Clients no longer define projects by their deliverables. More than ever, results matter and agencies must adapt to new levels of accountability and scrutiny. Projects like a mobile web site must deliver against usage forecasts and revenue targets while fulfilling its role as a conduit to connect consumers with the brand. Call it what you will, moneyball marketing, performance marketing, or adaptive marketing, but an increased focus on performance requires a new view of marketing measurement.

Measurement’s Failure
For years, marketers have relied on the pre-post lift analysis as the de-facto standard for evaluating a marketing campaign. Take a read. Run the campaign. Take another read. Analyze the difference. Attribute cause. And for the most part, this approach works. Some projects, however, require a more iterative approach to match performance-oriented marketers.

Marketing demands a new measurement mindset to wrestle with the new kinds of data generated. Be it fast data, slow data, micro data, macro data; the approach and skills needed have changed.

Establishing a Measurement Strategy
Drafting a measurement strategy can compare to writing down what we already know. But this is less often the case and marketers need to step back and think about the role data plays in their work. A measurement strategy is an overall philosophy and approach to data brought to life through specific choices in how organizations capture, store, and analyze information for decision-making purposes. Defining this is no longer a luxury. Here are four steps to consider when creating a measurement strategy.

1. Align the plan.
Establishing goals and measures at the start of the project ensures quantifiable ways to evaluate the success of a marketing project. Borrowing a golf analogy, how one chooses to address the ball has a tremendous impact on success. A slight misalignment at address will yield a drastically off-target outcome hundreds of yards down the course. Aiming for an acceptable outcome informs the subsequent understanding of success. Goals inform the ability to know if the target was reached. Measures inform progress along the way.

2. Draft measurement plan.
Linking goals and measures to a measurement plan ensures an ability to evaluate progress. The steps include identifying the data sources to be used to inform the goals and measures, defining the parties responsible for capturing and delivering the data, the frequency and method of delivery (dashboard or excel as two examples), the recipients of the data and the decisions the data will inform.

3. Selling the strategy.
For many marketers, a discussion around data feels unnecessary. It’s easy to push measurement strategy and planning down the list of priorities as the pressing urgency of campaign deadlines approach. But in a performance-oriented environment, the results are the deliverables. And those results can only be delivered if the plan has been established.

Some ways to do this: replace time-driven conversations about deadlines with conversations around the actions being taken to deliver against results. Replace “Phase 2 will be completed by August 31” with “the site will be delivering 50,000 daily visitors by August 31.” Position projects with the “language of increase”, instead of talking about launching a web site, talk about the components of the site responsible for driving a 25 percent increase in site conversions. Simple shifts in language remind the team about performance.

4. Revisit the strategy.
No plan is ever perfect. Make time to revisit your measurement strategy at regular intervals to discuss which data is useful, which data is missing, and which data we no longer use to inform the work. If teams change, remind everyone of their role in providing the information. Take time to determine if current frequencies fit the current operating rhythm of the team. Don’t be afraid of change. This is one of the benefits of adaptive marketing, but it requires agility and flexibility in planning.

Fostering an organizational culture that values data starts with having a plan. The trend towards an increased emphasis on leveraging data will only increase, marketing will not be immune from these developments. As budgets tighten and scrutiny increases, marketers can continue to develop strong relationships with their customers in new and exciting ways.

:: By Matt Booher, Digital Analytics Director, Decision Sciences  

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