Digital Marketing And Analytics: Two Ladders For Magnificent Success

step-by-step The most common mistakes digital practitioners and leaders make is to either do things in the wrong order, or to try and do too much at one time.

Progress in digital marketing and analytics in either scenario becomes painful (the organization / systems / thinking is simply not in the optimal position). People become frustrated (you hire smart people, they run off to build you the Taj Mahal, meanwhile you don't have a functioning toilet). Business results suffer.

There is something in humans that makes us want to do the hard things, to shoot for the most complex right away, to want to be challenged to infinity. In many cases, it is a tendency we have to learn to restrain.

More often than not, magnificent success results from executing a business plan that is rooted in a strong understanding of the landscape of possibilities, and a deep self-awareness of business capabilities. These business plans will contain a structured approach, do this, then do this2, then make sure we are really good at this3, then this 4 and so on and so forth.

In other words: Evolution. It works.

Said another way, digital revolutions more often than not fail. One day your leadership realizes you stink at digital (all of it or just Facebook or search and display or mobile or whatever). They find the closest industry leader (L'Oreal, Booking, Zyrtec, Innocent Drinks, CSC Consulting). They say: "Do whatever we need to in order to get there in 90 days. Go!!"

If you hear that, run. Else you'll be standing in a place where a flaming crater will appear in the near future.

I'll be the first to admit that selling evolution is hard. Revolutions just sound so darn sexy! Still, reality is reality.

In this post I want to arm you with the evolution you should undertake in your companies when it comes to marketing and analytics. Additionally, I'll make the hard tough difficult painful choices on your behalf and order things to deliver the highest possible impact, so you'll know exactly what to do and what you will get from it all.

In other words: Two inspiring ladders of awesomeness for you! One for digital marketing and one for digital analytics.

Your ladder might look a little different, but I hope the process I follow will help you make the hard choices most relevant for your company and the evolutionary position it finds itself in.

Ready?

Digital Marketing: Ladder of Awesomeness/Sustainable Success.

My current title is Digital Marketing Evangelist so you can just imagine how absolutely excited I am about all the digital possibilities. Owning audiences, instead of just renting them. Earning time, instead of just buying it on TV. Creating persistent relationships, instead of just transient ones. Not letting budgets limit our creativity. And so much more. I'm like a kid in a candy store. I want to do everything right away. I want to go from single cell life to fully formed homo sepians in seven days.

I've also discovered that that is the easiest path to failure. : )

So, based on my spectacular successes and painful failures around the world, I've developed a ladder of sustainable success. Here is what it looks like:

digital marketing ladder of magnificient success

Let's look at each step on the ladder in some detail.

The very first thing you want to do is create an acceptable website. One that reflects the customer expectations of 2013. A good example, for e-commerce and non-ecommerce sites, is http://www.csc.com/. Look at the colors. Look at the icons. Look at the way the text is laid out, how video is incorporated, the structure of the site and everything else. Your first job is to beat them at everything. During this stage you should also invest a lot in Search Engine Optimization. You will have great content, in a good experience, and focus on getting free traffic.

[To learn more about the Do in stage one please review my See-Think-Do-Coddle framework for content, marketing and measurement.]

Second, create the world's greatest mobile experience. Yes. Don't do paid search. Don't run to buy display ads. Definitely do not start Tweeting or embarrassing your brand on Facebook (we'll do that in a bit). Focus on the mobile experience. Because of this lovely graph from Business Insider and it's representation platforms people use to visit top destinations….

business insider mobile visits behavior

Scary, right? Exciting, right? Focus on mobile like crazy, tablets in particular. Beat CSC's experience. Beat Motrin. Beat Beneful. Don't be like IBM's tablet experience (old, substantially brand negative). Or Ford (it is amazing that in 2013, for such an expensive product, it looks so…. 2005).

Now that you have build a decent foundation and are getting a decent amount of free traffic you know what is working and what is not, you are ready to move to step three. Start investing in your email marketing strategy for extending relationships, and your paid search strategy for brand terms. Email allows you to start building a owned audience that you can (if you don't stink) start relying on (rather than constantly having to rent them from TV or Google). People typing a million variations phrases with your brand terms are looking for you, make sure you show up and capture the traffic you deserve.

Step four is focusing on expanding your reach to new relevant audiences. The cool part about display advertising is that we can build our brands cost effectively, introduce our products to a new audience, and create demand based on a number of intent signals (this last part is often missing from offline media). Based on what people read, what sites they've visited, their demographic and psychographic signals and so much more. Don't go all crazy with display ads, just focus on your brand, products and services. Learn, get better, try some more.

The site is now working well across platforms, we are starting to get a lot of free and some paid traffic, we are optimizing for conversions and task completion rate, time to move to step five in the ladder and focus on creating micro-outcomes on our website. Here is what it looks like for the Venetian hotel and casino in Macao:

macro micro outcomes venetian macao

In orange is the macro-outcome (number of casino room reservations), in purple are the micro-outcomes. All clustered into See-Think-Do. Less than two percent of people on your website will complete the macro-outcome (conversion). Having a robust cluster of micro-outcomes allows you to deliver something of value to the other 98% and establish a relationship with them (and get some economic value in exchange!). The smartest companies in the world are very good at this, step five. It does require working with your CMO, VPs, Directors, IT, Offline Sales, UX, IT, and more people than you could ever imagine. It is worth it.

Time to start kicking things up a notch in step six. Start investing in creating the world's most beautiful, functional, brand-enhancing, customer joy inducing website! You have content, you have traffic, you have micro-outcomes, you are making loads of money. Invest in the site experience now to differentiate yourself from the competition, and create irrational loyalty. Beat Bonobos (I. Love. Them!). Beat L'Oreal (except for their irritating 40 question survey in a single long window, they are nearly flawless). Beat Palms casino (try booking, try the menu, try anything, pretty awesome all around).

