Creating a Culture of Analysis? Start with the Creative Brief

Successful, data-driven organizations understand the behavior and attitudes of their customers; and they judge the effectiveness of their marketing campaigns against them. So why are some companies successful at achieving this level of sophistication when others are not?

Whenever we enter a Web engagement, we can usually tell how data-driven an organization is by the first thing we see: the creative brief. Some companies begin their initiatives with an eye on analytics. Other do not.

So how’s a data-driven brief different? The first point is that in many ways, it isn’t. Core messaging, campaign concepts, and company and brand descriptions are similar to those found in every company’s creative requirements. But there are a number of extra sections that set a data-driven brief apart.

Components of a data-driven brief

A data-driven brief ensures a campaign focuses on achieving clearly defined brand or business goals. It’s not a straitjacket for online creative, but it should act as a guideline to keep everyone aware of the campaign objectives.

Some important questions the creative brief usually includes are:

  • Who are we targeting? Data-driven organizations tend to know exactly who they want to reach and how to measure the effectiveness of their communications.
  • What do we want to accomplish? This may seem an obvious point, but you should set reasonable benchmarks for the success of any initiative.
  • How does the campaign strategy map to the larger digital strategy? That’s right, you should be clear on what the overall strategy is for your digital channel, and how this particular initiative supports it.
  • What are the campaign offers? If you’re offering something (and most campaigns do) be aware of what those offers are, and be prepared to measure their effectiveness.

Creative brief metrics

In addition to being clear on these particular points, add an extra section to your brief that outlines the metrics you hope to achieve with the initiative. You should try to include at least the following:

  • Baseline measurements of key metrics In other words, the creative brief should state how the company or site is doing before the campaign starts, as well as average industry metrics.
  • Goals and success metrics You’ll also want a metrical description of what success looks like. These goals should be reasonably aggressive.
  • ROI estimate If possible, the creative brief should try to estimate the overall financial impact of the initiative. This may not always be easy if the objective of the campaign doesn’t directly include revenue, but you should eventually work to understand how every user behavior affects your bottom line.
  • Customer satisfaction and attitudinal study insights In addition to purely financial considerations, you may want to measure the emotional or other impact of an initiative. If a shoe company specializing in sports is trying to move into high-end fashion, for example, it will want to conduct surveys before and after a campaign to see if customer perception has changed.
  • Motivation for the creative team to achieve goals Some very data-driven organizations also build team motivation right into the brief. This can include financial or other incentives to make sure goals are met.

While there are other ways you can ensure a brief is informed by analytics, by following these guidelines you should be well on your way to building a data-driven organization.

How are you writing your briefs? E-mail me, or even send me a sample. I may include it in an upcoming column.

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