Be sure to decide on a platform after you've got the right people, have a purpose to your measurement, and a process wherein you'll generate marketing success.
Sometimes it's helpful to have simple reminders about what's important in a complex process.
The "4 Ps" of digital analytics represent one such reminder.
It helps you understand both the key elements in a successful digital analytics effort as well as the relative importance (and sequence) of each item.
There's a reason it's a list and not an array. One comes first. One comes last.
That's the sequence and the relative importance of these critical elements. Notice that "people" comes first, and "platform" comes last.
Many companies fail by focusing on "platform" while ignoring either some or all of the first three elements of success. They fall victim to sales pitches from platform vendors who want to tell them it's their tool only that will solve the problem, no matter the environment.
Make no mistake: you absolutely need a platform. But you decide what that is after you've got the right people, have a purpose to your measurement, and a process wherein you'll generate marketing success. Then, and only then, should you add the platform.
The best platforms will be able to adapt to your people, purpose, and process; the lesser ones will have restrictions and will need to attempt to impose process, purpose, and sometimes even people; these should be seen as weaknesses in the offering, rather than features.
The best tools are adaptable and powerful, and can be configured by people who have a purpose and process.
People: Who's going to understand how to do all this? People are. Expertise is the first essential ingredient. Minus this, the rest is for naught.
Purpose: What do you want? You have to know what you want to know and what you would do about it if you knew it, before you decide what to measure and with what platform. Some folks call it KPIs, but that's really just the half of it. The other half is the "doing something." It's equally important.
Process: How are you going to do this over and over? Think about something like this: define, measure, analyze, change, and measure again. It's a virtuous cycle of improvement. Implemented properly it should look like an upward-charging spiral of better and better marketing.
Platform: Once you know the above, go out into the marketplace and find out which tool matches your requirements best. These days, especially in multi-channel or convergence analytics, there are probably a hundred vendors to look at. They range from all-encompassing suites that want you to marry them and deploy everywhere, all the time; to point-solutions that elegantly solve a single part of the problem (and then you can cobble it with other elegant point solutions).
The most important part is understanding the sequence. First, you need people who know what they are doing. Then, those folks should determine what you want to know, and what you will do about what you find out. After that, your smart people need to settle on a process, the broad outlines of which are easy to discern. Finally, they need to locate a tool or set of tools to accomplish their goals.
And your expert people then need to take responsibility for the entire effort looking much more like an upward-vaulting spiral than a lazy doodle.
Image on home page via Shutterstock.
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Andrew is a digital marketing executive with 20 years' experience servicing the enterprise customer. Currently he is Managing Partner at Efectyv Digital, a digital marketing consulting company, and Managing Partner at Technology Leaders, a web analytics consulting firm he founded in 2002. He combines extensive technical knowledge with a broad strategic understanding of digital marketing and especially digital measurement, plus hands-on creative in the form of the written word, user-experience and traditional design.
His practice is dedicated to building customers' digital marketing success and helping them save money during the process.
He is a writer, a public speaker and a visual artist as well.
His book "Digital is Destroying Everything—and What Comes Next" will be published by Pearson in the Spring of 2014. He writes a regular column about Analytics for ClickZ, the 2013 Online Publisher of the Year. He wrote the groundbreaking "Dawn of Convergence Analytics" report which was featured at the SES show in New York, and the second report in the series will be featured at the same show in San Francisco.
In addition to speaking at SES, he has presented at eMetrics; and his session was voted one of the top ten presentations at the DMA show in Las Vegas. He is speaking again at the DMA in Chicago in the fall of 2013.
In 2004 Andrew co-founded the Digital Analytics Association and is currently a Director Emeritus. He has designed analytics training curricula for business teams and has led seminars on digital marketing subjects.
He was also an Adjunct Professor at The Pratt Institute where he taught Advanced Computer Graphics for 3 years. Andrew is also an award-winning, nationally exhibited painter.
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