Understanding The Learn Phase In Digital Strategy
The LEARN phase involves constant evolution. Every action, positive or negative, is a learning that can be used to create improved performance in the future. It is important to understand how to analyze your activities and extract core learning from patterns, results and trends you identify.
Throughout your campaigns and activity, you will be implementing optimizations and changes. During the Learn phase, you will be identifying change but based on larger volumes of data. The Learn phase is about implementing change based on learned insight. It is a phase that brings value to long-term performance.
- Analyze Performance: Review how each of your pieces of activity is performing.
- Identify Patterns: Identify the patterns in results and what they might mean.
- Identify Behavior: Identify specific patterns of behaviour from your audience that tell you things about them.
Baked-in measurement is what you will have achieved if you followed this entire process. Too many people measure after a campaign and then wonder why they can’t state the performance of something in just a series of KPIs. Measurement is addressing the relationship of KPIs to business results.
We have already agreed what that is by identifying our KSOs (Key Success Outcomes). Baked-in measurement requires campaigns and sometimes even executions to consider how they will be measured at the end of the campaign. Which is why we focus so much on constantly asking ourselves why we are doing the things we do.
In order to truly measure you must introduce more than digital metrics into your measurement. You need to be able to layer social metrics over other measurement to attempt to identify correlation between specific metrics. When a correlation is identified, you have the potential to isolate social from any other activity and test your theory to see if digital on its own creates a shift in measurement e.g. sales, dwell time, organic search performance. By identifying how you will measure an activity before it goes live, it will allow you to include measurement throughout the process of development and asset creation.
As previously outlined, ROI will continue to be a myth if you don’t begin to establish theories of performance and test them. Digital needs to be a part of your attribution model. It might not necessarily create the last click or the final sale, but it has a very important role along the customer journey influencing the sale. To establish ROI, you need to begin a long process of uncovering those influences and measuring them for your business. Unfortunately, there is no magic formula. Digital has become such a big part of our lives its impact is mixed in with many traditional measures as well as it’s own e.g. TV, Search, Radio, etc.
This has come up in a number of sections so far. During the Learn phase, reading reports and analyzing data, for the most part, gets easier. You are normally dealing with much larger volumes of data of much longer periods of time. As a result, it is easier to spot trends and patterns that indicate learnings. Toyota has a global policy for challenging themselves called ‘The 5 WHYs‘. When faced with a challenge, ask yourself ‘Why?’ 5 times. This will allow you to probe potential opportunity areas.
1.Throughout the time period, you will have been consistently reporting and developing your own benchmarks, at the end of the time period, you will have solid benchmarks. It is time now to identify through the year at what points you improved and where did you fall down. WHY? WHY? WHY? WHY? WHY?
2.When looking at specific KPIs throughout the time period, are there any specific peaks or troughs? WHY? WHY? WHY? WHY? WHY?
3.When did you see your strongest results and performance? WHY? WHY? WHY? WHY? WHY?
4.Layer over this business performance, is there any correlation? WHY? WHY? WHY? WHY? WHY?
Performance is something you can record daily/weekly/monthly. You should note that making short-term decisions is a short term objective – it is about adjustments and optimizations. Performance measured overtime should be addressed quarterly, bi-annually and annually to derive insight that is implemented to affect long-term change.
In terms of performance, there are four specific areas of digital that you should be observing to assess long-term change and strategic decision-making:
1.Content Performance: If you followed a very specific content strategy, you will have been consistently reaching your audience with the same tone and personality for a long period of time. Following this, you can clearly identify from performance metrics moments of performance that were strong and ones that were weak. You should derive insight from challenging that performance with, you guessed it, WHY? WHY? WHY? WHY? WHY? This insight should be used when going back into your Plan stage before the next phase. These learnings should be re-entered into the process and to evolve your strategies.
2.Media Performance: This performance is a lot more clinical and there are less assumptions or observations. Media works almost exclusively on KPI performance. Which platform, when supported by media, drives the strongest response or results? Remember your format lists from your content strategy? It’s time to revisit this one, but looking at the performance of specific format areas. What formats does media perform well with and what does not perform well? This should guide your next media plan and allow you to better spend your media budgets by format.
3.Observational Conversation: At the start of this process you would have initially addressed the volume of conversation your brand had. Using keyword searches on Twitter, Instagram and Google, you are now seeing volumes of mentions including:
- Keywords that are linked to your campaign
- Hashtag usage
Search Analytics: How are users arriving at your site organically? What terms are they searching that bring them to the site? All this data should be taken and applied to content planning for your site to continue to develop content for SEO. What are people now saying online about you? What does that tell you? And, you guessed it – WHY? WHY? WHY? WHY? WHY?
We’ve all seen the rapid growth of digital in the last decade. In 10 years we’ve invented the smartphone and the storage capabilities in your mobile device have the power of a super computer from ten year ago. The evolution has yet to show signs of slowing down. You must try to keep pace with the industry if you can expect to continue to evolve your businesses use of digital. Disrupt yourself so you aren’t disrupted too late. Keep yourself and your team up-to-date with the latest developments in the digital marketing industry in each of the following areas:
- Identifying New Channels: Constantly staying on top of new channels that our consumer is using and how they are using them.
- Channel Advancements: How channels are developing. Pay particular attention to new releases from Google and how social media formats are evolving.
- New Technology: Constantly observing how innovation is disrupting your industry e.g. voice search, wearables, 360, video, etc.
- Consumer Behaviour: How is your consumer changing? How are they adopting new behaviours into their lives? What are they?
- Mobile: How does mobile continue to sit at the centre of our lives? How do consumers expect mobile to work for them?
Technology is one thing, but human brainpower will remain the most valuable resource to your business. If you are creating talented individuals they will continue to push their capabilities. You must ensure you are creating a culture of learning and hunger and ambition for innovation.
I know you might agree with some of the points that I have raised in this article. You might not agree with some of the issues raised. Let me know your views about the topic discussed. We will appreciate it if you can drop your comment. Thanks in anticipation.
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