In this week’s episode, Katie and Chris talk about marketing measurement strategy. What is measurement strategy in the context of marketing? Why do so many marketers and especially consultancies and agencies mix up strategy, tactics, and execution when it comes to measurement? How should you think about your measurement strategy? Tune in to find out!
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What follows is an AI-generated transcript. The transcript may contain errors and is not a substitute for listening to the episode.
Christopher Penn 0:17
In this week’s In-Ear Insights, let’s talk about marketing measurement strategy.
So, Katie, I have a slight bit of a rant here.
Okay, let’s go.
I’ve had a lot of time chatting with other folks in, you know, in different consulting firms and agencies and, and, you know, big fives and all these, these folks.
And everyone loves to Bandy the term measurement strategy around like, oh, we do this strategic foreign measurement.
And then yet, from where I sit as someone who does a lot of measurement, period, a lot of what people are calling strategy looks an awful lot like, tactics, it’s just, you know, we’re gonna measure this, we’re gonna measure this, we’re gonna measure this, and I’m like, well, where’s the strategy? I feel like Clara Peller, from 1984, at Wendy’s, where’s the beef? Like, okay, we’ll get all this, where’s the strategy? What is it that separates strategy from tactics? And why is it that everything that folks are calling a measurement strategy looks an awful lot like just a shopping list of tactics?
Katie Robbert 1:16
Well, I think first, first, I want to dive a little bit into the psychology of strategy versus tactics.
And so, you know, both you and I, in the spans of our careers, have run into people who have said, No, I just use strategy.
For some reason.
I don’t know importance that’s connected with being the strategic thinker, the strategist.
And I personally, I don’t get it.
Like, anybody can put together a strategy.
Anybody can put together tactics, one is better than the other, you need both of them.
So just do it.
Like, who cares who’s doing it.
So if this, that’s, this is sort of my mini rant.
Now, now you’ve gotten me ranting, is, you know, people, it makes me nuts.
When people are like, No, I’m the strategic thinker, I need to put together the strategy, someone else can handle the tactics, feeling like the tactics are less important than a strategy.
Well, guess what? Without tactics, it doesn’t matter how bigger, greater wonderful or big thinking or forward thinking your strategy is, because you can’t do anything because you still have to break it down into an actionable plan.
So that’s my rant is that tactics are not less important than strategy.
Being a strategic thinker, and you know, if you’re listening to this, I’m using big, big whopping air quotes with my big hands of being a strategic thinker does not make you more important, or smarter or better than someone who puts together tactics.
Christopher Penn 2:54
The way that I think about this is, strategy is the menu, right? Here’s the dishes we’re going to be serving tactics are the cookbook, right? Here’s all the recipes we have and the different ways you could cook that menu.
And then the execution is let’s go actually cook the thing.
And you’re right, we need all three.
I think where that bias comes in, is that consulting firms in particular, feel like they can charge more money for strategy.
But it’s a case of Well, yeah, you can put together the menu.
But if you don’t know how, what the recipes are, and you don’t know how to cook, all that doing strategy alone means we’ve got a good menu.
No one can cook it.
Katie Robbert 3:32
Yeah, no, I wholeheartedly agree.
I’ve I’ve been in roles where, you know, the company has brought in these consultancies, and they’re like, Okay, so we’re gonna interview everybody and get everybody’s thoughts on where the company’s going.
And we’re gonna put together a strategic plan, it’s gonna be a, you know, a B hag, the big, hairy, audacious goals.
And here’s the seven points of, you know, success that you have to hit.
And that’s it.
And they, they literally just put together a really expensive PowerPoint to say, we heard you say that, in the next two years, you want to hit a million dollars.
So our strategy for you is in the next two years, you should hit a million dollars.
And like, that’s not helpful.
So I think what we want to talk about today, in terms of what is measurement strategy, is really breaking it down to it doesn’t need to be this, you know, proprietary black box like, you know, opaque you can’t see what’s happening behind the curtain.
Here’s the thing.
I’m going to do one more rant.
Here’s the thing that makes me nuts about consulting firms.
And this is something that we are trying to change in terms of the reputation of consulting firms.
What we do is not mysterious.
It’s not top secret.
We do the exact same things that any other person on the phone So the planet could do with the right expertise with the right background, basically, we’re just saying, Okay, let me collect all the information.
Let me put it together in a coherent way.
And let me give it back to you and say, Does this make sense? Okay, great.
Now, here’s what you need to do to get from A to B.
It’s not magic.
And so when it comes to putting together, measurement strategy is very much the same thing.
