7 essential elements for a website measurement plan

You only need a few key measurements to ascertain if your advertising and marketing is supporting contribution to revenue

You only need a few key measurements to ascertain if your advertising and marketing is supporting contribution to revenue

 

Making dollars and sense from Google website analytics

Google website analytics: love them or hate them, they are here to stay. Interpreting the data those dimensions and metrics provide can be challenging for the analytic novice. To Google’s credit, they do provide online tutorials to help marketers start to think in analytical terms, interpret analytical data, and take the necessary action to achieve the business objective.

While the sheer amount of data that is available can be overwhelming, it’s important to remember that you really only need a few key measurements to ascertain if your advertising and marketing is supporting contribution to revenue.

Spend the time up front developing the website measurement plan

I can’t stress enough how important this step is. Without a plan, you are guessing about the effectiveness of your marketing (both offline and online) and the related investment being made by the company.

The measurement plan serves multiple purposes. The first is to gain consensus from management on what’s important from their perspective, and secondly, to be able to supply qualitative and quantitative data that identifies and tracks customer behavior as they interact with the website.

7 essential elements of the website measurement plan

  1. Why does this business exist? Start with this simple question. If you can sum up the answer in one sentence, it will help to identify the objectives to be met to support the business.

For example: Burk Advertising and Marketing exists to help businesses achieve optimal contribution to revenue generation through their advertising, branding, and marketing efforts.

Certainly, this is not a Harvard business school approach but it strips out all of the excess baggage that businesses accumulate that can convolute focus.

  1. Business objectives – What does the website need to accomplish to help achieve the business objective? Thinking in analytic terms, this focuses on customer acquisition, behavior, and outcomes. Depending on the type of business you are in, outcomes may consist of the following:

 Desired outcomes

  • Drive product sales
  • Drive contact form submissions
  • Encourage engagement and awareness
  • Encourage frequent visitation
  • Provide information quickly
  1. Strategy – specific actions that will be taken to achieve business goals. Strategy can cover areas such as lead generation, awareness building, thought leadership, or building a community of returning website visitors.
  1. Tactical execution – where micro and macro conversions are identified that help support the strategy. Attribution for conversions can be first step attribution or last step attribution, depending upon the importance of the action taken by the customer. For example, if a new website visitor can be attributed to a digital ad, that could be a first step attribution.
  1. Key Performance Index (KPI) – reports that analytics generate to identify specific customer behavior on the website. These reports can identify specific behaviors and events that can lead to a macro conversion. For example, downloading a PDF or signing up for a newsletter are desirable behaviors that can lead to sales.
  1. Targets – metrics (data) that represent achieving goals. For example, if a KPI was to increase the visitor’s duration of time-on-site, the target to achieve could be greater than (>) 2 minutes.
  1. Audience segments – consists of new vs. returning visitors, geo-traffic sources (country, region, metro area and city) and converted visits.

Successful digital outcomes are based on having a well-structured website measurement plan. The plan not only guides marketing efforts but can also help to identify areas in IT and human resources that may need attention to compete in the digital marketplace.

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Making a case for business-to-business marketing investment

Marketing execs need to provide accountable metrics that contribute to company revenue.

Marketing execs need to provide accountable metrics that contribute to company revenue.

Soft marketing metrics don’t impress the CEO or CFO.

In most business-to-business vertical marketing segments, marketing is viewed as an expense on the balance sheet. One reason for this is that the justification for marketing has relied on soft metrics — awareness levels, brand recognition, website visitor traffic, target audience reach, etc. While these metrics are important and part of the marketing equation, they lack accountability for revenue generation. This reinforces the perception with the CEO, CFO, and COO that marketing is a cost center, not a revenue center.

Moving to a revenue center requires marketing execs to rethink their role and provide accountable metrics that contribute to company revenue.

Moving beyond soft metrics to revenue cycle metrics

Business-to-business marketers have their feet planted in two different worlds. One foot is in the traditional (and comfortable) world of paid media placement, ad campaigns, direct mail, trade shows, and public relations. These tactics yielded soft metrics and worked to exclude marketing from the revenue generation conversation. Because of this, marketing became the stepchild of sales. It was easy to see the expenditures and hard to justify the results.

