Greener Grass – Measuring Marketing Effectiveness in an Omnichannel World

Do you know the expression: “The Grass is Always Greener on the Other Side”?

Well it’s funny to see it happening in marketing.

Phuong Nguyen, Head of Advertising at eBay, commented in the October 2013 edition of Marketing magazine that the “increasingly complex” purchasing journey – where search and purchase behaviour are so intertwined that no one knows where one starts and the other will end – was making it difficult for digital marketers to measure the effects of their activities.

Moreover, another digital marketer recently asked me how to justify the budget for digital when “it’s easy for traditional marketers to justify the effectiveness of their spend at building a brand but digital marketers cannot because they can’t reach enough people quickly enough”

Strange but true.

Meanwhile marketers using traditional media channels lament the fact that their digital counterparts can track the effectiveness of their activities in a manner they can only dream of.

Seems the grass really is always greener on the other side.

Unfortunately the problem with both these views is that neither is looking in the right direction. Both, rather ironically, start from the idea that marketing is “done” to consumers and that internal business metrics, if only configured correctly, could solve the riddle.

But that is an impossible dream.

No individual company will ever have a complete view of each and every consumer. To seek it is to seek the modern El Dorado. The 21st Century version of Fool’s Gold.

A more practical – and more consumer-focussed approach is needed to measuring marketing effectiveness. One that looks at the 21st Century World through the eyes of the consumer and judges marketing effectiveness as its success in delivering the right solution to my needs. Today, tomorrow and for as long into future as relevant. One of the best ever lines in financial marketing sums this more admirably by most: “I’d like a pension company that won’t retire before I do.”

Consumer purchasing is driven by more than short term offers, who has the best looking web site or great customer service. It is driven by all of these and more. And what’s more this ‘pull’ can be measured.

Almost all digital measurement is ‘transaction oriented’ and whilst some of those transactions can be used to infer likes, preferences, and other attitudes, the overwhelming use is simply as a more real time version of direct marketing. Offering deals and adverts to influence purchasing is hardly cutting-edge, no matter how much more sophisticatedly you can target them. It is simply information direction, and just one element of marketing effectiveness.

Getting someone to buy through offering them a deal is purely transitory, a bribe to get them to shop with you. Here today but gone tomorrow. To get them to use you again your ‘short term’ deal must become a permanent price cut, which works until the guy down the road offers an even better deal than you do.

Truely effective marketing is wider than this and needs a wider metric to judge it by. One that tells you how powerful your marketing is at influencing customer purchasing behaviour whether there’s a deal or not. One that measures the “pull” a brand or store has and explains why when you see something online you go to a specific store to check it out.

This “pull”, which we term “Effective Net Preference” covers the five key dimensions that influence customer purchasing behaviour:

– Relevancy (is this what I need?)
– Identification (are these the people I want to buy it from?)
– Accessibility (how much hassle is involved?)
– Value (is it a fair deal?)
– Confidence (what’s the risk I’ll be disappointed?)

If your marketing is getting you ticks in all these boxes with more consumers than your rivals then market share gains will follow and not just because you are the ‘cheapest on display’ this week.

ENP measures the effectiveness of your marketing programme through the eyes of the only person who counts, the buyer. It is not based on what the retailer or manufacturer’s view of the outcomes but the buyers view of what all your marketing efforts means to them.

And it is not idealistic. The measure can be derived at brand level or for individual customers. It can be turned into propensity scores for targeting and predicting future spend behaviour. By measuring your strength on each of the five underlying dimensions it can be used to improve your offer in ways that increase preference without reducing price. It can be used to ensure you are becoming more buyer-centric and valued by them for more than just convenience. And it can be used to track the preference for your brand over time, the “willingness to deal” that keeps your sales strong whilst others may falter.

Best of all, however, it is not confined to a single channel, a single media, or a single marketing lever. We are using it, for example, to convert social media dialogue into a real time measure of consumer brand preference. All social media comments about a brand, product, service or company can be classified under one of the five key headings listed above and ranked on their level of positive endorsement or detraction. This enables real time tracking of strengthening or weakening consumer preference and knowledge of the sources of those movements. Simplifying the complexity that Nguyen finds challenging.

Moreover, using an endorsement scale instead of just ‘positive, negative, neutral’, makes it possible to produce ‘Sentiment Indices’ on each key driver so you can see whether you are staying in tune with buyer needs – much more quickly than via traditional research. So you know all the time whether the consumer thinks your brand meets their needs and is delivering on its promise.

ENP is probably the most important brand metric you have never heard of. Master it to guide your business and you’ll place your future destiny in your own hands. Remain locked into the mind sets displayed by the current era of traditional and digital marketers alike and you will be buffeted by the winds at every turn.

To find out more about ENP just visit our web site.