You are a big company and you can do two big things at one time. Now is also the right time to start investing in Facebook and YouTube. These two social platforms (eschew others at this point) allow you to learn how to earn attention in two different form factors. In both cases you'll learn quickly that pimping is the best way to fail. Expressed by me on behalf of all humans on earth: The world's greatest social media strategy: 1. Entertain Me 2. Inform Me. 3. Provide Utility. Nothing else works. Learn that in step six.

[Bonus: Facebook Marketing: Best Metrics, ROI, Business Value ]

Now that your earned, owned and paid media strategies are in full swing, and you are the proud owner of the world's greatest desktop and mobile website, let's focus on enhancing your ability to get a massive audience. (Cartoon by Hugh MacLeod)

long-tail-orgasm[1]

Step seven is to to build out an incredible category/industry/ecosystem targeting Search and Display strategy. This will result in you getting magnificent at brand marketing, at the See and Think stages. The result will be an even larger owned audience, less getting into dog-eat-dog Do stage fights. You'll have complete spectrum of coverage, being there from understanding customer intent at the earliest stages and converting that into demand for what you have to offer.

From step five on you were likely already delivering some multi-channel value for your company. Some of your micro-outcomes were likely already connected to your offline existence (maps, phone calls, offer redemptions, etc.). Now in step eight, we really kick things up multiple notches when it comes to creating a truly fantastic multi-channel (or the flavor of the month, omni-channel) execution engine.

multichannel-marketing-value-analysis-framework

The picture above is from my first book, Web Analytics: An Hour A Day, from page 235. It is a part of multi-channel analytics chapter.

There is a lot of difficult work to be done (systems, processes, integrations, optimizations) in order to ensure that your digital existence is driving nonline value. Now is the time to undertake that work. Not in step three. Definitely not in step one. Now. Step eight (after you've gotten the first seven things done).

The last step before nirvana, step nine, is to focus on getting better at loyalty marketing. (Cartoon by Tom Fishburne)

brand loyalty

My definition of loyalty marketing, from the Coddle-stage, is to create unique content and to execute targeted marketing for those people/business entities, who have purchased from you two times or more. I have a higher standard for who our customer is. Not the person/business entity who's purchased from us once (they might not have had a choice), but the entity that's purchased from us twice at least (because the second time they made a choice to do business with us). Have a completely separate and focused set of people and work to deliver joy and delight to these entities. It is the only recipe for long term sustainable success.

Now you know the nine steps to nirvana. And you know exactly the order in which you should consider prioritizing your efforts. If you do step five before two, you can. But your success will be much more limited.

Understand the choices that resulted in what you are supposed to do in each step, then customize this, using the choices above, to create your own step ladder to deliver amazing digital marketing success to your company.

The cool thing about the web is that you don't have to do all of the above based on faith, you have a BFF in data! Let's go there.

Digital Analytics: Ladder of Awesomeness/Sustainable Success.

If you open your copy of Google/Adobe Analytics or CoreMetrics or Webtrekk you'll notice that every single report has a gigantic number of metrics in it. And…. they have many reports!

So on day one, as soon as we get access to the digital analytics tool, we go all crazy. Not only do we puke out a lot of data to every breathing human up and down the chain of command, we treat every bit of data with equal importance. The first part is frustrating, the second part is deadly.

Regardless of if you are a B2B or B2C or A2Z company, regardless of if you are big or small, regardless of how great you think you are, I believe you can benefit from taking one step at a time when it comes to ensuring that data analysis drives business value. It might seem sacrilegious to suggest that you should worry about Visits first and not Profitability, but that is exactly what I'm going suggest because when we overshoot our capabilities, we fail to hit even our local maxima (forget about ever hitting the global maxima !).

My assumption is that everyone on this blog is smart enough to balance for focus and ensuring the company stays a viable entity as it climbs each step in the ladder of success. Hence none of you will mis-understand that recommending a focus on CPA in stage four means you run the company to the ground because you ignore business fundamentals!

[A tiny hidden agenda I have in this post is to share how to make hard choices. You can imagine how difficult it is to say focus on page depth, don't focus on conversion rate, or don't worry about any content metric, focus on clicks. It seems crazy. But a big part of being successful is being able to understand business reality and have the skill to make these hard choices. I hope you'll pick up a couple of tips about making those choices.]

Ready to read something outrageously controversial? ; )

digital analytics ladder of magnificient success

Focus on Visits and Click-thru Rates first. Don't do anything else. Nothing. Just Visits and CTRs. Focus your analysis on looking at dimensions that help you understand where your precious visitors are coming from, if you are doing any kind of inbound marketing (in the digital marketing ladder I recommend SEO in stage one) then what is getting more clicks and what is not. Optimize for Visits and CTRs will help you focus your precious energy on certain geographies, certain referring sources, certain keywords, certain digital activities and optimize to get higher clicks. A very good thing in stage one.

Now that people are showing up, we are ready to see what content they are consuming and how well/badly our welcome pages are doing. Focus on Bounce Rates ("I came, I puked, I left!") to help you optimize your landing pages and the sources driving traffic to those pages. Calls to action, text, graphics, offers, bids, ad text, targeting and more. Your job is to get in front of the right person, get them to the right page, and entice them to stay.

page depth analysis[1]

In stage two also focus on Pages per Visit, or Page Depth, (don't use time on site, it is problematic) as in the sample table above. This will help you optimize both for mobile and desktop experiences.

It is time to make some money in stage three. (See what I mean by making tough choices? Obsessing about making money first will cause your company to make the wrong choices initially. Just make sure you are not losing money, then obsess about it only in stage three.) For B2B companies Macro Outcome Rate is related to lead generation, for B2C it is often the e-commerce Conversion Rate. Additionally in stage three focus on Page Value, with it you are not only optimizing for content consumption (stage two) you are also optimizing for which content most creates revenue. Then zero in on that content and people/teams inside the company that create that content.

Your business is now humming on all three of the initial key things you need to do for acquisition, behavior and outcome. In stage four become an insane fanatic about extracting the highest possible value you can from every dollar you are spending on marketing and advertising. Focus on optimizing your Cost per Acquisition (CPA).

cost per acquisition-3[1]

This will not only reduce cost, if you do it right, it will force your company to invest more in activities that improve shareholder value and kill the shiny objects that our management teams chase due to advice from "marketing gurus." This effort is so important that I want you to focus on it singularly (unlike all other stages).

