As I discussed in my last post digital marketing has made it imperative for brands to increase the pace of their marketing decisions, as it is no longer sufficient to have the lengthy decision cycles as in the days before digital.

In order to become agile, marketing organizations need to implement a measurement initiative that puts in place the people, processes and platforms so decisions can be made at all levels — from strategic to tactical; across all brands and regions — in a timely and consistent manner.
 How agile is your marketing organization? To asses where you are, here is a checklist of questions categorized by the 3Ps — People, Processes and Platforms.

People

Does a centralized team have clear authority? A marketing measurement initiative needs to be driven by a centralized team, whether it is a global center of excellence or a marketing analytics group. Organization-wide, it must be clear that this team has a mandate and that they have authority over things such as the implementation of a measurement methodology, the definition of a taxonomy and KPIs, and the selection and administration of platforms and tools. This team must also be operational in nature; it cannot act like strategy consultants. They need to partner and work closely with the various business units / divisions and marketing channel-specific owners, and they need to continually monitor progress so learnings can be incorporated back into the process.

Does your organization think global but act local? The marketing measurement initiative needs to be a collaborative partnering endeavor among all of the different business units (product brands, geographic regions, etc.), not one in which everything is mandated in a top-down manner. You want to end up with a foundational, common global measurement framework but it needs to accommodate for “local” derivatives, allowing individual brands and regions to address their unique needs. For example, certain marketing platforms are regional in nature (e.g., some social platforms like Weibo or VKontakte). Also, different markets or brands may have different approaches to how they apply global marketing platforms due to regional or target demographic differences.

Is there the right mix of people? Don’t believe the talk about creative Don Draper types not being important in a digital world. They will always be critical. However, they need to be complemented with data-savvy people who can analyze the results of marketing activities. In addition, technical resources are also necessary to train personnel on the measurement methodology and tools, and to administer and support the technology platform that is used.

Are people held accountable? A crucial element in ensuring the success of a marketing measurement initiative is the clear definition of objectives and then holding people accountable for them. One way to enforce accountability is to create incentives that tie people’s compensation to meeting their objectives.

Processes

Is there a well-defined measurement methodology? In order to make decisions consistently throughout an organization, it is critical to have a standard measurement methodology. The methodology needs to have a taxonomy that ties measurement data to its business context (division, brand, geo, campaign, etc.), and KPIs and objectives for all levels of an organization (executive, operational, etc.).

Has the cadence of marketing decisions been optimized? Different types of marketing decisions have different lifecycles. For example, strategic marketing mix decisions might be made every six months, whereas campaign decisions might be made on a postmortem basis (after a campaign is over). Evaluations should be made regularly on the potential value of a decision being made at a faster pace. For those decisions that would benefit from an accelerated process, develop a game plan that details what it would take to make that happen. In most cases, it is a matter of having more timely visibility into data.

Are campaigns executed with tight decisioning loops? Historically, the analysis of marketing activities came after a campaign was over. This made sense in the days when all activities had long lead cycles and market feedback was collected via offline mechanisms. It no longer makes sense to continue this practice. Organizations should be striving to tightly integrate the measurement of campaign performance with the execution of activities, and to use a tight decisioning loop to make adjustments throughout a campaign.

Does your organization encourage experimentation? Today’s digital marketing technologies support short lead cycles and rapid feedback. Marketing organizations should take advantage of this and develop a culture of experimentation. In order for this to be effective, a sufficient amount of media spend (5-10% of media budget) must be allocated.

Platforms

Is the measurement process automated? It is no longer necessary to rely on manual, error-prone processes in order to bring disparate marketing data together, like many organizations still do with spreadsheets. It is now possible to automate the entire process, from the collection and storage of data from multiple sources to the derivation of key insights that spur action. Automating the process is critical in order to tighten the feedback look and become agile.

Is the execution of activities separated from measurement? It is important to keep the systems that execute activities separate from the measurement system. Relying on the measurement capabilities of execution systems results in insular perspectives, rather than a holistic perspective that is tied to business objectives.

Is there a single source of truth for all marketing data? A major hindrance to making decisions in a timely and consistent manner is having access to all of the necessary data. Having a system that automatically brings together all marketing data is critical to increasing the pace of marketing decisions, and to ensure consistency and actionability of decisions up and down and across an organization. The centralized dataset should include:

  • As much detailed data as possible, in terms of both granularity and time intervals, so the root cause of issues can be easily identified for tactical execution decisioning.
  • Higher level aggregate KPIs for executive decisioning and reporting.
  • Data from all channels, in order to support cross-channel decision making.
  • Creative assets and their performance data, so marketers can quickly identify what creatives are working and what are not.
  • Business impact data, like revenue, in order to understand the effect marketing activities are having on a business.

Do your dashboards tell the real story?

While it is always good for the eyes to see snazzy-looking dashboards, great looks aren’t enough. The key is the quality and actionability of the data that drives what is shown on the dashboards. Bringing together marketing data from a variety of sources has its challenges, as 
I have detailed before
.

In conclusion, modern marketing organizations need to take full advantage of what digital marketing has to offer and a big part of that is the ability to make decisions at a faster pace. Doing that, however, is easier said than done. In order to increase the pace of decision making at all levels — from strategic to tactical, across all brands and regions — and to become an agile marketing organization,
an enterprise-wide measurement initiative needs to be implemented. If you answered “yes” to all of the questions above, congratulations, you are well on your way!