SOURCE: Webtrends


January 05, 2016 09:00 ET

Webtrends Identifies Top 7 Warning Signs Your Marketing Isn't Data Driven

PORTLAND, OR--(Marketwired - Jan 5, 2016) - All marketers say they are -- or want to be -- data driven in their decision making. They want to base strategy and spend on solid facts about which campaigns work and which don't. They want to make changes to their websites and other digital properties based on a crystal clear understanding of how customers behave and interact while on those sites. They want a rock solid connection between key performance indicators (KPIs) and the data that confirms the success or failure of their goals. Unfortunately, most marketers are not making data-driven decisions on a regular basis. 

To be a truly data-driven marketing department, your team will likely need to leverage data from a number of systems (CRM, e-commerce, marketing automation, etc.), but it's essential to have a strong foundation using digital analytics. Digital analytics -- ideally tracking a comprehensive mix of web, social, app and other digital properties -- provide accountability for meeting goals and give visibility into the all-important customer interactions with your company. And it's not just about having analytics anymore. Today, it's about collecting the right data for your business, having the right processes in place to analyze and share that data, and being able to quickly turn insights into action to reach your goals. That's easier said than done.

As you start your new year, below are seven warning signs that you're not using analytics to boost your data-driven marketing -- and some ideas for how you can avoid or overcome them.

Warning Sign #1: Measurement isn't part of your marketing planning process.
Your team spends countless hours developing new content, planning innovative product launches, setting up new advertising campaigns, and the like. If the initial planning sessions for those efforts don't include a discussion on how to measure success with data, there's trouble on the horizon.

Solution: Data driven marketing requires a culture of measurement -- it must always be part of the conversation at your organization. It'll take time, but it is the foundation for building future success. You can get started by:

  • Identifying the areas to measure that will provide the most value and insight. Ask what is most important to your business and look at areas where decisions are being made without data.
  • Focusing on campaign measurement given this is usually a large part of marketing's budget. Be sure to use tracking codes on URLs so that you can more closely follow your customers and prospects along their journey to your site. 
  • Identifying benchmarks from past performance and setting goals based on those numbers.

Warning Sign #2: People in your organization don't trust the numbers.
Eighty-one percent of companies believe data is essential to their marketing success, but a whopping 84 percent of organizations are experiencing data quality challenges, according to a recent Experian Data Quality study. If people don't trust the accuracy of your analytics, the most powerful outcome from the data goes out the window: action.

Solution: Boost trust in your data by taking these steps:

  • Have a validation process to ensure you're collecting the right data to answer important business questions. Is your site tagged properly to measure what you need to measure? If you don't know, you can audit your tags using a technology like ObservePoint.
  • Educate your team -- data and analytics literacy is important. For example, if someone pulls a report using the wrong metrics or date range, they may think the data isn't accurate but it's actually the setup of the report that is incorrect.
  • You'll never have 100 percent perfect data (because of click fraud, browser crashes, bots, etc.), but you should have a standard for data accuracy that everyone agrees to.
  • Identify and agree on critical metrics. Then, compare apples to apples. Don't start comparing results between tools such as a marketing automation platform and a web analytics solution.

Warning Sign #3: You're only looking at traffic and page views.
Imagine this: Your latest campaign just kicked off and you see the page views start to increase. You're glued to the dashboard watching for more views, but then you realize…does this really matter? Who cares if the campaign drove a 25 percent increase in traffic, if your conversions are down by 3 percent?

Solution: Data driven marketers pay attention to the metrics that really matter. To know what those are, don't look at the list of dashboards and reports -- instead, start by asking questions about your business. What are the key indicators for the health of your business (i.e. margin, profit, ROI, marketing leads, etc.)? Pick the top few that matter and use your analytics to figure out how to achieve those metrics, including:

  • Campaign performance - measure the success of your inbound marketing investments
  • Conversion rates - understand who is converting and where
  • A/B/n test results - know which experiences are delivering for users
  • Paths and funnels - look at the flow of visitors into your different scenarios and the results to identify issues or untapped opportunities

Warning Sign #4: Everyone sees the same data.
You're collecting data that may mean nothing to someone and everything to another. If all stakeholders in your organization have access to the same dashboard or set of reports, then you're certainly missing the mark with some of your audience

Solution: Provide value to your stakeholders by customizing their experiences and delivering the right data, at the right level and in the right way. Keep in mind:

  • With dashboards, reports and data visualization tools, it has never been easier to present appropriate analytics data to key stakeholders.
  • Data needs to be relevant to the role of the person. Marketing managers should get one view to help them measure and understand day-to-day results for their programs and campaigns, while execs would likely prefer a roll-up, high-level dashboard that shares business results.
  • Tools like Power BI, Tableau and Klipfolio are democratizing data analysis and storytelling. These visualization tools can help you combine all your data sources to the right views to the right pairs of eyes.

Warning Sign #5: You can't answer questions on the fly.
Have you ever looked at a report and it brought up more questions than answers? When you see unexpected behaviors or anomalies in your data, you need to be able to answer those questions and drill down deeper. 

Solution: Use an ad hoc analysis tool to complement trend reports and dashboards. Getting more data than a snapshot report can provide the insight needed to adjust campaigns or customer experiences. Ad hoc data exploration can provide insights such as:

  • Specific details about visitors exhibiting interesting behaviors in a report - look at geography, device, etc.
  • Finding the common thread - time, segment, content, etc.
  • Following the outlier - look for the outlier and continue to dig until you find the correlating group of events, users, pages, etc.

Warning Sign #6: There's no analytics training for new employees.
Employee turnover is inevitable, but when one walks out the door holding the great majority of your company's analytics knowledge and there's no one waiting in the wings, your efforts are going to take a major step back. 

Solution: You should always have a backup analytics expert in place with both analysts and end users properly trained on your analytics technology and your internal processes and governance. There are certification programs available for analytics proficiency and formal documentation and governance of the following will help with smooth training:

  • Report and dashboard organization
  • Roles and data access permissions
  • Integrations with other data sources and data analysis tools
  • Tag structure

Warning Sign #7: You're not making decisions based on what the data is telling you.
If your program is all report, report, report and no action, there's a problem. The real value in analytics is when it's a catalyst for positive business change. If you are just collecting and analyzing data without communicating insights and recommendations, then it's likely your team doesn't understand it.

Solution: Solid governance of your analytics program that defines roles, responsibilities and processes is key. With a solid foundation, work to tell a story with the data. Explain what the data reveals now as compared to the past and identify specific opportunities for change. Take those opportunities and implement a culture of consistent of testing, hypothesizing and applying learnings.

Useful links:
Webtrends Digital Analytics
Webtrends Blog
Webtrends Twitter: @Webtrends

About Webtrends
For more than 20 years, Webtrends has helped companies make sense of their customer data to drive digital marketing success. By combining innovative technology with our team of trusted and creative advisors, our solutions are designed to provide actionable insights, increase customer engagement and boost revenue.

We partner with companies at all levels of digital maturity and offer solutions in measurement and optimization. We work closely with approximately 2,000 global brands including Microsoft, Air France-KLM, Kimberly-Clark, HSBC, Marks & Spencer, npower, Toyota, Alitalia, Merck and many more.

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