Unlocking the True Power of Testing & Other Takeaways from Brooks Bell’s Interview With Ambition Data

Recently, our Founder and CEO, Brooks Bell, sat down with Allison Hartsoe, host of the Customer Equity Accelerator—a podcast produced by Ambition Data. Listen to the full podcast or read on for a few highlights from their conversation:  On what inspired her to build an experimentation consultancy… Originally, Brooks founded Brooks Bell Inc. in 2003 as […]

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Recently, our Founder and CEO, Brooks Bell, sat down with Allison Hartsoe, host of the Customer Equity Accelerator—a podcast produced by Ambition Data. Listen to the full podcast or read on for a few highlights from their conversation:

On what inspired her to build an experimentation consultancy…

Originally, Brooks founded Brooks Bell Inc. in 2003 as a website development agency. After working with a few local clients, a chance introduction led to her first major experimentation client, AOL.

Today, you might think of AOL as one of the [now-extinct] internet dinosaurs, but even back in the early 2000s, the media giant was facing its fair share of challenges. According to one story by Time Magazine, despite having 34 million members in 2002, AOL was battling slowing subscriber growth, falling ad revenue and exorbitant operational costs. 

So, the company turned to experimentation. “AOL had the right environment to build a testing culture,” said Brooks. “They had a closed technology environment, their own analytics platform, and their data was clean and connected.”

Back then, AOL relied on pop-ups to drive new subscriptions. Working with Brooks, the company issued a challenge: design a new subscription pop-up that would beat the control experience. And so, drawing from her background in design and psychology, she did—and then she did it again, and again, and again.

But that was just the start. As other large companies began to rely more on the digital space to drive their business, Brooks saw an opportunity to help them tap into the power of experimentation.

“We realized that no one was testing!” said Brooks. “No other large companies had the data, culture and processes in place to test. So we set out to help them build the data fidelity and really recreate what we saw at AOL in those early years.”

On the difference between optimization and experimentation…

It’s one of the more common questions we get: “Brooks Bell is an experimentation consultancy. What’s that? What’s the difference between experimentation and optimization?” As Brooks explains it, it all comes down to science.

By definition, experimentation is the application of the scientific method to determine something. And while optimization is one potential outcome of an experiment, true experimentation requires running tests without a prescriptive outcome or application.

To put it simply – you’re testing to learn. And as long as your results are statistically significant, there is always something to be learned from experiments—even those with flat or negative results.

On how to unlock the real power of experimentation…

Today, in the age of Amazon, a customer-centric experience is critical. But for some established companies, this requires a bigger paradigm shift in culture and processes.  

“Customer-centricity requires rethinking metrics, the type of data you collect, how teams are organized, how teams are incentivized, how you communicate and also your core values,” said Brooks.

The true power of experimentation lies in its ability to align your customer needs with your company’s strategic goals and your program’s agenda. Furthermore, you can use experimentation to learn new things about your customers in a scientific way.

“Having statistically-sound customer insights can totally change how you organize your store, how you train your team, and how you structure your website,” said Brooks. “This is where testing programs can really drive change.”

To that end, we recently celebrated the launch of Illuminate, our customer insights software for testing teams and executives. Illuminate not only provides a place to store, share and learn from your experiments, but also a means to develop impactful customer insights.

“We launched Illuminate to provide a repository of great test examples, to learn from each other, and to build a library of great test case studies,” said Brooks.  This is because outside of the testing program, any key learnings from an experiment can get lost within the data. Illuminate solves this by encouraging deeper thinking about customers, their needs, preferences, and behaviors. 

Learn more about Brooks Bell’s experimentation consulting services. 

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9 Things You Can Do Now to Ensure Your Experimentation Program Survives a Reorganization

It often begins with rumors and murmurs. Then, perhaps, a shift in executive leadership. At first, changes seem minor or isolated. But eventually, the inevitable becomes reality—a reorg is underway. Because testing programs typically work with and across several divisions in a business and don’t fulfill a traditional business function, they are particularly vulnerable during […]

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It often begins with rumors and murmurs. Then, perhaps, a shift in executive leadership. At first, changes seem minor or isolated. But eventually, the inevitable becomes realitya reorg is underway.

Because testing programs typically work with and across several divisions in a business and don’t fulfill a traditional business function, they are particularly vulnerable during the organizational upheaval.

However, to paraphrase Benjamin Franklin, with an ounce of prevention, it’s possible to avoid a pound of problems. Here are nine practices for surviving a reorg that you can start doing nowbefore you ever have to deal with one.

1. Calculate Impact

The first thing any new leadership will want to see is the value the testing program provides to the business. Of course, “value” is a multidimensional concept. It includes the contribution to business goals and priorities, insight into customer preferences and behavior, development of new innovations, and minimizing certain opportunity costs.

