As published in IAB.
Zuni’s ZEN, an annual night of networking, held earlier this year, brings together Zuni’s senior marketing clients and industry executives in informal social roundtable discussion groups to explore current and key issues in digital marketing. This year, the proposed discussion topic that I hosted was selected around the key questions; “How do you determine the ROI of your digital efforts? What’s the best way to measure the success of digital?”.
I started by trying to uncover what everyone was doing to track digital success in the first place. From the outset, there was a consensus; it’s a complicated job and you have to find the right person to do it. Sentiments were shared, such as “there’s so much to measure”, “we’re not sure what’s working and what’s not” and “we’re struggling to match results with content types”. Aside from expected analysis solutions such as Tableau and Google Analytics, one of the more advanced solutions came from an industry leading-organisation where the person responsible for the reporting is making all the difference. A recent recruitment to the Research team has seen an individual with the capability to visualise data coupled with backend knowledge and experience; this has provided a springboard for creating insights into the data, with clear, directive recommendations to improve marketing efforts. The right person it seems, is still not enough; “you need to empower your staff and provide them with access, almost like self-service. The time gained and ROI is significant” was expressed to the group. Suddenly, the solution turned from software solutions to recruitment, job descriptions and human resources.
For many marketers, the resounding agreement to “there’s so much to measure” lead to a discussion about measuring the impact of social word of mouth in the form of Influencers. Across numerous industry categories such as retail, entertainment and professional services, the role of the Influencer is growing, and knowing where to find them is a task in itself. Brands were feeling that they’re losing control of their audience by earned media, a known and acknowledged fact, but the key insight, in one instance, was that Influencers were using different channels to the customers. Where exactly does that leave you when you’re trying to track success? After some deliberation, we came to a grinding halt, asking “Is measuring digital success keeping us from growing?” Yes. It appeared so.
By putting so much pressure on the difficult measurement of digital success, brands weren’t trying new things and growing by learning. The ol’ test and learn, my faithful and accurate approach, is back. We agreed that we needed to monitor enough to be agile, but not get stuck in the tracks. We needed to be able to change what we’re doing, and be able to turn it on and off. If we don’t know what’s working and what’s useful, then what can we learn? We’re increasing digital budgets based on customer journeys and we’re accepting that micro interactions count towards building a customer relationship.
The night for me was summed up by some of the most respected household brands in a single sentence: “The ones doing it best are the ones testing and learning”. They’re the ones not tracking ROI, it’s a spend item on the budget, without a noose around its neck. It’s the test and learn budget, and with an agile approach to measuring digital success, these businesses are far from becoming redundant in their digitally disrupted environment.