Digital Measurement Strategy - Part 3
In my previous 2 articles in The Tuesday Standard, we helped establish a ‘promise’ around measurement. Last Tuesday, I addressed the elements of an effective measurement strategy, and how they come together to enable organizations to move forward with a more holistic approach to online measurement. In this, the third in the 3-part series on digital marketing strategy, we will look at a series of steps or processes as well as best practices to consider as you move practically from strategy to implementation.
How you implement a measurement strategy will depend in large part, on your organization type. Many IT driven analytics programs are created to meet specific requests from marketing or communications, and often not thought out as part of an overall measurement strategy. They are ad hoc and often use server side, raw measurement tools. The type of organization you work in, can determine how this plays out, but where the push for measurement comes from , is important to making this happen in an orderly fashion.
In my view, there are two types of organizations: those that classify themselves as ‘high performing’, and those that do their thing at a suitable speed for their organization. Not too fast, not too slow. Competitive or fast moving industries need high performing or agile organizations that are adaptable and move quickly. Sometimes though, those that run at this breakneck speed, often do so at the peril of the details that make for an effective measurement program. Worse yet, those that set the pace in these organizations, often, lack an understanding of measurement and leave little time for the team to implement and test the necessary components of property.
I am lucky to work for an organization that understands measurement and gives my team tremendous support to make this happen properly.
For those not so lucky, the only way to change this perception of measurement, is to educate senior management about how measurement benefits them – and the organization. By managing up, you can instill the importance of being able to have measurement included as part of any development process with those that set the tone for the organization on the ground. Fast yes – but not at the expense of putting things in place for effective measurement.
Here are a few steps or practices that can help set you up for the smooth implementation of measurement in an active development environment.
- Develop organizational measurement standards: Organizational measurement standards are natural extension of your strategy in that they create a framework for implementing measurement going forward. Whether you are adding a new page to your website, adding a button for a call to action, or building a new site, making sure everyone on the team understands what standards are in place for measurement is an important first step.
How often does the deadline on an update get squeezed and analytics somehow gets dropped because it is considered dispensable? If web or app releases include measurement standards as part of the sign-off process, this removes the risk of time being stolen from measurement related duties (adding tags, testing, etc.).
Standards could include language such as: “On-page measurement must include the ability to track the click of any link or button, capture the selection of any drop-down menu, etc., in such a way that all on-page events or screens / page transition are measured. These events should then be able to be used to segment visitors to understand their specific behavior, in concert with other segmenting characteristics of the visitor.” For example, what is the behavior or characteristics of all visitors that selected ‘Trucks’ on a car company’s website home page?
- Processes: Build measurement in to the processes the team follows to make development happen by including it in the document templates for Business Cases, Requirements, QA Test Plans, etc. and assigning responsibility for their completion to the appropriate party. Encourage Product Managers or Systems Analysts to be specific about what they would like to see from a measurement perspective. What were the KPI’s used to get the budget for the revision or new initiative in the business case? (ie. Improve software trial adoption by 7% in Q4 is the goal – what KPI’s are needed to understand how to get to this goal? See previous post on goal and objective setting).
- Commit to how certain elements of your app or your site are measured and continue to measure like items this way. It makes it easier to find an event or tag when there is consistency, and measurement using like methods can be compared over time with trust in any trends you see. When reporting, it is important to consistently use the same methodology when tracking metrics over time.
- Test all stages of the development cycle (some organizations use DEV – TEST – STAGING – PRODUCTION environments – making sure these are all sending back correct measurement results is important). Use a Tag Management System along with your analytics platform (ie. Google Analytics + Google Tag Manager) helps facilitate the testing process to ensure nothing is missed during a hectic development cycle. TMS’s also allow you to fix tracking errors or ommissions after a code release, in some cases.
- Test all KPI’s that come out of newly implemented features to ensure key stakeholders agree with how they are being calculated and presented. This will be important when measuring the success of an improvement - see #2 above.
- Once you have established a process of measuring and reporting, build standardized reports and dashboards to raise the level of trust in the organization that like is being measured against like over time.
- Measurement and analytics are just numbers – they need a narrative or story to go along with them for much of your organization, or other audiences to truly understand them. In a future post, we will talk about storytelling and measurement – an important skill.
- Governance and visibility around your analytics data is an important final step to be addressed as your measurement strategy is rolled out. It is important to be mindful of what information is available to whom: what is for internal consumption only – and what can be released to various stakeholders. Believe it or not – the analytics and insights from your site or app can be as valuable as the code that its build on to a competitor looking for your secret sauce. Governance and measurement is something that can be included in your strategy, or as part best practices regarding running the program.
When using any analytics or insights platform, make use of the platform's ability to set-up different users with specific rights to see and manipulate data based on their needs. We aren't talking about trust here, but simple data governance that you legal department may insist upon when data becomes more visible in your organization.
On that note, I did want to mention that myself and others have had success in packaging measurement into a ‘program’ – and not just a collection of tasks. This sometimes facilitates the building of a team, getting budget, and securing senior management support to implement effectively. If everyone in the organizations knows that this is all part of the ‘Unified Measurement Program’ or ‘Analytics 2017 Program’, they can point to something tangible and understand that the necessary components are in place to support spending time and money to make it happen.
Please let me know if you have any questions. I hope you have found this final part of the 3-part series to be helpful in bringing measurement strategy home to roost in your organization. I am keen to hear of your own experiences.