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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Why brands should establish ethical principles for data collection

The internet of things is constantly collecting intimate data.

The internet of things is constantly collecting intimate data.

Data collected should provide value to all concerned parties

The Altimeter Group published “The Trust Imperative: A Framework for Ethical Data Use.” The report gathered information from several different sources to provide a well-rounded view of how consumers view data collection and how organizations are starting to rethink data collection practices.

Data collection is becoming more ubiquitous, thanks to the “internet of things” – thermostats, refrigerators, wearables, and of course smart phones, to name a few. Therefore, protecting consumer data, from encryption, to storage, to online marketing, is becoming a brand attribute.

Rethinking the digital cost-benefit analysis

The online marketing axiom, rooted in cost-benefit analysis, is that consumers will trade their personal data for perceived discounts. The internet provides consumers with free services – search engine, photo archive, social media networks, etc. – if the consumer shares personal, friend list or email information.

This appears to be a good deal on the surface. However, upon closer inspection, many organizations use data collection as a profit center, selling data to programmatic media firms, credit reporting operations, database marketing firms, and large retailers. In fact, there is so much consumer data for sale (over 1500 data points for each of the 500 million active internet users, most of them in the United States) that a precise mosaic of the consumer’s lifestyle, actions, interest, food preferences, and ailments can be purchased for marketing purposes.

If this comes as a shock, it shouldn’t be

Most Americans are resigned to the fact that there is nothing they can do to thwart the onslaught of data collection by marketers. This comes from a lack of understanding about digital marketing and a preconceived notion that the Federal Government is looking out for their best interests when it comes to their personal privacy rights.

Why brands should be worried

The internet of things is constantly collecting intimate data. This is changing the nature of data collection from something that requires action to something that just happens. Consequently, consumers are becoming more uncomfortable with how brands will use their data.

As the tension level rises around data collection, trust becomes a serious issue for brands. An Altimeter® survey of over 2000 consumers revealed that over 45% of those surveyed had little or no trust in how organizations use their data.

This lack of trust has a quantifiable effect on business performance. The 2015 Edelman Trust Barometer survey of 33,000 general population respondents found that 63% of people that lack trust in an organization will refuse to buy products and services from it. 58% criticized the organization to friends or colleagues, and 37% shared negative opinions online.

The impact of distrust clearly affects revenue, reputation, and stock price.

How brands can benefit from ethical principles in data collection

Brands should establish principles for ethical data collection, beginning with the expectation that any data collected should deliver value to all concerned parties. This is a litmus test for any “go or no go” marketing initiatives.

A second principle that organizations should consider is data minimization, meaning what is the least amount of data needed to meet the marketing objective? By practicing minimization, brands promote more sustainable and less risky analysis.

To download the report “The Trust Imperative: A Framework for Ethical Data Use” click here.

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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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Ad Technology: Programmatic Advertising

Many marketers have become proponents of programmatic advertising.

Many marketers have become proponents of programmatic advertising.

Welcome to the high-speed trading desk for automated digital advertising placement

Marketers spent more then $3.37 billion on programmatic advertising last year. eMarketer is estimating the programmatic advertising will top $9 billion by 2017. Research studies by the Association of National Advertisers and Forrester indicated that only 23% of marketers said they used and understood programmatic advertising and that 26% indicated they understood the concept but needed to learn more about how to apply it to campaigns.

Kantar Media defines programmatic advertising as using technology to automate the buying and selling of digital advertising. “Programmatic” has different meanings to different people depending on which side — buyer or seller — of the transaction you are on.

The term is founded on an auction concept of buying and selling digital ad space inventory on ad exchanges and networks. Through this automated process, buyers bid for online ad impression through real-time auctions that occur in the time it takes for a webpage to load.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) has identified 4 types of programmatic advertising transactions:

Automated guaranteed – refers to reserved inventory at a fixed price between one seller and one buyer. This can also be referred to as “Programmatic guaranteed.”

Unreserved fixed rate – unreserved inventory at a fixed price between one seller and one buyer. This is also known as “Preferred deals or Private access.”

Invitation-only auction – unreserved inventory available at auction prices between one seller and a few buyers. This is also referred to as “Private marketplace or Private auction.”

Open auction – unreserved inventory, available at auction prices between one seller and all buyers. This is referred to as “Real-Time Bidding (RTB) or Open exchange.”

These four types of transactions, based on two criteria, determine how the price is set and what type of inventory is transacted.

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The process of programmatic advertising

In its simplest form the process works like this: in the time it takes for an ad impression to load in a user’s web browser, information about the page it is on and the user viewing history is passed to an ad exchange, which auctions it off to the advertiser willing to pay the highest price. The winning bidder’s ad is then loaded into the web page.

Advertisers use demand side platforms (DSP) software to purchase advertising in an automated process. DSPs allow advertisers to purchase impressions across a wide range of publisher’s sites, but target specific users based on the geo-location and the users’ previous browsing behavior.

Publishers use supply side platforms (SSP) to connect their impression inventory to ad exchanges, DSPs, and ad networks all at once. This allows the publishers to offer their inventory to a large audience and achieve the highest rate possible for the ad impression.

