How to create a good measurement strategy

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Many companies struggle putting together an effective digital measurement strategy, often due to the lack of resources and/or the lack of understanding how it can provide an effective return on the investment.

And it is an investment.  Generally you’ll incur people and training costs, licensing costs for the various platforms and other ongoing costs – some of which are internalised.

But you can demonstrate an ROI, that will far outweigh the costs incurred, if you spend the time and effort in putting a solid strategy together.

Digital media will continue to grow.
Our audiences are growing online.
It’s pervasive in our everyday lives.

A good digital measurement strategy should be the desire within any business to enable more precisely targeted and measured results of marketing investments.

But effective digital measurement is not plug-and-play, nor should it be plug-and-pray, even with the most sophisticated or automated tools.

We now have the capability to capture millions of customer interactions, across multiple platforms (mobile, web, video, audio etc) and use that data to garner insights into customer behaviours online, so that we can optimise how we communicate with them.

But to do so, significant planning and organisational coordination is necessary to manage the sheer volume of data produced, and then, to put this data to work throughout an organisation. In addition, different types of vertical industries use digital marketing in different ways to achieve different business goals. In other words, digital measurement strategies look different for different types of organisations and is rarely achieved overnight.

But the fundamentals remain the same, irrespective of the industry vertical.

The key elements

A good digital measurement strategy includes the following 6 key elements:

  1. Overall measurement strategy
  2. Resources and skills
  3. Data integration and visualisation
  4. Data analysis and insights
  5. Ongoing optimisation
  6. Adoption and governance

Overall Measurement Strategy

An overall measurement strategy should align to your overall business objectives.  This helps ensure all digital marketing activities contribute to your bottom line – and demonstrates the value of digital measurement to executive management.

There’s really only three things that form the foundation to the overall measurement strategy:

  1. What’re your business objectives?
  2. Who is your audience?
  3. What does success look like?

Most marketers answer those questions when they put a marketing brief together, so answering them at a higher level (the business reason for being) and converting those to a measurement strategy shouldn’t be a challenge.  There’s a lot of measures available for different verticals, but if you start here, you’ll be well on your way to defining a strategy.

If you’ve got this nailed, then you’ll have:

  • One shared, unified measurement strategy which is used throughout the organisation.
  • A defined strategy that fully aligns to your organisation’s overall objectives.
  • All digital marketing activities supporting one or more objectives.

Resources and skills

People determine the success of a digital measurement strategy: the number of employees dedicated to measurement and analysis, the resources at their disposal and their ability to troubleshoot issues and respond to requests throughout your company.

If you’ve got this down pat:

  • You have one or more resources who dedicate more than 75 % of their time supporting measurement tools.
  • They know the tools very well and infrequently makes mistakes.
  • They offer creative workarounds and solutions.
  • They work closely with the digital marketing teams (preferably integrated into their team)
  • They are a digital measurement champion within your business and have access to the executives

Data integration and visualisation

Effective digital measurement (not just of digital marketing) often requires companies to integrate multiple sources of data to create a more complete picture of their customers and business. Data integration – the passing of key values between systems – enables companies to create a more complete picture of their digital efforts.

Then there’s visualisation, which is the presentation and delivery of digital marketing data to meet the needs of different groups throughout the business.  These come in many forms, from dashboards to campaign summary reports to alerts.  The important thing here is to make sure that your recipients understand what it is they’re looking at, and, if they’re making decisions based on the data, they are interpreting it correctly.

This is commonly one of the areas where the biggest mistakes are made – misinterpreting the data.  Ensure that you don’t just report on reports…customise them to ensure that your executives have the information that they are looking for.  They probably aren’t looking for in-depth reports…they won’t have time to analyse them (that’s your job).  They’ll likely want trends and summaries.

If you’re fully onboard with digital measurement, then:

  • Your data integration plan will align with your measurement strategy and business objectives.
  • You have knowledgeable in-house staff who can integrate multiple online and offline data sources.
  • Your data from integrations provide critical views into visitor interactions with your brand.
  • Your KPIs and detailed data from multiple sources are automatically integrated in Excel or custom web applications and delivered as an interactive scorecard to key stakeholders.
  • You use custom dashboards and custom reports extensively.
  • You have formal processes for emailed and scheduled reports in place.

Data analysis and insights

Data analysis skills are essential to turn web-based data into the understanding companies need to optimise and drive smarter marketing and business decisions.

Data analysis tends to be an ad-hoc activity, usually includes segmentation and quite often requires specialised software, such as Omniture Discover.

If you’re getting really valuable and actionable insights, then you’ll likely have:

  • A visitor-centric approach to measurement, uncovering the interactions that individuals have across your brand, across multiple visits.
  • Metrics from various data sources combined to create custom KPIs that are directly related to the business (i.e. cost per site visit, support vs. call center, etc.).
  • Highly accurate data and when issues are uncovered, they are fixed in less than one business day.
  • All digital advertising tagged with campaign IDs, custom drilldown reports and event tracking by campaign ID already set up.
  • Campaign IDs managed in a database and described in multiple fields, accessible as dimensions.
  • Paid and organic search data used in custom reports, with organic search data used to optimise landing pages.
  • Specific tools configured to provide alerts.
  • Reports on social media activity and mentions.
  • Benchmarking against competition across a number of critical areas on a consistent basis.

Ongoing Optimisation

Ongoing optimisation ensures the data measurement processes that you put in place are consistently applied over time. This includes using digital measurement data to identify optimisation opportunities and test different iterations of content. Mature optimisation should span all digital marketing channels, from web sites to paid search, and include automated A/B testing of multiple marketing updates prior to implementation.

Doing this well means that you’ll:

  • Have an automated optimisation engine that uses historical and real-time data to dynamically serve site content to individuals.
  • Be optimising all forms of your digital marketing, including digital advertising, paid search, SEO and web site assets.
  • Be able to access data in a timely manner so it can guide ongoing optimisation.
  • Regularly conduct A/B/Multivariate testing before data-driven changes are made to marketing.

Adoption and governance

The final part is to ensure that measurement is adopted across everything you do.

Digital marketing data has little value unless rules are are in place to ensure its consistency and quality over time – and that it gets to the right people at the right time throughout your business. Training is essential to ensure people who need to use the data know how to – and can interpret it accurately.

Governance provides defined processes for managing various aspects of digital marketing programs, including implementation and change management, security, data and measurement consistency.

Excelling in this means that you’ll:

  • Be using measurement tools consistently within a central analytics group and by individuals within every key stakeholder group. In smaller companies, tools may be only used by a central group or individuals within every stakeholder group.
  • Share data across all levels of the organisation.
  • Be using digital marketing data pervasively to make business decisions at every level of the organisation.

Who’s responsible

Companies are.  Maybe you are, if you’re reading this.

You may need (or want to have) a central group responsible for it.  They’ll be responsible for the distribution of and insights to the data, to all levels of your organisation.  They’ll also be responsible for the platform, the implementation, the ongoing change management and so forth.

Don’t expect (or even request) your digital, or traditional, agency to be responsible for this.  That’s not what they are there for.  But, frankly, they should be asking you about measurement.  They should have a vested interest in ensuring everything they do (and especially recommend) is adding value to the bottom line.  If they’re not interested in how things are performing, you should consider another agency!

Two final thoughts

Defining your overall measurement strategy comes before selecting your measurement platform.  There’s no point in paying for a measurement platform when you don’t have the strategy in place.   You’ll find it very difficult to justify the costs if you approach it that way and you’ll likely get very little out of it.

And, finally, the data should be used pervasively across the business to make business decisions at every levels of the organisation.


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