I am bombarded by thought leaders, business owners, and analysts asking for the biggest and the best of analytics. I’m talking Machine Learning, Customer 360 Experience, Attribution Modeling, Predictive Content, and on and on and on. What they DON’T ask for is “Marketing Analytics” because it’s apparently SO five years ago. I’m here to prove to you, it’s not. It’s very much alive and we have to make sure we build all these basics before we get to the AIs of the digital space.
Why “Marketing Analytics” Isn’t Dead
The Curse of Being Trendy
Yes, we’re all in marketing. Yes, we are trendy. But good data and solid processes are NOT trendy. They aren’t sexy; they’re useful. And so because we get so bored with the basics, we blast through to the new and trendy. I’ve had clients tell me not to even mention the term “marketing analytics.” Yes, I’m serious.
But I’m here to pull back the curtain on what we’re all doing when we aren’t talking to each other about Machine Learning and the Customer 360: We’re googling “marketing analytics.” A LOT. Still.
In fact, we have been googling “marketing analytics” more over time, steadily increasing since 5 years ago.
Yes, We’re All Searching for the Basics
And it’s not just the biggest states doing all these searches. It’s Massachusetts. It’s Oregon. It’s (understandably) D.C. – especially in the past 90 days.
OK, So What?
This blog post won’t change the CEO’s mind about how cool Customer Journey Mapping is, but it can provide a little context on why basics are just as important. We’re all looking to improve the data we’re getting, and how to analyze it. That’s exactly what we do here, and that’s why we’ll continue talking about “Marketing Analytics” into the foreseeable future.
If you’d like to see for yourself what people are searching, check out Google Trends.
3 Important Elements of Marketing Analytics Success
So your business is using or implementing marketing analytics, but you can’t seem to get it to ‘work’. You may have bought an expensive dashboard program, hired some incredibly smart analysts, and started collecting mountains of data. Yet none of these can be successful without the most integral part: MEANING.
All successful marketing analytics programs have three common elements:
Strategy comes from your idea department, whether that’s your creative team, your marketing managers, or (and hopefully) a combination of the two. No marketing program can be successful without relevant ideas that engage the customer.
Analytics is the department mentioned in the opening paragraph, ie the team of analysts, the cool new reporting platforms, and the mounds of data that is created from marketing strategies and tactics.
Meaning is the most difficult to find, as this element has to be provided by a team that understands the complicated analysis, can interpret data into business needs, and can suggest next steps and potential impact. Without meaning, the time and money you’re investing in analytics can be, well … meaningless.
In order to get meaning from your strategy and analytics, look for a person or team that has both the expertise in the field of marketing, coupled with a deep understanding of data and analytics. Only then will your marketing analytics truly be successful.
A Better Environment for Analytics
“How do I get better access to my data?”
-Everyone we’ve ever worked with
Such a simple question, yet when you ask technical folks you get a lengthly explanation you can neither understand nor envision.
That’s why we’ve diagrammed what an effective data environment looks like if your goal is business analytics, WITHOUT the technical jargon and (we’re hoping) subsequent eye-rolls.
Are you in a marketing echo chamber?
Are You in a Marketing Echo Chamber?
We all know way too well about the social media ‘echo chambers’ we fall into. These echo chambers are based on a combination of the people we follow, the content we engage with, and the algorithms that use this information to continue showing us similar content. Thus an echo chamber is formed: we get the same information delivered over and over with limited exposure to content outside of our likes and interests.
This concept can be applied to the professional networks we place ourselves in – whether it’s peer-to-peer interactions, channel-based marketing, or learning and understanding new concepts. Here are a few ways you can determine if you’re in one of these professional marketing echo chambers, and how to get out.
But before we get started, what’s so bad about echo chambers?
Although the phrase ‘echo chamber’ has centered around politics and social over the past couple years, the concept applies to multiple areas. When we surround ourselves with ideas similar to our own, whether its cultural, geographical, or educational, we become more ingrained within our current beliefs. This can be masked as school spirit (my school is better than your school), nationalism (America is the best country in the world), or an affinity for a particular climate (I have to live in a place with four seasons).
The problem with echo chambers is that if only one idea is represented, it makes it more difficult to solve complex problems. (See this study from the American Psychological Association.) This includes not only finding the right answer, but also identifying those that are wrong. For example, we all saw the recent Heineken Light ad that has been dragged for it’s seemingly blatant racism. The question that is begged to be asked, what if a person of color was on the ad team? Would the ad still have gone to production?
