Deep Dive: Walk
In the Walk phase, we transition to using the Marketing Evolution planning software as the starting point for the media plan. In the Crawl stage, teams organized around the definition of success, RACI, data flow, and early wins. Data was verified and the first optimization(s) were delivered. The team may have implemented some of the recommendations, or they may have decided to “take it all in” and prepare to make changes during the next optimization round. During the Walk phase we’ll be working toward having your marketing plans automatically generated by empirical data fed into our powerful decision-making platform.
The Walk stage is about:
- Getting into a rhythm of in-campaign optimization
- Using the marketing analytics software to plan for future campaigns
- Expanding the scope and speed of data feeds
- Seeing significant and regular payback from optimizations
Establishing a Rhythm Using In-Campaign Optimization
A key focus for Marketing Evolution during the earliest stages of onboarding is training and helping the team feel confident leading the “optimization read-out.” The transition from Crawl to Walk begins with the first client led optimization meeting. It typically lasts approximately 90-minutes. It covers both the read-out and some additional training from the ME team. The time also allows for questions and discussion. As the team becomes trained on our marketing analytics software, and the data is flowing, you are ready to walk.
Again, as in the Crawl, we recognize the need for speed and are focused on helping customers realize the competitive advantage of the ROI Brain®. During this period, the marketing team and agencies get more comfortable with the interface, the frequency of optimizations can increase, and read-out meetings take less time. Marketers and agencies are now leading the read-out optimization meeting with Marketing Evolution who are providing support as needed. Once this transition in readout leadership occurs, the meetings tend to become shorter and more targeted.
Typical Schedule to Transition from Crawl to Walk
Planning Future Campaigns with the ROI Brain®
The other key characteristic of the Walk phase is the transition to longer range MarCom planning driven directly by data and the decision-making power of the Marketing Evolution software.
Now the marketing team and agencies should be building plans and iterating within the software. Team members and agency partners activate the approved plan from the software, greatly reducing the chance for human coding error and bias. This also increases the speed at which the system can optimize because most everything is flowing into the ROI Brain® automatically. The speed gain from Crawl to Walk can be exponential.
In the Walk phase we transition to using the software rather than PPT for read-outs. For 25 years, marketers have used PowerPoint, and it is the natural default when conveying information. If you want to move faster (from crawl to walk), you’ve got to get the team used to making decisions in the software. The ability to see the recommendations and use the workflow is essential to speed. Save the PowerPoints for the quarterly business reviews. Use the software for the ongoing standard business optimizations. Over time, these readout meetings become less “events” and more Standard Operating Procedures (SOP). With time and confidence, the ongoing optimizations often become delegated and the team making the optimizations become empowered to activate those decisions.
In adopting a software-driven approach to media planning, your team will become sophisticated “power users” of the ROI Brain®. When building media plans with the software, the planner will create unconstrained (zero based) output at different budget levels.
- At a very small budget, the software will show the strongest ROI elements of your marketing.
- As the budget gets larger, these media will hit diminishing returns, and other media will come into the plan.
- By looking at it this way, you will gain insight into the shape of the media ROI curve. This is your chance to make sure this jives with your expectations.
- If not, it’s a great way to come up with Test & Learns to put the media to the test. If it doesn’t pan out, the software will learn, and change the response function.
- But if it does prove out, you’ve unlocked a new way of marketing that you wouldn’t have found without the software.
- The software learns over time, as it sees the impact of holidays, seasonality, weather, media cost fluctuations and other variable impacts. As customers move from Walk to Run and create a multi-year database of results, the optimizations continue to change because of this expanded pool of data and knowledge.
Expanding the Scope and Speed of Data Feeds
By the Walk phase, sales data is flowing into the ROI Brain®, and the optimization KPI may compare sales to purchase intent as two separate but complementary KPIs. Because sales are a lagging indicator, the ultimate goal is to construct a leading indicator model where we follow the multiple brand and behavioral metrics to find out over time which one(s) best predict sales. In the Walk phase, there is not yet sufficient data to build the leading indicator model, so the teams typically look at both the sales and branding optimizations separately in parallel.
We find, too, that some time is generally spent addressing any data issues uncovered during the Crawl stage, which can be addressed by the marketing team, agencies, and Marketing Evolution to ensure quality. Make it clear to the team that it is our job to smoke out bad data, and it is good when we find it, because it will help us prioritize what to automate. The instinct may be to point fingers and hide problems, but that doesn’t serve the business in the long run. It is important for the marketing leader to clearly set the culture that the goal is automation. We want to lay a firm data foundation to support our entire program.
- Finding discrepancies
- Identifying the source
- Brainstorming automation
- Data checking to continuously improve the quality of the data
Marketing Evolution can write automated data checking programs with tiered alerts. Take advantage of this capability.
Seeing Consistent ROI Following Campaign Optimizations
In each phase, much of the groundwork is laid for the next. Setting yourself up for success in continuous measurement is critical at the end of Walk. One method to assess impact of optimizations on business outcomes is the use of a holdout group. By using some holdouts, you can definitively prove the value of the optimization. When this is combined with the shareholder value, this gives a number that you can take to senior management so that everyone on the marketing team and agency gets due credit for driving bottom line financial value for the company. The value feature can be built into the software, so once it is set-up, one can check on the cumulative value the team has created by optimizing marketing. It is a good idea to have at least one brainstorming session about how to best setup holdout groups during the tail end of the Walk stage, and to integrate these ideas into the heart of the media planning process.