What do we want to learn?

The art and science of digital marketing measurement and optimization has been around for many years.  The majority of digital marketers today have adequate systems in place for reporting on and managing performance.  That is not to say that this stuff is simple.  It remains a challenge to identify the right metrics for different internal audiences, implement the necessary tools and tracking, produce the required reports and cascade results, and analyze data to action improvement.  That said, most businesses today have the necessary tool-sets, skill-sets, and mind-set in place to effectively manage their current state digital marketing activities.

So how can we optimize optimization? 

By reframing what we are optimizing for.

From: Tactical Adjustment (what we need to measure to improve an existing tactic)

To: Strategic Insight (what we need to learn to inform our digital strategy)

Marketers need to spend more time identifying not just marketing goals but learning goals--what the business needs to better understand to support future changes and investments. This type of planning should be done during digital strategy sessions, where ‘big bets’ and roadmaps are being discussed.  If the business is considering a significant change to its digital marketing strategy, it should also be considering what data it needs to support and help shape it.

The following framework is a simple guide to facilitating this type of discussion.  The left-hand column represents the familiar process of creating a digital measurement plan: mapping goals to tactics to measures.  The right-hand column illustrates how using a similar approach, marketers can start to create a learning plan: mapping hypotheses to tests to measures.

Over the years, the industry has built a strong foundation to measure current state digital marketing activities.  To take the next step, let’s start optimizing for greater strategic insight.  Let's start looking forward.