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14 November 2016, 09:59

The future of measuring digital success

The digital world used to be pretty black and white. Your customer either clicked on your website, or they went elsewhere. They either signed up to your service, or they didn’t. Nothing particularly insightful about that. Well, now, the digital landscape is bursting with colour, and there are endless opportunities for us marketers to gather detailed insights into our campaigns. We’re able to workout how customers found us, what made them click, how long they spent on our website, and much more. Oh, yes, everything can be measured in our new, improved digital world.

The challenge, though, is knowing how to distil this multifaceted influx of data (from myriad distribution channels) and extract actionable insights that can inform future campaigns. The big boss (you know, the one who’s sceptical about digital and who took hours of convincing to even let you set up a Facebook page) wants to see properly analysed metrics and user-friendly reports that show the cost-efficiency of your digital activity, and exactly what is and isn’t working. It seems like a lot more work, but being forced to analyse your digital success is a good thing. It enables you to set benchmarks, and smooth out any recurring issues.

Joining the (digital) dots

The best measurement frameworks encompass all of a company’s digital activities, enabling them to determine the overall success of their strategy. Sure, you might be getting loads of traffic from searches on Google, or Likes on Facebook, but if these aren’t translating to conversions, then you probably have a rusty cog in your marketing wheel. You know as well as we do that customers don’t take linear journeys – in fact, they might go from channel to channel before taking any action at all – so being able to highlight the most lucrative customer steps is key.

To do so, look at each distribution channel individually, and measure the activity right up tothe point of sale or sign-up. Note the differences in how your customers engage across these channels, and allow this insight to inform your ongoing strategy. Then, look at the channels’ performance against data from your website. This will help you work out areas of the distribution strategy that might need rethinking, and areas that are generating profit.

Looking beyond the Likes

Say, for example, we’ve distributed content on Facebook to drive traffic to your website. In order to measure the campaign’s success, we need to take a holistic view. Simply looking at vanity metrics (Likes, Shares, etc.) on Facebook is not enough: we need to take into account the campaign’s effectiveness across all the digital channels we used. Ultimately, we need to find out whether the content we distributed on Facebook made people take action.

The first thing we do is measure the reach, click-through rate (CTR) and cost per click (CPC) of the Facebook content. This gives us an idea of the initial impact and cost of our Facebook activity. We then measure the on-site metrics – such as traffic source, dwell time, bounce rate and sale/sign-up rate – to determine the effectiveness of the campaign. If we bunch the two lots of metrics together, we can measure our overall reach, site traffic and success.

If loads of customers went on to convert, then we might want to think about boosting or targeting our Facebook activity further. So, looking at the results holistically has helped us spot new opportunities. It can also help us to decide whether our distribution strategy was cost-efficient. If it was, great: we’re armed with positive results that make it easier to get approval to extend this sort of activity, and to spot new opportunities. If not, then we can clearly calculate what did and didn’t work, thus enabling us to improve our strategy.

At pslondon, we’ve taken this one stage further. We’ve developed a measurement tool called FutureLab that brings together all these data sources – and more - into one view.  It’s enabling us to help our clients see their results in a whole new light, and so plan a much effective future.  We think it’s how everyone will be doing it in a few years time...

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