As a business intelligence solutions provider to agencies and advertisers, it’s interesting to watch the fast-paced changes occurring in digital media and web analytics today. A perfect storm is powering the transformation: the digitization of media and data, faster and cheaper computing, and the explosion of online networks and data collection.
In 2008, as larger portions of advertising budgets shift to online, we’ll need to consistently improve measurement and performance. Indeed, digital marketers are already under pressure to bolster business intelligence capabilities in unprecedented ways.
This article provides a ‘top 10’ list of best practices for digital advertising reporting and measurement. Advertisers need to find ways to better track, analyze, and predict online consumer behavior, and use business and marketing intelligence tools effectively to help find the most attractive prospects and customers. This list offers a blueprint for ensuring a successful measurement strategy that will maximize return on media investment and improve overall campaign performance.
STEP 1—Select a data collection and warehousing approach
First, you’ll need a marketing data warehouse. Figure out where you want this reporting and measurement data warehouse to reside. This warehouse should store all historical media, website, and customer data to better understand consumer behavior and optimize future marketing campaigns. Three possible data warehousing choices include:
1. Agency. Ask your agency to warehouse marketing and customer data. Some firms have created proprietary reporting and marketing measurement systems. These platforms allow for more flexible marketing data management, but lock the advertiser into a specific approach. And, if you’re an advertiser with multiple agencies, it may not be ideal to have one company managing all of the data.
2. In-House. Warehouse the data inside your company. This requires advertisers to handle and manipulate large volumes of data through the use of appropriate software, hardware, and talent (people). Consideration should be based on initial start-up costs, time-to-market, cost-of-ownership, and long-term strategic corporate goals.
3. Third-Party Provider. Use a third-party partner to collect, manage, and report marketing data on your behalf. A select few partner providers automate or offshore components of clients’ analytics reporting needs. Too many agencies or in-house marketing departments have highly skilled (and highly paid) in-house or agency personnel spending valuable time creating reports that could either be automated or offshored by a third party.
STEP 2—Define Key Performance Indicators (KPI)
The first step of your marketing campaign is to define your business and campaign goals based on identifiable business benefit and need. When creating goals, you will want to take a top-down approach. A top-down approach starts with the business decisions that need to be made and then works its way down into the data needed to support these decisions. In order to take a top down approach you MUST involve the actual business users who will be reading these dashboards, as these are the only people who can determine the relevancy of specific business data to their decision making process.
STEP 3—Determine marketing or campaign success criteria and overall goals
Once your business and campaign goals are defined, the next step is to assign your transparent or universal KPIs, to each campaign. These key metrics will allow you to evaluate campaign performance. If available, integrate historical campaign data and metrics into the mix to better understand performance over time. Whenever possible, try to quantify or monetized these goals to understand the impact on the business.
STEP 4—Establish attribution management and tracking
During the definition phase, it’s important to build the proper campaign attributes framework. You will want to collect detailed information from the stakeholders related to target audience, creative, messaging, placement, media publisher and requirements related to reporting. With each stakeholder group, take the following steps:
Identify used data sources; validate availability and how to extract from each source
Define measurement and what business rules are applied to source data
Answer what are the key metrics & KPIs of each element
Identify how are they inter-related/rolled up from operational to strategic
Be sure to implement proper tracking codes on your site and various media channels. Proper tracking code management and pre-campaign testing will ensure issues are resolved prior to going live with the actual campaign
STEP 5—Employ visual marketing scorecards and dashboards
Again, the key to the dashboard development is buy-in from stakeholders and focusing on the key KPIs. All too often stakeholders get bogged down in the details. Dashboards and scorecards turn into unruly and overwhelming sets of un-actionable data. Figure out what data really matters and focus on these key KPIs. General examples of the key questions marketing dashboards should answer include:
-Quantifying the business impact of marketing investment
-Identifying which media channels perform best
-Determine which channels generate the most customer interest or engagement
-Evaluate which channels generate the most customer sales
-Identifying and reproducing complex multi-channel customer acquisition routes
-Contrasting multiple channel’s performance while campaigns are still underway
Dashboards are meant to evolve; your business goals and business aspects change the way in which measurement occurs – hence your dashboard, or marketing intelligence solution, needs to be flexible and allow for the process of evolution