Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Measuring the Changes in Marketing Measurement

Living in the world of pay-per-click as I do, I don’t hear much about reach and frequency these days. I got to thinking about my past life as a media buyer and planner — actually several past lives ago — when the bulk of my days were spent crunching numbers and making forecasts about the behaviors of the people underneath those data points.

Then along with so many others (well, truthfully, ahead of many others) I shifted to the world of digital marketing (1986 was early in). By 1997, most marketers had gotten over the “wow” of having a website and the demand for meaning came into play. Measuring website traffic was all the rage and driving traffic from various points on the web became the yard stick (and a booming business).

Back then, measurement was all about the clicks. And it stayed that way for a few years until we collectively hit another tipping point, about a year or so ago, when it stopped being about the interim action (the click) and attention was shifted to beyond-the-traffic data. Business actions — leads, orders, donations, inquiries, patient visits –whatever next step the marketer was pursuing — became the measure du jour.
Notice how I didn’t say “end result?”

That’s because now we’ve collectively begun to focus on the real value of getting a potential buyer to pay attention. And the website isn’t the only place we’re factoring those values. As the role of social in the marketing mix increases, companies are also beginning to look at their customer data differently.

They’re starting to see that web analytics and CRM solutions that work together to seamlessly pull, organize, and report on the results of marketing activities, online and off — are no longer an option — they’re business necessities. We’re less excited about one-hit wonders that create lots of activity but no ongoing business value. Questions about the real long term value of viral buzz (The Old Spice Guy) and Groupon et al abound.

Fully utilizing measurement systems will enable marketers to get much better at predicting the lifetime value of the customers that marketing pulls into their brand’s sphere of influence. It will also help marketers get at the insights that will enable them to do more of the marketing that is generating those closes. And maybe we’ll stop calling them “closes” and start thinking of them as “opens,” as in “open doors” to continued relationship building, organic business growth, and the ongoing dialogue that facilitates them.

Social media engagement is seldom a component in the measurement tools conversation, one tending to be right brain and the other the left. But if you think about the streams of business drivers that keep flowing towards the sea, merging and moving forward faster as they near the ocean of business exchange, you see that the convergence of social media conversations with customers and success measurement tools is a natural one. It’s also a required next step in the measurement continuum.
The convergence of social media engagement and tech tools to measure success not only makes delivering, engaging with, and tracking customer activity better. It provides the very conversation and data needed to create a circular effect of improved Marketing (big “M”) all the way around.

So reach and frequency became traffic became clicks became business actions became closes and is on track to become “opens.” And then?
Let’s keep on innovating and we’ll see what comes next.

This was originally posted to the Marketing Executives Networking Group (MENG) Blend Blog on 3/23/11. For more posts from senior marketing executives, check out the MENG Blend at http://blog.mengonline.com/

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