If all of this reminds you of a stock exchange high-speed trading desk, you are correct, which is not surprising because most of these platforms are funded by venture capitalists, private equity firms, and publically traded advertising and media companies.

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Marketing Automation Platforms (MAPs)

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The challenges of “Big Data”

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Marketing Automation Platforms (MAPs)

Blog_110_Marketing Automation Platforms

MAPs are a set of software tools with many moving pieces.

 

The promise of Marketing Automation Platforms is to integrate and automate marketing functions

Marketing Automation Platforms (MAPs) are receiving lots of attention in the B-to-B marketing sphere. Most of these platforms are targeted toward companies with large database records that execute the majority of their marketing efforts online. For originations that fit the aforementioned criteria, MAPs promise greater marketing efficiency, integration with sales CRM software, reduced external resource expenditures, and ROI tracking for each marketing event.

The strength of an MAP is its ability to capture digital transactional information for specific marketing actions. These actions can include the following:

  • Email opens, top performing links, and overall performance
  • Website visitation, visitor page interaction and analytics
  • Inbound marketing responses to posted content and landing pages
  • Social platform monitoring for sentiment and customer insight

These actions are generally considered first encounter lead generation activities found at the top of the sales funnel. It is at this junction that marketing and sales must agree on what a qualified lead looks like and what steps are necessary to move this lead through the sales funnel.

With the definition of a qualified lead identified, an MAP can provide the functionality to automatically continue to reach out to the prospect. As the prospect demonstrates intent to purchase, CRM software is able to provide sales with leads that require shorter close times and better success rates.

All of this sounds great, almost like push button marketing; however, there are several things to consider:

  •  MAPs are a set of software tools with many moving pieces
  • MAPs are not a substitute for a strategic marketing plan
  • Underestimating the amount of content required to shepherd the prospect through the sales funnel
  • The current marketing staff may not have the technical horsepower needed to manage the MAP
  • Time commitment and resources from IT will be needed for implementation, integration, and ongoing maintenance
  • Substantial learning curve and resources required for marketing and sales personnel
  • Implementation time of 6 to 12 months to see results
  • Identification of critical data chains for ROI reporting
  • Commitment from the executive wing to fund and nurture MAP implementation

MAPs focus is on digital interaction. What about traditional marketing and brand building? These software platforms are challenged to know what effect display advertising has with regards to purchasing behavior, brand sentiment, and brand loyalty.

Don’t get me wrong here. I see the benefit of ROI analysis and the positive potential MAPs can have when implemented properly. However, at the same time, I am also cautious about MAPS. My concern begins with the automaton nature of the entire process. The promise of inbound marketing is to engage with interested prospects and begin to build a relationship. Being inundated with additional email offers and qualifying phone calls can be a turn-off, stopping the relationship building cold. In addition, marketers must be cautious about treating prospects like Pavlov’s dog. Thinking that they can be trained to respond by redundancy is a danger.

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The Precarious State of Advertising & Marketing

Humans respond to creativity. We are attracted to design, color, shape, and imagination.

Creativity and experience matter more than ever.

Daily we are subjected to a constant barrage of marketing messages. From text messages for discounts from our favorite yogurt establishment, to emails from strangers, to online advertising featuring talking Geckos backed by Berkshire Hathaway’s unlimited media budget. It seems that there are neither limits nor boundaries that marketers will not exceed to try to get our attention.

Because we carry the internet in our pocket, we are at risk of information overload. Already we have short attention spans and our tempers are getting even shorter.

That is precisely why creativity and experience matter more now than ever.

Humans respond to creativity. We are attracted to design, color, shape, and imagination. We want to associate with experiences. And that is the essence of great advertising and marketing.  Corporations and their brands spend billions of dollars every year trying to gain a foothold in our consciousness, hedging their bet that when we “need” something, we will select their brand over the competition.

Algorithms can be creative but they can’t replace creativity.

It seems in the digital universe of search, some have decided that efficiency and scale are all that matters. The selling of keyword search terms have turned search engines into the largest advertising agencies on the planet. Forgoing strategy and concept for the sake of efficiency, thousands of small brands compete for customers through paid links, hoping that the phone rings. Unfortunately, the only brand differentiation for paid links is the price you pay for the search term.

Digital is disruptive, but it’s also disposable.

Hindsight tells us that digital advertising and marketing has been a disruptive force to traditional media and advertising channels. Yes, it has taken its toll on newspapers and magazine subscriptions and advertising revenue. Digital channels are more efficient, use fewer natural resources, and are capable of getting to market faster.  Nevertheless, for all of its efficiency, digital content is disposable. No one collects digital pages or ads because they were moved to action by the photographer’s skills in capturing the emotion of the moment, the art director’s sense of design in bringing the images and copy together, or the copywriter’s nuance for tone and style.

Are you experienced?

Navigating the waters of traditional and digital marketing is a balancing act. Follow the digital evangelist too far and you can slowly drown in a maze of platforms and data. Follow the traditionalist for too long and your brand becomes stodgy, or worse, irrelevant in a connected world.

As we survey the current state of advertising and marketing, we need to remember that what we have before us is a product of our own making.  Great brands understand the need for innovation and are not afraid to try new strategies and tools, but they also remember the creativity, experience, and imagination that helped them get where they are today.

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