You can hire a consultancy, if you don’t have the time to do it yourself.
But I guarantee that you definitely have the skills to do it yourself.
Christopher Penn 5:36
Exactly what I have, for example, one of the many notebooks I have for my martial arts class, you know, and there’s dozens and dozens of tactics and different techniques and things you can do.
This is these are the tactics, right? This is this is how to win a fight one of one of many folders and folders of this stuff back here.
What makes strategy useful, is not knowing all this stuff, although it helps.
What strategy is, is knowing what the right tech tactic is at the right time for the right situation.
If you pull out a spear fighting technique, and you’re facing off against some guy with a stick, you could probably succeed.
But if you pull up a spear fighting strategy with some guy who has a machine gun, you’re in a lot of trouble, right? strategies about what to say no to strategies about of the entire cookbook that you have which recipes maybe which five or 10 recipes fit together coherently on that menu.
So you’re not putting sushi next to cheesecake, right and putting cheesecake as the appetizer.
And you’re being soup as the as the dessert.
It sounds horrible.
So measurement strategy, to me is exactly the same thing where we have all these measurement capabilities, these different tactics, we can measure this can run different kinds of regression analysis, and the strategy is what to say no to we look at you look at a business and say you are a B to B to C, right? You you sell your product to a distributor or Risa, you know, you maybe make batteries, and you sell them at Walmart.
So a DTC e commerce measurement system, wrong system, it’s a misfit to the way your business works.
And therefore, from a strategy perspective, we’re saying no to this long list of metrics and techniques, and maybe even tools.
And to me, that’s what strategy is, is is essentially what to say no to what to remove, you know, the only restaurant I can think of that has a menu where everything’s on this Cheesecake Factory, right? They have like their menus, like 42 pages, every other restaurants like now, we’ve got like 2530 dishes Max, except maybe like a Chinese restaurant, but even then you’re not going to find like hotdogs on your Chinese restaurant menu.
They’ve said no to every other cuisine except Chinese food.
When we’re talking measurement strategy.
Even in there, we have to be very clear, like, are we talking a digital marketing measurement strategy, we’re talking a cross channel marketing measurement strategy.
And what we choose as our outcome defines what goes in that menu of options.
Katie Robbert 8:15
So you hit on a couple of points.
And so let’s, let’s start to put this together.
So, you know, I think as we start to demystify strategic thinking, really, it comes down to knowing where you want to go and how to get there.
And so that is the really big secret behind a strategic thinker.
So when people are like, I’m a strategic thinker, I’m a strategic thinker.
So it’s someone who can see all of the information and pick and choose the pieces that fit for that appropriate situation.
It’s someone who knows, okay, so Right.
So today, we’re here.
Tomorrow, we want to be over here.
So here’s all the things that we need to do to get over here.
And all of those things start to form the tactical plan.
And so the tactical plan becomes the execution, the things that you’re working against.
And so that then goes back to well, do you have a measurement strategy? How do you know that you got from here to there? And so, you know, you can do user stories, you can do KPI mapping, but ultimately, the first thing, the first question that you need to answer for any kind of strategic plan, whether it’s a marketing plan, or a digital marketing plan, and measurement strategy is what’s the point? Why am I here? What am I trying to accomplish? What is the purpose of doing this thing in the first place? Because that is going to anchor everything else that you do every other strategic decision, tactical decision, whatever kind of decisions you’re making, has to tie back to this purpose of why you’re doing the thing in the first place.
Christopher Penn 9:57
It’s again, it’s like a menu If you are a Japanese restaurant, your goal is to serve Japanese cuisine to the customers, right.
And so you look at your all the things you know how to cook, and you’re like, wow, you know, Flan that doesn’t fit the purpose of the restaurant, it doesn’t belong on the menu.
You know, pizza doesn’t belong on the menu at a at a Japanese, or at least a Japanese American restaurant.
And one of the other things that you were saying got me thinking too, that someone who claims to be just a strategy person might be an incredibly dangerous person to have around.
Because in order to know what goes on the menu, you have to know the recipes.
In order to know the recipes, you have to know how to cook them.
So when something comes along, that’s new, if you’ve never cooked it, and you don’t know what the recipe is, you don’t know whether or not it belongs in the menu.
So when something like Tiktok comes along, if you’re a strategic thinker, only who’s never actually gotten your hands dirty with Tiktok, you don’t know whether it belongs in your marketing strategy or not, you don’t know what it belongs to your measurement strategy if you’ve never tried to export data from Tiktok.
