Acquisition, Behavior, and Outcomes

When you set out to create your Digital Measurement and Marketing Model, you'll need to be working from a well-thought through understanding of the three main areas of your digital work: Acquisition, Behavior, and Outcomes (ABO). This lens is a simplified and effective way to view the complete customer journey.

These 3 main phases also give you a sense of the scope and breadth that your Digital Measurement and Marketing Model (DMMM) needs to cover. This macro-planning serves the foundation from which you build your Digital Measurement and Marketing Model. Like the DMMM, ABO was created by Google executive Avinash Kaushik.

ABO helps you to think through big picture issues in a structured and holistic manner. It requires working through questions like:

  • How are we going to acquire traffic? (Not just any traffic of course, but qualified traffic.) 
  • Who is our audience? What are their characteristics?
  • How can we find and effectively influence that audience (and the segments we're targeting) in a cost- and time-effective way? 
  • How will we engage visitors to think about our offerings? How will we convert these engaged repeat visitors into customers and retain them?
  • What do we need to do to deliver a remarkable experience to our current and potential customers? As we've known for years, from Harry Beckwith's classic Selling the Invisible to OpticonLondon2016, customers' expectations are set by best in class. You're not competing only against your direct competitors. (For inspiration, think in terms of Kaushik's qualifiers for a mind-blowing experience: ". . . sheer beauty, intelligence, and simplicity . . .")

Does your planning yield a win-win for customers and company? ("They get the joy and task completion, you get some current revenue and possibly a long-term repeat customer," explains Kaushik.) 

A typical error I've seen is when an organization or small business, focuses on activity within a small subset of just one of these 3 areas. Inevitably, the narrow focus will manifest as missed business targets. In these situations you'll find a lack of alignment, a lack of understanding of analytics, and lack of clarity about what staff are solving for

YOU MUST excel at both "rented" and "owned"

You'll also have to consider the roles of "Rented" and "Owned" platforms. If you want to win at digital you'll need to excel at both, and your emphasis needs to be on "owned." 

Owned platforms: Includes your website(s) and mobile apps. You "own" everything about these platforms: the code, perhaps a recommendation engine, discussion forums, the creative, the content, the user experience, the micro- and macro-conversion points, and perhaps most importantly, the data (including how the data is collected). You create and set the privacy policy; you own the domains; you design, shape, and own the customer relationships. You can creatively integrate with third-party marketing platforms. The core raison d'etre for your business resides in/on your website. 

"Rented" platforms: are all the digital presences that you don't own, including all social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, etc.) and marketplaces/channels like Amazon. Here, you don't own the customer data. [Indeed, on Amazon, you'll never know who purchased your books, whether you have any repeat customers, whether there are identifiable segments within your customers that can/should be targeted outside of Amazon. You'll receive no data on those transactions or customers at all other than the basic nature of the purchase or book-borrowing.]

Rented platforms undergo constant changes which are executed for the platform's business objectives. Those objectives don't always overlap with yours and that can present challenges: like Facebook's decline in organic reach to near-zero for business and organization pages. 

Unfortunately one of the marketing myths floating around is: "All we need is Facebook, forget our website!"  For some select businesses they may benefit from just being on social, but this is the exception. Think: a Washington, D.C. cupcake food truck that has a Facebook page and relies mainly on Twitter to inform fans of what street corner they'll be on that day. For most businesses though, the notion that "all we need is Facebook" is based on ignorance and chasing fads, and yes, some big businesses are doing just that. Read about some of Avinash's experiences, as a consultant, with this

There are companies actually executing just rent. They have no own strategy. In fact if you search for the brand by name on or, you'll see links to their site in the first couple organic search results, and if you click on them you get to their site and auto-redirected to their Facebook page!

Where, for these big companies, the average Amplification Rate is under 25. They are taking thousands and thousands of people looking for their brand (easy to check with Google Trends/Keyword Tool) and dumping them on a See channel. . .

Many, many companies are doing this. In the last few weeks for me it has been a massive beverages company, it has been a couple of consumer goods companies, it has been an entertainment company, and it has even been a non-profit. I had to cry myself to sleep every single time.

I implore you. Own first. Then rent. Rock both. If you can only do one. Do own. 