For a great take on this, view The Daily Show’s bit “Ask-A-Black” via Facebook.
If we want to solve the complex problem that is marketing, we need to ensure our professional circle also includes outside information, whether it’s exposure to other disciplines, methodologies, or strategies.
Echo Chamber Indicator 1 – You only ingest content that reinforces your opinions.
These days there’s always a seminar or networking event related to a specific function of marketing. Whether it’s an association luncheon on ‘Brand Storytelling’, or a tweet about ‘The Pitfalls of Marketing Automation’, we are more inclined to engage with the content we already believe in. This is an echo chamber, and it makes us resistant to differing opinions when they arise.
To combat this, register for events and attend sessions that you don’t necessarily agree with, or haven’t had a chance to learn about yet. Of course, you’ll want to hone your skills in a specific area, but you can still spare 10% to listen to different ideas or strategies.
Additionally, sign up for a marketing-based newsletter that’s outside of your work scope. Here are some great newsletters and the content they focus on.
- Occam’s Razor by Avinash Kaushik – Digital Marketing and Analytics
- DMA 3D – Direct Marketing and Analytics
- AMA Newsletter – Variety of Marketing Topics
- Co.Design – Design
- Neil Patel – Content Marketing
Again, you don’t have to be a creative director to enjoy Co.Design – but the subjects you read about will make it easier to TALK to your creative team, which leads us to…
Echo Chamber Indicator 2 – You don’t work with other departments.
Siloed departments are very common within marketing. It may be the way your organization is set up, OR stem from the fact you’re an SEM agency and your client uses a different agency for content, but neither of those are an excuse for a lack of collaboration. This siloed approach to marketing creates a potentially complicated user experience. When the SEM team only works internally to generate keywords, they fail to include the keywords that are in the current Direct Mail flyer. Or when the digital team makes a new ad, are the results shared back to the creative team?
Businesses try to solve this problem by having inter-disciplinary meetings every month or so (at least I’ve seen them done in agencies). But the ones I’ve seen are usually boiled down to brag fests that don’t necessarily foster teamwork.
A good way to help departments learn from and lean on each other is to stop setting goals by department. If the SEM team has a goal of 200,000 leads for the first quarter, and the email team has a goal of 40,000, they’re probably working against each other at some point, AND taking credit for the same leads. I’ve seen display teams arguing with website UX teams over who deserves credit for the 20% increase in leads over the past month. Was is the digital campaign? Or was is the newly designed form? Because neither of the teams connected prior to launch, they’ll never know the answer.
Setting holistic goals will help drive the teams to work together and (hopefully) foster the collaboration needed to succeed. If everyone’s butts are on the line for 250,000 leads, then it’s all hands on deck for that quarter. You should start seeing transparency with campaigns, budgets, and user experience. With this type of collaboration, a print ad can be sent with a dedicated SEM ad group and a custom landing page with a stream-lined conversion form. And ultimately a happy customer.
Echo Chamber Indicator 3 – You stop learning.
For those of us that started in marketing back in the day, we tend to cling to concepts that have always worked well. ‘TV works, but you can’t connect it directly to sales.’ or ‘Print is essential for awareness.’ These are not necessarily false, but they can’t live in isolation.
If you haven’t continued your marketing education by attending conferences, webinars, or reading new materials, you’re definitely in an echo chamber. Marketing is constantly changing, sometimes so fast it’s hard to keep up. And no, you don’t have to understand what block-chain is, or floodlight tagging, but you SHOULD understand the basic concepts. This will help your experience connect with newer strategies and technologies to provide an even better customer experience.
The same goes for newbies on the marketing scene. Don’t assume veteran advertisers are old school and therefore can’t learn and adapt. They have valuable experience to compliment your fresh perspective.
What happens when we free ourselves from the echo chamber?
Many marketers are struggling to improve their current response rates. But how can they do so without new ideas and fresh perspective? By challenging what we already know and working with others outside of our echo chambers, we set ourselves up for more success in solving complex problems – ie, how to get more customers.
KPIs vs. Metrics – Infographic
When setting up a marketing campaign or analyzing user experience, the first thing your team should do is create Key Performance Indicators, or KPIs, around the primary objective of the activity. These KPIs should be calculations that inform you how to optimize the activity, and not just ideal numbers you would like to hit.
For reference, we’ve put together some good KPIs and compared them to simple metrics in the infographic below. If your team would like help in both identifying and setting KPIs, we offer a one-day GoalSession to do just that.
