Since the best data is your own, you should start by analyzing your owned channels, and then defining conversion and reporting times, and giving all partners measurement tool access.

Many perceive setting up tools and processes to measure digital marketing as complex. Yet, it's fairly straightforward if you think about it. Getting all your data in one place so you can use it requires following a few clear steps that are now skills many have. But you have to get this right at the start.

Why should we care to do this, beyond improving results and doing our jobs with clear direction? Measurement lets you show results in terms no one can argue with. In my days as a consultant, I never lost a client or had a fire-drill meeting to "prove my value" to a CMO when we were measuring results - and showing clear performance improvements - of tactics each month.

With all companies looking to reduce costs, it's obvious why some marketing and PR budgets get cut: no demonstration of meaningful results.Why should any business keep paying for a program if it doesn't show a positive impact? Would you keep a program that wasn't able to demonstrate and detail progress aside from team members saying how they "feel" it's going? Of course not.

Here are four steps for getting started:

1. Start with Your Own Data and Channels

Many new digital analytics practitioners start out using tools that measure OPPs - other people's platforms - such as a native social measurement tool. Unfortunately, this practice is backwards. You aren't ready to use tools such as channel-specific measurement, or any data external of your own properties, until you're set up to capture data from your owned properties. It's simply going to be the most robust, accurate data (Read more...) very specific to your brand, since it's your own.

The order here matters because KPIs can expand quickly. Your own website or app data is the most detailed, accurate - and likely important - for your business. Additionally, it lets you track outcomes from all other platforms.Without getting your own analytics right, you will waste a lot of time and gain little actionable data or meaningful results. The analogy is simple: you need your command center fully functional before you worry about outposts.

2. Define Some Sort of Conversion

Whether you are using Google Analytics or another tool as your core digital analysis platform, define a conversion from your sites and apps. What action is it that you want people to take? You can't improve outcomes from digital marketing unless you're set up to track them before they happen. Even if you aren't selling anything directly online, there are always desired outcomes. Just start somewhere and make sure you have at least one conversion setup, although three is the ideal goal.

3. Give All Your Partners Access to Measurement Tools

Everyone working on marketing your brand online needs access to your web analytics. If you can't trust them with this data, you have the wrong partners and bigger problems to deal with. If, instead, you have internal politics and people don't want to share access, you need to bust the bureaucracy and function as a team. There is no way to effectively close the loop on your activities without data. If your partners don't know what to do with this data, educate them.

4. Report Effectively and Provide Actionable Insights Monthly

Once you've chosen the critical metrics for your business and associated KPIs, track them and report them in a rhythm to key stakeholders, along with insights and next steps. Remember, you don't need to report everything. In fact, your team's focus should be on keeping their heads down on impacting the metrics that actually matter. In my experience, monthly is the proper cadence for reporting. Daily or weekly is too short and you'll kill yourself reporting when you should be executing. In some cases, quarterly will be enough; just establish this expectation.

Are you tracking the right metrics? Do you actually understand how they work together, and what tactics are effective? Great - now hold your team accountable to improving them.

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