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Online London Digital Transformation

The Engagement Yardstick: what should marketers look for from online measurement tools?

By Ollie Bath |

May 1, 2012 | 5 min read

Online measurement is a key role for marketers in the digitial age, but with so much data now available, where can marketers look for help in collating it all and what do they look for when measuring online data. Ollie Bath, head of client solutions for IgnitionOne UK discusses the issue.

Measuring online media can be tricky – that’s no secret. For marketers, getting the best return on their online spend relies on collating data from across all digital outlets. Using insight to increase accuracy across the online customer journey is great for direct response metrics, but understanding what drives online engagement will ultimately benefit brand marketing as well.

We all know that last click metrics don’t tell the whole conversion journey story. Online purchase decisions are based on numerous actions, rather than a single one. Accurate and efficient online advertising relies on understanding the aggregated effect of both individual and multiple media exposures.

With the right tools in place, visibility into user paths to conversion and distributing credit to contributing exposures is relatively straightforward, but there are so many tools that offer different levels of insight – from sentiment analysis to algorithmic powered demand-side platforms.

To truly understand the overall impact of online marketing, marketers should look to integrated platforms, not individual point solutions. In addition to IgnitionOne, several noted players have already begun to offer these, most notably IBM and Adobe, underlining the issue’s importance.

Thanks to these developments, it’s now possible to take online data, interpret it in real-time, and alter the way ads and content are presented to create a better, more personalised user experience, ultimately increasing the likelihood of a conversion.

But what about the amount of time a consumer spends navigating the path to conversion, and engaging with related content? For brand marketers, this is just as important in understanding and optimising the experience.

While the basic method of engaging through advertising has little changed, the sheer number of media touchpoints consumers are exposed to on a daily basis has multiplied ad infinitum, as have marketers’ ability to track them.

What’s needed is an additional layer of information that collates data across all channels – SEO, paid search, display, email, affiliates and social media – to understand how users engage as a result of seeing media relative to their stage in the conversion funnel.

If we were analysing engagement of players in a football match, we wouldn’t focus solely on the goal scorer, we would examine who held the ball the longest, covered the most ground and who was interesting to watch. Looking at it this way, even players on the opposing team exert influence on each goal, as part of a longer chain of events, and impact on the match’s ending.

In the same way, touchpoints that are indirectly related to the end conversion also have an impact. This is precisely why it’s important to assign a value to each media exposure, in order to determine which ones had the most positive effect. Marketers also need to understand the value of customers that don’t convert in order to have an accurate picture of engagement.

The ability to look at levels of engagement more deeply helps identify how customers are engaged, and ultimately how to optimise campaigns.

Understanding that if users are highly engaged but not yet converted, helps marketers interpret the true value of the purchase funnel and the media these users have been exposed to, rather than the value of the media relative to the end conversion.

As digital media becomes increasingly integrated, marketers need to consider different channels as a sequence of experiences that can be mapped against a pipeline of potential customers.

Overall, engagement insight gives a clear indication of where to direct online marketing spend, with a greater degree of clarity and accuracy.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

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