The Joel Test is a great, simple way to measure the quality of a software development team. It's just 12 questions:

  1. Do you use source control?
  2. Can you make a build in one step?
  3. Do you make daily builds?
  4. Do you have a bug database?
  5. Do you fix bugs before writing new code?
  6. Do you have an up-to-date schedule?
  7. Do you have a spec?
  8. Do programmers have quiet working conditions?
  9. Do you use the best tools money can buy?
  10. Do you have testers?
  11. Do new candidates write code during their interview?
  12. Do you do hallway usability testing?

As Stack Exchange founder Joel Spolsky says:

The neat thing about The Joel Test is that it’s easy to get a quick yes or no to each question. You don’t have to figure out lines-of-code-per-day or average-bugs-per-inflection-point. Give your team 1 point for each “yes” answer. The bummer about The Joel Test is that you really shouldn’t use it to make sure that your nuclear power plant software is safe. A score of 12 is perfect, 11 is tolerable, but 10 or lower and you’ve got serious problems. The truth is that most software organizations are running with a score of 2 or 3, and they need serious help, because companies like Microsoft run at 12 full-time.

So my question is: what's the nearest equivalent for a high-performing digital marketing team?


2 Answers 2


This answer is comprised of the comments by user86764 written on May 25th, 2018.

I don't know of a list but I'll provide some questions for teams doing direction action digital marketing. Brand marketing teams may be different.

  1. Does the team have a feedback loop which ties campaigns to outcomes, e.g. sales, revenue, etc.?

  2. Does the team have established customers (or internal clients) who will work with them on testing new campaigns?

  3. Does the team have established vendors (e.g. affiliates, click-networks, etc.) who will work with them on testing new campaigns?

  4. Does the team have a platform for testing (e.g. A/B tests) different ads, landing pages, etc.?

  5. Is testing statistically rigorous?

  6. Does the team employ trained analysis?

  7. Does the team have an end to end analytics system where they can understand exactly how consumers are interacting with their campaigns?

  8. Does the team operate on a stable technology platform?

  9. Does the team have access to technologists and designers to customize the platform to their needs?

  10. Is the team compensated on the performance of campaigns?

  11. Is the team penalized for poor customer satisfaction?

  12. Does the team know their profit margin goals? Do they meet them?


From my experience with this sort of thing:

We were getting odd results on some A/B testing, indicating that special officers were resulting in negative results. If we offered customers ads urging them to make their next purchase in category A (as opposed to B,...Z), there were fewer purchases in category A as compared to the control group. When digging into it, we found that:

The campaign strategy was buggy, in that we were offering some customers adds to switch their next purchase to far less lucrative categories.

A marketing person found a list of 20 ad campaigns run by the company during that period (that she could find, not all), which indicated that we had no clue about what the majority of customers were seeing from us.

This leads to two recommendations:

  1. There has to be a spot where the company marketing and high level management can find out all ads and offers and whom they are being offered to.

  2. Think before you do a 'simple treatment/control' campaign; this is not like 'get a disease/do not', when the first outcome is preferable for all customers and the company.

If you don't heed these, then your marketing can be counterproductive, scrambled and untrackable.

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