And so someone who sort of boxes themselves in as as just a strategic thinker, may not be up to date, and therefore maybe handy menus that were like, great for the 90s, you know, but not for the current environment.
And given how fast marketing changes, that could be a substantial handicap, you might be getting someone’s recycled Greatest Hits, and not what your customers actually want.
Katie Robbert 11:34
Well, it’s it strikes me that you know, someone who’s not up to date on all of the different tools or recipes that are available.
Can’t be a strategic thinker, they can call themselves that, but they absolutely can’t be because they don’t have awareness of all of the different pieces that could fit into the puzzle.
So therefore, it’s already, you know, a BS term, you know, I would rather have a pragmatic thinker than a strategic thinker, I want someone who’s going to really look at all of the different pieces and consider them and really understand, like, okay, so Tiktok, how does this fit into our strategy? Does it include the right audience? Do we create content that fits the format of the platform? Do we need to change what we’re doing in order to accommodate, you know, the rules and regulations of tick tock? Like, I want someone who’s going to start to think, think about it in those terms versus tick tock, tick tock snoo.
We’re gonna do that now.
And so like, those are two different approaches.
And I would prefer someone who’s going to think through all of the pros and cons and risks and benefits of adding in a new recipe to our probably already extensive menu.
Christopher Penn 12:55
And when it comes to measurement strategy, then you start getting into, like actual data science, like what data is available? What are the formats? What are the dimensions? What are the metrics? What are the known anomalies, How clean is the data, etc.
And so part of your measurement strategy has to be knowing tactically what’s available, and then from an execution perspective, how you’re going to do it, because some of Tiktok data really difficult to get out as an example.
When you look at something like Instagram stories, like the measurement strategy around that is obtuse because stories are ephemeral.
And Instagram does not provide an API for it, right? So it’s a measurement challenge.
And so when we’re talking about measurement, strategy, all that all those execution things, and all those tactical things have to boil up to be able to say, Guess what Instagram Stories can’t really be coherently a major part of your measurement strategy, because there’s so many issues with the tactics execution, that it’s a dish you can’t cook, except for special occasions, right? It’s not something can happen to me, because it takes four hours to make this dish.
It’s like that, that one crazy dessert at the restaurant that is on fire.
And that you know, people roll it out in the cards, like it’s not an everyday thing, you can’t be an everyday
Katie Robbert 14:09
So I think that this goes back to what’s the purpose, like what is it that you’re trying to understand? And that should start to dictate what metrics what data points go into your measurement strategy.
And so you need to understand, like, first of all, what’s a measure of success? And so let’s say Chris, you know, I suddenly decide on a whim that we’re going to do everything on Snapchat.
Everything for Trust Insights is going to be on Snapchat.
If I’m then showing you the number of Twitter followers, I’ve mismatched my measurement strategy because I clearly don’t understand or haven’t thought through.
Here’s how I know that we are being successful in the business by using Snapchat.
Look can get Twitter followers is going to tell me nothing about my snapchat strategy?
Christopher Penn 15:06
And even, you know, taking it down a level further, do people even know what data is available from Snapchat? Do you have an idea of here’s the different pieces that are involved with Snapchat.
And here’s how you get at them.
And if you’re not familiar with them, you know that that might be an issue.
One of the other things to think about are tool limitations.
So for example, we are big fans of Agora Pulse for measuring our social media, there’s a whole bunch of channels that are world pulse doesn’t integrate with so in some ways, those are limitations, like the appliances, we have can’t handle certain things like, we have a really great blender.
But you know, we wanted to cook steak, that’s not gonna go well.
And so something like a Snapchat, for example, is not something that’s in Agorapulse.
So we would have to figure out, Is that relevant to our business? Is it part of the purpose? And then if it is, how else are we going to get the data because our existing tools don’t work with it?
Katie Robbert 16:05
Well, and this, you know, that reinforces, you know, my statement that I would rather have someone who’s a pragmatic thinker than a strategic thinker, because I think one of the challenges with, you know, strategic consultants and strategic thinkers is they’re like, Okay, so here’s everything I think you should do, go do it.
And they’re not thinking about, can you do it? Is that the right thing for you gonna be doing? Do you have the capabilities to do the systems allow you to do the thing? Can you measure the thing correctly, with whatever’s available in the system? They’re just like, here’s strategy, good luck.
And I think, you know, that’s one of my huge issues with strategic Consultants is, they’re just gonna walk in and say, Okay, so here’s all the things you got to do.
So good luck.
I don’t care how you get it done.
But that’s what you need to do to be successful.
