System Thinking: FIVE Golden Rules for Measuring Marketing Effectiveness in the Connected World
It must have been an easy job planning media in the not too distant past; given the only interaction with brands was through the phone or on the high street, it was easy to directly link advertising exposure to a sale. The world today though is very different; as evidenced by the myriad ways we communicate and interact with each other and with brands. The modern consumer is not just always connected, but connected always to a complex network of channels at once.
To reach this ‘always on’ consumer, we need to understand the connections between our communications channels. Everything is connected , and we need to optimise a brand’s entire system of content and connections – not just the individual channel silos – to fuel business success. By applying what we call ‘System Thinking’, we focus on the totality of a brands communication system, delivering transformative business growth rather than just marginal media performance improvements.
All of which sounds good in theory, but how do we actually measure this system? We believe that by following these 5 best practice rules, you can begin to understand the whole system and make sure your marketing investment is working at its hardest.
UNDERSTAND THE BIG PICTURE…
Along the consumer journey there will be key interactions with the brand. These may be on its website, through social media or purchasing online or in store. We need to know how the offline and online media work together at driving consumers to these key touchpoints and how these are influenced by external factors such as the economy, seasonality, price, promotions and so forth. Econometrics is the optimal analytics technique here to determine the size and strength of these impacts by understanding the relationships between them.
…AND THE DETAILS BEHIND IT
What impact does a TV ad have on website hits within 10 minutes of airing? Answering such questions often requires a level of granular analysis that is not possible in a national sales econometric model. Without an understanding from the bottom up, there is a chance that we remove smaller media from the plan under the belief that it is not pulling its weight. However, in reality, we can only determine its impact when it is analysed at a micro level. To get to the necessary level of detail, we need tools such as digital attribution or for TV, a MediaCom tool called Spotlift. These identify the immediate impact of the media on a key response metric.
IF IT MOVES, MEASURE IT
If you were to count all the possible paths a consumer could take on its journey to purchase, taking in website interactions, social media, review sites, search, discussions with friends and more; you would soon discover nearly infinite routes to the point of purchase. Everything is connected and everything will interact. Consider the consumer that discusses her purchase on a social network and introduces another consumer to a brand who has not been previously exposed to the marketing. Or the consumer who starts with a product search ‘best running shoes’ and reaches a brand through reviews and recommendations. It is here that we need to use systems thinking to map out all the potential journeys, integrating our learnings from the big picture and granular detail analysis. Within our measurement framework, we identify and quantify all the interactions. Social will drive purchase in its own right, but will also drive search, web visits, SEO improvements and so on.
UNDERSTAND THE ROLE OF CONTENT
The strongest brands produce content that builds an emotional connection with consumers, improving brand loyalty and helping traditional media work harder. The resultant increase in social interaction and engagement ultimately means that these brands sell more and achieve a stronger return on marketing investment. Content needs to be analysed as part of the system to ensure it is building resonance within its target audience.
ALWAYS THINK LONG TERM
Consumers soon grow wise to the brands that always aim for quarterly volume sales targets through promotion-led offers. The expectation sets in that the product will always be on offer at some point and the price that the consumer is willing to pay falls in line with the promotion. A brand that seeks to drive an emotional connection with its consumers through content and media will reap the returns in the longer term by being able to charge a premium price for its products. To drive the best ROI, marketing effectiveness analysis needs to measure the impact of the marketing investment on brand equity measures and link these through to purchase.
In todays connected world, the role of marketing effectiveness analytics is to make sure that every potential consumer interaction and route to purchase is measured and quantified. This ensures that planning will be at its strongest to drive the best return on marketing investment. Systems thinking needs to sit at the heart of the process to maintain that every connection is identified and planned for accordingly. It is only in measuring this way that we will truly understand the effectiveness of our marketing investment.