At the past few events where I've spoken to marketing practitioners, I continue to make the statement that it has never been a more exciting time to be a marketing or public relations professional. Why so exciting? We've never had so many tools and tactics to reach our target audiences at our fingertips. We also have an unprecedented amount of data to shift our execution from "gut feel" to data-driven. But before we can dive into new tools and start to use data to improve our programs, a critical yet frequently missed first step is to conduct measurement planning. Today I wanted to share thoughts on just some of the key actions your organization (or agency) should conduct during the planning process.
Outline What You Want to Measure, Both Objectives and KPIs
This is really the first step: what does success look like to your business? Get as specific as possible. If you are reading this, you're probably in marketing and your answer was likely revenue generated from marketing initiatives. If you said yes to this, awesome, you're spot on and your marketing professor is likely applauding you. Now, go further: what tactics do you plan to implement to generate revenue, and how do they accomplish this? What does success look like (X percent increase in Y tactic)? Create a matrix outlining it, along with the key performance indicators (KPIs) that map back to revenue. For example, more (relevant and engaged) website visitors leads to more micro and macro conversions, which leads to more revenue. Or, a larger (opt-in) email list of excited users equals more click-throughs to landing pages for un-missable content, giving your sales team more prospects to work with. Or, a larger community in social leads to more re-sharing and clicks of your content back to your social hub, which leads to improvements across organic marketing metrics. Outlining metrics is key, as it will guide your use of setting goals in analysis tools. As Avinash likes to say, "If you ain't got goals, you ain't got nothin'!"
Before Implementing Any Tools, Ask Tough Questions
Until you know precisely what it is you wish to accomplish, it is premature to start testing out tools or shopping vendors. Different tools have different strengths and flexibility (not to mention costs and user preference). There is a lot that goes into selection of the right measurement tool, but really it comes down to the questions that matter to you first: can the tool easily (and in an automated fashion) measure the metrics you care about? Can you get the support you need (or for free tools, are there qualified consultants available)? Does the tool integrate with your other initiatives/digital systems (web, app, POS, and beyond)? How easy is it to customize reports and segment data? Be sure to ask all the tough questions (both internally with your own analyst and externally with a vendor) first.
Have a Reporting/Analysis Plan With Specific Dates/Deliverables
Now that you have your objectives down, your marketing plan complete, the KPIs associated with your programs established, and you know what tools you're planning to use and how you're going to integrate them, you need a plan to actually start using the data. Ideally, you have an analyst resource on your team focused on delivering the right reports, insights, and actions to their appropriate stakeholders and evangelizing data to those in your organization. This last point is important: it's still not enough to assume people will act on data unless you make it clear what actions your team members should take and get everyone excited about actually implementing recommendations. Data-driven decision-making is undoubtedly the future, but it's still new territory for many. Having a plan and process here will help everyone get comfortable and value metrics appropriately, and the right leadership is key.
While the above is just a primer on measurement planning and the actual steps you take will vary based on your organization and resources, the point is planning is the key first step in measurement. As simple as it may be to actually implement a tool, it's ensuring you use it effectively as an ongoing part of your marketing that makes the difference.
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Adam Singer is Analytics Advocate at Google, a marketing, media and PR industry speaker, startup adviser and blogger. He previously was digital director for a 300+ person global consulting team and over the course of his career has provided online marketing strategy for B2B & B2C brands in a variety of industries including marketing technology, healthcare, manufacturing, advertising/subscription-based web startups, and much in between. Singer and his campaigns have been cited by top media outlets such as TechCrunch, AdWeek, NY Times and more for creative use of digital marketing and PR. Singer blogs at The Future Buzz - an award-winning blog with more than 25K subscribers and frequently-referenced source of what's new in digital marketing.
March 19, 2014