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The Mandate for Agile Measurement by BECKON


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It’s no secret that the marketing landscape is changing faster than ever. Savvy marketers use this relentless pace to their advantage, testing, experimenting and optimizing their way to the top.

As data proliferates at a dizzying rate, marketing’s age-old questions haven’t changed. Agile marketing is, at heart, a way to answer and act on these fundamental questions at the speed and scale of modern marketing. And it mandates a new approach to measurement—one based on speed, iteration and business-building insights.

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The Mandate for Agile Measurement by BECKON

  3. 3. 3 WWW.BECKON.COM HELLO@BECKON.COM THE GOLDEN AGE OF MARKETING (AND THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM) Reading the trade press and hearing the success stories of marketing superstars at conferences, it’s tempting to conclude that we’re living in the golden age of marketing. Technology, the narrative goes, is telling us more about who our customers are, how they shop and how they view our brands than ever before. Single-channel, mass market campaigns are giving way to omnichannel, hyper-targeted campaigns. And a new wave of data-driven marketers are partnering with the traditional creative marketer to develop innovative ways of connecting with customers. Yet when we talk to marketing leaders, their optimism and excitement is tempered by the reality on the ground. They have an amazing array of specialized technologies, systems and agencies that make these new opportunities possible, but these tools and partners operate in silos, each shooting out overwhelming amounts of disconnected data. These leaders tell us they want to take advantage of the opportunities, but don’t always know how to manage the data to unlock business-building insights. And looking down the road, they see consumer behavior morphing even faster, with even more touchpoints emerging and even more data piling up. They worry that keeping up will require a level of agility that’s beyond their reach. 1 Sixty-three percent of lead marketers surveyed consider agility extremely important, yet only twenty-six percent consider their organization very agile. Source: Forbes 63%
  4. 4. 4 WWW.BECKON.COM HELLO@BECKON.COM THE MANDATE FOR AGILE MEASUREMENT We’re not surprised by this. As a company built by marketers for marketers that works with a diverse set of global clients, we see firsthand the speed at which marketing teams are innovating. But we also see them struggle to integrate the data from their many efforts into a single view that: • Provides clear visibility into their business. • Helps them understand the value of their marketing. • Lets them make improved decisions that drive even more value. In sum, there’s lots of activity, but a shortage of insights that unlock growth. However, we also know that marketers can use this relentless pace to their advantage. New information is an opportunity to learn, decide and act. Thus, every time we measure performance, it’s an opportunity to grow our business. And increasing the frequency of this cycle has an exponential effect on growth. That’s the mandate for agile measurement—by aligning decision-making to the cadence and complexity of modern marketing, marketers can minimize risk and maximize opportunities in a rapidly changing marketplace, resulting in higher marketing ROI. 2
  5. 5. 5 WWW.BECKON.COM HELLO@BECKON.COM Let’s look at these three factors in turn: • Agile measurement matches the speed and complexity of modern marketing. By measuring frequently to see what’s working and what’s not, we can communicate quickly—and with more relevance—to our ever-changing consumers. Not only does this enable us to take advantage of unexpected opportunities (think Oreo’s “dunking in the dark” social media posts during the Super Bowl power outage in 2013), but we can respond to unforeseen threats, such as when a brand’s messaging is suddenly corrupted by a negative social media meme. • Iterative marketing offers less risk and higher reward than “big bang” marketing. The traditional model of putting all our chips on one big launch and hoping it works exposes our brand to significant risk, because there’s no room for adaptation. We have to get everything correct from the outset, and in this dynamic world, that’s a risky bet. An iterative, data-driven approach sidesteps this risk. We launch smaller initiatives, track how well they’re working, kill the low performers and double down on the winners. Then we repeat the process. • Frequent optimizations add up to drive greater return on investment. Very much like compound interest, every learning is a payoff that results in growth, and every future payoff grows not just the original base, but all the payoffs that came before. Seen in this light, the key to maximizing this growth lies in increasing the cadence of decision-making. In other words, for the agile, data-driven marketer, success comes not from a single decision around mix we make once per year or even once per quarter, but from the thousands of small decisions we make all year long. A McKinsey study published in Harvard Business Review goes even further. McKinsey rated the analytics and agility capabilities of various companies’ marketing orgs on a scale of 1 to 7, and found that being 3 points higher on the scale meant 1% higher profits for that company. Real-world studies bear all this out. We commissioned Forrester to survey 11 Beckon customers as a neutral third party, in order to quantify the benefits of using Beckon to be more agile. In every case, teams saw a lift in marketing ROI, ranging from 6% to 20%, with an average of 12.7%.6% 20% 6% 20% 12.7%
