The real insights hidden in marketing analytics reports.

Posted September 5, 2014 in by

marketing analytics reportAnalytics aren’t just for the data scientists and statisticians anymore. Data is (or at least should be) a common word in every marketer’s vocabulary these days. I recently wrote about how digital marketing analytics can be your secret weapon, but what do we do with all of that data once it’s collected?

With the growth of technology and digital tools, marketers in every industry are being tasked with measuring everything and proving value and return on investment for the dollars spent on marketing. But what data should we report to the CMO? What metrics prove our marketing strategy affects the bottom line?

Quit obsessing about vanity metrics

I had a chance to have dinner with Robert Rose (@RobertRose) from Content Marketing Institute earlier this year and was extremely impressed with his insights regarding analytics and reporting. I recently read a quote from him, and I don’t think I could say it any better (so I won’t):

robert rose quote
Robert Rose, Content Marketing Institute

“I often tell clients, ‘Have the capability to measure everything – and then don’t.’ You’ve got to create a great atmosphere of measuring what’s right, rather than measuring what you can. Measurement for so long has been about a ‘proof’ that something works, rather than providing an insight into how to improve a process.  We can become so myopic about making sure that the graph is always going up and to the right that we become fearful about trying anything new. So, building an atmosphere of delivering the RIGHT analytics to the RIGHT manager at the RIGHT time becomes key. Reports of ‘likes,’ and ‘followers,’ and ‘page views,’ and other ‘engagement’ metrics are not only not critical to the C-Suite, they are pointless. If we’re approaching our analytics and measurement programs with the right mindset – and using them as ways to improve our process to reach our ultimate goal – then we will have alleviated much of that concern to begin with.”  (Content Marketing Institute)

The main point of what Robert said is that it’s OK (even good) if your numbers aren’t constantly going up. Analytics reports are literally there to help you analyze and test your methods. So if you look at them honestly and find that you’re doing something wrong, it’s not a failure. Your analytics have succeeded in showing you the path to your ultimate goal.

A lot of marketers can get caught up in vanity metrics – things like page views, sessions, etc. We get obsessed with looking for the upward angle in the chart. But when you stop fearing a dip in these types of vanity metrics, you’ll be able to focus on the metrics that are key performance indicators (KPIs) – the metrics that affect your business. KPIs can be different for different sites but common ones are conversion rates, cost per conversion, cart abandonment rate, recency of visits, etc. Remember, leadership only needs the information required to make informed, proactive decisions. So the key when preparing reports for C-suite executives is to tie the data back to business objectives and goals.

Create a measurement plan

In a perfect world, the KPIs are determined prior to the launch of any digital campaign. Spend the time developing a measurement plan to ensure that you are thinking about the real purpose of the campaign so that you’re able to set measurement goals that can clearly identify success or failure. Providing useful, smart marketing analytics reports isn’t easy and there’s no silver bullet, but by using a measurement framework focused on action, you can start to show how your marketing efforts are impacting the bottom line of the business.

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