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.) is an expensive and short-lived way 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 your ideas below.

4 comments about "Where Are You On The Digital Ladder Of Insight?".
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  1. carro weston, March 29, 2011 at 1:18 p.m.

    Google is one of the best ways to capture some metrics but I struggle with pulling the data into some sort of more usable format. Have you found anything that makes it less manual?

  2. Keary Phillips from Angie's List, March 29, 2011 at 3:01 p.m.

    I think points 3 and 4 could be flipped - depending on industry category. With the entry of DMP's and more sophisticated Web Analytics solutions it will be easier to collect digital "touches" than it will online and offline "touches" across multiple sales channels.

  3. Christopher Brinkworth from Ensighten inc (acquired TagMan), March 29, 2011 at 5:39 p.m.

    Totally agree about monitoring what your competitors are up to -I mentioned this on my Panel at OMMA the other day, that it's one thing you cant 'tag' - but need to attribute some activity to this as it can cause anomalies in your data you could construe as something else such as success.

    Same goes about Chatter and WOM point, it's spot on. Because TagMan's real-time attribution report from our universal Tag Management System see's all entry points/data touches - we have found that Social and SEO are often drastically undervalued when it comes to attribution (that article is on e-consultancy).

    I would add here to also think about the role of widgets, live chat and also how you track 'direct to site' and 'seo' after someone has interacted with your brand. See this post:

    Chris Brinkworth
    TagMan Inc

  4. Maura Hanley from BigReach Learning, March 29, 2011 at 6:06 p.m.

    Level 3 seems to me to be the holy grail for most marketers, but I'm not sure may have got there. Can we have some examples, please?!

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