Listen to Einstein (or Cameron)

The phrase “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted” has been attributed to Albert Einstein — though, in fact, it has been traced to William Bruce Cameron, a noted sociologist, as the originator. While there are many situations in which Cameron’s quote quote applies, it lends itself especially well to a marketing discussion. Digital marketing can create endless streams of data which can be analyzed in a variety of ways to determine if marketing or advertising campaigns are effective. And that’s really the holy grail of marketing — measuring results and effectiveness — especially when you are looking for a return on your investment.

Success is Relative

Every measure of marketing success is relative to a reference, and every measurement must be taken in context. Let’s see how the quote above applies to marketing by picking it apart.

Not everything that can be counted, counts. Many measurements can be applied to a marketing activity, but how do you determine which measurements provide the most accurate measure of success? (For example, clicks are easy to count, but not necessarily meaningful.) Just because someone clicked on an ad doesn’t mean they were really interested or engaged. Conversions are meaningful, but they aren’t necessarily easy to count.  Demand-generation campaigns, used to create awareness and build brands, can be measured by views — but duration and unique views may be better indicators of actual interest. Lead generation, the precursor to revenue generation, can be measured by conversions, sales leads, and purchases, but it can be a lengthy journey for the buyer.

It’s also important to realize that while these are generally accepted hardcore indicators of success, there are other “squishy” success factors, such as brand awareness, goodwill, and developer community building, as well as trust building within established developer communities. And each of these can be measured.

Measuring Campaign Success

Not everything that counts can be counted. Unless there is a direct line from the developer to product purchase, the hardest measure of marketing success is the sale itself, which is why metrics are a Key Performance Indicator — and they should be part of any campaign development effort. Campaign elements such as advertising, promotion, web elements, or activity, each have an associated unit of measure, including clicks, views, conversions, and leads; however, the real measure of any campaign is ultimately the developer’s response to your call to action. It’s important to be realistic in setting expectations when developing your call to action, and it’s important that you’re not creating a campaign with the call to action as an afterthought.

Call to Action

Creating a successful call to action starts with understanding your target audience and their motivations. This is best accomplished through the creation of realistic personas. Once you’ve designated your target(s), create content that excites and engages, and has a plausible and realistic call to action. It’s important to note that audience responses are predicated on a level of trust between the advertiser and the audience. Take care to cultivate trust, and do not engage in tactics that could be received as untrustworthy or predatory. Place your content in the right context, and then measure the results.

For more information and guidance on developer advertising, the Advertising Guide by DeveloperMedia is a handy reference. You can find plenty of analytics packages on the market that will let you create dashboards to track all kinds of parameters, but it’s important not to be distracted by the data. Pick only what’s important for your needs, and focus on the call-to-action responses. Measuring the audience’s reaction to your marketing and advertising is really what counts.


A holistic approach is the best way to evaluate campaign analytics, taking  the following into account:

  • The top-level purpose of the campaign. Is it lead generation or demand generation? Are you expecting sales results, or do you want to build brand awareness?
  • What are the parameters you can measure? Which measurement best explains the results you expect?
  • What measurements will be best understood by your audience? Consider the effort needed to explain a marketing metric to a non-marketer, and adjust accordingly.
  • While there are a lot of metrics to consider, limit your measurements to 3-4 key metrics. Too many metrics will cause confusion. Clear, concise results are a measure of professionalism.


Einstein Quote Attribution

Call-to-action — Examples

Persona Development

Developer Advertising Guide

DeveloperMedia — Measuring Marketing