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Don’t Let Metrics Become Your Biggest Digital Challenge

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Recently, eMarketer released an article, citing findings from McKinsey & Company, suggesting online metrics may be a marketer’s biggest challenge to multichannel marketing. The survey found that marketing executives worldwide list online’s "confusing and incompatible set of metrics" to be the cause of their top digital challenges. Thirty-two percent said that generating and leveraging customer insights from their marketing efforts was their top marketing challenge, while an additional 11% cited assessment of digital marketing performance using disparate metrics for online and offline marketing. At Intouch, our analytics team refers to this as "metrics confusion" and has some simple steps to alleviate many issues caused by measurement overload.

The best laid plans…

Breaking through metrics confusion starts with proper planning, thinking about how you will measure your marketing mix before you ever start considering tactics. Having clear and concise business objectives for your brand is of the utmost importance because every initiative will have to ladder up. Most business objectives focus on return on investment (ROI). And although ROI has been hard to prove for some marketing initiatives, the formula is simple: (Lifetime Value x Number of Customers) — Costs = ROI

Generally speaking, increasing the number of customers and reducing costs are the overarching business objectives. So, your measurement plan will have to prove ROI across your marketing mix. Think about your measurement plan as a pyramid with business objectives at the top of the pyramid.

The next level down on the measurement plan pyramid is measurable goals. Make sure you set goals for your online and offline initiatives that can be measured. Some of these goals may be hard financial goals, like increasing sales or prescriptions, but some will be soft goals, like changing customer sentiment or increasing brand awareness. Remember, these goals must ladder up to your business objectives and be measured across marketing channels. Once you have established your business objectives and measurable goals, you can start evaluating and integrating tactics. But, remember there are two more levels to the pyramid.

Setting key performance indicators, or KPIs, for your initiatives is the next level of the pyramid. This becomes increasingly important as you look across your marketing mix. It defines success. Each tactic will need to be assessed by your KPIs, and the KPIs will need to be directly married to your goals. A typical goal may be to increase prescriptions by 3% in Q2. The corresponding KPIs may be number of prescriptions month-over-month and number of new patients month-over-month. These indicators, or trends, will tell you if your initiatives are actually successful or if they need to be reevaluated.

The final level of the pyramid is metrics. At this level you must assign the metrics that will supply the data that illustrates the trends you have defined by your KPIs. All of this may be overwhelming, but it helps to keep it simple at the metrics level. As a rule, pick three metrics and stick to them. Of course, that is easier said than done. There are times when three metrics cannot produce the information you need to make informed decisions regarding your marketing mix. But if you try to stick to three metrics per marketing channel, you can standardize your measurement approach and reap the benefits of long tail analytics.

What partners are at the table?

In the case of analytics, your partners make all the difference. Although you should plan for only three metrics, your partners should have access to hundreds of metrics. And, more important, your partners should be able to analyze those metrics to determine why people are interacting with your brand the way they do, and exactly what you can do about it. They should collaborate with you to optimize your measurement plan and, in turn, optimize your marketing mix.

In the pharmaceutical industry, there are additional partners that you may consider to ensure your metrics are delivering the data you need to make informed decisions. Companies likeCrossix that can help measure the impact of your marketing on prescription volume andHitwise that can help comprehensively assess your audience are extremely valuable partners. They can provide a view of marketing effectiveness across multiple channels.

Agency partners and internal market research partners also can be great resources for ensuring your measurement plan facilitates less confusion and more business impact. They can provide the brand context that external partners may not be able to provide in concise terms that help you, as a marketer, to optimize your marketing mix.

Move the needle

At the end of the day, you want your measurement plan to provide data that helps you and your teams garner insight into how people are interacting with your marketing assets. You want to be able to maximize all brand exposures and spend your money as efficiently as possible. And, you want to be able to optimize your marketing mix to provide the most value to your audience and company. By creating a plan early and engaging your partners even earlier, you can do just that.

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