This posts outlines a tried and tested framework for planning and implementing a digital marketing measurement framework that can help with planning and understanding the effectiveness of a digital strategy. It includes a step by step guide, model diagrams and excel template.
Digital Strategy and Measurement in Perspective
One of the greatest and most commonly made mistakes in digital marketing, is not setting campaign objectives that can be effectively measured. The next most common mistake is not setting objectives that can easily be connected back to business objectives. This means we cannot judge the success of our campaigns and therefore it becomes impossible to calculate ROI and justify our digital marketing budgets.
The following measurement framework can be used to help shape and deliver our digital strategy as well as helping to plan and measure tactical campaign and calculate ROI.
Setting Primary Objectives
In order to measure the success of any digital campaign we need to start by deciding what we want people to actually do online. Fill-in a form, buy a product, download a report or watch a video, for example. Our Primary Objective is the closest thing we can get people to do online to our end business objective (however this may still be some way from our end business objective). The easiest way to understand this is using a few examples:
Business to Business:
Our end business objective is a sale of our product or service, but in most cases what we want from our websites is leads. A lead is someone filling in a form or picking up the phone and calling.
Our end business objective is somebody walking into a store or using an online store to buy our product. We may not own that store or website. In this case my primary objective is engagement with content to build awareness and a desire for that product.
Our end business objective is a sale online and our primary objective is a sale online so there is no difference between the two objectives.
Setting Primary Objectives as Analytics Goals
By understanding what our primary objective is we can then set this up as a goal in our web analytics. This means we have a direct measure of the success of any digital activity we are carrying out. It’s fundamental at this stage to understand the different type of analytics goals and work out how to set these up properly.
Different primary objectives require the selection of different goal types.
The most commonly used type of goal and easiest to set up is a destination goal. A destination goal simply measures someone on our website getting to a particular page, and generally speaking, this will be a “thank you” page. This could be the page that says “Thank you for filling in our form”, “Thank you for completing the online purchase” or any other number of different pages that confirm an action has been carried out. By someone getting to this page we know they have completed our desired action and can therefore record it as a goal.
This type of goal measures visitors to our site that stay for longer than a defined duration of time. This could indicate engagement with our content, but always remember, it could also indicate a user who is finding it difficult to complete their desired task and it is taking a long time. We may use this type of goal when our primary objective is content engagement, but Event goals can often be better for this.
Pages Per Session
This type of goal measures visitors to our website that look at a certain number of pages(or more). Again this could indicate engagement with our content but it could also indicate someone on our website trawling through lots of pages and being unable to find the content they were looking for. You may use this type of goal when our primary objective is content engagement, but again Event goals can often be better for this.
This is the most commonly used type of goal when we are trying to judge engagement with content as a primary goal. Where as destination goal looks at pages loading, event goals look at something happening within that page, such as the page scrolling down, a play button being pressed on a video or somebody playing a game on a page for 5 minutes. The downside to Event goals is that they need additional code added to webpages, but this is fully documented and can easily be set up by a web developer, agency or freelancer.
Connecting Primary Objectives to Business Objectives
You may be looking at this so far and seeing some potential problems. How do we know that people filling in a form actually leads to business sales? That’s the next thing we need to consider as we start to build our model.
A enquiry form being filled in is not a sale, and somebody engaging with our content does not mean they are going to buy anything. Therefore our model needs to consider this and we need a way to bridge the gap between business objectives and primary objectives (where these exists). Thankfully this is relatively easy to do in most cases and we will revisit this in more depth later.
Digital Channels Driving Primary Objectives
The next stage in developing our model is to look at how each channel is driving these primary objectives and what we need to measure for each of these channels. We can now add in digital channels to our model and define the things we measure for these channels as our indicators for each channel. The key indicator for each channel will be how much traffic that channel drives to our website, but we will also have a number of other indicators depending on the channel. These indicators are all things we could try and improve that will in turn lead to more traffic from the particular channel coming to our website.
So for example we can see for the Email Marketing channel, our key indicator is the volume of traffic driven to the site from email marketing. However, we will also be measuring our Open Rate and Click Through Rate as these are things we could improve in order to drive more traffic to our website from this channel. It should also be noted that indicators are not limited to having 3 measures per channel and we would probably also measure the size of our email list here as well.
Understanding How Digital Channels Contribute
You may have notice something else that is missing from our framework at this stage? Just because we drive more traffic from a digital channel, whether that is Twitter or email or anything else, it doesn’t mean that that traffic will convert into our primary objectives being completed. In fact it would be relatively easy to gain lots of followers on Twitter, drive lots of traffic to our site and see no primary objective completed (because it was the wrong audience). Therefore we need to build a contribution score into our model that tells us how much that channel has contributed towards our primary goals being completed. Thankfully, because we have setup our primary objectives as analytics goals, there is a report that does this for us very easily and that is the Multi-Channel Funnels report (MCF).
MCF Report shows us, of all the people that completed our analytics goals, which channels did they use on the way there (and it can look at this over a period of time, up to 90 days currently). Understanding what this is telling us is really important, and the key point is that the channels it shows are not the last thing somebody did before completing our goal, but one of the things they did. This is important because a journey through to completing a primary goal may include visiting the website many times and coming in from lots of different places. The report provides a contribution percentage so we can understand how each channel (or group of channels) is contributing toward the goals being completed.
Having this information means that we can now add a contribution percentage to our measurement framework. This means we can then measure, not just how much traffic each channel is driving, but how much this traffic is contributing towards our primary objectives.
This contribution percentage can be taken directly from our MCF report and allows us to look at how effective a particular channel is, but also to look at how this impacts the overall picture of contribution and how channels are interacting together. More advanced users may want to change how the MCF report groups together (or doesn’t) different channels.
One of the final steps in developing our measurement framework is to re-visit the potential gap between Primary Objectives and Business Objectives and try to understand how we can bridge this gap. Essentially there are 3 potential scenarios that we need to consider:
There is no gap as Primary and Business objective are the same thing.
Our Primary Objective is somebody filling in a form, so we need to track these through to potential sale. This can be done using most Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems, and CRM systems like Salesforce are geared up to do this easily.
The Primary Objective here is engagement with content because our Business objective happens on a third-party website or physical location so we can’t track it directly. The gap here can be measured by careful use of sample surveying and questionnaires to understand the correlation between people that complete our primary objective an the people that completed our business objective. So for example we could add a questionnaire to our product packaging that asks customers that have purchased a product which of our media and digital channels did they use before their purchase. Although not easy, this approach can help bridge gaps in our knowledge that have not been available until now.
Strategy and Tactics Iteration and Testing
The final step in building our measurement framework is to start using it. We can now look at which channels seem to be contributing well or poorly to our objectives. Once we have focussed in on a channel we can look at which indicators we may be able to adjust in order to improve things. This will allow us to develop new tactical campaigns that may, for example, grow our email list, improve our open rate, get us more Twitter followers, or improve any of our channel’s indicators. Once we have done this, we can see what impact this has on the channel’s contribution percentage and then continue to iterate through this process.
Although building a Digital Strategy Measurement Framework is not necessarily easy, it will allow us to effectively build and measure our digital efforts and work through towards understanding the ROI for each of our channels. Once this is achieved it becomes a lot easier to secure and justify more budget and to continue to improve our business results.