If analytics gave you a ‘single source of truth’, could you handle it?

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analytics single source of truth

Let’s be blunt. Implementing an advanced marketing measurement and predictive analytics programme that creates a holistic, unified view of marketing impact across all online and offline channels and silos can be difficult. Really difficult.

Marketers have long sought a ‘single source of truth’ that reveals what is working, including how, why, what efforts deserve credit for conversions, and in what amounts.

The problem, however, is that once such a marketing measurement effort starts, the truths that it begins to reveal do not always align with what marketing teams and organisations have long believed to be the case.

You’ve hit your numbers, but did your marketing actually work?

This gap between assumptions and reality can either open eyes to new ways of doing things, or it can prematurely derail efforts while marketers and other stakeholders struggle to reconcile their duelling views.

Reconciliation is vital, however, because in order for organisations to implement decisions based on their analytical insights, they have to uniformly trust them.

In short, marketers must be ready to handle the truth that they say they seek.

The potential rewards are well worth the effort required to navigate the journey to a sustainable unified marketing measurement programme. Not only does successful measurement drive business growth, it drives career growth too for those who get it right.

Your ‘secret’ weapon

The ‘secret’ to achieving your single source of truth is hiding in plain sight. It is something that nearly all marketers are at least somewhat familiar with. But few understand the vital role it can play.

The secret weapon is simply this: incrementality. Well, maybe it is not quite so simple. But what is crucial to understand is that incrementality is a far more powerful and encompassing concept than most marketers realise.

As generally defined, marketing incrementality is a measurement of the increase in a customer’s likelihood to purchase after exposure to – and engagement with – marketing. Put another way, incrementality pinpoints the amount of lift that marketing and advertising provide to the conversion rate. In many advertising circles, incrementality is considered the single best measurement of marketing or advertising success.

The truths do not always align with what marketing teams and organisations have long believed.

The standard means of measuring incrementality – or incremental lift – is to compare conversion rates of two groups: one that is exposed to a given marketing effort and one that is not.

That might seem simple enough to execute, but this type of A/B testing is ultimately flawed, because the conditions and motivations across individuals for yesterday’s A/B test are not the same as the conditions for tomorrow’s.

What is important is how well marketers understand the insights gained from measuring incrementality, and what they do with those insights. Such knowledge can either become a secret weapon for understanding marketing’s true role in driving growth – and evangelising that awareness across the organisation – or it can be left to languish in the dustbin of unrealised data value.

The former gives analytics initiatives the credibility and staying power necessary to empower smart marketing investment decisions. The latter is a wasted opportunity.

Gaining buy-in

Adopting a new view of marketing effectiveness and efficiency requires full stakeholder involvement across the organisation, including marketing, planning, media buying, finance, agency partners, brand marketing and performance marketing, among others.

Incrementality can be used like a magnet that draws both internal and external stakeholders together and keeps them together, to realise long-term benefits of measurement that get lost in an environment of short-term-only thinking.

Incrementality offers tangible evidence that can help everyone feel more comfortable pushing forward to implement sophisticated predictive analytics, and to advance those efforts with decision-makers. It does so by demonstrating proof of impact in a clear and simple way.

It’s time for your brand’s data strategy to grow up

Incrementality can be activated to help inspire new ways of working in a factbased, analytics-driven environment, where metrics, use cases, governance questions and KPIs need continual updating.

For example, the truths that incrementality testing unveils can help marketing and other factions break out of their siloed KPIs by initiating more credible, fact-based conversations around marketing’s real impact on revenue.

A trusted marketing analytics partner should be able to help your organisation foster better understanding of incrementality.

It should also guide you on how to align around shared KPIs and break down the walled gardens that so often undermine measurement efforts.

Strong marketing leaders are using this new way of thinking to help their organisations handle the truth and improve the bottom line, while also accelerating the upward trajectory of their own careers. It is the missing link that can finally unite all stakeholders around a common truth about how each marketing channel is linked to desired business outcomes.

Mark Gooding is head of growth and client solutions, EMEA & APAC at Neustar MarketShare.

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