ may as well begin with a scarlet-colored ‘A.’ But anecdotes can often be powerful to your clients, who may struggle to grasp quality while sifting through a sterile data set.

When you can storytell — proving that a particular campaign produced a particular customer — your clients are more likely to connect the dots between your agency’s work and their growth as a business. Agencies are using CallRail do this every day, and can quickly sort calls by keywords spotted or Call Highlights and send them over to their clients in order to demonstrate the impact of a campaign or sales script they’ve designed.

John Gosselin, co-founder and CEO of Boston-based agency Earn More Do Less, spoke with us about just that last year:

“CallRail has allowed us to say, ‘Hey, listen, we know how to bring in leads and improve your processes.’ And now we have transparent measurables that go beyond simple vanity metrics. The sugar-spike-high marketing data that every business gets but might not understand –– CallRail brings that to life. There’s no theory with CallRail. It is all real data you can sink your teeth into, and there’s always plenty of meat on the bone.”

Read more: Earn More Do Less helps client capture 400% more calls with CallRail

Actually talk about the marketing metrics that really matter! Get clear (and stay clear) on client business goals

Maybe this is obvious, but “we need a better website” and “we need help with our Google Ads campaigns” are not goals. If you can dive deep with your clients to understand their strategic business goals, your agency will easily provide infinitely more value than you would facelifting a website or re-optimizing Google Ads campaigns. You could also improve client retention, by directly tying your activities to their core business goals.

Here’s how that might work.

Let’s say your client is an optometrist with three locations around town. And let’s say two primary business goals for the upcoming year are increasing booked appointments at their newest (and slowest) office, as well as moving more merchandise across all of their locations.

Working backward from those goals, it wouldn’t make too much sense to prioritize pageviews as a KPI. Similarly, it would be odd to report on social media followers to this client, though both of these metrics may very well augment your core efforts.

Let’s instead isolate these goals and consider how you might be able to support them.

Goal 1: Increase booked appointments to a particular location

To support this goal, your marketing agency is likely to run some geo-targeted paid advertising on Google and Facebook, focusing on a five- or seven-mile radius around the office you’re hoping to boost with more business.

Prospects who click through on these ads might book an appointment through your client’s website. And if that’s the case, it’s obviously important to set up attribution for booked appointments.

Many prospects will probably also call into your client’s business after clicking through on one of these paid ads and perusing their website. If so, it will be critical to set up call tracking to make sure you’re capturing these prospects, too, and getting credit for them.

When it comes to reporting, you should be able to provide an exact number of booked appointments your paid campaigns produced. You could also provide a figure for Cost Per Lead by dividing total spend by appointments booked online, plus appointments booked via inbound call. (Pro tip: You can do this right inside CallRail, without having to cobble together reports from various sources.)

And, for extra credit, you could further support this client goal by creating an answering script for office staff across all locations that helps them guide callers to the target location, highlighting the schedule openness and, perhaps, its convenient location. You could be sure you were writing something useful by listening to call recordings and browsing the keywords spotted and Call Highlights reports in CallRail.

Read more: How Seattle-based agency FreeGren uses CallRail to help with sales coaching and deepen client relationships

Goal 2: Sell more merchandise

Selling more merchandise may seem like a difficult goal for a digital marketing agency to support, especially if your optometrist client doesn’t have a great e-commerce solution. The simplest way for the business to chip away at this goal is probably through merchandising and sales training for the office staff, and it’s likely that neither activity is among your agency’s core competencies.

However, your agency is probably already highly familiar with something that will definitely boost sales: Email marketing.

Perhaps your agency could design a new email template for your client’s general drip campaign, which includes a ‘spectacle highlight.’ Or maybe you could set up a campaign which emailed patients exactly one year after their last glasses purchase with messaging that encouraged them to get familiar with new styles before their next appointment.

For these activities, you could report on open rates and click-through rates as the KPIs that support the client’s particular business goal.

Getting your client to focus on marketing metrics like these, rather than vanity metrics, will help to make your agency more indispensable. And effort like this goes a long way towards showing how each activity your agency pursues is not arbitrary, but rather closely tailored to your client’s specific goals.

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