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Over the past decade, I’ve watched the number of touchpoints along the consumer journey increase disproportionately in comparison with the percentage of journeys that marketers measure. As a result, the relationship marketers have with consumers has fundamentally changed.

So what’s a marketer to do? To succeed, they must responsibly deliver more personalized, measurable experiences. They need a significantly better approach to measurement amid regulatory changes, browser updates, and decreased usage of third-party cookies. For these reasons, Google partnered with Bain & Company to take a closer look at the digital measurement practices of today’s leading marketers.

We found that the 100 most mature marketers, in terms of measurement, are 4X as likely to exceed business goals compared with the 100 least mature marketers. (See all the data here.) We also learned that no one has figured out digital measurement completely, and the best approaches had a few key differences.

Marketers who have more developed measurement strategies tie marketing activities to companywide outcomes, such as profit or revenue. They build a digital measurement foundation with sitewide tagging and unify first-party data to gain a deep understanding of the customer lifetime decision journey. And they don’t let incomplete data stop them from making progress. They use proxy metrics, such as micro conversions and store visits, to help fill in the gaps and improve decision-making. It’s easy to obsess over a specific metric, but a proxy can still be a very effective indicator of growth.

Leading marketers are able to acquire and nurture high-value customers because they engage machine learning and invest in automation.

Thanks to technology, taking strategic actions against these decisions can be made simpler. Leading marketers are able to acquire and nurture high-value customers by engaging machine learning and investing in automation. For example, Credit Karma, a leading consumer technology company with more than 85 million members, uses machine learning and Google automation to reach members with strong intent. With the help of automation, Credit Karma’s search bidding strategy automatically optimizes at auction time to drive profitable ad delivery, resulting in significantly increased performance at the same return on ad spend. Leading marketers like this embrace a culture of experimentation and seek progress over perfection in the pursuit of driving stronger business outcomes.

Getting it right means moving beyond just technology solutions. Leading marketers break down organizational silos and increase cross-functional collaboration. Their teams use data in a responsible way, have the autonomy to fail fast, and relentlessly prioritize the customer experience using measurement as the backbone. L’Oréal, for instance, has been preparing for privacy changes by investing in a responsible data strategy that includes first-party measurement tools and cloud technology. The beauty brand was one of the first to test Ads Data Hub, a cloud-based solution that encrypts consumer data by default, to conduct analyses and identify user insights in an anonymized and privacy-safe way.

Do you want to reconnect with your customers, future proof your business, and become a leading marketer? Start the journey by prioritizing one best practice using our latest measurement diagnostic built in partnership with Bain. Ensure you measure what matters most to set the stage for growth.