An Acquisition, Behaviour and Outcome Metrics Framework

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In Digital, often success lies in the ability to reduce complexity, and to focus on the minimal key ideas that can drive the biggest impact. We have abundant choice, but as we know from the science behind decision making, this choice can in fact lead to paralysis.

Finding the elements to drive focus requires an understanding of the business, a knowledge of what is possible, and the ability to balance current objectives with the future in mind - not an easy task, but all the more difficult without a solid base of data.

The always intelligent Avinash Kaushik has a simple framework to try and reduce the complexity around digital marketing metrics by providing a simple top line view for decision makers. Let's break it down.

Acquisition, Behaviour and Outcomes (ABO)

The full spectrum of the digital customer journey involves three very top line steps - how we acquire traffic or customers, their behaviour once they land on our platforms, and the business outcomes that we generate as a result of this. While different agencies or departments may be focused on individual parts of this journey, we need to create a framework that takes a view of all three together - we often need to break the heavy silo focus that can exist in many organisations and their relationships with partners.

Analysis of the full and complete customer journey is the key to success.

ABO: The Complete Customer Journey

Owned vs Earned (Rented)

Our first step is understanding our platforms, primarily our Owned and Earned (or Rented) touch points.

Owned refers to anything the business owns outright, and generally refers to your website (desktop and mobile), apps, blogs, forums, recommendation engines - really anywhere you own the domain, creative, content, customer relationships and the evolution of the platform.

Rented is what we primarily used to refer to as Earned, although due to the heavy requirement to use Paid to augment these channels, Rent is now a much better analogy. Rented channels primarily refer to social - so things like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, and Vimeo. You can contribute content to them, engage with audiences, and shape the conversation, but you don't own anything else, and can't influence the evolution of the overall platform.

With any digital strategy, most of the time it makes sense to invest more in the platforms you Own, so your overall mix should be skewed accordingly.

Owned vs Rent: Optimal Investment Levels

Owned & Rent Digital Metrics Framework

We have established a top view of the customer journey, and our Owned and Rent platforms. Now it's time to work out our metrics.

There are a massive amount of metrics we can use to measure the success of marketing activity. Again, too much choice leads to paralysis - so we should try and narrow this down to be succinct.

Avinash does a great job of determining two key metrics for each ABO touch point. Feel free to play around with this as you see fit, however this framework provides a solid base to work from.

Owned Acquisition Metrics

Avinash talks about finding the Owned metrics that incentivise a team to behave optimally. This means looking past CPC and even CPA, as these can encourage short term thinking or overlooking the quality of ad creative.

The two metrics then that encourage a more optimal focus in this instance are Clicks and Assists.

Clicks are a bread and butter performance metric because they make you try and drive a physical reaction. To maximise Clicks, you need to focus on ad copy, bids, precise targeting, retargeting, placement, and visuals to ensure you are not just showing up but also driving behaviour.

Assists are designed to try and move thinking past last-click attribution - with customer journeys becoming more complex, we need to be viewing the ways in which different activities leverage off each other. So understand which campaigns drive an immediate Click, but also people who convert after a period of time and the connections of these interactions.

Acquisition metrics stay the same for both Desktop and Mobile segments.

Own Acquisition Metrics

Owned Behaviour Metrics

With Desktop segments, the two metrics to base things on in Behaviour are Bounce Rate and Visitor Loyalty.

Bounce Rate is an important metric as it encourages a focus on creating landing pages that work. There is no point in dropping traffic on an inefficient page (or worse, a page with no context) or driving a lack of continuity between ads and your site. Bounce Rate ensures you are thinking about the connections between ads, links, email campaigns, social links, press releases and any other touch points, and ensuring conversion is top of mind. 
Visitor Loyalty is a metric a step ahead of Repeat Visits. It makes you focus on creating such a positive impression with your audience that they will want to come to your site over and over again. It also makes you think about your audience at the individual customer level. With both of these aligned together, you become concerned with getting people to stay for more than one page, and to visit the site multiple times - both great signals that your platform is working.

Mobile segments keep Bounce Rate (and as Avinash points out, the back button is hard coded into Android devices so it is even easier to back away). We do however swap Visitor Loyalty for Time Spent (a great general metric for sites outside of heavy mobile content sites like newspapers or mobile e-commerce sites).

Time Spent creates a focus on creating experiences that answer the customers pressing questions. Most often on a mobile device, people visit your site for a specific purpose, so this makes you aware of what it takes to drive a successful visit.

Owned Behaviour Metrics

Owned Outcome Metrics

For Outcomes, the two metrics that matter are Macro and Micro Outcomes.

For pretty much every business, there are a range of outcomes that exist on your website that you want to drive in your audience. Some are immediate (like buying something) while others may add value over a longer time frame - say 30 days up to a year (examples are email signup or loyalty programs). This is inherently about solving problems for every type of customer and letting them move through the funnel at their own pace.

When defining these, think about the See, Think, Do Framework to help rationalise what these outcomes might be. Also, avoid only focusing on single-session conversions or a single outcome - we should be thinking much broader than this.

Macro Outcomes should be measuring immediate success (so over 30 days), so essentially Do results.

Micro Outcomes should ensure you are thinking more long term, and that you are driving business value from every visit to the site - so Think and See results.

With Mobile sites, outside of something like e-Commerce, switch the outcomes to Micro (so See and Think). This will help remove the idea that mobile lacks the ability to make money fast (and the knock on effect of an ongoing underinvestment). This attitude misses huge opportunities.

