Driving Growth With Measurement in a Mobile World highlights changing attitudes and approaches to analytics and measurement. In a marketing landscape with more data than insights, some organizations are turning to a practical, business outcome-focused model. This report, produced in partnership with Google, is based on a survey of executives at enterprise organizations averaging more than $1B in 2016 revenues.

Analytics increasingly faces a challenge in understanding audiences who jump from device to device and online to offline. These users are notoriously difficult to track and categorize, leading some marketers to a shift in thinking about measurement that acknowledges the imperfect reality of most datasets.

Key themes explored in the report include:

1. Alignment of KPIs with business goals makes marketing more powerful

One of the central hypotheses of the study was that marketing achieves greater success when its measures and processes reflect the goals of the wider organization than when they’re focused solely on the metrics and concerns of marketing.

In the real world we need to look for those metrics that can make the leap between marketing and finance instead of trying to contend with every possible digital marketing statistic, most of which don’t resonate outside the team let alone outside of marketing.

Leading companies’ responses bear out this premise; 95% agree with the statement “to truly matter, marketing KPIs must be tied to broader business goals.”

2. Metrics don’t matter if they don’t affect decisions

It’s one thing to measure, it’s another to use that information. One surprise of the study was the large share of organizations that have one or more advanced measurement capabilities, but fail to use them in decision-making.

For example, 47% of mainstream organizations say they track cross-device behavior but that it doesn’t factor into decision-making.

One trait of elite marketers is the realization that there will be gaps in data, especially in emerging areas. They are comfortable making estimates to fill those gaps to move forward with their decision-making.

3. Perfection isn’t the goal

Between the enthusiasm of technology vendors and the genuine revolution in data-driven business, it’s not surprising that marketing has fallen into the trap of pursuing perfection.

The most effective analytics organizations are also those that recognize the reality is imperfection. Leading measurement practices are three times more likely than the mainstream to strongly agree that there will always be gaps in the data connecting people, channels and devices (39% vs. 13%).

4. Experimentation isn’t just optimization

Optimization is an important advantage of digital marketing. It’s fast, easy and makes an incremental, consistent positive difference.

But leaders are more likely to develop specific models and employ technology to fill these gaps than the mainstream, who tend to rely on historical precedents. Optimization isn’t the most powerful business use of experimentation. At its best, the scientific method can be used to identify most valuable customers, explore major trends and validate strategic direction.

Leading organizations are more than twice as likely to conduct strategic experiments than the mainstream, and by doing so they overcome some of the issues that often arise in large organizations trying to evolve.