Stage five, as in the case of our digital marketing ladder of success, calls for stepping up our level of sophistication. Focus on cart and checkout abandonment rate (don't combine the two). Go buy a simple A/B testing tool (Visual Website Optimizer, Optimizely), go crazy optimizing every little thing to take money from the people who want to give it to you! It is also time to become more sophisticated about identifying the value of your marketing spend, focus on the Assisted Conversions metric (you'll find it in the Multi-Channel Funnels report). Make decisions based on last click conversions delivered AND the assisted conversions. Don't worry about attribution modeling yet. Just focus on the last column in that report, then optimize your campaign targeting, content and success measures.

We've nailed down what we are doing on our owned platforms, time to focus on our rented platforms. You are working very hard by this stage on Facebook, YouTube etc, stay away from awful metrics like Views, Likes, etc. So, in stage six, obsess about Conversation Rate and Amplification, two of my four best social media metrics ever.

dashboard-best-social-media-metrics

The above metrics will force your company to use social for what social is really good at. Force them to execute my recommendation for greatest social media strategy: 1. Entertain Me 2. Inform Me. 3. Provide Utility.

Stage seven where you start to focus on the metric that differentiates losers from winners: Economic Value. We focus on all 100% of our visitors (not just the one or two percent that will convert), we will focus on all of the See-Think-Do-Coddle audience consideration stages. The surest way to do that is if we identify the micro-outcomes and the economic value each outcome adds to our business. This is so amazing because it will force your company to focus on what makes money now, what will make money 90 days from now and 9 months from now!

None of the above was really hard. Stage eight is hard! We are going to obsess about Profitability. Not just the fake "ROI" number in many digital analytics tool, but true profitability. At the very minimum, for a dimension you care about like campaign… Profitability = Revenue generated – campaign cost – cost of goods sold. You can add other costs if you have access to them.

Profitability is one of the main reasons I'm so excited about cost data upload into Google Analytics. Now you can measure what the actual amount of money each campaign/activity delivers to your business. You can do it for Bing, email, AOL ads, social, even SEO! You can finally see that the Conversion rate for Yahoo! ads is 10%, the Average Order Value is $200, compare it to Google ads conversion rate of 4% and Average Order Value of $100, and notice that the Profit per Order from Yahoo! is -$15 and for Google it is $163. #omg

Stage eight also includes improving the sophistication of analyzing the offline impact of our online activities. Multi-channel measurement and optimization. It is a long hard slog, but by the time you get to stage eight, you are ready, your company is ready, you are going to get so rich!

The last stage, stage nine, is also the most strategic and deadly awesome: Optimizing for customer lifetime value.

life time value lifetime net profit-1[1]

Asking you to wait until stage nine for LTV is like saying don't believe in Jesus until time x. It seems silly. It seems insane. The sad reality is that it takes a lot (from a data, people, process perspective) to be ready to optimize for LTV. But by this stage you've put all your ducks in the proper order, you've done your multi-channel optimization (and more critically data integrations required between your online and offline sources), you have moved away from considering cookies to be customers to changing your entire Google Analytics existence to focus on people (across devices, channels, online and offline). Now you are ready for LTV. And you are going to do it without frustration and with a huge fast impact on your business. [For more guidance see the LTV post and download the lifetime value model.]

Bish. Bam. Boom! You are there. You've achieved nirvana! : )

Closing Thoughts.

It is hard to have the discipline to systematically get good at one thing at a time. But evolution works spectacularly well. That is what we need.

It seems crazy that you are a large company with tons of people and money. Gosh, you have 25 people just in your digital analytics team and a two million dollar a year adobe analytics contract. Still, for all those people prioritize one stage at a time (while other things can happen, they just won't be a corporate priority), and move your company forward one stage at a time.

It is hard to get nine women to make a baby in one month.

I wish you all the best in climbing the digital ladder of amazing success.

As always, it is your turn now.

Do you agree with the step-by-step approach? Would you change any stage in the digital marketing ladder? Perhaps do Email before SEO, or Social as stage one? How about the analytics ladder? Would you make different choices in the order of the metrics? Is there a metric I'm over-valuing or completely missing from the ladder? If you've been successful getting your company to be good at many things all at one time, what's your secret?

Please share your perspectives, critique, life lessons, and insights via comments below.

Thank you.

Comments

  1. 1
    Jeff Sauer says:

    Interesting framework, Avinash. It's definitely different from what we may have seen as "conventional" up to this point, but that can be a good thing. I have inadvertently used a similar approach for building my personal site (more than anything, it was just a function of time availability).

    I wonder how feasible this may be for large web entities given the amount of legacy tracking and tools that they already have in place? This seems to be ideal for building analytics competency from the ground up.

    Either way, it's great food for thought and the graphics help demonstrate the point.

    • 2

      Jeff: I touch briefly on how big entities should deal with this evolutionary path in the post. In a nutshell, I typically do a diagnostic of where the company is and then from that stage on take the ladder approach. The company can still do crazy number of things, but would prioritize the next stage in the ladder.

      It takes a lot of discipline because, as you point out, they have more tools and often people than they need. But we need this approach because the sum of the parts is often not even equal to one of the parts. So do everything, but prioritize one (the next step after where you are), rally many people (not everyone) around it, get to the next step, rinse, repeat. :)

      -Avinash.

  2. 3

    Hi Avinash,

    An absolute Gem of an article.

    Given the seeming simplicity, it is always difficult for people to see why this evolution. After all, social media content generation is just sharing content on FB, LinkedIn, etc. But what to share, what would be its impact, if people land from there on your website, what would they do… figuring out that full chain is very difficult. I feel that you have laid out the project management plan with absolute accuracy.

    It would be great, if you could share your experience on how long it takes for a typical company to pass each stage (After all the mother cannot give a child birth in 1 month). Also what kind of manpower and expertize is required to cross each stage! All these are experiential and since you know the process so well, maybe you can share your experience.

