3 ways marketers should rethink digital campaign measurement

Hero Image

By Chuck Adams, Vice President of Business Development

We love digital advertising because of the ability to track and measure outcomes – it is the very reason why Bell Media moved into this space.  However, the evolving customer journey is forcing a change in how we measure and analyze campaigns’ metrics.

Way back in the days of old (think pre-smartphone, or about 10 years ago), the customer journey was simple.  It was linear, usually single channel, and fairly easy to measure and attribute. In 2007, when the iPhone was introduced, that paradigm started to be disrupted.  And with disruption comes evolution.

Today, that disruption has manifested itself in a customer journey that is multi-channel, multi-device, and VERY fragmented. This is forcing smart and innovative marketers to change the way they think about campaign measurement in order to drive growth and achieve desired business outcomes.

A recent “Think With Google” article by Matt Lawson, Director of Performance Ads Marketing at Google, highlighted three “mindset” changes that will allow you to thrive in this new, mobile-first, multi-channel digital ecosystem.   These fundamental changes illustrate how you must start viewing KPIs, campaign effectiveness, and ROI for your current digital efforts.

Think Customers NOT Clicks

Before the iPhone, it was logical (and easy) to take a very narrow view toward measurement.  Most conversions were single channel and fell into the “last-click” attribution model. “Last-click” simply means the last touchpoint that a customer engaged with gets all the credit for that conversion, lead, or sale.

But does that model represent today’s digital customers’ true path to purchase?  The question I always like to ask is “Think about how you live today.” Think about your last purchase decision, online or offline.  Did you perform a single search, and boom, you were ready to make a decision? The chances are, your path to decision, even for small ticket purchases/decisions, probably involved multiple digital engagements.  

Even for a decision like “what do I want for dinner” can involve dozens of digital touchpoints – restaurant reviews and hours, delivery options, and even recipes (if you are looking to whip up something new in the kitchen.)  And most of these interactions are going to happen across multiple entities beyond just your website – social platforms, review sites, Google My Business listings and more. And as the size of the purchase decision goes up, the more complex the path to purchase becomes.

Understanding this new journey, does the “last click” model make sense?  If that’s the case, and we are going to give all the credit to the last brand interaction before a purchase is made, wouldn’t your store signage receive all the credit?  Of course not — that wouldn’t communicate the real value your marketing efforts are driving for your business.

Marketers must start to embrace a more global view of their campaign performance with customer-centric metrics like Customer Lifetime Value (LTV), Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC), along with the assisted conversion paths.  That is the path to a better understanding of if your business objectives are being achieved and allow you to adjust strategies to track toward those leading KPIs.

Connect Media Metrics to Business Outcomes

Media metrics, like impressions and clicks, (Do Impressions & Clicks Matter) are important.  Digital ad engagement doesn’t happen without an impression.  Website traffic typically doesn’t happen without a click. So they matter but should only serve as a leading indicator of your campaign’s effectiveness.  So while media metrics can serve as a barometer for your campaign performance, they fall short of communicating the true impact your efforts are having on your business.

A better way to determine if you are tracking to your business objectives is to determine a set of meaningful KPIs that are most influential for your business.  Taking a “test and learn” approach with leading indicators like customer acquisition cost or store visits and tying those to business outcomes (LTV, revenue, profits) will allow you to make better informed and impactful marketing decisions.

An example would be tracking conversions like “Get Directions” and understanding that consumers who are getting directions or performing a “near me” search are more likely to visit your store.  That data says that 50% of these types of mobile conversions lead to a store visit within 24 hours and more than 18% result in a purchase – that’s a clear signal of buying intent.

Embrace “Test & Learn” Instead of Optimizations

Ongoing and consistent optimizations are a critical component of any successful digital strategy.  However, to make significant leaps forward with your marketing efforts will require a commitment to strategic testing and not simply making incremental changes to your campaign efforts.  New and original experiences can deliver a level of value that optimizing alone (as a form of testing) can’t accomplish.

But you have to be prepared to fail – at least in the short term.  We see our testing success rates fall anywhere from 10%-20%.  However, we always learn something that can help us improve our efforts significantly.

It is a great time to be in the digital space.  Customer value is becoming the number 1 priority and measurement efforts are improving and evolving in exciting ways.  As these “mindset shifts” continue to take hold and businesses become more focused on the KPIs, or Metrics That Matter, marketers will better understand the impact their digital efforts have on their desired business outcome.

Bell Media is a leading digital marketing agency that is focused on delivering desired business outcomes for clients. We are a Google Premier Partner, and a 3X Inc 5000 Company, with offices in Montgomery, Birmingham, Nashville, and Houston. We consult with businesses to determine where they want to go with their businesses, and then recommend the best product mix to help them achieve their goals. Check out more of our thought leadership in the Blog section of our website.