  6. 6. 6 WWW.BECKON.COM HELLO@BECKON.COM GETTING TO AGILE MEASUREMENT The benefits of agile measurement are clear. But how do we put it in place? After all, today’s marketing stack comprises many different platforms, from many different vendors. And much of the media is managed by outside agencies, adding more layers of complexity. This makes it very hard to pull together the ready and reliable measurement we need to be agile, because every effort to create a consolidated view of marketing is bound to be slow, manual and prone to error. We’ve found that most marketers are forced to make compromises that, while understandable given the current marketing landscape, undermine their effectiveness in both the short term and the long run. MOVING TO THE NEW WORLD OF AGILE MEASUREMENT 3 OLD WORLD NEW WORLD Messy data is just how things are Clean, organized system of record Willing to outsource analysis Data-driven marketing as a core, in-house capability Data exists in silos Integrated, connected visibility Manual analysis Automated, continuously updated analysis Annual or quarterly reporting cadence Weekly, daily and hourly feedback loops Insights in binders and PowerPoint decks Insights in the flow of decision-making Tools designed for technical analysts Tools designed for marketers All centralized or all decentralized Centralize key points of leverage, decentralize creativity and decision-making Analysis in the hands of the few Democratize the data
  7. 7. 7 WWW.BECKON.COM HELLO@BECKON.COM Perhaps the biggest compromise marketers make is a willingness to outsource measurement and analysis to agencies and other partners. As Peter Drucker famously said, But how good is our managing if our measuring is done by someone else? For instance, we find that when measurement is outsourced, it almost always happens several weeks or more after a campaign ends—far too late to put the lessons learned to work improving the campaign in question. Plus, outsourcing creates a conflict of interest, as agencies are asked to measure the performance of their own work. Most marketers are aware of and uncomfortable with this arrangement, but don’t see an alternative. Outsourcing the data and analysis also distances marketers from the deep creative thinking essential to agile measurement and data-driven marketing. We’ve found that the same creativity marketers bring to communicating the brand is vital to developing the strategic advantage that comes from being data-driven. It takes creativity to connect facts, weigh results and ask the probing questions that drive innovation and growth. When measurement is outsourced, insights usually suffer a similar fate. They’re filed away in binders and PowerPoint decks and handed over after the fact, making it difficult to extract much value from them. Their infrequent delivery is a further compromise, as the annual or perhaps quarterly cadence of analysis is misaligned with the daily cadence of decision-making agile marketers seek to establish. Another major limitation is that each measurement tool, channel management platform and agency churns out its own dataset that exists in its own silo. Naturally, this has led to siloed decision-making, impeding the sharing of results and making it extremely difficult to optimize across channels. Silos create an insular environment in which teams are only looking at their own data, and making decisions without a full understanding of what everyone else is doing. Worse, the lack of transparency encourages teams to emphasize the things that are going well and underreport things that aren’t. What gets measured, gets managed.
  8. 8. 8 WWW.BECKON.COM HELLO@BECKON.COM In addition to (and partly because of) the fact that measurement and analysis occurs in silos, marketers have been asked to live with data that’s fragmented, inconsistent, conflicting and sometimes flat out wrong. Without the ability to create and maintain standards for what is measured, how measures are calculated, the right dimensions for slicing and analyzing the data, and even the naming conventions for these dimensions, marketing is forced to accept that messy data is just how things are. (A hidden danger in this messy data is that it can lead to the wrong decisions. At which point the compounding effect described above can go the other direction, with bad decision on top of bad decision painfully eroding away marketing’s value.) When marketing teams do take it upon themselves to piece together a bigger picture from the data at their disposal, they often have to do so manually, leaving little time for deeper analysis and insight due to the many hours and resources it takes just to cut and paste the data together. When marketers look for tools that could help with this task, they’re obliged to compromise there as well. As we survey the business intelligence and analytics marketplace, we find a shortage of tools designed for marketers to use themselves—these tools are built for technical analysts. As a result, marketers often end up with measurement and reporting tools that are underleveraged (or not used at all). Lastly, the messiness and complexity of marketing data results in a compromise on control. Some marketing orgs choose to centralize everything, which strips creativity and autonomy from local teams and puts strategic decisions in the hands of central marketers. Others decentralize everything, which limits opportunities to work together strategically and share best practices. Sixty-six percent of data scientists say cleaning and organizing data is their most time consuming task. Source: CMSWire 66%