While it’s true all of these things will help communicate the importance and value of testing, nothing will be as compelling as a big annualized impact number. This number can be complex and time-consuming to calculate, but even if it isn’t an important metric for your program today, it’s worth having an analyst crunch, record and update just in case.

2. Write an Elevator Pitch

If you had five minutes or less with the CEO of your company, could you clearly communicate the mission, focus, and value of the testing program in a memorable way? If the answer to that question is “no,” or even “maybe” it’s worth spending some time crafting an elevator pitch for your testing program.

Open your pitch with a short anecdote about a problem that was solved with testing. Next, add a sentence or two about the essential mission of the program. Follow this with a sentence about the methods used. Close with a statement about the contribution the testing program has made to the business as a whole.

Once you’ve written this pitch, practice delivering it to your friends, family, team and other stakeholders. After a lot of practice—and incorporating the feedback you will inevitably receive—you’ll be ready to introduce testing to any new leader or team you may encounter.

3. Archive Results

Surviving a reorg isn’t all about making a case for testing. It’s also about maintaining a consistent pipeline after teams have been shuffled around.

The first step to protecting the testing pipeline is to create a complete, detailed, navigable archive of past test results. This is critical for developing new ideas, training new team members, orienting new teams and stakeholders, and simply making the case for what works and what hasn’t.

Recently, we launched Illuminate, our new software for enterprise-level testing teams. Illuminate offers an executive-friendly repository of your tests and any insights you’ve learned about your customers along the way. It’s direct integration with Optimizely, easy-to-use reporting tools, and custom case study generator significantly simplify the task of archiving and reporting your test results.

4. Outline the Process

Testing is complex and when teams get rearranged, processes that once flowed smoothly can become intractably clogged. To prevent this, document the process as it exists and identify areas of parallelization, possible redundancies, problematic bottlenecks and opportunities for redirection.

If you have access to a project manager, ask her to run a few what-if analyses to estimate potential problems if your processes were to be disrupted. Then, work together to develop possible solutions or workarounds to the most likely scenarios.

5. Clearly Define Roles and Responsibilities

Having a fast and nimble all hands on deck approach to managing the testing process is great until a critical person leaves the company or is assigned to a different team.

To avoid this, define the roles and responsibilities of each team member at each stage of the process. Doing this is critical for mapping the resource requirements of the testing process and quickly identifying gaps if the team is restructured.

It’s also important, however, to track ongoing responsibilities and duties in a more specific way. Having a project management platform or system that identifies what stage of the process each test is in, and which team member is responsible for that task is essential for avoiding disruptions.

6. Develop Training Programs

Looking on the bright side, a reorg could mean your testing team is greatly expanded. It might also mean fewer people are doing more, including jobs they have little experience with. In either case, having a developed and ready-to-execute training program is helpful.

Like all of these tips, the best time to develop a training plan is not the first day your new team member walks into the office. Instead, start training and cross-training your existing team right away. This gives you an opportunity to develop extensive content, deliver it, get a sense of what works, and make adjustments before a reorg renders training critical to the continuation—and not just the improvement—of the program.

7. Centralize Documentation

Having lots of documentation is useless if no one can find it. Moreover, it doesn’t help if it isn’t standardized in some way.
The archive of results, process documents, test plans, training materials, and everything else should be stored in a public or shareable archive, in a format that is easily accessible and navigable.

Using filename conventions, consistent directory structures, and standard documentation practices across the team may be mundane, but it’s just as important to the robustness of the testing program as tracking each person’s ongoing responsibilities.

8. Get essential access

One often overlooked consideration is whether the testing team has access to the essential technologies on which it relies.

Even if most development is done by an outside group, it’s important to have access to tools that enable you to upload and modify your code. Additionally, if reports are pulled by a sovereign analytics team, it’s equally important for someone from the testing program to have the access and ability to do so in a pinch.


Some solutions—like tag management systems—address this challenge. Training, cross-training, and collaboration is another helpful way to build the necessary competencies to get access to and make basic use of all your testing tools.

9. Keep it all up to date

Building the previous eight resources can take a lot of time and effort. Many teams will make any one of them a goal for the quarter, work hard to get it done, drop it in an archive, then forget it.

Months, maybe years, pass without giving the resource a second thought. Then, a sweeping reorg happens and the five-year-old process document is unearthed, dusted off, and found to be frustratingly obsolete. That’s why you must take care to not only produce these resources but maintain them as well.

A reorg can be a scary thing for a lot of reasons. However, by following these nine tips today, even the biggest organizational shakeup doesn’t have to disrupt the flow and productivity of the testing program.