The other foot is in the digital world. In this world, everything can be measured, tested, and scrutinized. This can be an uncomfortable place because there is nowhere to hide. However, it does present the opportunity for marketing to shift from a cost center to revenue generation center if it is properly planned, executed, and measured.

Where to start

Start small and plan the program with ROI measurement from the beginning. The goal is not backwards measurement to prove ROI but rather forward focused measurement that influences decision-making.

Don’t try to measure all things. Because digital has a lot of moving pieces, select areas to measure that contribute to profitability.

Plan and establish ROI estimates upfront. Consult with management team members that have a negative view of marketing, and build their pessimism into the marketing forecast. Remember, there is nowhere to hide and it’s all about making better marketing decisions that lead to revenue generation.

Success measurement

  • Select 3 to 5 key metrics
  • Measure success versus goals – good, bad or ugly
  • Drill down – measure every campaign, channel, sales rep, and region
  • Track tends over time
  • Create a dashboard that shows what marketing is achieving and contributing to revenue results

Very few small to mid-sized B-to-B brands have a 100% digital customer base. Many marketing automation programs (MAPs) lean heavily on online lead generation as the basis for marketing ROI planning. Small to mid-sized brands may struggle with this due to the size and sophistication of the markets they serve. Therefore, it is incumbent on marketers to identify digital initiatives that lend themselves to ROI measurement and revenue planning.

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Digital Ad Targeting – What Do Marketers Know About You?

Who is looking at your data?

Who is looking at your data?

More than you suspect – first, second, and third party data

The adoption of programmatic advertising has given rise to using captured data to target banner ad placement across ad exchanges and networks.

This data is referred to as first, second, and third party data. Depending on which side of the buy/sell equation you stand on — advertiser or publisher — these terms have different meanings. What is important to keep in mind is just about all programmatic advertising is data driven marketing, with the intent of making more efficient targeted ad buying.

Not all data is created equal

First party data

First party data refers to data gathered about you through a direct relationship. Even in its simplest form, there are two types of first party data — advertiser and publisher.

For an advertiser, this can be data captured through a registration, check out transaction, cookie content, purchasing history, or merchandise searches. Advertisers use this data in a variety of ways, including showing additional merchandise that may be related to your purchasing history.

Publishers also lay claim to first party data; however, most likely not due to a direct relationship with you. Publishers monitor their ad networks and store analytical information, such as age, gender, etc., to create interest segments, such as banking/finance, travel, autos, technology, etc. This data creates a behavioral profile of your interest that helps advertisers target their programmatic advertising purchases across the publisher’s network to the pages you view.

Second party data

Second party data refers to one first party entity – advertiser or publisher – sharing information with each other.

For example, Amazon might partner with the New York Times to gain access to its audience behavioral profile. Amazon considers this information second party because it did not collect it. However, Amazon uses the data to purchase advertising space and place a banner ad of items that you recently viewed on the Amazon site.

Third party data

Third party data is information that is collected by an entity that does not have a direct relationship with you. Third party data collectors pay publishers to collect data about their site visitors and create profiles on your tastes, shopping habits, and behaviors as you move around the web. This information in turn is sold to advertisers with the intent of making their ad buy more effective.

The current reality of the internet is that we provide advertisers, publishers, and third party entities with our personal information for free. In turn, our information is repackaged and sold to marketers that use it to provide us with a “more personalized” web experience. Depending on your point of view, this can a good thing or something we should be very wary of.

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Why Business-to-Business Marketing is Transforming to People-to-People Marketing

In 1958 McGraw-Hill published the famous “man in the chair ad.” This iconic image served as the rallying cry for decades of business-to-business marketing.

In 1958 McGraw-Hill published the famous “man in the chair ad.” This iconic image served as the rallying cry for decades of business-to-business marketing.

Remember studying “Mass Communications” in college? Mass communications was born out of the industrial revolution when manufacturers learned to make lots of the same thing via the assembly line. Henry Ford’s Rouge Factory was the model of efficiency, producing at times more than 1000 cars a day for a growing country. The assembly line concept also caught on with marketers.

This was due to the fact that the few media networks — broadcast and print — were large and expensive to staff and maintain. Networks could deliver the demographics that marketers were after and make it relatively efficient. All marketers had to do was to place advertisements with the assurance that their intended target audience would eventually be exposed to their brand messaging.