Like, they’re not thinking through? Does the data even exist in snapshot? If it does, can I even access it with the current skill sets and tools and technologies that I have? Or do I have to build a whole new team with all new tools in order to extract the data from Snapchat in order to, you know, reach this goal that I have set arbitrarily, based on information I didn’t have in the first place.
Christopher Penn 17:25
It’s kind of like looking at a competitor’s menu and just decide you’re going to copy their menu and and then realize you don’t have you know, maybe you look at Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant, so I’m gonna copy that menu, but you don’t have Gordon Ramsay his level of skill, or his the or the recipes, you don’t have those recipes.
And therefore, you can’t successfully replicate that menu.
If you see the measurement strategy of Coca Cola.
I guarantee you Coca Cola invests more in marketing stuff and marketing measurement than you do.
Unless you’re an equal size, fortune 50, you are going to have a hard time matching that when you look at any of the folks were producing these these case studies, that taking the case study into context is essential to say, Okay, I see what they did.
What can I do with the limitations that I have? Again, going back to the martial arts, I can watch a grandmaster show a technique and then say, Can I get something that replicates the effect with the level of skill that I have, knowing that I’m not there I am, and I shouldn’t be trying to do something that is out of my reach.
And I think that’s one of the challenges that we see with a lot of measurement strategy is that a lot of the times, there’ll be a recommendation for something that just isn’t in the budget.
You know, like we’ll say, if you want to really dig in to your brand strength, you need you about $100,000 worth of market research.
If you’re a mom and pop coffee shop, you do not have that money.
Katie Robbert 18:57
Right? Well, and it also strikes me and this was something I was thinking about not in context of this podcast, but it’s related is when we talk about, you know, this black box thing of strategic consultants, and they you know, everything’s proprietary, they won’t tell you how it’s done.
One of the things that we really enjoy is telling people exactly how we’re doing something because we have no secrets, we because we want everything we do to be approachable.
That doesn’t mean that if we give away all of our frameworks and tips and tricks and resources that people can replicate it exactly to your point.
So for example, Chris, if you and I were asked a question where you and I together a kind of come up with very different results than me and John would or you and John Wood.
And so it also comes down to the individual person and their, you know, life experience, their professional experience.
They’re going to bring different thoughts thoughts and opinions into the room, you know, and so, you know, to your example of, you know, a Gordon Ramsay recipe.
Well, Gordon Ramsay is gonna cook it the way that he cooks it, because he’s Gordon Ramsay, he could give you step by step by step, every single instruction down to, you know, the millisecond.
And you’re still not going to get the exact same result as he is because you’re two completely different people.
And just the way that you approach it, you think it maybe you’re left handed, he’s right handed, even if you try to use the same hand that he does, nothing is going to ever be identical.
And so comparing your stuff to someone else, you’ve already set yourself up for failure.
So your measurement strategy needs to be what’s appropriate for your company, your team, your tactics.
Christopher Penn 20:50
So I think the first place to start then if you’re trying to figure out your measurement strategy, your for marketing, is to look at your cookbook, look at your tactics, what are you capable of look at the different recipes that you know how to do? Do you know how to do brand strength? Do you know how to find unique visitors in Google Analytics, etc? All of those things, look in your cookbook, what do you know how to do? And then from there, once you’ve looked down through the execution layer, you will look up and you say, Okay, well, here’s the things that are on the table.
Here’s the things that are off the table, I know how to use I know how to do, you know basic users and Google Analytics 4, but I don’t know how to do maybe campaign extraction, right, because maybe you haven’t learned explore hub yet.
I’m I’m in the middle of working on some code right now for to moving our digital customer journey product from Google Analytics 3 to Google Analytics, 4.
And I’m running into some substantial technical issues with it.
Namely, that have to extract like millions of rows of data to be able to do one analysis.
And so I’m at a point where I know what needs to be on the menu, because it’s going to look very similar conceptually to our existing product.
But now I’m looking into the execution side going, Wow, this is going to be a totally different way of cooking the same dish in order to produce the same measurement and the same insights for a customer.
That I think when you’re looking at your measurement strategy, say what? What do you what’s in your cookbook? What is it in your cookbook that you’ve heard of that maybe you bookmark and say, Hey, I need to go learn how to do brand strength, me I need to learn how to do a proper Share of Voice.
And you can bookmark that for your professional development.
And then from what you know how to do today, you start cobbling together your menu.
Katie Robbert 22:38
So as we start to piece this together, if you are asked to put together a measurement strategy, number one, what’s your destination? What’s the purpose? What is it that you’re trying to accomplish? If you don’t know the answer to that question, start there.
