By Shirli Zelcer, Head of Analytics and Data at Merkle
Many brands are in the process of reevaluating their marketing measurement. Significant changes to privacy legislation and data availability have impacted technical measurement capabilities, and in turn, measurement strategies.
Accurate and actionable marketing measurement is always contingent on establishing and aligning on a holistic measurement strategy. Organizations planning ahead of the curve are rapidly rethinking their own measurement frameworks to ensure they accommodate industry shifts. Failure to adapt a measurement strategy limits leaders’ vision and, by extension, the success of their business. However, when approached correctly, measurement can be a powerful foundation for change across an organization.
So how can you create a more effective measurement framework for your organization? You must first differentiate between what you can measure and what you should measure. You can then shift your focus to developing the right set of connected metrics that align the business around common objectives. With a strong measurement strategy outlined, your organization can easily identify core focus areas and work towards a vision for greater success.
Why Does an Effective Measurement Framework Matter?
An effective measurement framework forms a critical foundation for understanding what activities are meaningful to the business and how teams should prioritize them. How many times have you trudged through a task at work and wondered, “Why am I spending my time on this project?”. With a strong measurement framework, everyone is marching toward clearly defined goals, tied to clearly defined purposes, with all team members understanding how each activity supports those goals.
This organizational vision is especially important for today’s businesses for a few reasons. First, the world is moving and innovating at an unprecedented rate. If your actions aren’t all supporting progress toward your larger goals, you risk falling behind competitors who possess a clearer internal vision. Second, clearly defined purpose, measures, and expectations are important for employee morale – and if you can’t provide that direction to your team members, they’ll seek out an organization that will. Third, even though it’s an internal effort, tracking to the same set of goals has external impacts. When your organization is unclear on its business goals and how to measure them, customers feel it through confusing, disjointed brand interactions. A clear measurement framework enables you to deliver more seamless, cohesive, relevant experiences.
How to Link Inputs and Activities to Outputs
Having core business objectives in place that tie to your business purpose is the first critical piece of this process. Once established, you’ll need to take steps to develop a framework that will effectively track whether activities and inputs are driving positive movement toward those objectives. There are four phases to that process: align, assess, analyze, and evolve.
1) Align: Too often, an organization’s KPIs and measurement are not in alignment with its strategic objectives. It’s important to clearly map and define this alignment. Create a plan that aligns strategic objectives to measurable outcomes, and to the actions and decisions needed to drive results.
2) Assess: After aligning KPIs, you must get a clear understanding of where your measurement capabilities stand so you can identify and address gaps (more on that later). Benchmarking against competitors can be a useful process to see how your approach to measurement and what you’re measuring compares to industry peers. Note that benchmarking shouldn’t be a one-time exercise; it should be revisited as KPIs change so you can track progress. Use this information as part of your capability assessment to paint a clear picture of your organization’s current ability to measure the KPIs that support your business’ actions and resulting outcomes.
3) Analyze: Once you understand your measurement maturity, define your KPIs and map them against the current measurements in place. In this phase, you’ll want to capture all potential data limitations that could hinder you from achieving your objectives, including detail around people, processes, and technology. This is critical for identifying where and how your organization needs to expand measurement to track performance. As you define your KPIs, they should be strategically linked, actionable, and goal oriented; otherwise, that KPI is just a metric. This is an important distinction that, if ignored, puts you at risk for investing time and resources into measuring data that doesn’t matter.
4) Evolve: Though your KPIs are defined, your work is far from over. You must continuously evaluate business objectives to make sure they’re still aligned with both your organization’s core purpose and the KPIs that measure progress toward the objectives. Even without sweeping changes, there’s always room to improve your measurement approach. Develop short-, medium-, and long-term plans to develop your framework, then attain buy-in, implement, and evolve the performance measurement needs and actions across your business’ initiatives.
Organizational change often starts with ideas but can quickly come to an end without the right processes and frameworks in place to understand what’s working and what isn’t to drive iteration. An effective measurement framework will give you the data to continue moving the business forward and serve your customers’ needs.