Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Where Are You on the Digital Ladder of Insight?

I’ve been working on updating the “Ladder of Insight” I published several years ago to reflect some observations on levels of measurement sophistication with respect to digital/social attribution. From what I see in the marketplace, companies seem to be at one of four levels in their pursuit of better insights…

Level 1 – Monitoring chat boards; counting Tweets and followers; measuring owned-media activity (site visits, sourcing pages, etc.); using last-click attribution. Seeing a very limited view of digital activity and hoping to correlate outcomes with observed behaviors.

Level 2 – Above plus tracking sentiment for self and competitors; monitoring Google query volume for a few dozen key terms; using syndicated research to dissect online information searching and buying pathways; “allocated attribution” methods based on views/touches across digital exposures based on samples of cookie and clickstream data.

Level 3 – Above plus integrated view of digital and traditional tactics in a common analytical attribution model that establishes direct and indirect effects of digital, and social (both online and offline WOM) within the context of ALL marketing/selling tactics.

Level 4 – Above plus comprehensive online pathway monitoring based on full digital data sets from own site, referring sites, and ad placement servers. Accurate digital attribution derived when sampling is no longer required.

As you move up in levels, you gain more accurate perspective and find more ways to improve the effectiveness of marketing spend - which is increasingly measured in terms of both dollars and man-hours. But more importantly, you gain competitive advantages to exploit your insights and you get refreshed insights faster.

But before concluding that this is the path to marketing excellence, it’s worth remembering a few decades-old ground rules of marketing that seem to be even more important in the digital era:

  • Innovation brings buying attention to your product/service offering. Manufacturing or borrowing interest (celebrities, discounting, etc.) are expensive and short-lived ways of drawing attention to yourself. If there’s nothing substantive for people to talk about, all the social media effort in the world won’t amount to much more than a digitally collective yawn.
  • Online chatter about your category/brand is usually just a fraction of total chatter. Don’t underestimate the impact of offline WOM, particularly for lower-interest categories where consumers aren’t likely to want to tweet or blog.
  • Given the increasingly fragmented battle for consumer attention, sound segmentation is more than ever the key to getting relevant value propositions in front of the right customers. Just because you produced a “killer” online video doesn’t mean millions will want to view it.
If you have thoughts or ideas on how to improve on this ladder, please share…


Pat LaPointe is Executive Vice President at MarketShare, and Managing Editor of MarketingNPV Journal, the most widely read journal of marketing measurement, available online FREE at www.MarketingNPV.com.

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