Data is at the heart of the modern convergent world. It’s the backbone that holds everything together. So it’s important to create that backbone first and foremost. – Asad Rehman, Media Director of Unilever for North Africa & Middle East.

Data’s central role in marketing is more relevant than ever in the modern digital age. Data is the modern currency for marketers whose roles have dramatically expanded. It is now commonplace for marketing experts to be asked to look at increasing amounts of data, process it and make strategic recommendations.

More than ever before, clients are looking to marketing experts to provide strategic counsel on data analytics. Questions such as why a certain strategy worked or failed, or how a particular campaign, piece of content or influencer activity performed against previous activations are now all part of the marketer’s role – and yet not everyone is prepared to answer these key questions.

This is why it is essential that marketers develop the skills to analyze and quantify the results of the strategies they have put in place for clients. Having a robust method of tracking this activity enables all parties involved to see if what was done was actually a success, and better still, to help us improve in the future. However, implementing the proper analytic tools is not always a simple task and does require a certain amount of time, effort and buy-in from different parts of the business and teams involved. Often measurement happens in silos, either internally, through multiple agency partners, or at a market level.

Below are some simple tips to help marketing experts as well as clients approach data measurement in the effective way possible:

  • Develop a clear understanding of your objectives

This applies across the wider business and communications objectives. Without knowing where you are going, it is difficult to map activity back to the central focus points of the business. Having clear objectives is the first step to creating a KPI framework, which is the basis of all effective measurement. Developing a KPI framework allows us to map specific metrics back to these goals/objectives, assuring that the marketing plan is hitting the overall business strategy.

  • Don’t neglect to measure outcomes, as well as outputs

There is a plethora of data available to us in the modern marketing age, across all forms of digital (social, web, search, mobile, email etc.), but also offline (surveys, in-store promotions, events etc.). The mistake that is often made is to measure only the outputs of that data, which means that the actual impact of our efforts is not always tracked. Marketers need to better measure the outcomes, for instance:

  1. Look more long-term, not just at the next campaign
  2. Speak directly to audiences to ascertain if perceptions have changed
  3. Approach ideas with a ‘what if we do this?’ mindset
  • Measure effects on business results (where possible)

Once objectives are in place, it is essential to create measurements that align with our objectives to track the results. For most clients measurement is linked to sales. Through digital channels, we can track customer journeys using customer analytics. However, in order to achieve proper analytics, we need to ensure the digital ecosystem we are employing is set-up correctly—meaning websites are tagged, pixels are working, and sales data is being attributed correctly. Without measuring the impact of marketing activity on business results, it is often difficult to justify future marketing proposals.

  • Measure digital streams (always!)

Digital streams, be it social, web, email, search or mobile should always have some form of ongoing tracking in place. This can often be done via owned channel analytics or managed tools, which are a cheap, efficient way to collect performance data at scale. Often this data can be used across multiple measurement pieces, be it for a specific campaign, event, or other marketing activity. This tip also applies to competitors as well as advocate/detractor activity. Active listening to other brands and audiences is also critical in helping us understand where our own performance stacks up.

  • Ensure replicability

Often, marketers perform measurement analytics as a one-off, but the time and effort that goes into this should be rewarded more often. Measurement should not be just a one off, but rather, a mind-set, a change in the way marketing experts approach marketing strategy. In order to ensure that all the marketing experts in your team are employing key data analytics tools consistently, it is critical to create a measurement framework and approach that is as simple as possible. Additionally, it is important that the entire team understands why tracking and measuring our efforts will help our teams and clients to be more successful.