Commentary

Running In Circles with Your Marketing? You Should Be

While most people try to avoid running in circles, marketers are always striving for it. They are on a never-ending quest to sustain a true closed-loop marketing strategy, which includes:

  • Implementing marketing plans and measuring their effectiveness
  • Optimizing these plans to make them more effective
  • Activating these new and effective marketing plans

Unfortunately, closed-loop marketing isn’t as easy as “rinse and repeat” if you don’t have the right technology and practices in place to seamlessly connect one phase to the next. Establishing an ongoing cycle of measurement, optimization and activation is key to maximizing your marketing efforts.  Finally, you will not only know which half of your marketing budget is wasted, but you’ll also know where to reallocate that budget to boost performance and maximize return.  

Phase 1: Measurement

The foundation of a successful closed-loop marketing strategy starts with unbiased measurement of marketing effectiveness. Most marketing plans are complex and multidimensional. They may include multiple media channels and campaigns that each have their own set of tactics and messaging. They may be designed to target different audience segments, or seek to attract new audience segments. So your measurement needs not only to account for each of these unique dimensions, but also attribute the right amount of credit to each one based on its impact on key performance indicators.

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Having a single measurement currency that can be applied to all channels and dimensions in order to quantify the true impact of your marketing efforts at a very granular level is critical for accurate measurement. It is this granular understanding of what’s working and what’s not that enables the next phase of a closed-loop marketing strategy.

Phase 2: Optimization

Understanding how each marketing dimension impacts your results is fantastic, but it’s meaningless if you don’t have a way to use that information to effectively optimize your marketing plan.

It’s not enough simply to shift more budget to what works and reduce budget for what doesn’t work. Each channel, campaign and tactic is subject to diminishing returns, and there are dozens of media and business constraints that every marketer has to consider. For example, marketing budgets aren’t limitless, media inventory has a cap, and some commitments can’t be canceled. Additional variables, such as new product launches, business policy changes, and seasonal and economic factors, must also be taken into account.

Closed-loop marketing requires tools that automatically factor all these constraints into the planning process, along with the attributed performance results, in order to ensure that the output is an optimized and realistic marketing plan that can be executed during the activation phase.

Phase 3: Activation

Activation is the third phase of the cycle that puts your optimized plan into market. Ultimately, activating a new plan produces new measurements that trigger the process to start all over again, creating a continuous closed loop.

There are two ways to activate an optimized plan:

1)     Non-automated activation that requires marketers to manually adjust media insertion orders, creative rotations, etc., based on the optimal plan.

2)     Automated activation that distributes media buying instructions to programmatic platforms via APIs or bi-directional integrations for real-time optimization.

The more you can shift to automated activation, the faster the process can be repeated to drive better business results in less time. Every time the cycle reaches the point of activation, more data is then fed back into the process, creating new measurements and increasingly accurate recommendations for optimization.

The learning process of a closed-loop marketing strategy never ends, because media consumption and consumer behavior are always changing. So your marketing must be prepared to quickly adapt to those changes every time a new plan is activated. You could say that running in circles is the only way to move forward!

3 comments about "Running In Circles with Your Marketing? You Should Be".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, June 16, 2015 at 4:20 p.m.

    Interesting piece, Anto. The problem that I and others have with the proposed shift to automated media buys is the inherent assumption that a single, truly --and equally--- meaningful, metric can be established and ----even more difficult----properly measured. If such were the case, one might assume that the computer programs could out buy their human counterparts, though even if this were true, the likely outcome would be a one-year "correction" in media selection, afterwhich great improvements would be almost impossible to attain. Indeed, once the "winning" media saw that they were in greater demand, they would, no doubt, increase the CPMs they input to the system, thereby minimizing future efficiency benefits---unless other media suddenly reduced their rates.

    More to the point, how does one develop a single currency for "optimization" purposes when factors as diverse as corporate or brand image, compatible editorial environment, demo or product user targeting, reach and frequency or scheduling variations, beginning or end of campaign, new product or old, general shifts in public attitudes, competitive effects, etc. all must be considered? How are all of these variables factored into a single "value" metric for the computers to optimize at the lowest cost? Many of them simply can't be quantified. Also, they interact. Change the weight on one or two of them and you alter the weight and relative "value" of some of the others.

  2. jack Brown from BDAI, June 17, 2015 at 11:57 a.m.

    This articale is our manifesto...

    Computers are faster they learn and adapt, it's called Artificial Inteligence(machine Language). First to see the data, non emotional, capable of processing multible metrics and they work 24/7.  Like all other innovations it still requires people to interact with it to create its objectives.  It's a tool the best tool to date but still just a tool.

    Weare creating TRANSPARENTCY and destroying the Black Box.  This will only serve as a overall catalyst for positive changes for marketers and media.  Your right Ed eventually even with the current technology as antiquated as it is there will be a " winning media" and they will raise their prices, in fact some already are.  How is that different than any other product or service market where the buyer has total TRANSPARENCY?

    We wish you would take us up on our offer to answer your questions and clear your vision.

  3. Peter Rosenwald from Consult Partners, April 13, 2016 at 10:01 a.m.

    With all that has been written about metrics, I have yet to see a single article describing a case where the single currency (absolutely necessary, when possible) has been judged at the critical line determining ultimate profit.

    This is perhaps because in different cases, what we like to call the 'profit dynamic', can be found at different depths in the funnel - in some cases it is cost-per-click, in others, it may be the ratio of successful sales appointments made to the number of calls.

    We had a case where a service company offering computer support to SMBs was concentrating the bulk of their efforts in reducing lead cost. Leads were given to low-wage telephonists who sought appointments for well-skilled salespeople who converted 50% of their visits to substantial contracts. (The whole story is told in my book: Accountable Marketing.)

    It didn't take long to understand that the profit dynamic lay, not in the cost-per-lead but rather in the ratio of appointment calls to appointments. The 'saving' by having low-paid untrained people doing this was a myth. Raising the number of appointments by even a small increment and keeping or improving the conversion to contract, had a dynamic effect where lowering the cost-per-lead was only marginal.

    Ultimately, the only single currency is the Return on Marketing Investment (ROMI). Using this as a benchmark for each medium or combination of media and then determining where the profit dynamic has the most profound effect in the marketing cycle should inform all our strategies and actions.     

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