You can measure nearly anything you wish so long as you plan properly in advance. It sounds simple, but it can be extremely tedious and detailed to ensure you will be able to measure exactly what you would like.
I recently participated in a Twitter campaign in which consumers were asked to publish a tweet with a hashtag in it. Those of us who did so were eligible to receive something free if we were in the right place at the right time. It was great! I got a good prize out of it. But there were steps along the way where I wondered if the team would be able to collect all of the data they might want.
For example, when we were asked to prove we tweeted, we simply had to show a printed tweet or a tweet on a mobile phone. No one seemed to be recording the tweets. They may have captured them retroactively, but did they have a way to decipher who tweeted and received the prize? Or did they just have the aggregate of tweets mentioning the hashtag on a given day?
And when we received our prizes, no one recorded who we were. The prize, a gift certificate, was itself generic. There is no way for the company to know which certificate I have and whether or not I will use it or at which location or whether I spend more than the certificate is worth (I’ve already made plans to use it, but I doubt they know).
The certificate packet also came with an application to enroll in the company’s rewards program. But again, the rewards card in the packet is in no way tied to me. For all they know I will be inspired by that one Twitter campaign to become an incredibly loyal customer. Or I may completely forget to even use the certificate. How will they ever know?
To accurately answer these questions, there were a few additional pieces of data they would have needed to collect from me and everyone else that got a certificate. It may have taken additional time, but I would venture to guess that the additional information would have been far more valuable than that saved time.
Thinking through this kind of exercise, you could use incredibly detailed and granular data to track consumers and behaviors across campaigns, both online and offline. But it takes much more planning on the front end and extra time for data collection.
This begs the question: is it worth it? At what point is the effort to capture the data greater than the insights garnered in the end?
It will always depend on your resources and what you are attempting to measure. There are certainly levels of granularity that are not worthwhile. There are some that are. You will likely have to use your best judgment, and maybe even screw up once or twice before you learn where that threshold is. There is, unfortunately, no concrete answer at this point.
I would be willing to bet that you could plan for more advanced measurement than you are performing currently, and I bet it would be worth the additional time.
Next time you start building a campaign, think about the nitty gritty measurements and data you would ideally like to capture. Then plan to capture what you need as much as possible.
How long do you spend planning for measurement? How granular are you willing to go before you find it’s no longer worth it?
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