    The other thing that I would like to point is that each stage in this process is again an evolution. So at no point in time can you say that your website is perfect. It will have to be in an always update mode. Similarly SEO, Display campaigns need to be always updated and worked upon. So how do you know that you are ready to move to the next stage! :-)

    Also given that usually each task would eventually grow to be large, so you would need separate teams (and hence leaders) for these tasks. Who creates an "overall one view" of this process?

    Thanks for sharing this awesome project plan!

    • 4

      Paramdeep: My reply to your comment could fill an entire post, because your comment is so good! But let me try to be pithy.

      The "travel time" from step one to nine totally depends on a number of variables not limited to people, process, tools, size, business complexity, geography, and all the other things you can think about. But each additional step is harder than the one before. Perhaps that helps you get a sense for how well you might be doing.

      You are right. You don't master step one, move to step two and stop focusing on one. You build one step, maintain it, focus on the next one and so on. You would know when to move up because it is not hard to realize when you reach diminishing margins of return.

      The VP of digital or CMO owns the overall process (for both the marketing and analytics ladders).

      -Avinash.

  3. 5

    I wish I had stumble upon this article before I started in digital marketing. I may not have understand everything but it would have put me on the right track so fast.

    Thank you Avinash. Tonight I have a analytics exam in a web analytics class where we study your book, and I feel this week-end I spent with you through the book.

    Cheers!

  4. 6
    Stacy says:

    Good article.

    The first note I made however was in your very first diagram. Think mobile first.

    As part of the analysis, it make more sense to decide what you absolutely must include in your site taking into consideration all the limitations of mobile. Once you have determined the absolute necessities, you can then add the bells and whistles and "would like to have" elements to your website.

    It is a great exercise in truly analyzing your business model and purpose

  5. 7

    Great insights, I like the approach of building a foundation upon which to build here.

    Question – if my analytics tell me that I only get a small percent of my traffic from mobile… would you still suggest developing a mobile site in Step 2?

    Obviously volume of traffic would play in here as well, but just curious what you think?

    • 8
      Jeremy Streich says:

      I would say probably. One reason you may not be getting many mobile visits is because your site isn't mobile friendly. If someone goes to your site and needs to scale and pan to get around, they won't come back.

      What is your mobile bounce rate? What is your mobile loyalty look like? What do the pages they visited look like on the mobile devices they were using? Where did the mobile visitors come from (this will help you in the Think parts of process)?

      Responsive web is easier to do than you think. It is low investment with potentially high reward. It's low hanging fruit.

  6. 11

    Great funnel kind sir!

    This is a funnel not just for online marketing but for building your brand. Good job.

  7. 12

    This is exactly what I needed to read as I slowly build my company's new website.

    I know all the techniques, but I cannot help the urge to leap three steps ahead.

    Thanks for the reminder to focus on getting the foundation solid before erecting new spaces.

  8. 13
    Henk Vos says:

    Avinash, this is a great post and a very helpful busines model to work with.

    I love the way it integrates the base activity and the "online marketing" activity into a whole. Understanding the LTV of sales channels and optimising for these is surely a step up from looking at CPC or cost per sale and it does take some time.

    How long have you found it takes to get to this stage?

    Cheers

    • 14

      Henk: I'm afraid there is no fixed time frame, because each client is so gosh darn unique.

      I don't think it has ever taken me less than two years to get from the bottom to the top on the analytics ladder. And it was only because the business gave me complete control and I was able to reign in the analytics team. They wanted to go in 19 different directions and custom variable event track universal analytics people tracking with site search for real time assisted conversions! And a lot of that is not all that necessary (not the right time, not the right company, not the right priority), but it is hard for analysts to resist data and focus on just what's required for the business.

      On the marketing ladder I don't think I have any commonality, it just takes as long as the company deserves.

      Avinash.

  9. 15

    Hey Avinash,

    I was hoping that you would expand on the graphic you had posted on LinkedIn…thanks for doing so and bringing it full circle with digital analytics and marketing.

    The timing of this is great as my team starts to prioritize our projects.

    Cheers,

    Dominic

    • 16

      Also, what are your thoughts on the ladder to nirvana when you are already an established company that is trying to get your digital house in order. You don't just through everything out, but like you mention above…you just have certain areas that you obsess and over allocate in terms of time and resources?

    • 17

      Dominic: That is absolutely right. You can't throw everything out. You just prioritize higher the next step and put as many people and $$ on it as you can.

      Rest of the folks can keep doing what they want, but they don't get priority. And if that wastes some money, well big companies can easily absorb that.

      -Avinash.

  10. 18
    Mumtaz A Khan says:

    Thank you Avinash for an excellent article.

    Great for people entering into the online market and building their brand. A very helpful business model for everyone.

  11. 19
    Puneet says:

    Loved the post.

    But I'm not really sure about the order of all the activities.

    My thought was more like how much we can afford to give for all the activities in digital market.

    If we don't have enough resources in the first place when we are starting than I'll love to go with this approach as its definitely quite cost effective and well planned.

    But for a a big client I'll like to go with all out to create the value in the market and start getting business as well

    {why acceptable website why not start with all format awesomeness :) }

    • 20

      Puneet: You need the ladder mostly because such a tiny minority of a handful companies have the capacity to birth a baby with nine women in one month.

      We all feel that we can. Because we have money and people. Yet collectively with a mixed set of mis-matched priorities it is extremely hard.

      I'm not saying impossible. : )

      Avinash.

  12. 21
    Dillip Guru says:

    Hi Avinash.

    I am a regular reader of your blog post. Really I love your thought process and clear and depth describing about the subject. In this post the clear distinction and pretension of digital marketing and digital analytic is awesome.

    As usual it is a great post and truly analyzing business model is helpful to many established practitioner, analyst and starters.

    I love it….

    Cheers!

  13. 22
    Jeremy Davis says:

    Enjoyed the frameworks and post as always. Although I don't have any real critiques on the framework's per se, I feel as though they contradict your Digital Marketing and Measurement Model a bit.

