Digital Measurement Strategy - Part 1
This blog post is the start of a 3-part series for those who are fairly new to developing a measurement strategy and is trying to look at measurement from a relatively high level. There is considerable content out there that discusses methodology from a technical perspective, or explains what the measurement tools such as Google Analytics, or Adobe Analytics do from a feature perspective. What I haven't seen much of, is helpful content that steps back and looks at measurement strategy: the big picture.
I define measurement strategy as a focused approach to understanding the behaviour of those using your product/website/service from both the high level, to the very detailed event level (i.e. clicks on a button) such that stakeholders in your organization can use the data to make better decisions to achieve their objectives, and ultimately fulfill the corporate strategy for the organization. Far reaching I know, but I do believe that product management, marketing, communications, customer service, sales, etc. as well as management all benefit from measurement at a level that effectively answers questions and spurs data driven actions.
There is helpful content from marketers such as Avinash Kaushik (Occam's Razor) that focuses on the marketing component of measurement quite well. While this is important, I believe misses out on the full benefit of the strategy for the success of the entire organization.
When I first started my marketing career, the technical and business awareness around measurement were a far cry from what is possible and is considered basic today. While large organizations had access to the early versions of business intelligence tools, (IBM always had something) the tools were fairly complex and so not suitable for small to medium size organizations. Remember when all people talked about were 'hits'? At the time, measurement was typically an afterthought and used mostly for marketing campaigns or e-commerce (ie. how many emails went out, basic shopping cart conversions, event sign-ups, trial downloads, etc.). Many organizations saw measurement (whether it be analytics, product usage, satisfaction, sales, or market share, etc.) as primarily a marketing or sales function designed to calculate rough ROI.
Any organization that is not measuring every aspect of multi-platform client or stakeholder engagement, online and offline transactions, or web/cloud based product usage is missing out on intelligence that is critical to the success of their organization. I am not just talking about for-profit companies either. Governments, non-profits, member based organizations all have a mandate to fill, and measurement and KPI’s are the only way to effectively run the organization to meet this mandate. Today there are a plethora of tools to build dashboards and raise the visibility of numbers to all levels in an organization. Numbers are great, but just like marketing, unless there is a solid strategy, these numbers will offer little help to the organization and generally will not provide a return on investment in gathering the numbers.
Over the past couple years, my approach to digital analytics and measurement has taken on a new urgency. In my current work, writing and speaking, I spend as much time evangelizing about measurement as I do helping teams plan for and utilize measurement to make decisions. Its always a challenge when deadlines are tight but asking the simple question - "How will you measure success?" usually brings people around.
From my perspective, measurement is best approached as a fundamental part of your overall corporate strategy and should be set-up to measure not only marketing and sales, but all aspects of the operation of key assets, endeavours or infrastructure in an organization. Your measurement strategy should follow the roll-up nature of this strategy and be tied to meeting the 4 pillars of organizational success. Note these aren't new to most people and certainly aren't mine - but I do think measurement applied to corporate strategy is not common:
- Mission Statement - the very reason why an organization exists
- Strategic Objectives - established to deliver on the mission statement based on the idea that to do big things, you must break them down.
- Functional Objectives - established to meet the Strategic Objectives – a high level set of objectives that often departmentalized objectives so each group in the organization knows what they are supposed to do.
- Tactics - those 'on the ground' actions that are undertaken by staff in various departments - that will help you meet the Functional Objectives, and ultimately deliver on the Strategic Objectives.
I have been lucky to work at a few organizations where their approach to strategic planning has been completely transparent so everyone in the organization knew their role in meeting the bottom line mission statement. This is powerful and I highly recommend this approach because it not only is a guiding light for innovation, budgeting, passion and energy, and time management, it also, when executed effectively, empowers staff to make decisions on their own that are aligned with this strategy. Don't you love it when the Customer Service Attendant at the counter can solve a problem without having to call a Manager?
Your organization’s measurement strategy is the blueprint to measuring what is needed to inform the previously outlined corporate strategy. Every minute of every day. Both publicly and internally – measurement must be the compass to make sure the organization is on track. It informs – validates – questions – and is the foundation to making better decisions.
The 2nd part of this series will look at the elements of an effective measurement strategy and a few tools to help along the way. In the final part, I will outline the steps you could/I argue should take to make this all happen and the what is needed to manage and monitor the process.
Thank you for reading this rather long post. I am new to the personal blog so I look forward to your respectful feedback. Please let me know if you have any questions.