Data Measurement: It’s Time to Level Up

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Measurement is paramount in marketing today. Every decision we make as marketers to enhance efficiency and effectiveness must be measured before it can be assessed, either directly or indirectly. Without measurements, we wouldn’t know whether our decisions yielded the actions and results we hypothesized. In short, without measurements, we’re marketing with blinders on.

Measurements always start with business questions—e.g., “How is the overall channel performance?” and “How does the same message perform in various channels?” We want to see how every message, channel, campaign, and audience performs. Using channels as an example, we want to know the return on marketing investment, or ROMI, of the email channel, the direct mail channel, and the paid media channels. Plus, we want to understand the channel mix and attribution value of each channel to the final conversion rate.

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More importantly, today’s precision marketing requires uncovering deeper insights into how interactions among channels, campaigns, audiences, and messages affect each other and overall marketing efforts.

Continuing our channels example, measuring channel-plus-message means considering the performance of the same message in various channels. These insights are critical—for example, we’d suspect that the same credit card acquisition message would yield largely different engagement performances on an e.com site compared to direct mail.

Similarly, measuring channel-plus-audience means studying the engagement of the same customer audience within various channels. As The Lacek Group learned from one of our client studies, the same audience can react differently to the same message, depending on if they come across it on a paid social channel or in their email inbox.

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Ensure you’re realizing vital findings by:

1.      Balancing measurements. Disproportionately large measurement efforts are put into assessing an individual channel or campaign performance and the attribution value among channels. That said, it’s the message that will resonate; customers don’t consider that they’re receiving a particular message because they qualify for a certain campaign or they’re on a certain channel. Precision measurement at the message level offers valuable opportunities for learning and optimization.

2.      Using overlap intelligence. Brands often measure the performance of an entire campaign or communication. And that’s useful, but they can gain additional insights by measuring how a message performs differently within various channels or with several audience groups. In addition, while brands should measure the overall performance of a message, they can uncover more insights by analyzing how much that performance correlates with its delivery channel or audience group.

3.      Focusing on customers. Brands often build in many micro-segmentations to precisely target particular customer groups. Interestingly, however, organizations rarely focus in on the performance breakdown at the micro-segmentation level. Create reporting that will surface useful segment information. Examples might include discoveries such as:

  • millennial customers’ engagement differs among channels
  • younger customers engage more than older customers with messages A, B, and C
  • female customers are more likely to respond to marketing messages in the morning while male customers are more likely to respond in the evening
  • elite-tier members engage less with social ads than infrequent customers

In short, despite our current era of customer-centric marketing, many measurement practices lag in their migration—they still prioritize the channel and/or the campaign rather than the customer.

What’s needed is a measurement framework that makes it easy to evaluate performance with granular precision and scalable pliability.

Using a measurement framework, brands must include balanced measurements and scale on overlap intelligence. Balanced measurement means giving equal measurement efforts to channel, campaign, message, and customer groups. Overlap intelligence means uncovering deeper insights into how interactions among channels, campaigns, audiences, and messages affect each other and overall marketing efforts. Balanced measurement and overlap intelligence are the start. From there, brands must improve their decisioning effectiveness.

How can brands do that?

  • Connect data. Build data pipelines—especially ones that complete the feedback loop. A brand must collect data on how customers respond and react to its served messages, and then feed that data back into the decisioning. That way, a brand can follow the performance holistically and end to end. After all, only connected data, not isolated individual metrics, ensures that a brand comprehensively follows prospects and customers through their journeys.
  • Build a content-tagging taxonomy, and implement it across channels. Tagging is the connective tissue that enables measurement. Achieving scalable granularity hinges on a smart tagging architecture, which should include essential information, such as customer audience, message or offer themes, communication or campaign, and channel.
  •  Create and agree on measurement metrics across channels and teams. Measurement metrics can be categorized into a 3-E funnel: at the top of the funnel is Exposure, then Engagement, and at the bottom, Effect. Here’s how it works:
    • Exposure measures reach and awareness (e.g., match rate, number of impressions, number of deliverables, number of visitors, etc.).
    • Engagement measures interaction and participation (e.g., open rates, click-through rate, registration rate, number of sign-ups, number of downloads, etc.).
    • Effect measures business outcome (e.g., conversion rate, acquisition rate, cost per acquisition, incremental revenue, etc.). 
    Brands can use the 3-E metrics as a common language when discussing measurement among channels and teams. Additionally, measurement briefs can be created around each E, and each channel owner or team can log the individual metrics collected and measured.
  • Establish measurement reporting expectations. Measurement can be messy—often its roles and responsibilities aren’t clearly defined and communicated among teams. It’s important to establish and articulate measurement expectations around:
    • Ownership: Who produces and maintains the report?
    • Cadence: How often is the report refreshed (e.g., real time, daily, weekly, etc.)?
    • Visibility: Who has access to view and/or edit the report?
    • Delivery: How will the report be distributed (e.g., online dashboard, Excel attachment, PowerPoint slides, etc.)?
  • Recognize and leverage technology in the right order. Measurement should always start with business questions, not data or technology. Once the business questions are posed, apply technology to elevate measurement efficiency. Another savvy way to think about the role that technology plays is to adopt a new data technology to enforce and enhance measurement alignment among channels and teams. It’s often the most effective way to bring people and process together.

Measurement is the only way to know how our marketing investment performed. It’s the cornerstone of marketing optimization. And with the immense amount of data that we collect today, the expansion of marketing channels, and the integration among them (channels, functional teams, etc.), measurement tasks have become increasingly challenging.

Today’s marketplace is buzzing with new ways to synchronize and integrate performance data from various channels and sources into a single platform. In addition, as we shift our orientation of measurement frameworks from channel and campaign to customer and message, we gain new, scalable views into performance and optimization. And those views are worth all the hard work of today’s measurement strategies.

Shi Bu serves as senior vice president, of Data Intelligence at the Lacek Group in Minneapolis, a Minneapolis-based, data-driven loyalty, experience and customer engagement agency that has been delivering personalization for its world-class clients for more than 25 years. The Lacek Group is an Ogilvy Experience company.

Read more in the Personalization Engine Series:

Part 1: Personalize Your Tech Stack (Whatever It Is) to Improve Customer Value Management

Part 2: Data Curation: Four Ways to Connect the Dots

Part 3: Decisioning

Part 4: Connecting Design to Decisioning, Delivery, and Measurement

This post was written and published by our friends and colleagues at The Lacek Group. To learn more, visit www.lacek.com

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