If Nothing Else, Get Measurement Right
A lot of people do a really good job messing up web measurement. Yet measurement is actually the simple part about any digital marketing. Measuring is easy. Analysis, insight and creativity are the difficult parts.
Everything online is measurable if you are organized, setup the right tools and understand which KPIs roll to outcomes. Measurement lets you show results in terms no one can argue with. In fact I’ve never lost a client or had to “prove my value” to a CMO or CEO when we were measuring results of tactics each month and able to show clear performance improvements.
It’s obvious why a lot of marketing and PR gets cut – no showing of meaningful results (why should we keep paying for SEO, social media, or online PR if we can’t show how it is impacting the business?). I wouldn’t keep you if you weren’t showing results either.
So if nothing else, get the following right:
Start with your own web analytics
You have absolutely no business messing with social analytics tools or any data external of your own web properties until you are are a ninja with using your own data to make decisions. I don’t care what aspect of marketing or PR you are in. The order here matters because KPIs can expand quickly and your own website data is the most detailed, accurate and important. Plus it lets you track outcomes from all other platforms. You will waste a whole bunch of time and gain little actionable data or meaningful results reports without getting your own web analytics right. The analogy is simple: you need your commend center fully functional before you worry about outposts.
Define some sort of conversion
Whether you are using Google Analytics or Omniture (if WebTrends – I’m sorry for you, wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy) define a conversion from your website. What action is it you want people to take? You can’t possibly improve outcomes from digital communications unless you are tracking them. Even if you aren’t selling anything online there are always outcomes, if you can’t think of how to create one you aren’t trying hard enough.
Give all your partners access to measurement tools
Everyone working on marketing your brand online needs access to your web analytics. If you can’t trust them with this then you have the wrong partners and have bigger problems to deal with. There is no way to effectively close the loop on your activities without data. If your partners don’t know what to do with this data, you should probably upgrade to better partners.
Most of you can skip the expensive social media monitoring and analytics services
If you’re not a big national brand with absurd amounts of money to throw at monitoring/measurement, (which you can do for free or relatively cheap) you (probably) don’t need some ridiculously overpriced monitoring or analytics tool. Marketing and PR industries have been manipulated into thinking it’s impossible to track the web without an expensive third party service. Also they have been influenced into thinking social media is some amorphous, impossible thing to monitor and measure or that it is entirely distinct from the rest of the web. That’s just not the case – the web as a whole is social and very measurable. I really think a lot of these services do nothing but prey on those who don’t actually understand the web. Your own web analytics data has about everything you need to achieve social media success, especially if you are in B2B. Everything else can still be found on your own, effectively (almost no one utilizes the power of RSS).
Report effectively and provide actionable insights monthly
Once you have chosen the critical few metrics for your business and associated KPIs, track them monthly and report in a rhythm to key stakeholders along with insights and next steps. Remember, you don’t need to report everything. In fact, you should be focusing your teams on keeping their heads down on impacting the metrics that actually matter. Also in my experience monthly is the proper cadence for reporting. Daily or weekly is too short and you’ll kill yourself reporting when you should be executing.
None of this stuff is new, but there is an obvious disconnect when measurement is (still) being exploited for profit or to spin results.
Tracking the right metrics? Actually understand how they work together and what tactics are effective? Great, now hold your team accountable to improving them.