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What Is the Best Heatmap Tool and How to Use It to Get Better Results

A heatmap tool allows you to unlock the secrets behind your website users’ behavior. You’ve heard your friends and associates talking about using a heatmap tool to improve their website conversions and sales. Maybe you’ve even done a little research on…

heatmap-tool

A heatmap tool allows you to unlock the secrets behind your website users’ behavior. You’ve heard your friends and associates talking about using a heatmap tool to improve their website conversions and sales. Maybe you’ve even done a little research on the subject. But why exactly do you need a heatmap tool? And what does it do? You have questions. I have answers. Here’s the thing: User behavior reports like heatmaps give you information about your target audience that you can’t get anywhere else. Therein lies the value. Without heatmaps, you’re in the dark. So how do you see the...

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How to hire your testing unicorn (without using magic)

When I was running my own testing program, I was in desperate need of an associate to help me manage my small (but mighty!) team. My single associate and I were launching tests left and right and we were unable to do anything other than focus on the day-to-day of the program. A job description […]

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When I was running my own testing program, I was in desperate need of an associate to help me manage my small (but mighty!) team. My single associate and I were launching tests left and right and we were unable to do anything other than focus on the day-to-day of the program.

A job description had been posted and the company’s recruiters were doing everything they could to find the right hire.

I remember reaching out to an old friend of mine to see if she knew anyone who might fit the role. I told her that I was looking (simply) for a data-driven individual with stellar communication skills and the ability to manage several complicated web projects at one time.

“Oh,” she said. “So you’re looking for a unicorn.”

“No, Susan… I’m looking for a Testing Specialist.”

Now, I don’t want to be too dramatic here, but this unicorn revelation did rock my world a bit. (It also made me want a bowl of rainbow sorbet with sprinkles… but I digress.)

When I finally overcame this existential testing crisis, I realized that I believed, deep down, that testing unicorns did exist. But I also knew that due to magic (obviously), I might never find one.

There were three main things I was looking for in my unicorn:

  1. Strong analytics skills and the ability to develop advanced data-driven recommendations
  2. Amazing communication skills – for helping stakeholders understand and action off of that data
  3. Organized and efficient project management skills for planning and managing the execution of test strategies

First, I had to assess which skills I already had on my team.

I took a look at my own skills and the skills of the team I had in place. To be honest, I’m much better at talking about analytics than I am at sitting behind a desk and doing a deep dive into the numbers.

My personal strength is in the communication realm of testing and my associate was an awesome project manager. So, it became pretty clear to me that there was a need for a strong analyst on our team.

Then, I had to decide what was teachable.

This is where things get controversial. Because teachable skills can really depend on the skills of the trainee, the trainee’s willingness to learn, and the skills of the trainer.

I did a quick poll here at Brooks Bell to see which skills my colleagues believe is the toughest to teach.

As you can see, many people here believe that good communication skills are hard to coach. And during my search for a Testing Specialist, I felt the same way.

I was pretty confident that I would be able to help my next hire become a better analyst or project manager, but I wasn’t so sure I could teach someone to communicate well in a stakeholder-facing role.

Finally, I had to decide if I could tweak my program structure

Depending on my next hire’s strengths, there were a few scenarios that I had to consider in order to structure my program without a unicorn. Here are a few examples:

If I decided to hire a strong analyst with weak communication skills

In this scenario, I would consider making this Testing Specialist role a non-stakeholder facing role. Because this person would not be project managing or communicating directly with stakeholders, they would be solely dedicated to analytics and free up the rest of the team’s time to focus on project management and stakeholder communication.

If I decided to hire a strong project manager with weak analytics skills

Because I believed that analytics skills were teachable, this associate could focus on project management in the beginning and slowly take on analytics work when they were ready.

If I decided to hire a strong communicator with weak project management skills

In this scenario, I would start by putting this associate in a stakeholder-facing role focused on analytics. After some time, I would begin training him or her on project management.

The magical lesson I learned

When I first approached this seemingly impossible task of hiring my next Testing Specialist, I was discouraged by the reality that I wanted so many specific skills in one individual.

But the truth is, Experimentation and Optimization is still a very niche industry, so finding a single person with so many abilities is going to continue to be tough for a while. That’s why I recommend first looking at the structure of your team, and then deciding which skills you feel comfortable teaching.

And always remember this: Testing unicorns do exist, sometimes we just have to help them find their wings.

Are you a testing unicorn looking for your next big challenge? Check out our monthly “who’s hiring” post for open positions in testing and personalization at top companies.


About the Author:

Sam Baker has eight years of experience running experimentation and digital analytics programs for major e-commerce brands. As a consultant at Brooks Bell, she helps global brands build and grow their testing programs.

In addition to her role at Brooks Bell, Sam is also an accomplished career coach, providing guidance to ambitious women looking to land their dream careers. Originally from Indiana, Sam now lives in Raleigh, North Carolina with her husband and her dog.

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Who’s Hiring in July?

