Marketing and Data Analytics – Where to Begin?
In this world of marketing data reporting and analytics, whether it is concerning website or digital advertising performance, we are often asked which metrics to focus on or which 3 data points are MOST important. We certainly understand the desire to pinpoint a silver bullet, but achieving lasting, positive returns requires a bit of bigger picture thinking.
In this article, we will discuss why taking the silver bullet approach can be dangerous and why developing a strong marketing strategy must be in place before choosing your success metrics.
The Problem with Choosing Marketing Data Metrics Without a Strategy
The bottom line is, it’s limiting and can be misleading. By focusing solely on this group of metrics or that group of indicators without a basis in your strategic marketing objectives, you lose visibility to a large part of what makes diving into the data so interesting to begin with. A pigeon-holed view of one metric, obscures the hidden gems of information found within another metric view.
Good analysis will ALWAYS require:
- Multiple views and data pivots: to understand the bigger story and many times that story is vast.
- Letting the data tell you where to drill down from: each metric expands on the bigger story or begins to tell a different one.
Our 3-pronged approach to setting up an effective reporting strategy falls into these areas of equal importance:
- Your Website Story
- Your Website’s Tie to Your Business Focus through a Strong Call to Action (CTA)
- Understanding Stakeholder Needs and Desired Visibility
While the conceptual strategy of your website’s place in your business is beyond the scope of this article, we need to factor in parts of its purpose to truly understand how to shape a reporting strategy. Your business’ focus and stakeholder concerns also need to be factored in.
Determine Your Website Story
An effective website story should resonate with a vital part of your business success criteria. There are numerous methods to employ for creating a formalized user story but we feel you can start with a simple mental experiment by asking the question:
“If I were my customer, why would I be here?”
This simple question will cascade into numerous Use Cases which will help you to see the value a customer places on your website. From these Use Cases, you can pick the scenarios which support the business criteria you are trying to impact the most. Once this is determined, it becomes easier to identify some important areas of focus:
- What your main Call to Action CTA) is and how you define a conversion.
- Identifying internal business metrics to pair with website performance.
An example would be website form fills and internal new customer acquisition metrics. Of those new customers, which one’s attach through the website? For even more accuracy, have new customers fill out a survey and you now have a very good understanding of how your marketing efforts are working towards acquiring new customers. The answer to these questions will begin to narrow down which metrics to use.
Define Your Call To Action (CTA) and Tie It To an Internal Business Metric
Originally, websites were the equivalent of online brochures or interactive ads. This is still true, but an effective website, even if it is primarily intended to increase brand awareness, should be centered around getting visitors to respond to the Call to Action (CTA.) This CTA should be tied back into the metrics determined by your strategy, as outlined previously. It is surprising how often this does not occur.
As discussed in the website story section, your site should support a vital part of your business success criteria. Therefore your CTA should be an essential part of your marketing strategy funnel, where increased success translates to increased performance within the business.
Determine Stakeholder Marketing Data Needs
Along with determining your website story’s focus and the way to pair the site’s CTA to your business’ performance metrics, determining the relevance to stakeholders and their desired view, should also be in consideration. Because stakeholder concerns will generally be centered on spending and Return on Investment (ROI), by determining an agreed upon success criteria with stakeholders, a website goes from an online advertisement and messaging service, to a true Key Performance Indicator (KPI) for your business.
Stakeholder’s generally are focused on cost-based metrics. These may include:
- Spend Cost
- Internal Resource Cost
- Acquisition Cost
- Other cost related metrics which can be cross-matched with performance
By following this approach, you will have a solid understanding on what to report on, how it ties to actual business performance and how to demonstrate that value and return on investment to your stakeholders. In my next article, I will walk through how to create your reporting universe using the information which you revealed using this approach. We will also, in future articles, discuss the best way to present these reports, using data visualization, throughout your enterprise and at varying employee levels as needed.
A Word Regarding Existing Tools and Frameworks
There are standard frameworks, such as AARRR (Acquisition, Activation, Retention, Referral, Revenue), RARRA, CX Index, Google Heart and others which help you determine which metrics to focus on at different stages of the acquisition and sales funnels. We will be digging into some of them in further articles as all have merit and fit certain scenarios.
While these tools and frameworks can be extremely helpful, if employed without a bigger-picture strategy, efficiency is lost. This is why we suggest starting with this approach. To recap:
- Strategize your deliberate website story
- Identify your website’s position within your organization’s success criteria
- Determine the importance of reporting relevant information to your stakeholders.
Each of these has their own set of requirements and considerations. By keeping this bigger picture in focus, you can more effectively deliver Real. Fresh. Results.
Rick Flores is the Business Intelligence & Analytics Manager of Keenan-Nagle Advertising, Inc. located in Allentown, PA. He specializes in Marketing Data Reporting & Analytics with a tested ability to assist decision makers make the most sense of their business metrics leading to more effective planning and returns. With over 20 years of experience, ranging from Web Development to Analytics and Reporting for large corporations, Rick is able to help your business perform at its very best.