Intrigued by the viral video phenomenon? YouTube has released a new Trends Map that highlights the most popular videos at a moment in time across the United States (other countries coming soon). A visual representation of YouTube’s Trends Dashboard, users can observe who’s watching what videos and where. They can also filter by gender, age, video views or shares.
What would happen if we handled our searches in the real world the same way we do online?
There is an increasingly large focus on what quantifiable results an organization is able to garner and how they can be used to “move the needle.” Frequently, there are so many different stakeholders between an organization and its partners (with each in charge of specific verticals of the business) that it becomes a challenge to collaborate and really impact the bottom line. What results are silos, each with their own disparate attempts at improving performance, or even worse, simply attempting to satisfy the need. Satisfying the need can be fine, but is fine going to “move the needle”?
Working in digital marketing, it’s easy to get caught up in the endless metrics we have available at our fingertips. From looking at the conversion rate, interaction rate, completion rate, bounce rate, click rate, etc… we can easily get lost in the numbers. We try so hard to make sure that we accurately regurgitate “what” happened that we forget to ask “why” it happened or “how” it relates to performance overall. Yes, the results may not always be favourable, but the results yield a story that may force us in a new direction and new way of thinking as we gather recommendations to improve performance in the future.
The economic downturn has reprogrammed us to overanalyze everything and dissect where each dollar is spent. The same thing happens within organizations; there is so much time focusing on performance in silos – seeing a collective snapshot and being able to truly attribute what is working, what is not working, and why – often it’s looked at too little and too late.
No organization is perfect, and no organization can do everything perfectly, but knowing where to focus time and energy can create efficiencies and streamline process for any organization. The more time you save on internal functionalities, the more time you have to dedicate to the external ones; the ones that are keeping the business going – the customers. There are so many places your customers are already providing you feedback, and all it takes is some listening. This can be done through monitoring social platforms, talking to your call centre, or evaluating website metrics. However it is done, it can give you an initial read on what big challenges the customers are facing, and you can start thinking about how to improve their experience. Maybe it is the website, or distribution, or production…whatever it is, if the customer is experiencing it and it’s causing a negative association with the brand, then bottom line – it is a problem.
Within organizations, each section or stakeholder has the ability to perform better; the sum is always stronger than its parts. When the organization is open and honest about its objectives and the right solutions to meet those objectives – not a patch to plug the hole – then “the needle” can really start to move. Sure, a patch can be a short-term solution, but having a long-term roadmap and the ability to adjust the roadmap based on the ever-changing economic and digital environment is essential. A patch may allow you to keep moving, but a strategic plan provides you with a direction to go in. After all, you may be moving the needle, but are you moving it in the right direction?
This article was originally published on ClickZ on September 26th.
Evaluating the success of your marketing efforts across key performance indicators (KPIs) is essential; however, making those KPIs meaningful can be a challenge. Here are four steps that can ensure you are accurately measuring the performance of your marketing efforts.
1. Start with your business objective.
Aligning with the company’s overall business objectives is important in proving marketing activities have the ability to directly impact the overall performance of the business. Additionally, this can help you develop marketing objectives and a strategy that aligns with the business objectives.
Ensure these marketing objectives have the ability to be universal and translate to KPIs across all of your efforts, from the goals established in your website analytics to media objectives. All too often marketers can get tactical in evaluating performance by expected metrics. For example, leads from a trade show or completion rates from online video are metrics or data segments typically used to evaluate these tactics; however, if leads or awareness is not part of the objective then how is that working to move the needle?
2. Invest in research.
Frequently we hear about “the power of data.” However, many organizations need to reevaluate the data they have, how they are using the data, how they are getting the data, and what additional data is essential in measuring their objectives. Working with what data you have is valuable, but also knowing what data you want to have and investing in the research can be a big win for many stakeholders across the business. Set up a research effort to ensure the data you want is going to be clear, measureable, and actionable.
3. Know what success looks like.
Creating KPIs, establishing benchmarks, and iterating to improve performance is essential in realizing the potential of any marketing effort, but you also have to know where to draw the line in order to determine if the effort is successful enough for you to continue to optimize. Having a hard cost-per-acquisition metric is easy, but not all businesses are able to have such clear metrics. Evaluating the lifetime value of a customer or specific segment audience is a good place to start in understanding that value.
4. Look at the big picture.
The lifetime value of a customer is critical for many organizations to recognize not only on the importance of acquisition and growth, but also where they need to invest more on retention. Additionally, when looking at metrics on a higher level insights emerge that can help to identify where problems or issues are. For example, spending $500,000 in media for an online marketing campaign to drive orders is fruitless if there is a problem with the website conversion rate. Spend the time and energy in looking at the big picture before you start throwing money around. Building benchmarks and KPIs from a poor user experience is hardly ideal. Identify your weaknesses, show your improvements, and then start benchmarking and optimizing.
While there are only four steps, the overall process can be overwhelming. To make sense of it all, map out a long-term plan of where you want to be and how you will get there with regular performance reporting and analysis along the way. It’s OK to make an assumption with the data you have in an effort to move forward and qualify that assumption later. The most important part is ensuring you have the ability to evaluate everything not only against the laid-out KPIs, but how it all works together in supporting the objectives.
This article was originally published on ClickZ on August 1st.
Last Wednesday, Mona Chammas and I attended eat:Strategy, where the discussion centred around research, psychology, branding, and design, as they relate to strategy. It was a day filled with both agency and in-house perspectives.
One of the overarching themes was the importance of building continuity between data, insight, strategy, and execution, while also aligning with project objectives. Sounds like a no-brainer, but it’s quite remarkable to be able to accomplish in practice.
To illustrate visually, let’s have a look at Leona Hobbs’ strategic sweet spot Venn diagram, one of my favourite ideas of the day:
To me, business objectives and audience needs/wants can come together to inform strategies to some extent. What sets projects up for successful execution, however, are the other two components: organizational readiness and regulatory considerations. How many of us have found ourselves in a situation with a stellar idea that meets business goals and customer needs, yet have a tough time selling the idea through, whether with a client or internally to stakeholders? Innovation can be uncomfortable for everyone, so there needs to be an appetite for it, as well as the right (regulatory) environment.
I’ve handpicked the most potent thoughts on customer research, insights, and strategy from the conference, in bite-sized form.
Strategy vs. tactics
A shared gripe of those working in strategy is when others mistake a tactic (an action that can be taken to execute the strategy) for a strategy (an idea of how goals or objectives can be achieved). The realization for me yesterday was that if not for my business background, I wouldn’t have known the terminology. Part of the issue in my opinion is education and developing a shared understanding of the meaning of the words strategy and tactic. I would challenge the strategy community to help educate others on the difference in creative ways.
Here’s my simple attempt at an illustration:
(Organizational readiness could involve knowing how to drive. Regulatory considerations could mean driving on streets instead of the sidewalks.)
Customer research as secret weapon
Leona highlighted some facts from an Interbrand study that were telling: more than a quarter of the 672 companies surveyed across 10 sectors are not seeking customer input when developing digital experiences and 46% of those surveyed are not even making use of publicly available data for customer research. The takeaway for me is that there is an immense opportunity to improve customer research and set your brand apart from the rest.
Two ways to set your research efforts up for success
1) Align research objectives with business and project objectives (I am a big advocate of developing a shared understanding of research questions and business goals).
2) Invest in a robust analytics setup so you can get useful, actionable insights from your data down the road.
For more nuggets on eat:Strategy, check out Mona’s post.