Here are our picks: Manager, Ecommerce Optimization – Chewy’s eCommerce analytics team is looking for a qualified candidate to “lead strategy, standards and processes around a/b and multivariate testing” across the Chewy site and apps in their Boston, Massachusetts location. Senior Product Manager- Optimization – Join Microsoft’s Digital Stores Experimentation team in Redmond, Washington to “lead business groups […]

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Here are our picks:

Manager, Ecommerce Optimization – Chewy’s eCommerce analytics team is looking for a qualified candidate to “lead strategy, standards and processes around a/b and multivariate testing” across the Chewy site and apps in their Boston, Massachusetts location.

Senior Product Manager- Optimization – Join Microsoft’s Digital Stores Experimentation team in Redmond, Washington to “lead business groups to generate customer insights and drive incremental value through online experimentation.”

Front-End Web Developer – In Bay Minette, Alabama, Standard Furniture Manufacturing is looking for a developer to “work with marketing to create designs and information technology in technical implementation, having an active role on both sides in implementing the best user experience on websites and applications.”

UX Experience Designer – Urban Outfitters, Inc. is “seeking an empathetic, human-centered User Experience (UX) Designer in Philadelphia to join URBN’s Digital Product team; a centralized group, tightly aligned with URBN brands and the IT organization, specializing in user experience, product management, testing & analysis, digital strategy, and program management.”

Vice President, Digital Marketing Strategy and Operations – In Overland Park, Kansas, SelectQuote Insurance Services is looking for a “digital leader to drive the following marketing channels: Search Engine Marketing, Pay per Click Networks, Search Engine Optimization, Retargeting, Social, Display, Affiliate, and all emerging digital channels.”

Manager, Testing & Personalization – LuckyVitamin is seeking a Testing and Personalization Manger in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania to “lead and execute their website optimization and personalization strategy.”

Senior Data Science Analyst, Claims – Join NJM Insurance Group’s Data & Claims Analytics team in West Trenton, New Jersey.  This role will take the lead on “collaborating with business and IT partners to develop predictive analytic solutions and/or tools that enable data-driven strategic decision-making.”

Software Engineer – Mobile and Front-End Application Developer – MedRhythms is seeking a Software Engineer in Portland, Maine, with “experience in all forms of front-end development for mobile applications and web sites with data processing, analysis, and visualization.”

Sr Manager, Digital Testing & Optimization – In Philadelphia, Comcast is looking for a candidate to “optimize conversion, revenue, transactions and customer satisfaction on Comcast’s digital experiences. This position will own A/B and Multivariate testing strategy development and execution.”

Director of Platform Analytics – Join Groupon in Chicago to “lead an Analytics team tasked with leveraging data-driven insights to drive revenue growth for North American Groupon business. The team this individual will lead is tasked with providing data-driven insights to guide product roadmaps and prioritization across consumer product and impression optimization areas.”

Help us, help you!  Trying to fill a position in experimentation?  Send us your posting and we’ll include it on our next post!

 

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It’s time for the brand promise to evolve. Again.

Contributor John Nardone explains how being an empathetic marketer can help you with everything from managing data to conceiving of dynamite creative.

The post It’s time for the brand promise to evolve. Again. appeared first on Marketing Land.

With GDPR recently coming into effect, advertisers are once again fretting over their use of consumer data. In Europe, the fretting is beneath a regulatory cloud, with financial consequences for the misuse of EU consumer data.

Here in the US, we are not facing legislation, but GDPR, Cambridge Analytica and congressional hearings have nonetheless refocused us on the question of fair and appropriate use of consumer data.

It is a fundamental conundrum that’s faced marketers for years: how to manage the fine line of personalization vs. privacy. When does appropriate use of data flip over to inappropriate? When does personalization cross the line into “creepy?”

The answer to the privacy vs. personalization challenge shouldn’t be difficult for responsible and thoughtful marketers. If they want to know whether their use of data is appropriate, marketers just need to put themselves in the shoes of their consumers.

Put yourself in your customer’s shoes

Good marketers should always be empathetic and attentive to the needs of their consumers, but in a data-enabled environment, they should aspire to go a step farther. They should strive to deliver some value in return for using that consumer’s data and for her attention.

In other words: It can’t be about the needs of your brand (i.e., more sales!). The message you deliver to the consumer, and the way in which you deliver it, must serve the consumer’s agenda, not your own. If marketers can adhere to this very basic premise and allow attentiveness and empathy to guide their strategies and communications, concerns about inadvertently crossing into the realm of data creepiness will be largely assuaged.

While the above concept might sound obvious (albeit rarely put into practice), it’s only in recent years that the dynamic messaging capabilities needed to deliver on this premise have become available.

As industry columns like this one are quick to remind readers, we know more about the individuals seeing our ads than ever before. Now, it’s time for our brand promises to be expressed in ways that reflect that knowledge.

A singular brand promise, tailored to the individual

The brand promise has evolved significantly over the past 70 years. Pre-1950s, most brand promises were straightforward. They stated what the product did. Detergent makes your clothes cleaner. Deodorant makes your armpits drier. Car wax protects your car’s finish. Simple, sure. But certainly not personal.