  9. 9. 9 WWW.BECKON.COM HELLO@BECKON.COM AGILE MEASUREMENT BEGINS WITH A SYSTEM OF RECORD When working to improve the speed and frequency of decisions, there’s no time for the repetitive, manual tasks of collecting, cleaning and aligning data. This needs to be automated as part of a system of record—a single hub where the extended team can access data that’s clean, aligned and continuously updated. We find that most marketers struggle with this, which is no surprise given the ever-increasing number of platforms we use and our reliance on agencies (both of which are necessary and value-adding elements of marketing). It’s particularly frustrating because one sees a different story when looking at other departments. The messiness of marketing data stands in stark contrast to the clean, aligned data found in Finance (PeopleSoft), Sales (Salesforce), Operations (SAP), HR (Workday) and so on. Marketers know this—they live it every day. We’ve seen many attempts to resolve the issue by bolting generic BI tools on top of existing marketing data. But these attempts generally fail. BI solutions require clean data to be effective—if it’s junk in, it’s going to be junk out. Plus, they require the marketing team to either conform to generic BI practices and procedures or waste time and resources trying to get the tool to “speak marketing.” Alternatively, we’ve seen marketing turn to IT to build a data mart. But here, too, success has been limited. Most IT teams haven’t dealt with messy, diffuse and complex marketing data, making it difficult for them to develop a timely, cost-effective solution. And because IT usually isn’t very conversant in marketing, there’s typically a big resource demand placed on the marketing team to help IT understand how the data relates to the business. 4
  10. 10. 10 WWW.BECKON.COM HELLO@BECKON.COM In the few successes we’ve seen, the essential element is a marketing leader with expertise in both marketing and technology who can devote a lot of time to the project. Even then, completion of the data mart comes only at significant time and expense. And once the data mart is built, any changes require IT to spin up a new project, which means marketing incurs additional expenses while also having to compete with others in the company to get priority for IT resources. Moreover, IT expects the data to remain stable. But we’ve encountered plenty of instances where an agency or vendor changed a column name, reordered data, introduced new dimension values or similar, requiring IT to put more resources into monitoring data flows, which adds even more time and expense. Instead, marketing leaders who want to build a capability for agile measurement need to rely on solution providers who understand the complexity and nuance of modern marketing—providers who embrace the fact that marketing data is and will continue to be messy and unstable, and who build processes that anticipate the messiness, quickly resolve any issues, and keep the data clean and flowing. These agile measurement solutions need to be designed from the ground up for marketers to use themselves, with immediate benefit, without requiring technical analysts to make them useful. They must not only connect via APIs to the usual array of marketing platforms (Google AdWords, Facebook, Adobe Analytics and so on), but be able to handle the bits and pieces of data that come from agencies and other partners via Excel, flat files, PowerPoint and PDF. These solutions also must be purpose-built to align and normalize all of this data, so that, for example, the campaign called “Copa Mundial” in your search engine management platform matches up to “World Cup” in your Facebook account. And these solutions need to be backed by a professional services team that monitors the data and ensures the system of record remains accurate by responding to the inevitable changes in source data, such as when an API gets changed or an agency unexpectedly alters the format of its report.
  11. 11. 11 WWW.BECKON.COM HELLO@BECKON.COM AGILE MEASUREMENT MAKES MARKETING DATA-DRIVEN With a system of record in place, marketing is ready to start implementing agile measurement. Here, we begin to change the language the marketing team uses when talking about the business. The new approach to measurement guides the team by highlighting what’s important, and influences what they think about and how they act. DATA-DRIVEN MARKETING AS A CORE IN-HOUSE CAPABILITY Relying on agencies to measure their own results is unacceptable to the data- driven marketer. So is stale analysis sitting in binders and PowerPoint decks. Data-driven marketers bring measurement in house, sitting in the driver’s seat and making measurement and insights an essential part of their daily workflow. They build their processes around automated, continuously updated analysis and insights, making it easy to integrate data into decision-making, which in turn prompts new insights that build knowledge and intuition. In this way, data becomes part of the language and culture of the marketing team, instead of something external that’s presented to the team intermittently. INTEGRATED, CONNECTED VISIBILITY Agile marketers measure and optimize the business from an omnichannel perspective. Because all their data is together in one place, the team can move away from channel-specific optimization to optimizing the customer experience across channels, in its entirety. They can stack rank channels to better understand which are the most effective and efficient. And they can see how channels amplify each other to improve overall performance. 5
