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5 points of failure of a measurement plan and how to solve them

I’ve been to countless meetings where someone has a basic idea for the marketing team, and within minutes, it’s a complete campaign. Everyone is ready to make things happen.

But with all this hoopla and excitement, one key component is almost always overlooked: a measurement plan. Measurement tends to be an afterthought. You just spent all the time, energy, and creativity putting together your campaign. Don’t you want to be 100% sure you know the impact on your business so you can do it again?

A measurement plan is more than numbers on a spreadsheet. It is a story, a narrative, and a decision-making tool. You should always make sure that you are setting yourself up for success. To do that, let’s discuss where things can go wrong, the five points of failure, and how to fix them.

What are the five points of failure of a measurement plan?

When a measurement plan fails, it is for one of two reasons:

  • Decisions cannot be made with data.
  • You are trying to make too many decisions with the data.

When creating a measurement plan, think about how you will take action with the data, not just by collecting the data. Because it’s “just” a measurement plan, teams tend to skip gathering requirements. Even saying “requirements met” can bring a chill. Because?

Requirements gathering is (incorrectly) viewed as a tedious process that is a barrier to taking action. It does not have to be like that. At a minimum, you should be able to answer five questions:

  • Aim. What is the question you are trying to answer?
  • People. Who are the stakeholders and what do they care about?
  • Process. How are you collecting your data and maintaining integrity?
  • Platform. What tools are you using to collect, analyze and report?
  • Performance. How do you know if he created the right plans?

The more of these questions you can answer, the less likely your measurement plan will fail.

Failure Point 1: Purpose

Why is purpose a point of failure? Because very often, we don’t define the question we are trying to answer. On the contrary, we are trying to answer too many questions and a single measurement plan will not do it.

You want to start with a user story. A user story is a simple statement with three parts that answer five questions.

“As a [persona]Yo [want to]so [that].”

The statement is its purpose.

  • He [persona] tells you who the people are.
  • He [want to] it tells you the process and the platform.
  • He [that] tells you the performance.

The challenge is that when thinking or writing a user story, many stop when they reach [want to].

For example: As a [marketing manager]I want [measure my campaigns].

There is no “so”. Why does the marketing director want to measure his campaigns? What decision can you make with the data? What happens if the results are not as expected? What will the team do if the results show superior performance?

The flip side of that is giving people their purpose. When it lacks purpose, your people don’t know what to do or why. We all want to know why we are being asked to do something. It gives us a sense of purpose. Share your user stories with your team so they can understand what you need. In return, they take charge of achieving the result.

A measurement plan is only as good as its purpose. If there is no meaning, purpose or decision, the numbers are just that, numbers on a spreadsheet. At the very least, make sure you and your team are clear about the purpose of the measurement plan.

Failure Point 2: People

People are a point of failure for a couple of reasons. The first is that they don’t know what they want. They are not focused. Giving purpose to the plan helps control distractions. The next reason is that they don’t know why they are being asked.

As stated above, giving people a purpose gives them why and gives them a sense of ownership. The last reason is that they were not asked in the first place. How do you ask people what they want?

Take the original user story that sets the purpose and have each person involved create their own version. This will give you a better understanding of what they need from their perspective.

“As a [persona]Yo [want to], [so that].”

The “person” is your stakeholder, the “want” is the intention, and the “so that” is the result.

For example:

  • As a CMO, I want to know which channels are working so I know which channels are generating revenue.
  • As a marketing manager, I want to understand which channels are working, so I know where to allocate budget and resources.
  • As an analyst, I want to understand what channels are working, so I know where to focus my customer analytics voice.

If we go back to the information we get from a user story, we see that the process and platform in each of these are the same, but the purpose and performance of the data is different.

One of the ways to handle this with your measurement plan is the output of the plan itself. This is where you are starting to get into the process. Set up individual dashboards for each stakeholder. You are using the same data, just telling a different story depending on the audience.

