Focus on better metrics to maximise digital strategies

Marketing Tech News
7 December, 2016

In the age of digital innovation, Bluefin and Mindtree’s Retail Champion, David Shukri, illustrates how marketers now have the ability to rapidly test, measure and ultimately deliver the right results.

Digital anxiety seems a common affliction among today’s marketer. Fears of underinvestment, concerns around skills or that competitors are outflanking them are all commonplace. 

But where does all this anxiety come from? If marketers are constantly comparing themselves to the likes of P&G or Coca-Cola, it’s hardly surprising they feel a bit behind.

Few businesses can match the marketing spend or the budget that goes into innovation, research and development at these global powerhouses.

Start small

Instead, relax. The majority of enterprises are actually in the chasing pack. Instead of worrying about falling behind a small group of trailblazers, be realistic and pragmatic.

Focus on taking small steps forward, one of the most important being ‘test and learn’.

While marketing professionals hear this phrase time and time again, many businesses still don’t adopt this way of thinking. It’s often viewed as too time consuming, resource heavy or risky.

But with the power of digital, companies are able to fail fast, learn from their mistakes and move forward with learnings in-hand.

Still, testing alone won’t solve all your problems. In fact, without proper measurement, all the testing in the world won’t make a lot of difference. So it’s time to measure up – but measure well.

Choose realistic metrics

Having decided what to test, it’s absolutely critical to then decide how you’re going to measure success. You have to be realistic. A small initiative probably won’t deliver a material shift in sales, profit or margin, but there are still a huge number of metrics that can be tracked and assessed.

By thinking broadly enough at the outset you put yourself in a much better place to establish what the test has achieved and where you can improve.

"The smart marketer knows what they’re testing and how they’re measuring it but always keeps an eye out for those unforeseen outcomes"

I appreciate for many business leaders this will be a hard pill to swallow. We are so focused on KPIs and quick results that we can easily fail to realise the true value of digital innovation.

If your business is serious about digital however, everyone from the board down has to give teams the time and space they need to test and innovate. In fact, they owe it to the business not to stifle creativity with unrealistic targets that they probably can’t achieve.

It’s always a temptation to look for immediate returns but modern leaders have a duty to keep an eye on the long-term prize by gathering as many useful insights as possible along the way. This means that even if the ultimate goal of more sales hasn’t been achieved, the business still gains valuable intelligence to support future marketing activations, launches and programmes.

Reveal the hidden insights

One great example of this comes to mind from Mindtree’s work with a major dairy cooperative to help improve its social media content. Whilst we tracked likes, follows, shares and number of friends, we also analysed the language people were using about the brand to unearth a deeper, richer vein of insight.

As a result, we found that a previously unknown group was buying significant volumes of a certain product and that this group had a very specific issue with product’s packaging.

Of course, had we focused solely on the usual set of metrics we would have missed this and our client would have missed the opportunity to respond.

Take the rough with the smooth

Focusing on a particular business question, being clear about what you’re testing and how you want it to improve means you can feed what you gain – both the good and the bad – back into the marketing process.

This will help build up confidence within your team and keep the momentum going for future initiatives.

One word of caution however is not to bite off more than you can chew. If you frighten the rest of the business with creeping scope – or your CFO with creeping costs – you’ll find yourself right back at square one.

Focus on what matters most to your customers, then test, learn and revise until you’ve achieved the result you set out to at the start. It’s like learning to ride a bike – if you don’t make some tweaks after the first fall, you will go nowhere – and neither will your digital transformation.

In today’s dynamic digital ecosystem where customer touchpoints are multiplying and complexity is increasing, its hugely important that marketers can connect the right dots.

If you are not taking the right measurements, you are trying to test and learn with one hand tied behind your back. And, if you’re not analysing results correctly, then you may as well tie the other hand behind your back too – and wear a blindfold.

The smart marketer knows what they’re testing and how they’re measuring it but always keeps an eye out for those unforeseen outcomes. For it is they that can be the most powerful nuggets to surface when you blend experience and intuition with data and analytics.