How to Measure Digital Marketing Campaigns

September 29, 2015
Contributor: Heather Pemberton Levy

When striving to measure campaigns across multiple channels and touch points, take a customer viewpoint focusing on action, engagement and perception.

Marketers have a data problem: Too many channels. Too many devices. Too many tools. The list of excess goes on and on with little relief on the horizon. Awash in clickstream data, marketers struggle to measure digital marketing campaigns which can become unwieldy due to ambiguous goals, channel overload and vendor hype.

The key to a successful plan, noted Martin Kihn, research director for Gartner for Marketing Leaders, is to shift your focus to the consumer’s point of view and see marketing and advertising as a series of opportunities that may (or may not) elicit a response. Choose the right metrics to quantify, report and improve that response. Deriving metrics around user perception, engagement and action can clarify a campaign’s impact on the business. To understand the power of this lens, it helps to first see the big picture of measuring campaigns.

A Holistic Campaign Measurement Plan
  1. Map your marketing plan
    Map the ways the campaign intends to find the target customer. It’s important to be able to quantify the number of opportunities, defined as any time a marketing message is exposed to a consumer, such as display advertising impressions.

  2. Add metrics to the map
    For each channel, outline the metrics that track the consumer from opportunity to business outcome.

  3. Create composite metrics
    To determine the effectiveness of a channel or tactic, develop ratio metrics using the basic structure of “Success Signals / Opportunities = Success Ratio” (e.g. Email opens / Email sends = Email open rate).

  4. Determine business impact
    Calculate business impact by layering cost and benefit into your composite success metrics where costs typically come from media spend.

  5. Review and repeat
    Evaluate the campaign to answer your basic questions on effectiveness but also run a post mortem on the measurement plan.
    While this holistic structure helps marketers gain control over the complex channels and data sources that threaten to confuse them, it needs to layer in the different ways consumers respond to the various marketing opportunities presented to them in a marketing campaign.  The secret is to focus on three different categories of user response: action, engagement and perception.

Focus on the Big Three

Action metrics are straightforward: an action is taken which results in a business outcome. Think “number of clicks that lead to purchase” and “number of coupon downloads from Facebook.” Note: While vendors tout the latest models for attribution, these models are too complex and costly for many marketers.

Not all engagements are equal. A person who completes a one-minute video and leaves a comment has shown more interest than one who simply likes two Facebook posts, although both people performed the same number of actions. Not all platforms are equal; for example, watching a brand’s video on auto play without sound is far more passive than starting a video and watching it to the end. However, there is no standard method or widely used tool to compare engagement platforms with events.

We propose a simple guiding principle, across formats and platforms: What people value is what they give time to. Use time as a proxy for interest.

Perception metrics measure the impact of exposure to a marketing message or other brand content. Perception metrics often cover the top of the purchasing funnel and are measured using indirect methods such as surveys, branded searches and social listening. A measurable change in upper-funnel metrics — for example, when awareness goes from 71% to 75% — can be cascaded down through conversion to approximate the impact of the change on the bottom line.

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