    If a company has an objective/goal that uses a social metric KPI, yet is poor is some of the earlier steps in the ladder framework which should take precedence?

    How do you compare/contrast the two? What are the use cases that tend to favor using one framework vs. the other?

    • 23

      Jeremy: Excellent comment, thank you.

      They are similar in that they both set priorities. In the case of DMMM directly from your management via clearly set business priorities. In the case of the analytics ladder, it is set by looking at the current execution capabilities and accomplishments thus far and then set priorities for what to do next.

      If it helps…. I think the marketing ladder is in some ways independent of DMMM. The executive management could set priorities and ask you to jump to level seven of marketing before you get to level 3, that would be ill-advised and they'll learn that soon enough. So follow the ladder.

      The analytics ladder is one that I recommend following as is. But once the ladder is set (even if you only make it to level seven), the work that gets assigned can be based on the DMMM which is very much a tactical execution/priority setting exercise.

      Avinash.

  14. 24
    Alex Gilmore says:

    Avinash.

    It is very insightful to use Occam's Razor for digital marketing. I had never really thought about applying the Razor to marketing but it makes sense. I use a similar approach but it is based on two principles "Focus your digital marketing efforts on a diminishing rate of return". The first principle means take the steps that gain the most amount of customers for the least amount of effort. With the recent changes in Google's system and algorithm SEO gains can be done rapidly if that was not your approach before. Then Adobe Dreamweaver CC and Muse mobile structured websites can be built quickly and going mobile is a very large factor in Google's new algorithm. And the second principle is "be customer focused" and that is my Occam's Razor.

    Looking at the steps you have listed your plan satisfies both of those principles. The difference with my strategy is that I know the process and what delivers results quickly. My primary profession is SEO and the life expectancy of a newly hired inhouse SEO is anywhere between three and six months which is the time period where businesses start thinking that they are wasting their money on you. This is due to the excessive amounts they had been paying to an outside firm to run their SEO and they believe the sales pitch they were given that all can be done inside of six months.

  15. 25
    Vladimir says:

    Hey Avinash,

    As many have already voiced, truly a great article. This article comes at the right time for me, as I'm about to embark on setting up analytics that have so far been underused in the company and I have so many ideas around it that I think I would want to cover straight away. Clearly, I'll need to learn to crawl first, rather than run. One overall question – what do you do when there is no clear goal set, or even worse, when the goals are general and overarching the business objectives, but don't really seem to provide that much focus for the analyst?

    I would love if you could cover more particularities around mobile analytics and maybe what should and should not be looked at the same as in the general, desktop-based, web analytics.

    P.S. In the picture accompanying stage six of digital analytics ladders, there's a typo as there is 'conversion' instead of 'conversation rate.'

    Kind regards,
    Vladimir.

    • 26

      Vladimir: I appreciate the heads up on the typo, will fix the image.

      Have you tried the Digital Marketing & Measurement Model? http://www.kaushik.net/avinash/digital-marketing-and-measurement-model/

      It is an excellent process to follow, just five steps, to get a company to give more specific guidance to the analyst. Typically we ask them "what is the goal" and it is harder for them to wrap their head around it. But the DMMM can possibly help you get there faster.

      But if they don't give you any goals, at least I've prioritized for you what to do next in each ladder! :)

      Avinash.

  16. 27
    Rizzo says:

    Without question one of the best articles from Avinash.

    Is there anything on the horizon that could impact this process?

    • 28

      Rizzo: I'm sure, both for the marketing and analytics ladders, as technology evolves, as human preferences evolve, as we have access to new/better things, that things will change.

      In the near term, say the next couple of years, I believe the choices presented in the ladder are safe and will deliver value to us.

      -Avinash.

  17. 29
    Sandra Figueroa says:

    Really appreciate your point of view and the information you have presented.

    In looking at your table for stage two of your analytics "Ladder of Awesomeness" it looks like your results are getting worse over time. Am I reading this right?

    • 30

      Sandra: I think you mean the table with the green header that is showing Page Depth analysis.

      If so, you are right, as you go from Month X to Month X+2 things are getting worse for this client. Hopefully with this table they will know and fix the problems! :)

      Avinash.

  18. 31
    Ashley says:

    You bring up some valid points about the analytics of digital marketing.

    I really enjoyed the part about expanding to reach a bigger relevant audience.

  19. 32

    Discovering you today, Avinash, has made my week.

    I compare my skill with analytics to a kid that keeps using vocabulary in the wrong text. I look forward to getting on the right track now (well, no pun intended, but my tracking definitely needs work!).

    Thanks so much.

  20. 33
    Josh Braaten says:

    Another great post, sir! One framework I've been building upon has been around digital marketing and content marketing. I call it the "Bottom's Up" approach, and it focuses on building your strategy from the bottom of the funnel up.

    Many people have top-of-funnel efforts that drive flash-in-the-pan attention, but they fail to leverage it for long-term value. I think it's most often because they don't have the depth of content to take people from that initial interaction all the way through their journey to conversion.

    The "Botton's Up" approach focuses on getting the last part of the funnel working right first and then working all the way back to the beginning of the customer's journey. This approach helps ensure convergence in messaging and campaigns and doesn't require you to depend on people jumping chasms to get from your newest blog post down to the "money pages."

    • 34

      Josh: I'm very fond of approaches like that as well, primarily because we can start showing the value of our efforts from day one. Every little bit we do will make money, and there is nothing quite as delicious as that! : )

      Avinash.

  21. 35
    John Sawyer says:

    Really enjoyed this article, nice to see the depth on digital marketing and analytics!

    And speaking of great reads here's another, a new book called Big Data Marketing, which likewise espouses the evolutionary approach — amazon.com/Big-Data-Marketing-Customers-Effectively/dp/1118733894

  22. 36

    Avinash,

    The team at CSC thanks you for the high praise.

    I told my wife-this is like Michael Jordan telling you he likes your left hook.

