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Digital Marketing - Study Notes:

Adapting your measurement approach

So, we can look at tools from a broader marketing perspective, but, in reality, we need to look at each of the search marketing disciplines in isolation. They all function differently. They all are based on different platforms, there are different audiences and different actions that we want that audience to take. So, that, of course, affects the measurement approach that we’re going to take.

Paid search

From a paid search perspective, or more for internal use than anything else, is budget tracking worksheets. We’ve looked at some of the caps that are in place from a budgetary standpoint, but you want to be ahead of that as well. You want to make sure, on a daily basis, you know exactly how you’re tracking against what you want to be spending. Some of the core measurement approaches that we’ve looked at are CPA and also ROAS and ROI. That’s really just understanding, if we put one dollar into Google Ads, how many dollars do we get in return? That should be monitored on a daily basis.


SEO is slightly different. So the mechanism behind it is quite different as well, although it’s search-engine-focused. The audience we’re speaking to and the actions that we want them to take are often quite broader. You should start with looking at the links, traffic, and rankings that you have. From there, it should naturally flow, what occurs. If you’ve built the website the way that you need to, in line with user expectations and desires and needs, once you get people onto the site, if they are of a sufficient quality, they should convert at the rate that you’re expecting and that you’ve seen from paid search. If that isn’t the case, then you know you need to go back to the drawing board.


With display, it can be a little bit trickier setting the post-click or post-impression action windows. The key thing here is just to set something that is agreed on with everyone, whether that is a 7-day window, 28-day window, whatever it happens to be, and sticking to it. You can spend a lot of time really trying to understand the attribution side of all of this. If you have a great solution to that from a technology platform standpoint, then it’s worth using. It’s worth weighing up whether it’s worth spending that much time on it from this perspective. Often, it’s best just to set an agreed window, whether it’s 7 days, 28 days, even 1 day, and then just stick to it as long as all stakeholders are happy. We’ve looked at how we might go about measuring the impact of each search marketing channel, and how would you weigh up which tools to use, and where the overlap between those might be?

The role of each channel

The next point we should look at is, how each of these channels is going to contribute to the business objectives? And these are all points you should really keep in mind when you’re having meetings with wider teams and they want to understand what the expectations are from each channel.


A display marketing campaign may be focused on improving reach. Those are slightly softer metrics than what we’re used to in search marketing, and display can be equally useful for prospecting, but you will want to set those expectations early.

Content marketing

Content can achieve any goal you want essentially. Quite often, it will be social engagement or brand awareness.


Given that backlinks still matter from reputable sources, we may want to judge the quality of our content based on the number of those sources that come in to us. So, if we launch a new campaign, it’s hosted on our website, how many links did that attract of a Domain Authority of 60 or higher, and how did that match our expectations? There are no guaranteed hard and fast rules with content. There’s no “input of X will certainly give you Y,” but you can test a lot on and that’s the beauty of content marketing.

SEO will improve the site speed and the experience on there. These are areas we weren’t always looking at as SEO. Site speed, potentially yes, but experience, not so much. That was the domain of the UX and CRO guys. But, given that Google, especially via RankBrain, is starting to weigh up those engagement factors, so if someone clicks through to your site, and they click straight back out and go to someone else, that will be factored in. That will negatively impact your performance. And, the reverse can be true as well, so we can frame SEO from a business perspective as something that is improving everything that touches the website.

Paid search

Paid search is a lower funnel tactic, quite often. It can be expensive to use paid search for branding, not impossible, but it’s often not used in that way. So, if you’ve done things right in these other areas where display is improving your campaign reach and your brand awareness, we’ve got content marketing tailored to fit the message that you have maybe offline in your advertising.

SEO is improving the site experience. Paid search can often be the way that you capitalize on that demand, turning that into traffic, sales, leads, subscriptions, whatever it has to be. And, this interplay between channels can be different. This is just a working example, but this is quite frequently how we see these channels work.

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Clark Boyd

Clark Boyd is CEO and founder of marketing simulations company Novela. He is also a digital strategy consultant, author, and trainer. Over the last 12 years, he has devised and implemented international marketing strategies for brands including American Express, Adidas, and General Motors.

Today, Clark works with business schools at the University of Cambridge, Imperial College London, and Columbia University to design and deliver their executive-education courses on data analytics and digital marketing. 

Clark is a certified Google trainer and runs Google workshops across Europe and the Middle East. This year, he has delivered keynote speeches at leadership events in Latin America, Europe, and the US. You can find him on Twitter (X)LinkedIn, and Slideshare. He writes regularly on Medium and you can subscribe to his email newsletter, hi,tech.

Data protection regulations affect almost all aspects of digital marketing. Therefore, DMI has produced a short course on GDPR for all of our students. If you wish to learn more about GDPR, you can do so here:

DMI Short Course: GDPR

The following pieces of content from the Digital Marketing Institute's Membership Library have been chosen to offer additional material that you might find interesting or insightful.

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    Strategy and Planning
    Clark Boyd
    Skills Expert

    This module covers the key steps for planning and implementing a search marketing strategy for your organization. It addresses the key components in an effective search marketing strategy and outlines best practices for planning and research. It also covers how to execute a strategy and evaluate the performance of a search marketing campaign.