In the ensuing decades, the brand promise evolved. It took on meaning relative to the consumer. Advertisers shifted away from product features to focus on end benefits. Yes, deodorant keeps you drier, but why? So you can be more confident. That’s what really matters to consumers.

But over the past decade of digital and programmatic innovation, distribution has come to outweigh the message. As marketers, we became infatuated with the precision with which we could reach consumers — to the point that we forgot to pay attention to the messages and the creative with which we were reaching them.

Thankfully, we’re headed for a correction in that ever-swinging pendulum, one that brings empathy and humanization of the consumer to the forefront in ways that were not possible in decades past.

In today’s world of personalization, the empathetic marketer has the opportunity to evolve the brand promise yet again by translating it to the individual. And that’s where some serious creative magic can happen.

How awesome creative can be

In the world of the personalized brand promise, deodorant doesn’t just make you dry. It doesn’t just make you confident. It makes a 46-year-old father of two more confident when he meets the parents of his daughter’s new boyfriend. It makes the 27-year-old account manager more confident when she gives her first company-wide presentation. If context matters, then the context of the individual matters the most.

In the hands of an attentive and empathic marketer, data can enable a new, more personally relevant expression of the brand promise. Not only can we speak to a product’s end benefit, but we can speak to that end benefit as it applies to an individual at a given moment in time.

The creative possibilities enabled by the personalized brand promise are limitless. But to get it right, we must first embrace empathy as our key guiding principle in connecting with consumers in the moment.

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Why your marketing performance problem is really a measurement challenge

Figuring out how your company will grow is one of the biggest challenges facing marketers. The playbook is clear: Choose a high-value audience, execute relevant and creative campaigns, and voilà, results and growth for your brand, product or service. But setting your marketing team up for success is tougher than ever. One reason is that, […]

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Figuring out how your company will grow is one of the biggest challenges facing marketers.

The playbook is clear: Choose a high-value audience, execute relevant and creative campaigns, and voilà, results and growth for your brand, product or service.

But setting your marketing team up for success is tougher than ever. One reason is that, at many companies, the individual players aren’t using the same playbook. They choose a lower-value target, or the wrong one altogether, launch campaigns without insight and watch growth and ROI sputter.

Getting on the right track for growth is easier said than done. If you’re not seeing the number of leads, conversions, sales or other key metrics you’re looking for, finding out what’s not working and knowing how to fix it is tough.

The issue may not be your marketing tactics at all. It might actually be how you’re measuring performance. Without accurate measurement that de-duplicates results across customers and gives each touch point the proper credit toward a desired outcome, you really don’t know what’s working and what’s not.

This makes it almost impossible to invest in the channels that are driving results and avoid wasting spend on those that aren’t.

Digital marketing is complex

This is a common problem for today’s marketer. For decades, marketers have used traditional channels such as print, radio, TV, yellow pages and outdoor ads to reach consumers. But the digital revolution has proved disruptive to traditional marketing approaches. TV, radio, print and outdoor now work alongside digital marketing —  search, organic and paid search, email, social and video.

An explosion of digital channels, platforms and tools have made marketing more complex than ever. There are more touch points as consumers take control of the funnel, interacting with brands across multiple devices, niche media outlets and streaming TV.

Being able to reach and engage your best customer as they move along a tangled digital path requires sophisticated understanding of tools and tactics and clear strategy and vision. But the strategies and technologies that marketers have relied on for years to target, analyze and optimize their marketing and advertising campaigns have not evolved fast enough to keep pace with these demands.

Click on the image above to get the free ebook.

Marketing teams don’t share goals

Another challenge to growth is that it’s common for marketing teams to operate in silos. Most marketing organizations are split between marketing (direct mail, website, mobile, email, SEO, social, PR, events) and media (display, paid social, SEM, affiliate, print, radio, TV).

This split is compounded by multiple layers up and down the org chart: CMO, VPs, and directors, each with a team of managers and specialists under them, executing tactics and managing spend for each channel. Every organization also has multiple agency and vendor relationships.

That’s a lot of people in the pool. This complex structure often leads to individuals or teams working toward independent key performance indicators (KPIs) and incentives, leading to fragmented, ineffective optimization — by channel instead of across channels.

Aligning your organization toward common goals is challenging, especially when the goals change. Organizational silos and the complexities of the digital era have created measurement challenges that make it more difficult to maximize marketing effectiveness.

You may be hurting rather than helping performance

When goals, metrics and incentives align, teams can work together to boost performance and enhance the consumer experience along the entire funnel. But when they don’t, channel managers may unknowingly be working at odds.

Assuming that every part of the organization is doing all they can to feed the funnel and drive results is no longer enough. If your organization sets individual goals and incentives by silo, you may be hurting rather than helping performance.