  23. 37
    Adrius42 says:

    This feels like the perfect ladder to get us out of the Enterprise Centric basement.

    Are you in agreement that there is even more to be gained by switching to a more Entity Centric approach.

    Terms like "owned audience" gives me the sense that we are still in the basement. I am convinced that you do not believe that this is the place to be.

    I would love to see your rendition of the grand staircase that will allow Organisations to shift to understanding the individual needs and intentions of entities of Individual Marketing.

    As you so rightly indicate in the gist of your piece, each rung on the ladder must be climbed in order to get out of the basement. I am not at all convinced that the Intention Economy can be initiated from the basement, so your ladder is key, We do need your staircase to get us to the intention economy though!

  24. 38
    Cedric says:

    Wow, this was a great post!

    Both ladders of success apply to me as I work full-time as a digital analyst (only three months in) and freelance as a marketing communicator.

    If you don't mind me asking: how come for the digital marketing ladder you don't recommend integrated social media until step six? Wouldn't links to your social channels be part of building an acceptable site, rather than worry about it later? Part of me thinks that no one will ever always have their ducks in a row, and that you have to learn by experimenting and doing, you know?

    But, that's just me of course. What do you think?

    • 39

      Cedric: I explain in the post why I choose Social Media only in stage six, but in summary: There are many more important things to do than try to get value out of social prior to that stage (especially commercial value, so gosh darn hard).

      I want to make sure I stress that this is not about getting the proverbial ducks is absolutely perfect order. That day will never arrive. My recommendation is to get big chunks of important things done in the order in which they add the most value. And as you move from one stage to the next, successfully, you still ensure that the earlier stages have investment in them and you keep perfecting them. But getting good enough with an early stage is a requirement for you to move your priority/investment in the next one.

      Avinash.

  25. 40
    Brian H. says:

    This is one of the best articles I've read regarding online marketing. We've been working on a new venture to offer clients who have been the victims of the "SEO Specialists" over the past few years, and have been struggling to put some structure to our ideas. This approach actually does that in a way that's easy to understand, and more importantly, easy to sell.

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge and experience. It's truly appreciated.

  26. 41
    Salil says:

    Hi Avinash,

    Super post like everyone has said. Had just two points to discuss:

    1. A lot of what you mention depends on the kind of team formed to handle Digital Marketing. Can the single-minded, step by step approach you mention be silo-ed into different teams to ensure greater speed at attaining the end goals? Of course, with the CMO having the global perspective? Or will it dilute the basic objectives?(like WHAT IS MY BUSINESS GOAL? will be interpreted differently by all teams).

    2. With newer design trends like parallax coming into the picture, is SEO also upgrading itself to match the advances in html5? For example, does apple.com/ipad-air/ have good optimization? But being the ipad air, who needs SEO, eh?

  27. 42
    Frederik Scherpereel says:

    I really enjoyed reading this post. Indeed, it is a very good framework to work with when setting up and monitoring your internet marketing activities with a clear ROI focus.

    I am working on several projects in Belgium in the SME market, and from my experience, a lot of companies that have a web site, or that are planning to have one, tend to skip some important questions about ROI, KPI's, … or just haven't been thinking about the 'WHY'.

    A lot of great work to be done in 2014!

  28. 43
    Mark says:

    Thanks really good work here.

    Without income and profit the internet is just a hobby.

  29. 44
    Gour says:

    Hello Avinash,

    great article and lot of useful stuff on your site/blog!!

    I'm really getting taste for analytics' part of modern marketing and just wonder whether your WA-2.0 book was so much ahead of time (>5yrs) being still very relevant and/or do you prepare some other title soon?

    In any case, I'm going to be WA-2.0 buyer soon. ;)

  30. 45
    Alexander says:

    Great info. Just got into internet marketing, a lot to learn, little bit overwhelming. Thanks for great info.

    Rgds,
    Alexander

  31. 46
    Junius says:

    Great article. But why do you focus on optimizing your CPA campaigns that early?

    I rather let them run for some days and check whether I could do significant changes.

    • 47

      Junius: I'm not sure we are optimizing for CPA "early," it is in Stage 4 after we've solved for many tactical things, and one strategic thing (macro outcome rate).

      Perhaps you are thinking that we optimize for CPA on a single session basis or right after we execute a campaign. Neither, as you've astutely mentioned, is a good strategy. The principle of focusing our conversion efforts on a User, across sessions if it takes them more than one, is the right strategy. The strategy of ensuring you are taking multi-session attribution into account, as you optimize for CPA, is also the optimal choice.

      Avinash.

  32. 48
    Juan - Trabajos por Internet says:

    A very Interesting and Realistic scheme, had not seen anything like this in any other place.

    In my case I have been doing things the other way around starting at the social influence neglecting my own website and I can say the right thing is to grow from the web site and then expand to the social.

    Thank you very much for the article, a Salute.

  33. 49
    Alex says:

    Hi Avinash,

    I am new to this space. I read your articles and find them very helpful in getting some understanding. Thank you for giving such guidelines.

    A curious question to see if you have any insights: "Our business is a Q&A community with huge number of keywords. Most of the time we use dynamic keyword insertion in our ad copies. We do not really use bounce rate metric till now because we cannot customize ad copies to such huge number of keywords. Do you have any thoughts on how to best optimize this kind of business."

    I know it is a little open ended but wanted to see you can think of any guidelines

    • 50

      Alex: There are two things you will do to optimize bounce rates.

      1. You will optimize your ad copy and ad targeting. 2. You will optimize the landing pages.

      Hence for unacceptable bounce rates you'll have to identify if..

      Your dynamic keyword insertions are causing sub-optimal ad copy results (you do mention you can't customize the ad copy at an individual level, and that is a common challenge, but perhaps you can for clusters of keywords or types of ads).

      Or your ads are targeted imprecisely (even if not at a individual ad level, perhaps in larger clusters).

      Or landing pages are terrible for one reason or the other (again, you can't optimize individual Q&A, but perhaps in clusters – say all tech related Q&A or all Q&A about Africa). [This post might help with this: Six Tips For Improving High Bounce Rate / Low Conversion Web Pages]

      It is all about one of these three things, or all of them.