Number two, what data are you collecting? So in that example, Chris, if someone says, I need to understand the strength of our brand? Well, what data is involved in that? And are you even collecting it at this point? Is that someplace where you have to start? So you need to understand that piece? Do you have access to the data? Do you have a way to extract it, that you can actually do something with it? And then once you do all of that? What’s the CIO? What is anyone going to make decisions with this information to do something different? You know, so I can look at the number of Twitter followers that we gain month over month? But are we going to do anything different? Probably not.
So why am I looking at that data in the first place? It’s just more of a nice to have, it’s, you know, it’s a point of interest, but it’s not something I’m going to necessarily make a decision with.
And so when you’re putting together your measurement strategy, the most effective way to approach it is what decisions will I be making with the state because otherwise, what happens and Chris, I know you’ve, you’ve seen these, in your experience as well is that you get these massive dashboards, with 100 different metrics and colors and labels, and you’re looking at it and your head starts to hurt because you’re like, I don’t even know where to start.
I don’t understand what this is telling me or what I’m supposed to be doing with it.
So you know what, I’m just going to ignore it.
And it’s just going to keep showing up and in my inbox week over week, until I’m completely numb to it.
And then the person who’s spending, you know, 80 hours a week putting it together is super frustrated that nobody is looking at their thing.
It’s another little exam.
Christopher Penn 24:36
No, no it but it’s completely accurate.
That’s what happens when your menu doesn’t make sense.
Or you’re incoherent or there’s just too much stuff on it.
I like to say that the only only aggression that gets away with as Cheesecake Factory and even then there’s a whole bunch of things that aren’t on there that could be so the other the last part I will say is that you When you’re looking at all the data available to you spend some time learning what all the data means.
Again, it’s like having a cookbook, learn why, you know, certain recipes work the way they do look for the common themes, because as new things come along, the more that you understand your recipes in and out, the easier it is for you to understand when some new ingredient or new tool comes along and say, Okay, how does this fit in to my existing body of knowledge, a new social network pops up, and it looks an awful lot like Tiktok, Instagram, say, Okay, if I understand this dish, and this dish looks very similar to this one, I can probably port some of my knowledge.
So if you’re really good at Tiktok, you probably understand what to do with Instagram reels, you understand how they function, and you understand how to measure them, and report them at measurement.
That’s the way to keep your tactical knowledge fresh, which then keeps your strategy fresh.
Katie Robbert 25:56
And I would add to that, your strategy should not be set in stone, it should not be something that you decide once, and that’s all you ever do with it.
So, you know, Chris, you know, sort of building on this recipe menu restaurant analogy that you’ve been using, restaurants will take things off the menu, if they’re not working, if nobody’s buying them, if they are purchasing the ingredients for a dish that nobody ever buys, that’s a waste of money, you should do the same thing, you should audit your measurement strategy.
In the same way, you know, once a year, twice a year, once a quarter, however, often is appropriate for how quickly things change in your organization.
One of my favorite restaurants that you know, I go to every once in a while, they just took a specific kind of pizza off their menu because nobody ever ordered it.
And it was the only menu item that had the specific ingredients for that dish.
So they’re like, Okay, nobody ever orders it.
So I’m just gonna go ahead and take it off, and then you, nobody’s gonna miss it.
And they replaced it with a couple of other items that are similar in with ingredients to things that are more popular, because they can repurpose those ingredients to make similar but different dishes depending on what you’re in the mood for.
That’s a smart way to approach it.
Because you’re you use you are reusing what you already have.
And you’re listening to your audience, your listen to your stakeholders, your patrons who say this is what I actually want.
Don’t keep giving me this weird topped pizza over here that nobody’s ever going to order doesn’t make sense.
I really just want fish and chips.
Christopher Penn 27:42
And to your point about how often the menu should change.
What’s the number one question most people ask and hear about when they walk into a diner? What are the specials, right the specials changing all the time, the core menu may remain the same, but those specials change every single days.
And just like that, your stakeholders may have new measurement requests for you all the time.
Some of those will come permanent menu items.
Some of them be like add like that, so there’s no need for that.
What’s in your marketing cookbook? What’s in your marketing measurement strategy cookbook? Let us know hop on over to our free slack group go to trust insights.ai/analytics for marketers where you have over 2500 other marketers are asking and answering each other’s questions all day long.
And wherever it is you watch or listen to the show.
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Thanks for tuning in, and we’ll talk to you soon
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