That’s because each silo has its own metrics. Your Paid Search Manager is optimizing keyword performance while your Email Marketing Manager is tracking opens and click-through rate. How can you be sure they’re looking at the right numbers to achieve company goals?

Aligning metrics to a common goal is key

To truly understand the value of each consumer interaction with your brand, it’s not enough to count impressions or eyeballs or to measure the effectiveness of your marketing using last-touch metrics. You need to know the effectiveness of each marketing touch point in every consumer journey, regardless of where those touch points occur.

No matter which goal you’re focused on, you have to make sure your metrics align so that you’re tracking the right indicators. From a marketing perspective, this is critical. Marketing teams and management need to align on objectives and the KPIs that track progress toward achieving them.

Multi-touch attribution: New measurement for all channels

Many brands are reluctant to use advanced attribution methods that accurately assign fractional credit to marketing and media touch points, yet they’re spending millions of dollars annually measuring performance using last-click metrics they know are flawed.

To be effective, marketing organizations and their agency partners must rely on a data source that offers a holistic picture of performance and makes it possible for everyone to work toward shared goals. At the same time, each team member has different needs for actionable marketing intelligence at a different cadence.

Multi-touch attribution is an approach that makes sure all members of the organization are working together. Multi-touch attribution integrates disparate marketing performance data to establish a single source of truth.

By collecting, consolidating and normalizing performance data into common measures and taxonomy, this methodology supplies the insights your team needs on a consistent, holistic basis. Some multi-touch attribution solutions even integrate third-party behavioral and demographic audience data to provide tactical performance insights by audience segment.

Five attribution use cases

Here are five ways multi-touch attribution helps make sure your team is looking at the right numbers.

CMO: Budget allocation

It’s budget-planning time. The CMO of a large retailer needs to justify current marketing spend to other C-suite leaders and decide how to allocate budget and coordinate messages and experiences across online and offline channels.

Because they use multi-touch attribution, s/he knows VPs of marketing and media can report on which channels are driving business objectives for each target audience. The CMO uses that information to reallocate budgets to achieve higher top-line growth and better bottom-line efficiency.

VP: Cross-channel interaction

It’s the end of Q2. Last quarter, the brand launched a new multichannel campaign to drive sales of a new product, but the campaign fell short of its performance goals. The VP needs to know how to best allocate spend in order to increase sales by 20 percent in Q3.

Since a business rival is launching a competing product, she knows the marketing messages need to resonate with target customers and compel them to take action. She asks the managers of paid search, display, email and their e-commerce site to use multi-touch attribution to report on cross-channel interactions before deciding how to best allocate her quarterly budget to reach Q3 targets.

Channel manager: Email

It’s Monday, and there are campaigns rolling out on Tuesday and Thursday to different audience segments. The email channel manager needs to boost click-through rates to meet the weekly KPI.

Using multi-touch attribution, he checks the response to last week’s campaigns and sets up A/B tests for the emails going out this week, tweaking creatives for each audience segment to see which raises CTR. He then optimizes the email by segment and pushes those out to generate a higher return.

Channel manager: SEM

At the agency, the SEM channel manager sees via multi-touch attribution that the effectiveness of her Tier 1 campaign has suddenly dropped off because a new competitor has started aggressively bidding on the same keywords with an enticing offer that’s stealing click share.

She directs the SEM specialist to increase max bids by 10 percent and asks for an update on impact to performance in 24 hours. In the meantime, she asks the media analyst to report on which ads in the rotation are driving conversions at the highest rate for that campaign so she can direct her SEM specialist to pause the weaker performing ads.

Media analyst: Dimension analysis

At the agency, the media analyst pulls the numbers gathered via multi-touch attribution from yesterday’s mobile app, digital video, display and paid search ads. He compares creatives, ad sizes, offers, devices, geography and publishers to see which ones are performing well. He notices that last night’s new creative is working well across publishers, but only in the bigger size. He alerts the media buyer to boost ad size across channels.

Getting the marketing performance you deserve

Digital innovation has created a new set of opportunities and challenges for marketers. As a result, many brands today think they have a performance problem. The truth is that they actually have a measurement problem. If they can solve the root of the issue — poor measurement — they’ll get better results.

Multi-touch attribution allows brands in all industries to tackle the daunting task of properly measuring and optimizing the results of their marketing efforts. This makes it a whole lot easier for your organization to work together toward shared goals and grow.

To learn more about how you can be a better marketer in the digital era, download the Nielsen Visual IQ e-book: Crossing the New Digital Divide: Your Guide to Marketing Effectiveness

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Attention + intensity: Tips for navigating the new age of media strategy

Contributor Mark Williams says marketers must evolve the metrics they monitor to keep up with the changing media-consumption environment.

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As marketers and brands have seen, the prevalence of digital video has transformed how consumers access media and content.

Essentially, video is not the future, it’s the “now”.