Kaushik calls this error "colossal."  At the foundation of this fad is a lack of understanding of the different (and critical) roles played by social media and your owned platforms. As Kaushik points out, Own is best for Do and Think stages, while Rent is best for See and Care.  Focusing the bulk of resources on Rent will undercut conversions and revenue.  Those who chase this fad will likely not understand which content (and advertising) to push to which platform, and lack of an integrated strategy that solves for all 4 phases of audience intent. (To delve deeper into this issue see: Digital Measurement and Marketing Model and the See - Think - Do - Care framework.)  Those that shape their digital strategies based on this myth-premise will be left wondering at the end of the day why social isn't getting them where they want to go. Ironically, building a rent-first strategy will also ensure that the true potential of social for the business is never attained. Don't fall prey to this "silly" strategy/investment of company resources. 

“If you want to win on the web, you have to do both Own and Rent really well. You pretty much don’t have a choice. But if you are going to suck at something, sucking at rent is preferable.”
— Avinash Kaushik


With Facebook bearing down like a locomotive on an organic reach of zero (for Pages),  go further in questioning your current view of social media and explore Thomas Baekdal's "Is it time to rethink social media?" For businesses, Facebook has essentially become an advertising platform with social aspects. While that advertising platform has powerful ways of connecting with potential future customers, and should be fully exploited, don't expect loyalty and retention to be generated by being active on Facebook:

Just keep in mind that a sponsored post creates little loyalty. Once people react to your sponsored post, you still need to find another way to keep them coming back...

We have to remember that we are losing the all important loyalty and retention that causes people to become loyal fans.

This 'paid' focus doesn't give us any of that. It only increases reach and attention. As a brand, once you have that attention, you still have a daunting task ahead of you to actually convert this reach into real sales, and loyal customers who never want to leave.

Refer back to the See-Think-Do framework. Understanding the thinking behind the framework will spare you from looking for customer 'love'/loyalty (and business outcomes) in all the wrong places.

Most business success, short or long-term, will come from a combination of effective Paid Media strategies (Search, Display, Video) where your Organic efforts will never break-through; PLUS large Organic Digital efforts (Search, Email, Owned content presence) that get you in front of people your Paid efforts never will.
— Avinash Kaushik


Consider this pattern observed by Kaushik in his consulting practice: "Most of the time when I look at the dashboards and reporting efforts in companies, they are usually obsessed with one of these pieces [acquisition, behavior, outcomes] or maybe even a couple. Rarely is there an insane obsession with all three. Some of this is because we are organized in silos, with no incentive to think end-to-end. At other times it is because of a lack of skill or the ability to analyze the complete journey." 

It's impossible to be a remarkable, successful customer-centric company if you are not thinking, before strategy is ever written, in terms of the complete customer journey, offline and online, and designing for it wisely. Make sure all senior decision-makers have a strong grasp of digital measurement. If you don't understand how to measure success you can't lead your team to success.  

Here are Kaushik's summary questions for ABO, modified slightly:

1. Acquisition

How are you anticipating acquiring visitors/users for your website, app, social media platforms, etc? Did you cover all three components of successful acquisition plan: earned, owned, and paid media? How will you prioritize each? Where are you spending/will you spend, most of your efforts?

2. Behavior
What is the behavior you are expecting when people arrive? What pages should they see? What videos should they watch? Should they visit repeatedly and/or frequently? Are there certain actions they should take (such as filling out a form, downloading a white paper, registering for an event)? Tie this back to the need to be remarkable: "What is unique about your effort that ties to an optimal experience for a customer?"

3. Outcomes
What business outcomes will you generate as the result of #1 and #2? What outcomes signify value delivered to the business bottom-line? A download? An in-bound phone call? A qualified online lead? Sign-ups for email promotions? People buying your product/service? A 95% task completion rate? A 10-point lift in brand perception? Simply put: Why are you undertaking this digital initiative?




Don't go chasing rabbits down narrow holes - Avinash Kaushik
"Which acquisition strategy contributes most profit to your company? . . . Is the time we are spending on each strategy proportional to the profit they contribute?"

Stop All Social Media Activity (Organic) | Solve For A Profitable Reality"  - Avinash Kaushik
How to avoid the Zuck Death Spiral.

How to Suck at Social Media: An Indispensable Guide For Business - Avinash Kaushik
"The assumption is: Big Social Audiences + Big Pimping = Big Social Profits. Big mistake."

Facebook Makes Measurement Mistakes - Avinash Kaushik
"How is it possible that you spent $19,000,000,000 on Facebook ads in the first nine months of 2016 and did not notice you were delivering no business value to your company? The numbers were so inflated!"

How Growth in Social Engagement is Also a Drop in Reach and Loyalty - Thomas Baekdal
"The scale game doesn't end. It keeps demanding more and more scale, which is why we now hear publishers talk about having billions of views, even though they are not making that much actual money."