A few weeks ago, my colleague Jim Nail and I conducted a “Fix Your Measurement Mess” workshop at the 2017 Consumer Marketing Forum in New York. Our workshop became a great conversation starter for participants to understand and take inventory of their challenges and to recognize priority metrics for their own businesses.

The 4-hour measurement workshop was a hands-on session to deconstruct marketers’ current measurement approach, prioritize and classify metrics, unearth what makes a valuable metric, and identify the triggers marketers need to start, stop, or continue monitoring as they become more measurement savvy. We discussed current measurement maturity across channels, metrics adoption, and baseline capabilities for measurement success. Here are a few things we learned:

  • Marketers are more confident in their metrics. Our workshop participants know the metrics that help them determine campaign success, customer intention, and customer preference. For example, participants thoughtfully conducted deep analysis of understanding how awareness metrics drove customers to the consideration phases. They also discussed the importance of mapping the distance between a metric and a sale to quantify the real value of their metrics.
  • Performance marketing measurement is a full-time job. Participants told us that getting the most out of measurement practices – whether that be understanding a post-campaign report from their agency or testing a new marketing measurement solution – requires the full attention of an expert because implementation and maintenance is hard. Your dedicated marketing measurement person or team knows your business objectives best and understands the data inputs, process, and analysis needed to set-up a truly data-driven approach to marketing.
  • Metrics overload is still a problem.  Participants are looking to a whole list of metrics to better understand marketing performance, channel influence, and customer behaviors. In a metrics documenting and prioritizing exercise, workshop participants generalized performance KPIs that were vanity metrics for some but leading metrics for others. Marketers still struggle to let go of standby metrics – like click through rates, or time spent on site – and embrace metrics that are clear indicators of value.

Based on our workshop findings, here’s what we suggest:

  • Pick fewer metrics, but ones that have more meaning. Select specific journeys across different phases of the customer life cycle and map out marketing and media objectives and their corresponding metrics to uncover campaign success. Ensure that your agency keeps consistent tagging and campaign tracking codes, relieving the burden in looking up campaign performance metrics later. And finally, prioritize the metrics that connect to your objective. For example, acquisition campaigns should focus on how many net new customers acquired, the cost of campaigns, and other leading indicators for high customer lifetime value.  
  • Connect awareness and consideration metrics with direct response metrics.  Our workshop participants flagged broad reaching metrics like impressions, time spent viewing, awareness, and intention as low value metrics because of their distance to a sale. On the flip side, conversion, click-through, social, opt-in, cost per acquisition, and other direct response metrics were deemed a better indicator of business value. Nontransparent awareness type metrics have business value. Marketers must focus on how awareness metrics help marketers understand brand health but can be indicators of what a customer will do next – forcing marketers to connect different points of the journey. For a publisher, a time spent viewing can indicate better content for the end customer resulting in an eventual lift in the ultimate KPI – subscriptions.
  • Select technologies that will measure and optimize against your KPIs. Avoid measurement for measurement sakes; look for technologies that can access data points needed to calculate your most important KPIs. Data dashboard will help you access and aggregate campaign results, while more advanced statistically based technologies will calculate the true value of marketing and media performance and provide a more holistic view of performance. These “shiny toys” will come at different price points, levels of service and implementation, and amount of work on your end to maintain the reporting and due diligence needed to get the most out of what you spend.
  • Pay attention to vendor solutions building pipes into the walled gardens. Marketers are frustrated with sparse data availability from third-party providers including the metric calculation opaqueness, leading to outright metrics miscalculations. The good news: more third-party sources are opening their secret garden; Facebook now promotes partnerships with measurement vendors and Google just announced its Marketing Mix Model Partners program. Take advantage now and forge these relationships to gain control of your marketing performance data.

Back at Forrester now we’re excited to be kicking off research to help marketers dig into different measurement methodologies and to understand the ever-changing measurement vendor landscape by highlighting some breakout vendors. If you’re interested in hearing more, please reach out!