According to Cisco, global IP video traffic will represent 82 percent of all consumer internet traffic by 2021, up from 73 percent in 2016. Consumers no longer want to read about a brand  — they want to visualize it.

In 2018 and beyond, we’ll see a big shift from before, when advertisers were looking to buy reach and frequency with traditional media, to now, where advertisers will want to capitalize on intensity through the maximum amount of reach and frequency. In a post-pivot-to-video world, it’s time to change your video and media strategy, especially how you measure it.

To tackle all of the changes and innovations in media and digital marketing within the past few years, and especially to gear you up for the further integration of video, here are three tips for navigating the new age of media strategy.

1. Measure your audience with intensity

Rethink your approach to measurement. It’s not just about clicks and views. Viewability and reach are no longer the main indicators of success because they don’t measure how an audience is connecting with the content.

Instead, track deeper actions. Update your key performance indicators (KPIs) with different engagement metrics, such as watch time, engagements, earned metrics and follower acquisition, to track whether or not your intended audience actually viewed your message and reacted to it.

Watch time is one of the most valuable metrics to track in order to gauge whether or not audiences are actually watching your content. It’s also the most important factor for platform algorithms. If you track minutes watched, retention rate and the average percentage of those who watched through, you’ll have a better idea of how you are captivating the audience’s attention, and at what level of intensity.

Tracking engagements (e.g., likes, shares and comments) is also a key indicator of your strategy’s performance. Engagements and engagement rates indicate that fans are making a decision beyond simply watching your content. If they’re sharing, starting up a conversation, or compelled by a call to action from the content, you can measure the intensity with which your audience is consuming the material.

Also, be sure to watch your follower/subscriber acquisition. Growing a fan base is essential to the marketing efforts of advertisers, and it is important to identify what content brings in new followers so that you can focus your content strategy to consider these insights.

2. Rethink content strategy: Transform ads + make content relevant

Given the prevalence of ad blockers, it’s clear that interruptive advertising doesn’t work anymore. Instead, we’re seeing high performance through integrated brand messages. To do this, make your content relevant to your consumer.

Embed your campaign initiatives into publisher sites through partnerships to make for a smoother and natural integration of your advertising.

Consider integrating with influencers. Research conducted by Fullscreen (my employer) and MediaScience found that the percentage of viewers who would recommend a brand after watching a branded video from an influencer was 13 percent higher than the percentage for a TV ad.

Test different content strategies to see what resonates best with your audience, and for a more specific segmented analysis, A/B test different interest sets and demographics to inform your marketing plan.

3. Tailor by platform

To keep your marketing strategy specific and efficient, optimize content and advertising to reflect the platform. Utilize metadata by making campaigns that align with proper titling and tagging across all of your platforms. Keep your branding design consistent to ensure that your content is distinguishable. Ensure that your creative is designed for the specific tech specs of the platform where it will live.

Gone are the days of the one-size-fits-all approach. Facebook creative must be treated differently from Snapchat and so on. Perhaps most importantly, the creative must feel endemic to the platform — which explains why repurposed television commercials have some of the lowest engagement metrics.

Identify and maintain a consistent publishing schedule that is tailored to times when platforms reach the highest number of eyes, not only to maximize viewership and engagement but also to help consumers know when to expect your content.

Further, aim to promote circular traffic: Utilize the platforms through their available interactive elements so that you can cross-promote across all channels.

When tailoring your content for specific platforms, you also want to pay attention to how the platform is accessed.

Take a look at the platform functions, according to recent data from each platform and Statista, YouTube is accessed 50 percent of the time on mobile, whereas Facebook is at 95.1 percent and Instagram is at 100 percent.

This means that when creating content for YouTube, you should pay equal attention to mobile and desktop access, whereas Facebook and Instagram should lean more heavily toward mobile usage.

In closing

You’ll want to keep these three tips at the forefront of your digital marketing and content strategy so that you quickly adapt your brand to the changing video and media environments of today.

Remember, the overarching difference in paid media targeting online versus traditional targeting is the more refined, specific targeting of individuals, which ultimately leads to higher attention and intensity, as well as greater returns.

With all of these advancements, online media has many new metrics which you absolutely must utilize to expand your reach and retention far beyond that of traditional paid media.

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Making Marketing Analytics Simple And Easy To Understand

Does the thought of marketing analytics make you cringe? Does it seem overwhelming and time consuming? Many business owners find analytics and reporting a cumbersome task and one they put off until absolutely necessary. If this is you, or you’d like some advanced tips on measuring data, this is the article for you. We look […]

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Making Marketing Analytics Simple And Easy To Understand

Does the thought of marketing analytics make you cringe? Does it seem overwhelming and time consuming?

Many business owners find analytics and reporting a cumbersome task and one they put off until absolutely necessary. If this is you, or you’d like some advanced tips on measuring data, this is the article for you.

We look at making marketing analytics simple and easy to understand so it’s something you want to do, not grudgingly have to do.

