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 V. Edwards is a digital marketing executive with 20 years of experience serving large organizations, and has been an operating executive and digital marketing consultant since the 1980s. Currently he is a partner at Efectyv Digital, a digital analytics consulting firm. Andrew combines extensive technical knowledge with a broad strategic understanding of digital marketing and especially digital measurement, plus hands-on creative in the form of writing and design.
In 2004 Edwards 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.
Besides writing a regular column about analytics for ClickZ, Andrew wrote the groundbreaking "Dawn of Convergence Analytics" report, which was featured at the SES show in New York (2013).
His book Digital Is Destroying Everything, published by Rowman & Littlefield, will be released on June 15, 2015.
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12:00pm ET/9:00am PT