      Avinash.

      • 51
        alex says:

        Hi Avinash,

        One last question. We use 2-3 match type for each keyword. I am not sure if this optimal. How do I decide on an Optimal strategy. Any thoughts would be highly appreciated.

        • 52

          Alex: I'm afraid on this you are on your own. : )

          Seriously though, someone with a much deeper understanding of your business and search patterns would be able to share the optimal recommendation for you.

          Avinash.

          • 53
            Alex says:

            I apologize for asking such naive question but the place I use to work before only used one match type so this large volume with 2-3 match types doubled the keyword volume which left me pondering over the approach.

  34. 54
    Genia says:

    Loved the article! Wondering how this framework would need to be adapted to mobile apps, where App Store Optimization (ASO) seems to matter so much more than SEO.

    • 55

      Genia: I'm not sure that there is anything in either ladder that is just about SEO (in fact if you look at the first ladder that is absolutely obvious).

      So… regardless of if you run an ecommerce platform, a lead gen site, a newspaper online or an app store… the first ladder helps provide guidance on the order in which you should consider executing your digital activities and the second ladder helps provide guidance on your measurement activities.

      -Avinash.

  35. 56

    Hi Avinash,

    This is a great article. I've been feeling particularly overwhelmed as of late trying to get a handle of our digital marketing and been bogged down by seeing many different suggestions all pointing in different directions. This really made me feel comfortable that there is in fact a sensible, step by step approach to follow.

    I'd read a few of your posts before, but getting back into moving digital marketing forward and I've rediscovered it!

    For a company with a small budget and limited time, do you have any guidelines on what the beginning steps of an SEO ladder might be?

    Thanks for the article!

    • 57

      Raphael: I'm afraid I don't do quite that much SEO to do a SEO Ladder. But I have no doubt there is one.

      If you are making one…. The first cluster of steps are fast to do things that can get a very good amount of traffic, even if some of it is not qualified. Then it is time to focus to taking that traffic and ensuring we make some money from them, then the steps to make more money. The very last cluster will be the super hard to do things that very few people can pull off but if you do they will create a competitive advantage.

      That is the basic structure you see in the two ladders in this post.

      Avinash.

  36. 59
    Serge says:

    Outstanding post!

    This is really a long-term strategy of how to achieve digital marketing success. Article is very comprehensive and educating, especially for those who didn't meet much failures yet. Because it is a chance to avoid them. Moreover, as you said in the beginning, it inspires greatly!

    I agree that sometimes we starve to complete all things at once, but this article, kind of, calms you down and shows the advantage of step by step strategy that will lead to the top.

    Thanks a lot!

  37. 60

    This one is really a good post. I love reading your blog.

    Thanks for sharing such useful information in your blog.

  38. 61
    Dheeraj says:

    Hi Avinash,

    You are right to point out #2 Mobile experience.

    In our company we missed this point and jumped to ads for brand awareness and suffered badly (wanted to conquer the word in seven days). I guess patience and dedication is required as suggested in your article.

    Many thanks, Dheeraj

  39. 62
    Muskie says:

    This is the best thing I've read in a long time.

  40. 63
    Ryan Law says:

    Choosing the right KPIs is crucial to any business, and your analytic ladder is a fantastic way of identifying which metrics to focus on, at different stages of growth and development. I'll definitely be referring to this in my content marketing strategies.

    Love this post – actionable, detailed and engaging, it's been bookmarked for future reference!

  41. 64

    This is one of, if not the best post I have read on digital marketing.

    It is information rich and breaks everything down into simple form. I really like the 'evolution' idea, not only because it makes sense, but it simplifies things. Great post.

  42. 65
    Sundeep says:

    In my opinion Social Media should come a bit more earlier in the ladder… after all it is becoming a very important part of SEO.

  43. 66
    Joseph B says:

    Dear Avinash,

    I would add that one very important "pre-step1" for the digital anatytics ladder is to make every divisions (display, search, emailing, social…) work together or at least communicate with each other.

    It seems to me that is far from obvious, even if it seems to be common sense. They look like barbarians tribes that need a war chief !

  44. 67

    Great post – I try to stress to all of my clients the importance of analytics.

    It's really the only true way to get a "lay of the land" during (or more importantly, prior to) a campaign.

  45. 68
    Mark F says:

    This is an excellent article, especially on evolution.

    When speaking to clients, they expect everything to happen tomorrow, that customers will flood to their new site, we can do this, then this, then this, next month we can start a new website etc.

    Often within marketing departments, there are arguments, to what is the most important, so it is good to have an evolution chart to state, this is the professional process to deliver an awesome web presence.

    Withe mobile activity due very soon to overtake desktop, there is an argument to get the mobile stuff done first. But in my opinion, setting up a site that works on desktop and Tablet right from the start is the way to go. My opinion only.

  46. 69
    LawrenceG says:

    Fantastic Blog Post. Just discovered it. Right on target for strategic planning and the "iterative way".

    Too often major brands jump in head first into areas they do not need to be going as the previous was not mastered. Failure seemed to cause the shift with an attitude of …"well since that isn't working let's now do X…" against all advice.

    Well said!

  47. 70
    rajat sood says:

    Hi

    1. How do you decide which digital asset to leverage more/less?

    2. How do you discover where your target customers are based, whether its mobile, social networks, online stores…etc?

    Thank you

    • 71

      Rajat: I'm not sure exactly what the first question . Do you have an example or two of what you are struggling with?

      For the second the answer is easy. Your Google Analytics/Adobe/WebTrends reports easily have that data. Geo reports, referrals reports, traffic sources segments.

      If you want bonus information on that, checkout competitive intelligence tools. Compete for the US data, SimilarWeb for US and worldwide data.

      Avinash.

  48. 72
    Erin says:

    A very thorough and extensive list!

    I think mobile experience is getting better now, but there are still a lot of sites and businesses that are slow to get on the trend. That's a big chunk of traffic, gone, just by having a site that isn't designed to be mobile friendly or mobile optimized.