First, let’s define marketing analytics.

Marketing Analytics Is…

Marketers (and business owners) use marketing analytics to evaluate the success of their marketing initiatives.

These analytics make up the processes and technologies to measure their performance.

Bottom line – marketing analytics tell you if your marketing programs are working.

You want to gather your data from all of your marketing channels and consolidate it into one common view. From here, you can decide how to drive your future marketing efforts.

To increase your lead generation and ultimately your conversions, you’ve got to know how to interpret your data.

Many business owners think marketing analytics are best left to the experts. We’re here to tell you that you are the expert. No more worries about metrics. You can do it.

To create your report, you want to attend to these items first:

  • Ask yourself what you want to learn.
  • Find the report that answers that question.
  • Put it into your overall marketing analytics.
  • Include a balanced assortment of reports.
  • Assess your strategies.
  • Then, you can use your report to change or revise your marketing strategy.

Here’s how to make marketing analytics simple and easy to understand.

Take Little Bites

When gathering your data, you often have access to multiple metrics. In the beginning start small.

A good place to begin is with page views, conversions and visitor information.

You want to track the most important information first. After you get accustomed to analytics and reporting, you can dive deeper for more metrics.

Marketing experts put much of their emphasis tracking conversions. Why?

This is a much more accurate number for you to gauge your success. Conversions track actual customers doing something on your website, like signing up, downloading information or buying something.

Your conversion rate focuses on dollars and the value of your visitor.

Be the Master

The true analytics expert knows which metrics and data matter and which ones don’t matter so much.

The fact is you don’t need to track everything. It’s too hard to stay on top of it all.

For example, if you want to focus on lead generation, your most important data is page views and your opt-in rate.

Understand Your Data

It also helps to narrow your focus to the most relevant metrics so you know what data to capture.

Here are some areas to look at depending on your business:

Ecommerce businesses can look at conversion rate, total revenue, orders completed, average order value, drop off rate and where that happens and full on cart abandonment.

A business to business company might look at page visits, page views, conversion rate and leads generated.

A business to consumer company might focus on conversion rate, click-through rate and orders completed.

Remain Objective

It’s easy to selectively look at your data and search for things that confirm a hypothesis. You might have something in mind you want to confirm and find data that validates it, but that leads you to ignore all of the contrary information.

Don’t get caught up looking for metrics that confirm what you expect and disregard all other data.

Be objective and look at the data from multiple angles.

For example, many people think a high bounce rate is due to the fact that visitors didn’t like your page. But you have to ask these questions:

  • What is happening?
  • Why is it happening?

Your first instinct is to attribute a high bounce rate to people not liking your page. Yet, there are many other reasons your landing page may have a high bounce rate:

  • Your content is superb and meets the users’ needs, and you only have one call to action that people take and then “bounce” off.
  • The landing page was simply to collect an email address, thus they bounce when they were done.
  • Your page load time is too high.
  • Your page doesn’t meet users’ needs.
  • Users landed on your page from a Google Ad campaign, and your page didn’t match the ad.

The goal is to assess why you have a high bounce rate before arbitrarily deciding you have to redo your entire page.

Know the Value

You’ve probably searched Google for “What’s a good conversion rate?” That isn’t necessarily the same information for everyone.

You want to understand the value of your analytics for your industry. Don’t stack your business up to businesses in other industries because their “good” conversion rate may not be yours.

Your Google search should instead be for, “What’s a good conversion rate in my industry?” Once you’ve narrowed down the field, you really can compare rates.

Comparing to unlike industries sets you up for misplaced expectations.

Final Thoughts

Now that you know how to make marketing analytics simple and easy to understand, we want to leave you with a few more thoughts.

Take advantage of these advanced ways to break down your marketing into analytics you can understand.

If you don’t, you’ll end up with a bunch of marketing information cobbled together that has no relationship with one another.

To make the best decisions for your business, you have to take your entire marketing picture into account.

This means your social media insights, your Google analytics and your emails stats. It means taking a look at all of your marketing efforts in one place so you can decide how to proceed.

Use your marketing analytics to make sound business decisions and drive your future marketing. Use them to refine and test your lead generation to increase your profits.

Tie your marketing efforts to your leads to your bottom line, and you’ll quickly see what’s working and where you can improve.

So, say goodbye to marketing analysis paralysis. Use these advanced tips to make it work for your business.

Are you ready to squeeze more profit out of your website by analyzing your marketing metrics? That’s terrific! We’re here to help you optimize your website so it works fluidly for your website visitors. In fact, we promise you we’ll do just that.

 With our guarantee, you can rest assured we will increase your profits through landing page optimization.

 If you’re ready to work with the leader in landing pages and conversion rate optimization, contact us today.

We’ll provide you with our FREE site performance analysis so we can work on your landing page conversion rates.

Image: Kazuend

 

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