Owned Outcome Metrics

Rent Metrics

When it comes to our Rent platforms, pretty much all of our desired outcomes differ. These activities are much less conversion driven, much more brand marketing driven, and generally have a much longer term focus for impact and outcomes. A good way to screw up social is to put too much emphasis on a conversion or performance driven approach, or a desire for short term results - so let's not fall into this trap.

Avinash breaks Rent platforms down into two categories - Permanent and Temporary outposts

Permanent outposts include platforms like YouTube - often 70% of views will occur 30 days after you upload, so content requires a longer strategic approach to gain traction.

Temporary Outposts are platforms like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. Most content lives for less than 60 minutes, with a tail up to 24 hours if your very lucky.

With both of these segments, unlike Owned platforms that have more strategic permanence on content (mainly for SEO purposes), Rent content generally needs to be measured on the latest items.

Also remember that Rent platforms require a significant paid component that needs to be factored into measurement.

Rent Acquisition Metrics

For Permanent outposts (e.g. YouTube), Acquisition metrics to focus on (i.e paid advertising) are Impressions and Click Through Rate (CTR).

Impressions matter here because as this should be brand marketing activity, we want to drive a high share of voice. So our Paid activity can keep this as its goal.

Click-Through Rate will help to keep the incentive in place to ensure the activity has commercial intent, and in creating great experiences on both the content and the Owned channel it is leading to.

Temporary outposts are harder to narrow down at this stage. We are competing in a place where it is very difficult to grab attention, often on platforms that contain a fast flowing stream of content and information. We keep Impressions as our first metric, but add Likes / +1's into the mix as our second.

Impressions again are there to ensure we are driving a high share of voice in Paid activity.

For Likes / +1's, Avinash points out this was a hard decision in his camp on deciding on this. Paid advertising on Temporary outposts have low commercial intent, so we should instead focus on driving outcomes at a post / brand page level to keep Paid focus succinct.

Rented Acquisition Metrics

Rent Behaviour Metrics

With Permanent outposts, our focus is on Views and Completes.

Views are there to ensure we focus on creating content that is interesting, delightful and not boring. Our goal is to encourage consumption, leading to greater brand equity.

Completes counter balance Views by ensuring that we focus on our contents ability to retain attention, and drive outcomes to maximise this next step.

Behaviour is a little different for Temporary outposts. In this case, we focus on Applause Rate and Amplification Rate.

Applause Rate is a clever way from Avinash of describing the generic approval actions on social media (so Likes, +1's, or Favourites). In theory these actions are the equivalent of someone clapping when they see your content, so an indicator of what they want more of (and conversely what they like less of in analysis). It is a great way to determine content that resonates with the audience.

Amplification Rate is the action of sharing of your content (so FB Shares, Retweets or Forwards). With social media, we are not just concerned with reaching fans, but also reaching their friends, so this allows us to touch their second level networks. Amplification also represents a good indicator of brand endorsement.

Combined together, this helps us understand what content is casually 'applauded' and more importantly what is directly endorsed by our customers - a good guide to determine what to focus on in the future.

Rented Behaviour Metrics

Rent Outcome Metrics

With Permanent outposts, again with the view windows being 30 days and over, we need to focus on more long term results in favour of direct short term conversions. This means we focus on Social Amplification and Subscribers.

Social Amplification basically equates to organic views and completions via our audience. Customers are taking our content and broadcasting this to their friends as an endorsement, allowing us to driver greater reach.

Subscribers harks back to longer term attention. They are the people most likely to see ongoing content first, and have provided indicators that they are interested in future connection, so are a big driver of future viral stickiness. 

Again, Temporary outposts have fairly different metrics. We initially focus on Conversion Rate and Micro Outcomes.

Conversion Rate is a bit different to standard e-Comm or direct, defined as a measure of the number of audience Comments or Replies on each post. It becomes a good measure of the type of content we are producing - Is it generating conversation? If not, why are we on a social channel in the first place?

A big note here that Aviniash doesn't touch on. It is likely very beneficial to measure the sentiment of these conversations. You could have a heap of comments on a post, but if they are all negative, this should be factored into your measurement strategy.

Micro Outcomes again are the activities that drive value over a longer term (so 90 days or more). The rationale here is that you should be taking a longer term view of value in the organisation, especially as this is a channel you are merely renting space on and that requires ongoing engagement.

Rented Outcome Metrics


With this framework in place we have basically reduced the overall set of metrics we are focused on into a very simplified overview of the complete customer journey. This model goes a long way to ensuring that teams within an organisation are focused on the right results, and that the various agencies in the mix are thinking further than their particular vertical (unless you are blessed with a digital generalist who is focused on the full lifecycle of your digital business).

Remember, this is primarily a base to structure the thinking behind metrics - feel free to change the baseline, but understand the thought process around each of the ABO areas. Different businesses have different challenges, and are at different stages of the Customer Experience Maturity Model, so customising this is fine, just try and simplify the metrics as much as possible to avoid operational paralysis.

Also, while this makes sense right now, technology is in constant flux, so be prepared to be flexible, learn and adjust to chaining factors.

Are you currently taking an end to end view of your digital activity in your organisation?

Does this framework make sense to your organisations needs?

Would you keep the above metrics, or would you look to create a different baseline to work from in your organisation?

This post continues my series on Mental Models.