An additional point of failure for people is keeping the audience too narrow. Some companies want or are required to share data externally. Some teams use the data for commercial and marketing purposes. Other teams may use the data for regulatory purposes. Be sure to create user stories from those perspectives as well.

Failure Point 3: Process

The lack of process, rather than the process itself, tends to be the point of failure. In order to have a successful measurement plan, you need to have a process for how you will collect, analyze, and report your data. A good starting point is the 6 C’s of data quality. These are:

  • Clean. The data is well prepared and free of errors.
  • Complete. There is no missing information.
  • Comprehensive. The data should cover the questions asked.
  • Chosen one. No irrelevant or confusing data.
  • Credible. The data is collected in a valid way.
  • Calculable. The data must be viable and usable by business users.

You will also want to know the frequency of data collection. Is it a one time pull to see what happened, or are you setting something up daily for a longer period of time? This is an opportunity to introduce automation into your measurement plan.

As you define your processes, think about short-term and long-term solutions. If you need to start with manual data extraction and analysis, that’s fine. But consider automating your processes to reduce errors and time spent.

By not knowing all of your data touch points, the quality of your data, and the frequency of your data, your measurement plan will fail. Asking these questions in advance will help prevent such failure.

Going deeper into the process is knowing how you will share the data. Need a deck, spreadsheet, dashboard, or something else? If you don’t know, go back to your user stories and personas. Setting expectations in advance for how you will present the data will also dictate how you will collect and store the data. This then begins to inform the platforms you will be using.

Failure Point 4: Platform

With over 11,000 martech platforms to choose from, their purpose and user stories will help you narrow down the choices.

The platforms you choose can be a point of failure for several reasons:

  • we choose too many. We try to bring all of our data from all of our platforms together in one report. This tactic requires a lot of processes around data cleansing and transformation.
  • We chose the wrong platforms, with the wrong data. You could be heading in the wrong direction by not taking a step back to understand the purpose of your measurement plan. For example, Google Analytics is a standard tool in marketing, everyone knows what it is, and most marketers use it. It comes for the trip by default. But that does not mean that it is the right platform for your analysis. Look at your goals and user stories. That will tell you which platforms to choose. Google Analytics may not play a role in your measurement plan.

If you’re overwhelmed and don’t know where to start, you need three basic platforms:

  • One to collect your data.
  • One to analyze your data.
  • One to report your data.

You can start with the basics and build from there.

Another point of failure of a measurement plan is that it is all-encompassing. What would it look like if you had multiple measurement plans?

Your user stories are like chapters in a book. They all work together to tell the same story, but they also exist independently of one another. This tactic will allow for more platforms and more user stories. You don’t need to cram all the data into one confusing page.

Failure Point 5: Performance

In this context, performance is whether or not you made the right plan, not whether the campaign was successful. This is where you review your homework before turning it in.

This step, like the previous ones, is easy to skip. You made the plan, you set up the spreadsheet, and you’re done, right? A better plan is to go back to the first four P’s:

  • Aim. Did you answer the original question?
  • People. Did you meet the user story requirements to answer the question?
  • Process. Did you create a repeatable process to answer the question?
  • Platform. Did you use the correct one(s) to answer the question?

Before you go ahead and run campaigns, make sure you have a plan to measure your progress beyond just a simple spreadsheet. Setting up your report templates, dashboards, processes, and expectations ahead of time will save you a lot of hassle in the long run.

Whether it’s year-end planning or just starting a new campaign in the middle of the month, you can follow the 5Ps to set yourself up for success. The collection of requirements may seem excessive for a measurement plan, but it doesn’t need to be exhaustive.

At the very least, make sure you can answer these five basic questions:

  • Which is the aim of this plane?
  • Who are the people involved in this plan?
  • Which is the process to make sure we can execute this plan?
  • Which are the platforms necessary for this plan?
  • Which is the performance metric that helps you know you are successful?

If you can’t answer these questions, go back to the beginning. Start with a user story and build your requirements from there. You’ll have a rock-solid measurement plan in no time.


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The opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily those of MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.