Under this model, the company controlled the time and place for customer communications. In addition, there were limited channels in which customers could express their opinion of the company’s products and services.

Enter People-to-People Marketing

Technology has ushered in the era of People-to-People Marketing. Mass communications has transformed into one-to-one communications. This is due to smaller, lighter and more powerful computing technology. With thousands of channels available and low entry cost, anyone can post their opinion about what they like and dislike. The same is true for brands. No longer are they confined to “mass communication” channels. The shift in technology has ushered in a cultural change, disrupting big media networks and requiring marketers to re-evaluate their strategies and tactics.

Now, connecting to customers calls for integrating both push and pull communications strategies to create brand preference.

People-to People Marketing is a strategic execution that combines relevant content with selected media channels to create a personalized experience for the customer. When orchestrated correctly, the content becomes the fiber of the brand story, reaching the customer on different emotional levels. Astute brands recognize this and are implementing People-to-People marketing to gain the customer’s trust and increase the likelihood of an emotional connection with the brand.

To learn more about the transformation of Business-to-Business marketing to People-to-People Marketing, click here to view and download our free guide.

People-to-people Marketing and “Small Data”

Actionable marketing strategies come from looking at the “small data” sets and applying human insight.

Actionable marketing strategies come from looking at the “small data” sets and applying human insight.

Human insight combined with “Small Data” provides a better customer experience

Devin Wenig, President of eBay Marketplaces recently spoke with McKinsey & Company about how digital technology was transforming the retail marketplace. One of his insights that can apply to companies serving the aviation industry was his take on the importance of “small data” vs. “big data”.

For definition purposes, let’s identify “big data” as data sets that represent large groups of people and certain types of behavior associated with their purchasing habits. This data is gathered from transactional data, website analytics and social insights, and usually requires the service of a data scientist to interpret trends and connections.

“Small Data,” on the other hand, is about putting the customer first. Engaging the customer with information and tools organized and packaged to be easily accessible, understandable, and actionable to accomplish the task at hand (think apps). Companies that understand small data can use it to their advantage by creating relationships leading to increased brand loyalty and repeat business.

“Small Data” leads to actionable strategies

Actionable marketing strategies come from looking at the “small data” sets and applying human insight, resulting in knowing your customer base as individuals – their likes, dislikes, purchasing history – and providing an easy to use, relevant online user experience.

Long tail data – a complete customer picture

A search engine can sort through millions of bits of data from a keyword query and provide an exact match, but it cannot provide additional queries for items that may be related. For example, say your website has a search feature and the customer has entered a part number. The part number query will take them to the requested part configuration but is incapable of identifying additional parts that may be needed for installation in a specific airframe or for a retrofit of a new digital component. Using the “small data” approach, the search query could also display a complete view of additional components associated with the original query, assuring that the customer gets all they need the first time around.

Relevant online experiences lead to loyal customers

People-to-people marketing requires engaging with customers by providing useful information. Thinking beyond a single data set and applying insight such as including installation tips and additional component selections creates customer loyalty. Thinking of “small data” as the “right data” will help marketers build better customer profiles, leading to a better online experience for all involved.

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Airlines Embrace Mobile Marketing

Airlines are relying on mobile marketing to build brand loyalty with the connected traveler

Airlines are relying on mobile marketing to build brand loyalty with the connected traveler

Airlines are experimenting with mobile marketing strategies to engage and connect with their customer base.

The State of Airline Marketing 2014 report published by SimpliFlying and airlinetrends.com identifies seven trends that airlines are exploring to increase brand preference and customer engagement. It’s not surprising that the tactical execution of these trends rely heavily on the connectivity of mobile marketing using social media networks and mobile devices (smart phones & tablets) combined with promotion. Some of the trends mentioned have merit. Others could be considered annoying in a confined space. One thing for sure is that airlines are beginning to understand the connected traveler and are looking for innovative ways to create brand loyalty.

7 airline marketing trends in 2014

1. Micro events – Organized onboard events, ranging from mid-air fashion shows to golf putting challenges and product giveaways. Airlines leading the way include Virgin America, JetBlue, Southwest Airlines, and Air New Zealand. Check out the Air New Zealand putting challenge event video.

