Does looking at and trying to understand your marketing results ever seem like trying to look over the Great Wall of China, a seemingly impenetrable fortress that stretches forever with no idea of what’s on top of the other side? Similar to this analogy, gaining a deep understanding of your marketing analytics and gaining actionable insights is a process that requires a plan.
Think of your marketing challenge as building a staircase on your side of a large sand dune to begin seeing what’s hidden on the other side. This starts with your data, as with any foundation for a staircase the formation of this first level is critical. It’s important to plan your structure and hierarchies at the beginning. Having an idea of what you want to know is necessary to get there. We’ve worked with clients where marketing was separate from product, so they focused solely on campaigns, not products. When a product was added, it wasn’t originally set up in a way that would allow for consistent, detailed analysis. We had to work with both sets of teams to standardize the marketing input data to provide a more holistic overview of their programs.
This concept of data governance is critical to ensure you don’t end up with poor or missing data. As with the staircase, this will be the base that you will build upon. Take a look at this example of how poorly formed data hierarchy might lead to a lack of details and ability to truly dig into your data later on:
In this example, a brand name field was the only original feature, only later after brand extensions started did a brand family come into play. Similarly, tactics were allowed to be set at different levels of specificity based on marketing evolution.
With a strong and clean data set, businesses can begin to focus on marketing analytics. The next few sets of stairs determine how clear a view you can get to the other side of the wall. By bringing in data from multiple parts of your marketing programs, you can begin to view see the direct results of your email campaigns (opens, clicks, downloads) but start to overlay them with your website data or your social media to see how they drive action together.
Connect marketing data to your CRM
Another great place to overlay data is with your CRM. With one client, we looked at data including the size of deals, percentage of opportunities that become deals, and which campaigns or products had the highest or lowest percentage. By bringing together this data, and connecting it upfront and in the CRM, we can get more information about what programs and tactics are likely to lead to greater success. For instance, higher-priced and more technical products showed a higher success rate when webinars and thought leadership tactics were employed.
Visualization is your next step up the staircase. But be forewarned, visualization by itself is not analytics! It is a fabulous way to help many see a picture from the data and your analytics. Pretty pictures can be just that if the data and inter-relationships aren’t well understood. We’ve often seen businesses use visualization software and build out the “base” dashboards and reports. While helpful, these are sometimes just vanity metrics (number of leads, social followers, web sessions). These canned reports don’t know your business and what drives it. More valuable to your B2B business may be cost per opportunity or time in the funnel.
Insights are your WHY!
The final step to bring you to the top of the wall is combining analytics with insights. Insights are the why things are happening. You want to know what is truly working or not working to adjust your plans. Insights can come from expertise in understanding the data and/or the addition of qualitative information to compare to the data. We will end with examples from our experience in adding both insights.
In one case, our client wanted to understand the health of their data. Since marketing, product and sales didn’t interact, but the data did, we were able to mine key aspects from each functional area and compare. What we found is that the time in the funnel varied widely by product and sales team assigned. While it was natural to expect higher-priced products to have a longer life cycle, we found that the intervention of a tele-sales team had a significant impact in reducing the time in the funnel in product categories where they were trained, regardless of price point.
In another case, we reviewed a customer’s website and email analytics that showed nice growth in both areas. Similarly, their sales were growing as was the number of clients indicating they came to the company via their website. While it might seem that all was well, management wanted to do a diagnostic on their marketing programs. In reviewing their email campaigns and newsletter as well the website connections, we found a very technical bent to this content. We also didn’t see a strong correlation between the topics and work performed. With these insights, we changed the timing of certain articles, edited the upcoming articles to be less technical and more relatable. Finally, we added a downloadable file to the newsletter and on their website. The results in this chart speak for themselves.
These insights would have never been seen just based on the data – we would have only been about halfway up the wall and unable to see over. So now hopefully you can see the value of building a strong measurement structure for your marketing team. Done this way, you will have the data, analytics, and insights to guide your business past your competition!