Why Marketers Need to Rethink Measurement to Drive Growth

We Live in a Mobile-First World, So Metrics Need to Change

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I'll start with the good news. An increasing number of innovative marketers are investing in mobile-first marketing strategies to engage a growing market of customers where and when decisions are made and preferences are shaped. But here's the less-good news. Many of the best intentioned marketers who are experimenting with mobile-first strategies are missing a critical success factor. Even though they're investing in the right places with the right tech, they're basing digital strategies upon legacy, desktop-first key performance indicators. Doing so misleads marketers to develop strategies that may undermine their ability to do the one thing they're charged with doing: drive growth.

What's that? You thought your job was to drive something else, something less lofty such as return on advertising spend? If you don't believe your job as a marketer is to drive growth, you can stop reading. But please don't. Learning and experimenting is how you grow.

Why a growth mindset matters

Mobile has forever changed the consumer journey, breaking it out into hundreds of what Google refers to as "micro-moments" -- those real-time, intent-driven moments when consumers turn to smartphones to take action on whatever they need or want -- right now. Micro-moments are new I-want-to-know, I-want-to-go, I-want-to-buy, and I-want-to-do moments for consumers. And each is a vital opportunity for brands to shape consumer decisions and experiences.

Even though customer behavior is changing, measurement practices haven't followed suit. Marketers, for the most part, continue to base metrics on legacy measurement norms, which paints a false picture or worse, misleads strategists to design campaigns that miss growth opportunities. I get it though. It's hard and it takes time to change course. But we are all in this together. We all own a piece in this -- advertisers, agencies, media and tech. Together we have to move in this new direction.

To win in micro-moments means you have to first learn how mobile has changed the game, how to play by the new rules and how to identify new and future growth opportunities. Then, you must shift measurement models from traditional KPIs to more growth-oriented metrics.

Three problems with measurement today

When you look at common KPI trees and operational metrics, it's plain to see that marketers aren't measuring for growth. It's easy to understand why. Traditional metrics such as views, impressions, mentions, clicks, etc. are pretty standard across the industry. While they're effective in tracking online activity, they don't give marketers insight into the bigger picture of customer intent, context, how they align with micro-moments and how these efforts impact business results.

The problem with measurement today comes down to three things, all of which need understanding to drive growth:

1. Desktop metrics are insufficient. For example, looking at a conversion rate or cost-per-acquisition may be irrelevant if customers are researching mobile and converting on desktop.

2. Mobile creates gaps in measurement. It's hard to see behaviors across devices and channels, so looking only at what you can measure means there is a lot of value not being measured.

3. People fundamentally behave differently on mobile. Is a mobile impression the same as a desktop impression? By all means, no. On mobile, consumers are acting based on immediacy. And, they are more loyal to their needs than to a brand. Why would we assume the same measures of value apply? We need to test new things to understand consumer value.

Understanding and serving the mobile customer is key to developing relevant and performance-driven campaigns at a time when everyone else is still doing the same old stuff -- measuring distinct channels in isolation.

Designing for growth

Dr. Stephen Covey famously said that to achieve your goals, you have to "begin with the end in mind." Designing for micro-moments in a mobile-first world requires a new set of growth-oriented metrics. You have to begin with the insights that matter to customers and the outcomes that matter to the business -- otherwise, nothing else matters.

Now's the time to start with an audit of micro-moments. This will help you define the strategies that bridge business goals and growth metrics with customer behavior.

Here are some initial questions to help you establish growth related KPIs:

● Do you have insight into the mobile customer journey?

● What are consumers searching for on mobile? What type of experience do they expect?

● What pushes them to the next touch point and where do they get lost or run into trouble?

● What metrics help you get closer to the mobile customer and overall business objectives?

● Have you tried to connect or capture the online to offline experience for your customer?

● How do you measure consumer journeys across devices?

● What is your share of intent?

Even though many marketers have experimented with alternative metrics with the rise of new media, I believe that growth is the next frontier for marketing. But then again, growth has always been the goal. If you want to continue to drive growth in a mobile-first world, then you must measure the aspects of growth that define this new world.

Your work starts with rethinking the goal of measurement from tracking traditional results to developing a process to identify and execute future growth opportunities. To get there though requires work to measure impact at the intersection of business objectives and evolving customer expectations and preferences.

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