There are three broad categories that encompass most, if not all measurement regarding your marketing strategy. They are not mutually exclusive, your marketing strategy will end up being measured by a combination of all three. The three measures are descriptive, diagnostic, and predictive.
Descriptive is the most basic form of measurement. A Klout score, your Google Pagerank, the number of unique visitors to your website. Descriptive measurements are what most of us believe measurement to be. In reality your Klout score is just a snapshot in time, a rank compared to others at that moment. It doesn’t help you understand how you got there, what you did to achieve such a score or help with understanding how to increase ones’ Klout score in the future. Descriptive measurements are the most elementary form of measurement.
Example: Comparing the Ad Agency’s in Regina to one another. All the comparisons in that post were of the descriptive nature, none of which would give us an understanding of why one agency is more social than another.
Diagnostic is the next step in measurement. After a descriptive measure allows to take a snapshot in time, a diagnostic measurement helps in understand how something happened. Setting up Google Analytics or some measurement tool to begin to move from descriptive to diagnostic is the first step. When you can compare results over time you begin to notice trends and attribute outcomes to specific actions.
Example: When you see a spike in visitors to your site one day, tracing that traffic surge back to the gala you sponsored on the night before. The ad on the back of the program had a specific landing page on your website, the surge in traffic and any resulting sales or outcomes will be attributed to your sponsorship of the gala.
When you begin to diagnose how your business is acquiring new customers and clients then you can begin to predict what tactics you should use in the future.
Predictive measures allow you to take what the descriptive measurements, and diagnosis of those measurements has unveiled to help decision making in the future.
Example: Looking deeper into Google Adwords to understand which keywords are more profitable for “time on site” goals you are trying to achieve and using last months data to increase the effectiveness in next months campaign.
Comparing referral traffic after sharing a new blog post on Linkedin, Twitter, Google+, and Facebook to better understand which audience you should be targeting in the future. Furthermore, comparing data from these referral sources to understand where your most profitable traffic comes from and setting goals to increase effectiveness.
This article was inspired by a post called “A True Measure of Influence”. Tom Webster introduces the three categories of measurement and talks about how you can’t rely on a Klout score as a barometer of your online marketing effectiveness. It’s definitely worth a read.