The last couple of months have been both busy and insightful.
Two of the projects I have been working on sit firmly in the evaluation and measurement space. One around developing a measurement framework to support digital marketing and one around a series of workshops focusing on overall marketing effectiveness – across owned, earned and bought media.
Both for big organisations and both facing fairly similar challenges.
I’d like to rehearse three immediate take-outs from working in this area.
Develop a framework around brand, direct and ROI
One that defines the outcomes and overall impact of specific marketing programmes within the context of the limitations that exist around specific types of activity and their evaluation.
Where brand communications are concerned they affect things like overall awareness of the brand, perceptions of the brand and the extent to which the brand is ‘front of mind’ across the target audience. It is however much more difficult to develop a robust model around ROI for above the line activity. Broadcast channels work to create awareness and change perceptions rather than necessarily generate direct sales. They also create an associated ‘halo’ effect that supports other channels.
Where direct and digital marketing activity is concerned it is possible to create a measurement model that derives ROI for each specific area of activity. One based on a clear definition of business objectives, specific goals, key metrics and appropriate targets. Attribution to specific channels is of course challenging and something that brands continue to wrestle with.
Audit your current evaluation and measurement activities
Most organisations are already undertaking a significant amount of evaluation and measurement across the marketing programmes they are running. However, what often happens is that the insight and knowledge created through this work is not shared across the business and joined up in a way that can help solve the problems the business is facing.
An audit of current evaluation and measurement programmes within the context of the framework discussed above provide a really good starting point for identifying where the gaps in evaluation and measurement lie.
Becoming a data driven business is an opportunity and a challenge
The opportunity is clear – improved strategic and operational decision-making which is based on the facts, customer insight and a clear understanding around what is working and what is not. Ultimately that equates to becoming more customer-centric and responsive to your customers needs and wants. Brilliant.
Of course that might not always line up with the politics, stakeholder opinions or even what HIPPO (the highest paid person’s opinion) is saying. The chances are it will also highlight some uncomfortable realities that, in the face of the facts, need to be confronted and cannot be ignored. This can be challenging.
Smart businesses and organisations build on the tension this creates in a positive way. Where numbers and opinions collide it can certainly go a long way to driving a useful and productive conversation across business leaders, senior management and the teams they work with.
Tags: evaluation, measurement, ROI
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Well over a year ago I was looking at digital trends and it struck me how many of the very same trends I had been musing about the year previously still applied one year later. Whilst fundamental and revolutionary change kept cropping up in our conversations so did the application of simple, well-understood and unifying themes. It really felt like digital was growing up.
That represents an interesting time for an industry that, whilst wholeheartedly supporting a ‘test and learn’ approach, also evangelises each individual step forward only to then find fault in it and then shoot it down in flames. Well you know what I mean. No wonder our CFOs and Finance Directors are skeptical!
At the same time we are starting to develop models around maturity that describe what is happening in our organisations and marketing departments from a development and process point of view. Here is one by MarketingSherpa around Strategic Social Media Marketing (Note to self – sponsored by facebook!). It provides a useful roadmap that charts the progression from trialing a new tool, technology or channel through the development of specific guidelines to a more strategic phase where appropriate governance and management processes are put in place. It points out the critical role that the development of a fit for purpose measurement framework plays. One that supports the calculation of channel-specific ROI in the kind of terms that the CFO or Financial Director understands.
That is exactly where a lot of the organisations and businesses I am working with are. They absolutely understand that the customer journey is becoming increasingly complex and they are already implementing measurement models that move beyond just visibility and conversion. They are developing a set of appropriate metrics based on customer engagement in the pursuit of a better understanding around what is actually happening across that sometimes grey area between brand awareness and a sale.
What is clear however, is that this story is far from complete. In almost every case the link between what are essentially digital outputs and those business outcomes which really matter is far less clear than it could be. Let’s be honest. Whilst the CMO or Marketing Director is starting to become comfortable with investing more heavily in customer engagement programmes I’m still not convinced the guys holding the purse strings are. We need to build stronger business cases around what we are trying to achieve – based on the facts backed up with a supporting narrative.
Enter attribution. The next big thing for us to evangelise? Makes for an interesting read right now. Try Marketing Attribution : Valuing the Customer Journey for starters if you are an econsultancy member. Key take-outs for me include the following;
- For those organisations that are engaged in attribution they are still in the early stages but increasingly organisations are adopting attribution based on the accountability that it offers.
- Challenging the status quo is always going to be difficult. Building approaches and developing the tools that mean you can focus on the facts help drive change and deal with politics.
- Some of the changes in channel investment exemplified were reassuringly surprising and challenged some of my own preconceived ideas. The surprising impact of digital display on search ROI and brand lift is a good example.
Where the two specific measurement projects I am working on now are concerned the case for understanding attribution is clear. What is less clear is the practical implementation of it. That’s the area I am researching now.
Thoughts and feedback most definitely welcome!
Maybe attribution will finally put that phrase to rest that still rings true today; I know half of my marketing budget is wasted but I just don’t know which half. Or maybe it is just another marketing holy grail that is a little too far from our reach?
Tags: attribution, measurement, organisational change
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