How Much Data Do You Actually Need to Measure Success?

Ian McGonnigal

October 24, 2017

You’ve gathered hundreds of possible marketing metrics, most measuring something of value. The only problem is you’re not quite sure how they relate to any of the marketing tactics in the actual sales cycle. And if that sales cycle is a lengthy, arduous one, you better roll up your sleeves and get ready for the long haul.

When it gets hard to measure the results, you always return to the purpose of the tactic to pinpoint its value in the sales cycle. Some tactics drive awareness, while others are better at consideration. You’ve got those that influence preference and those that work at point of sale. There are even tactics that contribute to customer retention and loyalty.

If we knew the answer brand-for-brand, product-for-product, tactic-for-tactic, and consumer-for-consumer, the majority of marketers would be out of a job. After all, most marketing investments are spent trying to figure all this out.

So the question remains: How do you monetize something like experiential marketing in such an ambiguous environment?

The Value Behind a Metric

While there’s some value in understanding the return on objective or return on experience of any tactic, what you truly need to understand is its financial value. Would the sale have happened without a particular tactic? Would it have happened sooner if you changed the order of tactics?

The simplest way to assess value is to understand the total overall marketing investment and the total value of the sale and divide each of those against the number of people engaged to create a level-loaded return on investment. But even then the answer won’t help you understand which tactics were most valuable.

After all, everything can be quantified. But quantification needs to be relevant and actionable to the role of each tactic and to the whole of the marketing portfolio. In order to arrive at the answer, you need to test and retest, and you must constantly optimize against the control to fine-tune the mix.

Making Sense of Metrics

During the planning process, decide on a series of three measurable objectives based on the role of the tactic in the sales cycle and the audience. It's important to design the experience to accomplish these specific objectives.

If you're looking to drive awareness, for example, you can look at impressions metrics — or, of course, survey participants before and after to gauge learning. If, on the other hand, the objective is consideration, you might measure attendee opt-ins to determine interest.

While many of these measurements may seem like return on objective and return on experience metrics, they’re actually all assessing forward motion along the sales cycle. The challenge is to measure only those things that help you understand how each tactic is moving audiences closer to the sale. You want to look at success metrics first (what was accomplished) and then diagnostic measures (why it was or was not successful) second.

That’s why it’s critical to simplify measurements to the core elements — outcomes, not outputs. Otherwise, you won't learn anything relevant or have anything actionable.

The Diagnostics of Experience

Looking at experiential marketing by itself is a bit like visiting a specialist versus a general practitioner when you're sick. Your physician needs to understand you as a whole patient before he or she can jump into a targeted diagnosis.

That said, at Kenwood Experiences, we want to understand what makes a particular audience tick before recommending an experiential marketing activity. We look at experiences as driving emotional and rational behaviors within a sales cycle. We can’t elicit those behaviors until we get to know the target customers and their awareness of a brand.

We also wouldn’t know whether the “prescription” worked without this information. You need a point of reference with the brand, audience, past behaviors, sales cycle, and marketing touches to ensure you’re measuring the right symptoms.

More specifically, we plan our approach to measurement based on overall brand, marketing, and sales objectives at the campaign level before diving into the objectives and measures for the experience. Then, we decide which tools, processes, and methods are most appropriate to deploy.

We execute the tactics and deploy measurement protocols, analyze the data, generate useful reporting, and develop recommendations to optimize similar experiences moving forward. While the end goal is always to advance the sale, we want to get to a point where we have enough data to initiate a predictive analytics program.

Leveraging all this, we can create a reasonable sense of tactic value to the sales process, and understand what works, what doesn't, and how we can improve.

To be sure, there will always be a ton of metrics to track. But if you keep your eye on too many, none get their just desserts. Define your primary objectives for the experience to whittle down your options, then make adjustments from there. It’s really as simple as that.

More Information

For media inquiries please visit our Contact page.

Next project