The 3 key numbers

March 1, 2009

Whenever I start working with a client or engagement, the first thing I try to identify are the 3 key metrics that drive that business, both on and offline.

This helps set the agenda for the digital approach. I’ve seen digital techniques been given a bad rep by senior individuals at client organisations, as the so called digital experts have come to help without any real contextual understanding of the business that their client operates in and the issues that drive it.

Incidentally I’ve seen the same problem occur when well-meaning, highly intelligent consultants try to cover off digital issues – they just dont get the media, and its unique challenges, economics and approach.

Here are examples of some of the 3 key numbers:

* Sales

* Average Transaction Value

* Gross Margin

* Qualified Prospects

* Conversion to sale

* Products per customer

The key is identifying what these 3 numbers are and aligning all digital activity around improving their performance.

Measurement & Optimisation

Once the programs are designed around delivering on these 3 numbers, then it is vital to measure frequently and track performance via a dashboard. This helps everyone understand and keep track of performance. Optimisation programs can then be put in place to continuously enhance performance in these areas.

The Final Question: Why 3?

I often get asked, why only 3 numbers? The reason is that the best thing about digital is its measurability, but the worst thing about digital is measurement. This is because that even the most simplistic analytics tools provide so much data that they ‘blind’ even digital experts, let alone 99% of a companies organization and 99.5% of a company’s senior management team!

Aligning 3 simple numbers to the company’s vision, stated objectives and business performance objectives, simplifies and demystifies digital – this helps win hearts and minds which are vitally important when trying to ‘win’ budget and political support.

Digital Politics – Growing during in this recession

March 1, 2009

With a general election no more than 13 months away, and the recent history of Obama’s ascent to the White House on the back of digital marketing, fundraising and broadcasting, it looks like that digital politics is one area that is going to experience massive growth during this recession.

I was recently talking with a Director of Marketing at a major governmental organisation, who said budgets are incredibly tight, but is yet hiring a couple of digital staff, including a Head of Digital.

A recent article by the BBC highlighted that whilst MPs in the UK are happy to broadcast their views online, they have’nt yet worked out how to use the medium as a ‘listening post’.

Conservative Home and LabourList are pretty influential blogs already in the political space, however they are pretty self serving – how are they reaching out to contact those not interested in politics (or more to the point those that don’t think they are interested)?

Community building, segmentation by issue, geography, demogaphics as well as developing the type of contact strategy that marketers have been using for years, could prove highly effective in terms of both building political support (and as Obama showed the not unimportant issue of political funds) but also provide a channel for influencing key marginal seats as well.

These techniques are not limited to elections. eGovernment should change the way in which our public services are delivered, the way in which our local and national politicians are accountable, and our access to involvement in debates. This is what I take from what the BBC article means about listening.

All are possible with pretty simple and standard techniques.

I started my journey in digital with some eGoverment work. It was developing self service strategies and technology for the Local Government Association, mixing the use of kiosk technology toghether with innovative apps to provide accessible services.

Given that the government is the only one spending right now, this could be an area where this recession could allow us to spend time and resources help improving public services, through (yes you’ve guessed it) Digital Transformation.

Defining Digital Business Transformation

March 1, 2009

Well for my first post on my new blog, I thought I better explain what this digital transformation thing is all about. For me, (and it seems like most of the rest of the world) digital channels, tools, techniques and marketing mechanisms, have been the single biggest shift in the way that business conducts itself, and we live our lives in the last 15 years.

I have been fortunate enough to have my career match this growth path, and also been fortunate to be exposed to multitude of different channels, techniques, clients, countries, people and experiences that have enabled me to drive improvements in business value and performance through use of digital techniques.

In short digital was, and still is the single most impactful way to change business performance for the better right now and for the foreseeable future.

At a simplistic level, this can take 2 forms, cost reduction and revenue generation:

Cost Reduction:

Current digital trends such as social media, search engine optimization, segmented email etc create a platform for reducing the costs and increasing the efficiency of bloated marketing budgets. The era of excess in this area is behind us.

eCommerce is now well established as a cheaper (note – I did not say ‘cheap’) form of targeting some customer segments.

Recruitment, operations, supplier management, finance are all now done using digital marketplaces, forums, sites and tactics, drastically reducing cost and improving efficiency.

Revenue Generation

At the risk of stating the obvious, digital allows businesses to broaden their markets to different geographies, tailor their offer to segments quickly and cheaply, trial and test new propositions, cross and upsell in a targeted manner, deliver laser-targeted marketing (so good its a service) to build tribes of brand advocates.

This all adds to the top-line performance of the business balance sheet, and (whisper it quietly) generally comes at a better margin that other channels too.

No Digital Evangelist.

I love the channel for a number of reasons, but I am no digital evangelist. I don’t love this channel at the behest of all others. I just knowthat Digital was, is, and remains the best tool available in the businessman’s kitbag to create profitable, agile and winning businesses for the post recessionary age.

Now this blog will post my musings on this subject, and hopefully the musings of some colleagues, friends, advocates and adversaries as well. In conjunction with  the To Go Network of digital experts, I hope to continue to assist companies tranform their businesses through digital, to become leaner, more efficient, more relevant and ultimately more profitable entities.