2. Cool tech – Airlines that embrace their inner geek are sponsoring hackathons to dream up new travel apps for your mobile devices. Emirates Airline sponsored a 24-hour travel hackathon and is forming a technology and creative community to keep up with mobile marketing technologies and to co-create travel apps.

3. Visual culture – Tapping into the ability of our mobile devices to capture, enhance, and share visual content on social media channels, airlines are encouraging the ultimate “selfie.” Turkish Airlines YouTube channel racked up over 135 million views in a single month for their “Kobe vs Messi Selfie Shootout” video.

4. People Power – Airlines are attracted to the size and power of social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Several have offered special rates on airfares outside of traditional distribution venues on platforms like Groupon. This is a form of “Crowd Clout,” where airlines have the ability to create customer frenzies with the offer of deep discounts and viral sharing using mobile devices.

5. Emerging markets – Creating travel stories using emotional connections, airlines are promoting destinations and international travel to and from emerging countries. These include the “BRIC”s (Brazil, Russia, India and China) and the “Next-11” (including South Africa, Vietnam, Indonesia, South Korea, Turkey and Mexico). British Airways is promoting their North American flights to India with “A Mother’s Wish” web posting.

6. Innovation is the marketing – This is a low cost entry approach into product and service marketing. Examples include wireless chargers found in customer lounges, RFID tags that let you track your luggage, and “meet and seat” experiments that let you check out your seat mates’ social profile before selecting a seat.

7. Outdoor creativity – Unconventional advertising in the form of digital billboards, kiosks, and point of sale floor graphics. British Airways #lookup billboard in Piccadilly Circus was wired to detect BA flights flying below the clouds and would display the flight number and destination along with a URL flight booking and price.

To register to download the full report, click here

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The challenges of “Big Data”

Don’t be a slave to the data; rather, use it as a tool to sharpen the creative solution

Don’t be a slave to the data; rather, use it as a tool to sharpen the creative solution

Big Data is a tool and should be used as a means to an end

“Big Data” is a misleading term. It’s not a technology, but rather involves using data to gain insight. Big Data helps you visualize structured, semi-structured, and unstructured data. This visualization of combined data provides a multi-dimensional view of the ecosystem your product or service resides in.

Types of data

Structured data, also known as Business Intelligence (BI), is transactional data.  Examples include addresses, SIC codes, point-of- sale data, customer resource management data, phone numbers, emails, loyalty card use, and energy consumption data. Data of this nature can be accessed and viewed in Excel spreadsheets.

Semi-structured data consists of web server click stream data, such ad web logs, IP addresses, page visits, time on page, cookie tracking, geo-usage patterns, customer behavior while on site, and the development of user profiles. The primary characteristic of this type of data is that it does not lend itself to display in rows, columns, or text.

Unstructured data is the content of documents, natural language, Tweets, Likes, comments, blogs, phone calls, emails, audio files, and images. These are the elements of human communication recognized as content but completely foreign to machine language.

How to use the data “Big Data” provides

From a marketing perspective, Big Data can be viewed as three segments:

1. Big Data when viewed properly can provide better insight

This was once the domain of a “gut feel.” Now when combining the three aforementioned data types, a panoramic view can be created of the acceptance and use of the product or service.

2. Better insight helps in making better business decisions

All of this data crunching provides a granular to global view of the acceptance of your product or service offering.  It is in this context that better business decisions can be made with regards to where to geographically expand, identify the most desirable product features and attributes, and which marketing efforts are delivering the anticipated results.

3. Better business decisions lead to better creative solutions

Big Data, when represented properly, can complement a creative brief by acting as a wall of information that can be prioritized, moved, and reconfigured for actionable items and measured for results.

“Big Data” challenges

Don’t be a slave to the data; rather, use it as a tool to sharpen the creative solution, extend the brand engagement, and think beyond the current place in time that the visualization represents.

In addition, be aware that small brands may find the results disappointing because of an insufficient amount of semi-structured and unstructured data that is available.

And finally, management has to be committed to Big Data by providing resources and direction. Big Data offers marketing accountability, but it is incumbent on management to decide the following:

  • What to measure
  • What data has the highest priority to aid in business decisions
  • Where to invest resource and capital
  • What to do with the data – how does it shape the business outcome

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