The most important part of marketing communications is measurement. Yet often this piece is dismissed as “too hard,” causing many of us to avoid creating a strong measurement plan.
It’s time to cut this challenge down to size. There are three parts of a strong measurement plan, and you’ll want all three in place so you can be recognized for your contributions to brand success.
1. Measure. Obviously, “measure” is part of a good measurement plan.
Measurement is more than just having metrics, benchmarks and results, though. It’s also important to consider timing. When will results be available to measure? How often should you report? This is an important consideration since you will want to think about how best to manage expectations among peers and senior executives at your brand. What happens if the results are better than (or worse than) expected? How will you handle inquiries when you’re trying to track down issues?
Keep in mind, marketers who set solid goals up front are better positioned to measure results against those goals along the way. I’ve written about setting goals before, and this should be done before you start planning measurement.
2. Test. The second most important part of a measurement plan (after actually doing the measuring) is to separately evaluate the testing results. The marketers’ mantra is “test, test, test.” There should always be tests planned.
Testing deserves its own strategy, but should be integrated into all email marketing strategies as well.
MediaPost contributors have written a lot about testing, with good recent advice from April Mullen, as well as a few of my articles here and here. Testing is how marketers build support for future innovations, changes, and budget requests. Strong tests usually take time to set up, so it makes sense that this part of measurement should be planned well in advance.
3. Socialize. Most marketers don’t formally plan how they will socialize their results. Socialization is the most important part of measurement. If your tests are wildly successful but you tell no one, will anyone give you the credit? Probably not.
Consider how to socialize results in the context of your brand’s organizational structure. Are there people who need to review results first? Can you get advice on spin from anyone? Will your results appear more impressive (or less) depending on who presents them to senior executives?
Timing also can be critical, as newly released good results may have a positive influence during budget time. When do you need to have results shared in order to make the most of budget negotiations?
Measurement plans are critical to a successful email marketing strategy, and can have a tremendous impact on the future growth of the brand, the email marketing channel within your brand, your team, and your budget. While baseline measurement is generally straightforward, the broader testing agenda must be given special attention to maximize the chances for success and impact. Socialization also requires attention for similar reasons.
Smart marketers will spend extra effort on a strong and comprehensive measurement plan to make sure their success is recognized.