There's a big misconception that to know the true value of something, you must track it, that success lays solely in the outcome of very specific numbers.
But what happens when metrics no longer match the opportunity at hand? When innovation surpasses our current understanding of what works? What are we to do as innovators?
After a certain point, numbers become a distraction. Their purpose fulfilled, a new metric is needed. But to venture into the space of limited data or new metrics brings about a very real fear in marketers, entrepreneurs, and business owners alike.
What if we fail? Where is the security or proof?
The reality is that there are things you inherently cannot track but that are still linked to the most powerful sales tool that ever existed: emotion.
How do you measure a kiss? And how many kisses lead to a marriage? What is the metric for magic, for human emotion, the very substance for all things great? Those instantaneous, irreplaceable moments where an authentic connection occurs, the one that grows an already deepening relationship.
These are the moments people most covet and equally fear, but this is the exact metric for greatness, brands and people alike.
This type of marketing was once thought to not exist in the digital space, but it does. It exists in a big way.
When the online store-builder company Shopify approached The Domino Project, Seth Godin's publishing startup, this past winter to team up for their second annual Build a Business Contest, I was thrilled. Their goal of creating a safe and inspirational digital space for budding entrepreneurs was benevolent and innovative. And there wasn't talk of ROI.
There wasn't the question of, "For every dollar we spend for a copy of Godin's book Poke the Box, how many new acquisitions will be made?" Their goal was simple: to build a relationship and to do so through unmatched generosity and education.
The new wave of marketing, with all the talk of likes and tweets, really whittles down to one thing: basic, human connection. It comes down to trust, guidance, and authenticity. Shopify gets that the same way that our magazine partners at Squidoo do.
No longer are click-throughs as an isolated metric relevant. The better and perhaps more difficult question to ask is, why would anyone want to talk about you? I'll give you a hint: It isn't because of your latest banner ad.
[Image: Flickr user mcknoell]