marketing metrics

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Data Analysts For All.

In a marketing plan for a huge multiuse senior care organization I included the hiring of a half- or full-time data analyst. The essence of the brand idea being “average care is poor care.”  Reading this morning about NYC public schools and their tough road to grade and graduation improvement, it was reported that some progress was underway, albeit at great financial costs.

Well, positive results are positive results. A proper and deep dive analysis of the results may work to reorient the investment more efficiently. Improvement is what social orgs want and certainly what marketers want. We just have to be able to codify, recreate and extend the improvements. And the way to do so is through data.

Every marketing team – big or small – needs a data analyst. Sadly, for all but the largest companies it’s a line item rarely in the budget. Without a data analyst the task falls to the CFO or marketing director – two titles not well equipped to read data contributory to marketing success.   Money in, money out, yes. Nuance, no. 

I once presented a comprehensive list of marketing objectives to a multibillion dollar healthcare client – one with serious data nerds in the quality control dept.  The marketing director thought the marketing metric list was too long. “How can our brand and advertising program accomplish all that?” said he.  “By measuring,” said I.

Peace.

 

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There has been recent debate on marketing blogs about the role of the “creative technologist.”  As if technologists were not creative in their own right.  Edward Broches of Mullen and Scott Prindle of Crispin are active discoursers.  A big marketer and agency challenge today is finding and creating a central point around which the creative department, media department, strategy dept. and technologists can array.   As a brand planner, I vote strategy. Messrs. Brooches and Prindle, it seems, choose a coder comfortable in the sunlight and art galleries.

But upon further thought, I’m going in a different direction.  I am rolling with a creative analytics person. Talk about head down types.  Any new agency worth its fee has analytics people in pods around the shop.  They are overworked, natively digital and not particularly creative – though they may snowboard.  What they aren’t, are invited to the creative briefing meetings. And if they are, tend to be the quite dude in the corner.

These Analgesics (analysts who can find the pain) are seers of patterns. They may not be able to come up with a selling idea, TV spot or first user experience, but they can and should be in the room and allowed to contribute. Perhaps not the central figure, but in the room. Analgesics munch numbers like nobody’s business, plus they are real consumers.  Bring them to the table. Let them talk without being derided.

Analyzing success metrics, seeing patterns and predicting patterns will be the new black in creative development.  Peaceful!

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Thanks to the Web, more and more we are hearing the acronym UX (User Experience) in marketing discussions, referring to how one experiences and navigates a website, game or other interactive property. In the print world, UX was tied solely to art direction — things like reading from top to bottom, left to right, or where an eye fixates first on a page.  But with so much to see, read and do on a webpage the science of UX has become legion.

Metrics and Tools

So what’s the opposite of user experience?  When users experience a website and engage with a company via the web, what do we call the resulting intelligence?  What’s the short hand term? Mostly it’s called metrics: hits, clicks, time on site, referring site, bounce, etc. Over and above metrics, thanks to social media monitoring and measurement tools from Radian Six and (freebie company) Social Mention, are more behavioral quantitative views: sentiment, passion and affinity.

Indirect Benefits

In her new book Open Leadership, Charlene Li talks about some harder-to-measure things that engagement and dialogue can accomplish for a brand, referred to as “indirect benefits.” When a non-employee in a brand community answers a help question it reduces customer care cost and gives that helper a sense of brand accomplishment – both direct and indirect benefit.

All of these inbound forms of market intelligence or user intelligence are valuable. Business changing valuable.  So what shall we call the opposite of UX? What a company experiences when mining intelligence.  It needs a name. Involvement tracking? User forensics?  What is your top-of-mind thought? Peace?

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ROS

scaleROS stands for Return on Strategy. It’s a chop block on the pop marketing term ROI which stands for Return On Investment (for members of the clan of the cave bear).  ROI is an important marketing measure but way more tactical and transitory than ROS. ROI without a strong understanding of Return On Strategy can do more harm than good – prolonging a misguided marketing plan. (“Weeee, our cost per customer is down!”)

In order to measure marketing strategy one must first have a strategy. Make more money is not a marketing strategy, nor is sell more products. For a hospital system, I once arrayed a number of measures that would positively impact the bottom line: patients per year, percentage of beds occupied, recruitment of excellent physicians, reduction in number of in-hospital infections, out-migration to the city, consumer perception of clinical excellence. The marketing director and even the ad agency principals pushed back “Advertising can’t do all these things.”

My response? “Sure it can — if we articulate the right strategy.” One needs to know all the important measures of success before developing a brand or marketing strategy. The next step is to prioritize those measures. Some will be at odds with others and decisions must be made. Others will be tougher to move based on competitor entrenchment. However, once all of the key performance indicators (KPI) or measures are known and prioritized based on product and marketing realities and brand vision, the strategy can be determined. And over time — measured. That’s the real weeee. Peace!

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