    I think that's something that's only going to increase. I bet most traffic will be from mobile devices in the near future.

  49. 73
    subhakar T says:

    Great post. I haven't seen such a long and detailed post recently. I thought posting long articles was not a good idea.

    However, you have used images and explained everything in a detailed form which makes people to read through its entirety. With changing Google algorithms, it is important for businesses to effective leverage resources.

    And, climbing the analytics ladder step by step is highly recommended.

Trackbacks

  1. […] Digital Marketing And Analytics: Two Ladders For Magnificent Success, http://www.kaushik.net […]

  2. […]
    Avinash Kaushik (@avinash), el super guru de la analítica, presentaba un post muy interesante sobre la dinámica de aprendizaje que siguen las organizaciones respecto al marketing digital. Realmente, en cuanto haces un tratamiento sistematico de tus servicios digitales, estás realizando esfuerzos de marketing, pero es el esfuerzo y la contnuidad lo que permite aprovechar al máximo esta herramienta. Ese es uno de los problemas de la Administración, considerar la web como un punto de llegada y no como un escenario en el que tiene que estar por todo lo alto.
    […]

  3. […] Digital Marketing And Analytics: Two Ladders For Magnificent Success [from Occam's Razor; written by Avinash Kaushik] […]

  4. […]
    Do you actually track your analytics? If you aren't, how will you know how you are doing? If you are posting into the wind, without tracking, then you will have no way to know if you are connecting with your audience. Take the time to track your Converstion Rate, Applause Rate & Amplification Rate. Here's a chart from a guy you should be reading
    […]

  5. […]
    I’m not one to RePost an article from my blog, as that’s what I traditionally use Twitter for, but the latest post by @avinash over at Occam’s Razor is a fantastic and detailed read. It’s called Digital Marketing And Analytics: Two Ladders For Magnificent Success and is a terrific read.
    […]

  6. […]
    Read More: Digital Marketing And Analytics: Two Ladders For Magnificent Success
    […]

  7. […]
    Digital Marketing and Analytics: Two Ladders for Magnificent Success: A great blog post from Avinash Kaushik about the importance of evolutionary growth in both digital marketing and analytics, and how they relate to each other. Must read.
    […]

  8. […]
    Avinash Kausik posted an interesting article recently, in which he declared his preference for an evolutionary framework for digital marketing. We agree with Avinash in this point. Indeed, rarely do companies achieve success using shortcuts to digital marketing optimization. Poorly-conceived efforts at optimization naturally lead to failure. Often, resources become spread too thin as digital marketers pursue each and every shiny new object in the hopes of outsmarting and upending their competitors.
    […]

  9. […]
    Avinash Kaushik is one of the most famous Digital Marketing Evangelist, working for Google. He is absolutely excited about all the digital possibilities. Owning audiences, instead of just renting them. Earning time, instead of just buying it on TV. Creating persistent relationships, instead of just transient ones. Not letting budgets limit our creativity. And so much more. He’s like a kid in a candy store. He wants to do everything right away. He wants to go from single cell life to fully formed homo sepians in seven days. He discovered that that is the easiest path to failure. : ) So, based on his spectacular successes and painful failures around the world, Avinash developed a ladder of sustainable success.
    […]

  10. […]
    This terrific, long read outlines a step-by-step approach to digital marketing success. Written by digital marketing evangelist and bigtime analytics nerd Avinash Kaushik, the piece provides great guidance on how to focus your analytics efforts and avoid endless “data puke”.
    […]

  11. Anonymous says:

    […]
    Your first job is to beat them at everything. Read the full article “Digital Marketing And Analytics: Two Ladders For Magnificent Success” on Avinash Kaushik’s blog Occam’s Razor
    […]

  12. […]
    Why does an immense investment in result in tiny ROI? Doing too much, in the wrong order. Visit site: Digital Marketing And Analytics: Two Ladders For Magnificent Success
    […]

  13. […]
    Digital Marketing and Analytics
    Analytics in relation to digital marketing, the two ladders for success
    […]

  14. […]
    One of the internet’s most famous digital marketing evangelists, Avinash Kaushik says, people go to the internet for 3 reasons, 1) To be entertained, 2) To be informed, 3) To provide utility.
    […]

  15. […]
    Be Data Driven – I followed this post by Avinash Kaushik to design my system.
    […]

  16. […]
    Hace unas semanas leí un post de Avinash Kaushik, sobre lo que el llama la ‘escalera’ hacia el éxito sostenible en marketing online, en el que describe los pasos a seguir para construir tu estrategia online.
    […]

  17. […]
    He isnt afraid to challenge the status quo, encourages readers to question mindsets and mentalities, and doesnt mince words about common pitfalls and mistakes made by digital marketers. As a plus, his posts also garner lots of discussion, and he often jumps back in to respond to specific questions.
    Favourite Posts: Digital Marketing And Analytics: Two Ladders For Magnificent Success
    […]

  18. […]
    Can you imagine the fallout if Avinash Kaushik, for example, admitted that he didn’t write one of his signature posts? His Two Ladders article, for example, was shared nearly 3000 times across various social channels, and is a key cog in his platform as a writer and thinker. If his fans were to find out that those words – or worse, the ideas – weren’t his, but came from an agency content strategy document, the consequences to his brand could be enormous. Of course, this would never happen. Because I don’t know many copywriters that could effectively pose as the world’s leading voice on analytics.
    […]

  19. […]
    Existují také doplňky pro Excel jako milované NodeXL pro analýzu vazeb v sociálních sítích či Excelent Analytics pro tahání dat z Google Analytics. Pořád je ale lepší dělat to ručně než vůbec. Nakonec to není tak složitá práce; na začátku vám stačí pár základních metrik, nepotřebujete hned big data. Teď se hodí připomenout Avinashův Ladder of Awesomeness. Ten ukazuje, že není třeba váš vývoj hrotit, ale je potřeba si stanovit postupné kroky. Pokud si řeknete,
    […]

Add your Perspective

*