Who Owns Your Marketing Data?
Too many times I’ve seen extremely valuable data in the hands of people that it probably shouldn’t be, especially in the digital marketing industry. I’m talking Google Analytics data, Adwords data, and other similar account data. This is terrifying because if a business allows individuals or agencies to store and control the data, then
- The data collected won’t align with internal business needs,
- The data can’t be accessed for any internal analysis (so kiss all that super-cool marketing analytics and user experience analysis good-bye), and most importantly
- When the person/agency goes, the data is gone forever. Ouch!
Ask yourself this: Does your internal business department OWN the accounts being used to collect digital marketing data, or are you relying on others to create and manage them for you? If the answer is no, read on to learn WHY you should own the accounts, as well as best practices on how to set them up.
Let’s set the baseline for this article by defining what I mean by “data.” If your company is currently running pay-per-click ads for search engine marketing, then your company has either created the content, links, and cookies for the ads. OR you have paid a marketing agency to set up the content, links, and metrics for the ads. All of that comprises your data, and you own all of it.
This means data does not ONLY refer to the numbers, but also the content of your marketing. In fact, data is considered anything that can be captured within a computing system. So the text in the ads is your data, not just the impressions and clicks.
Now Apply this Concept to Websites
There was a lot of debate about twenty years ago when companies started paying agencies to build websites – mostly around who ‘owned’ the website. After a lot of legal back-and-forth, there have been guidelines put in place around who owns what. Let’s walk through the website ownership example to help frame the issue at hand:
- Images – The images created for the website are the property of the business that paid for the design of, or bought the rights to use, the images.
- Text – Any text created for the website is the property of the business that paid for said content.
- HTML/CSS/Java – Coding done specifically for the website is the property of the business that paid for the website to be built.
- Domain – This is complicated, but generally speaking domains are leased.
- Content Management Systems – Again, these are usually leased and therefore owned by the purveyor of said CMS. Ie, WordPress owns its CMS; businesses use the infrastructure for their owned content.
If you’d like to learn more, here’s a great article I found that goes into more details.
This concept can be applied directly to digital marketing – MailChimp owns the system, the business owns the content. Google Adwords/DCM owns the serving platform, the business owns the content.
Taking it one step further, anything that is created FROM the content SHOULD be the property of the business. That is to say, if I own all the content on my website thedata.co, then I own all the resulting data. I own the number of visitors that came to my website; I own the number of times a button was clicked.
With the absolute avalanche of digital marketing tactics over the past decade, agencies and business alike are scrambling to not just create the content, but learn how to track and store all the data it accrues. This often results in careless set up and limited access to both the accounts and the data.
For example, it’s common for a business to pay an agency to build a website. The agency will often add a Google Analytics account as the tracking device for the website, but use their internal the agency Google Analytics account. This means the data collected from the website is the primary property of the agency, not the business.
Another common occurrence is a business will set up their own Google Analytics, but use an employee email as the primary account owner. This can be very troublesome if that employee transitions away from the company.
A better way to collect the data you should already own is broken down below:
If you’re a business:
Set up a broad email account for the entire marketing department. This could be something like firstname.lastname@example.org. Use this email address to set up all the digital marketing accounts and add access to employees as needed. This will ensure the data stays with the business and NOT with an employee.
If you are working with an agency to create and run ad campaigns, give them access to this broad email. This is crucial, especially if you ever need to switch agencies, since your data will stay intact – just the access will change.
If you’re an agency:
Do your best to prompt the business to provide you with a broad email address as stated above. If they do not have one, try to make a generic gmail account for them, such as TheirBusinessMarketing@gmail.com.
Agencies will also need a broad email account to obtain access to business accounts. For example, Accounts@OurAgency.com can be granted access to a business Google Analytics, or MailChimp, or similar. Again, this helps alleviate any account transition, or employee transition, that is bound to happen.
If all else fails, work with a professional that has enough experience to thoughtfully plan out marketing ad accounts so the data can be properly collected over the long term. And of course, we can help.
The data that your marketing accounts collect belongs to the business that has paid for said content. If you do not have access to this data, or are looking to start collecting it for analytics purposes, reach out and we can help you get there.
Power BI Reports for Digital Marketing
Looking for a reporting tool that can make your data look this good? Try Power BI! It’s one of the key technologies used at The Data Co, and can make live data look professional with the ability to drill down and filter as needed.
Feel free to play with the report below, which is a REAL report for a marketing client. And if you’d like one of your own, get in touch!