  12. 12. 12 WWW.BECKON.COM HELLO@BECKON.COM CENTRALIZE THE KEY POINTS OF LEVERAGE, DECENTRALIZE CREATIVITY AND DECISION-MAKING Agile marketing leaders strike the right balance between a completely centralized and inflexible measurement system and a completely decentralized measurement system that hinders strategic management. They identify and optimize the key points of leverage—the critical metrics that drive overall objectives. With standardized dashboards and scorecards, these metrics can be highlighted and enforced to the various distributed teams. Then, the distributed teams can use their creativity and knowledge of their particular markets to enhance those strategic KPIs with additional metrics and insights that help grow their portion of the business. Which takes us to … DEMOCRATIZE THE DATA Because marketing data is so messy and complex, it has traditionally resided in the hands of a few gatekeepers who understand the nuances and moving parts and try to keep the data straight. But such gatekeepers are also bottlenecks. With a trusted, centralized foundation in place, marketers can confidently give the larger team access to the data. This gives rise to a number of benefits. First, it allows the team to explore the data themselves, getting answers more quickly so they can optimize more quickly. Second, they get hands-on experience with the data, helping to build their knowledge and intuition. Third, because the data is accessible, clean, aligned and trusted, marketing can focus on driving insights and growth instead of debating whether the numbers are right—or worse, whose numbers are better. Fourth, this data transparency brings more accountability to the team, encouraging them to share not only what’s working, but what’s not. TOOLS BUILT FOR MARKETERS Just as important as a trusted system of record, marketers need tools purpose- built for marketing that make it easy to access their data, generate insights and incorporate results into their daily work. When marketers use such marketing- specific tools the quicker, easier setup delivers fast time to value. Because
  13. 13. 13 WWW.BECKON.COM HELLO@BECKON.COM industry best practices are built in, the tools integrate neatly into the team’s decision-making. And because the tools “speak marketing,” they’re easy and intuitive for marketers to navigate, enabling self-serve analysis and insight (in cases where marketing has chosen to democratize the data). AUTOMATED, CONTINUOUSLY UPDATED ANALYSIS (WEEKLY, DAILY AND HOURLY FEEDBACK LOOPS) A system of record improves the cadence and quality of decision-making. Built to handle the messiness of marketing data, a system of record is able to load and integrate data in real time. Thus, marketing can measure, develop insights, decide next steps, and act at speed and scale. What was once done quarterly can now happen monthly, weekly, daily and even hourly. Because the data is so timely, accurate and reliable, analyses can be set to run automatically, monitoring for opportunities and alerting the team with new insights. DUMP LOSERS, DOUBLE DOWN ON WINNERS When measurement is done after the fact, marketing loses the opportunity to optimize in flight. The harsh reality is that the marketplace is fickle; campaigns that should have been winners sometimes miss the mark, conditions change to make a message less relevant, and so on. Agile marketers, however, are measuring their campaigns constantly, and can respond to results fast, improving the efficiency of their spend. Losers are killed quickly (and mercifully), freeing up funds to double down on the winners.
  14. 14. 14 WWW.BECKON.COM HELLO@BECKON.COM BUILD IT, THEN HELP THEM COME The movie “Field of Dreams” made famous the saying, “If you build it, they will come.” While that may be true for baseball parks in cornfields, it doesn’t necessarily hold for the journey to agile measurement. Instead, we need to recognize that “culture trumps data.” No matter how great our data and tools are, if we don’t understand the culture of our team, we won’t be able to lead them through the necessary evolution. Every team has experiences and perspectives that will both encourage and discourage them to make changes. The marketing leaders we’ve seen successfully move to agile measurement begin with a strong understanding of their team’s culture and design a transition plan focused on quick wins in areas that have the biggest impact. They start with one or two key questions. For example, “How does our TV advertising affect our search volume?” Or, “Can we improve the efficiency of our display campaigns by better coordinating with our email program?” They work with their team to develop hypotheses, design a test, implement it, then measure the results. Together, they analyze those results and decide what worked and why. Then they do it again and again, each time coaching and encouraging the team to take on more individually. And they do it in a spirit of learning and openness, knowing that with faster, lower-risk decision cycles, failures are just as useful as successes. It’s clear that marketers need better tools and capabilities to thrive in today’s dynamic environment. Moving to agile measurement, based on a system of record, takes time and investment, but the rewards are well worth the journey. Agile marketing teams are better informed about their business, better equipped to respond to a rapidly changing marketplace, and deliver higher value to the organization. 6
  15. 15. ABOUT BECKON To grow your brand, you need integrated, unbiased data and insights you can trust. You need Beckon, The Source of Truth for Marketing™. Beckon’s rock-solid data management and real-time marketing intelligence power better, faster decisions that let you do more with every marketing dollar. LET’S TALK Want to learn more? Get in touch at—we’d love to connect.