Digital Measurement Strategy – Part 2
In the 1st part of this blog mini-series on Digital Measurement Strategy, I covered measurement as part of the corporate planning process. This brought us up to the point where we answered the questions ‘why measure’ and ‘why would we spend over $100k a year on an enterprise analytics tool’.
In this second of the series posts, I will address the elements of an effective measurement strategy and how they come together to build on, to move forward. Think of the measurement strategy as a promise – the organization is promising to deliver measurement, and ultimately answers to the questions of the organization, across various platforms with the goal of delivering insights to the key stakeholders in the organization.
As mentioned, authoring a blog is new to me (although you will find consumer insights related posts on the popular CREA Café < http://www.crea.ca/author/paul-dombowsky/>, I have learned a few things from the feedback I received on my first posts that. First – there are actually a few people out there reading The Tuesday Standard; second – my early posts are a tad long, and third, not every organization has an open strategic planning process. I appreciate that #1 is happening, I will work on #2, and am perplexed about #3.
With every strategy / strategic plan, or ‘promise’, comes the conversation around how to make this happen from a resource, process, standards and visibility perspectives. In my mind, there are 7 key steps in the delivery of a measurement strategy:
- Establish ‘Ownership of Measurement’ for your organization so you have a single point of responsibility for putting the strategy in place, having responsibility for measurement, and being an active advocate of measurement across all platforms. In some organizations, this may be someone from IT, but whomever it is, they must understand the big picture of how measurement fits into the decision making, and sometimes public reporting, process. In my opinion, this role is best filled by someone who has a combination of marketing/product management/communications skills with a level of technical expertise.
Included in this first step, it is helpful to articulate the roles and responsibilities of each participant in the measurement process.
i) Who will want to see the insights that come from measurement.
ii) Who plans the measurement (sometimes this comes from Product Management or Marketing, sometimes from the person in charge of measurement, or sometimes IT),
iii) Who will make the measurement happen technically (through tagging or revisions to the data layer or the analytics software),
iv) who tests to ensure everything is set-up properly (QA), and finally,
v) who will analyze, package and communicate the insights to the various audiences (often insights analytics, data analytics, insights managers).
- Develop an inventory of all digital assets, for those not starting from scratch, to identify what is being or is to be measured. You would be amazed how many organizations don’t have a single point of reference for all their digital assets. By ‘digital assets’, we are referring here to the websites, apps, platforms or products that the organization relies on for everything from communication to revenue.
This inventory should not only list the assets, but also what is being measured currently with each, and how (measurement tools for analytics, visitor feedback, heat mapping, marketing automation, etc).
While you building the inventory, you may want to take the time to document all tags implemented in the code (look in the data layer of the code for the website, app, etc.). Sometimes, as time and people pass, previous inventories are not kept up to date or are lost, if they exist, so having this updated now, is useful.
A useful resource for understanding your Digital Analytics Maturity Model can be found on Stéphane Hamel’s site about the “Digital Analytics Maturity Model” https://digitalanalyticsmaturity.org
Establish A Measurement Framework and Standards: A measurement framework is like building a best practices guide so the key players in the measurement team know how measurement happens in your organization. A framework will also help you maintain standards and ensure time is built into every development project for measurement to be set-up and tested.
For example, your organization could include Measurement or Analytics as an item on all Business or Functional Requirement Documentation. It must be addressed for every development project, and should include what is to be measured, how, and who wants this information. I am skipping ahead, but it could also include KPI’s or Key Performance Indicators to measure the success of the new feature or development on the site or app.
Develop KPI’s or key measurements or conversion numbers that are important to the organization from an operations perspective, as well as for reporting up to the various levels in the organization.
These can be built into your strategy, but tend to be exist in a living document that would be updated and built upon over time. Based on the objectives of your organization, they are more than just visits, new visitors, etc., and could include:
i. Lead Generation (ie. Leads generated from search engine visitor, referrals, social media posts, etc.)
ii. E-commerce (ie. Ratio of completed sales per site visitor, how does reading product reviews improve shopping cart completion rates, etc.
iii. Donations (ie. Do video stories improve the donation completion rate? Etc)
iv. Advocacy (ie. How well does Twitter bring people to your site to read your newsletter, etc.).
v. Public Awareness (ie. What search terms drive the most traffic to your News Bulletin on updated sales tax rules for small business, etc.)
Education and Change Management within the organization to ensure all stakeholders understand what you are doing with measurement, and why. You want everyone to derive some benefit from this process so packaging the message for each group may be needed. It is helpful to have an executive sponsor at the beginning of the entire process to smooth things out as well. In some cases, the addition of measurement standards and processes may cause pressured product and development teams to push back when on tight deadlines, but once measurement becomes just part of the overall process, this push back diminishes greatly.
Execute on Measurement as part of the normal development process for your website or apps or products. As previously stated, using normal product development documentation (ie. Agile’s process), ensures that measurement is not left out of the building process. Testing to be sure measurement is happening the way you expect, and that you can pull out the data you want, is an important part of the execution. You may not always get it perfect the first time around – refinement is always going to happen. I do find though, that some stakeholders will want to see the results of improvements to a website or app right away, so managing expectations is important for complex measurement.
Communication and providing visibility to the insights and data is the final step. This is where the cool factor comes in – where you can see the fruit of all the work done above, and where people get to see what is happening and make decisions based on the data. Analysis of the data is an important part of this step and will be looked at in more detail in later posts.
If your organizational structure includes Product Management, and you have a formal, agile type development process, measurement should be part of business requirements and serve as the signposts for a successful release. In general, business cases developed to get approval for a project, will have measurements documented to determine what success looks like. These KPI's will be driven by the measurement set-up earlier (ie. clicks on a link, conversions, downloads, etc.).
For what it’s worth, I approached the packaging of the above details into ‘white paper’ of sorts under the title “Unified Analytics”, which gave me the opportunity to have something for the team to refer to when they were doing work on their own. It became the blueprint for measurement.
This post has outlined what I see as necessary elements of an effective measurement strategy - but certainly not a complete list. Different organizations will have their own needs based on the industry they are in (regulated or not, for profit, not for profit, government, etc.), and the level of maturity the organization has with regard to measurement overall. In general, in 2017, moving your organization to a more data driven decision making environment with a thoughtful analysis of the data, is important to help achieve whatever success looks like for you.
Please let me know if you have any questions or comments. Thank you,