Would you feel comfortable taking off in a plane, knowing that the pilot and co-pilot had neglected to run through their pre-flight checklists? No? Me either. In fact, a pre-launch checklist is a sound idea for preparing to undertake any difficult journey. It allows one to plan routes, coordinate with team members, check inventory, assess resources and design emergency measures should obstacles arise.
The goal of all this is simple: making sure you’re prepared to get to a desired outcome safely and predictably. As with other journeys, so it is with the trajectory of a marketing campaign. Preparation, predictability and safety — in the form of being able to measure one’s work — are the goals most marketers have in mind when they set out to deploy a campaign to capture measurable results.
And yet, every day, marketers blast off huge marketing campaigns, spending many hours and tens of thousands of dollars, without first ensuring the basic safety and integrity of their campaign launch. It’s 2018, and we’re here to tell you that’s no longer good enough.
What might a pre-launch checklist for a marketer look like? Years of working with some of the world’s savviest marketers and analysts have equipped us with these suggestions.
- Check to make sure that your campaign naming conventions are the same, regardless of the platform generating results. At large companies, it becomes difficult for a team to manage all of the tracking codes across the organization. Even a single report, such as “external campaigns,” might have multiple channel managers involved in the effort. Add thousands of auto-generated tracking code variations, created by the publishers and ad platforms where your campaigns run, and the task of integrating all that data to create a coherent picture after the fact is nearly impossible. It’s better to do it at the start by setting up patterns with strict rules regarding formatting and classification.
- Describe and classify codes accurately within the analytics tool. What happens if your analytics tool is dutifully gathering codes which it has no ability to interpret — because no one told it how to do so? To quote a Tracking First client, “We had all of these codes, sitting inside of Adobe, unable to tell their stories….Adobe was capturing the token but failing to connect the decryption key. Tracking First allowed us to go in and find all the unmatched codes! It finds them in DCM and matches them up and tells Adobe, ‘Don’t ignore these: this is what those codes mean.”
- Synchronize across distributed teams. The larger and more dispersed your team is, the more room there is for human error to creep in. Agency teams, incomplete training, and teams that span time zones (delaying a quick answer to a simple question) all contribute to the likelihood that your beautiful naming conventions will go awry. We think it’s better to empower your team with a unified system, accessible to a global set of marketers, giving them genuine autonomy to follow parameters you’ve set up in a cloud-based environment. Users throughout your organization can create new codes with full confidence that they’ll be tracked correctly.
- Verify landing pages pre-launch. There are a number of good products on the market (Observepoint, Hubscan, QA2L) that crawl an organization’s website, testing for broken links or missing tracking data, and alerting the team when data tags needs to be fixed. Wouldn’t it be great to have a tool like that to deploy for your campaign links before your campaign ever launches? The time to know whether the pages you’re directing traffic to are generating usable data is when there’s still time to do something about it. We think this verification is one of the most important steps in a pre-launch safety check.
- Integrate your data sources. Many people say that they want a single source of data truth; a common example we hear is DCM. But if your systems are constantly talking to each other and they don’t speak each other’s language, a single source of truth remains elusive. An important feature of any pre-launch checklist should be a tool that allows Adobe and DCM, and/or any other data source you use, to talk to each other. We like to think of ourselves as a Rosetta Stone for tracking codes, allowing data to translate smoothly between multiple sources, whether it’s DCM and Adobe, or some other source and target.
We’re confident that if you start the new year right, using a pre-flight risk assessment for every marketing campaign you deploy, you’ll end the year with campaign reports that are 100% reliable — and more importantly, reports that will provide your organization with real insight to tackle its thorniest customer buying journeys and service challenges. We think 2018 is going to be the Year of Clean Data! Are you in?