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Marketing analytics: Demystifying the process

4 min read


Let’s start with an old joke about marketing. “Half of my marketing budget is wasted, I just do not know which half!” Sound familiar?

The days of what marketers call ready, fire, aim are over. Traditional marketing agencies have had immense problems making the jump to digital agencies. Why? Because they were never held accountable for return on investment. The standard line always was that you can’t measure brand awareness or brand visibility. This simply doesn’t cut it today. If an agency or an in-house marketer can’t show quantitatively how the marketing budget is being used, they are not doing their job. It’s no longer just about the creative.

For example — can you as a business owner measure the time spent by people at your company? If, say, 30% of their time is spent on social media, e-mail campaigns, blogging, etc., their salary and related expenses are part of your investment. Is their time spent generating leads and pushing people through the sales funnel, which ultimately leads to new customers, or providing better customer service?

A big problem I see with marketing plans is they have a tactic (how they will implement something), but not a strategy (what do you want out of it?). If you do not have clearly defined goals in any marketing strategy how can you possibly measure results?

Now that I have thoroughly depressed you, there is good news. Everything you do to promote your business can be tracked — we call this analytics. I tell clients when I create a marketing plan for them, what we start with better not be what we end up with at the end of the year. This is because marketing is a very dynamic process. You must change with market conditions, regulatory change and changing client preferences. A good marketer understands this and is constantly tweaking and changing to optimize the results.

It all sounds great, right? So how does one go about using analytics in their marketing efforts, and more importantly, how do you sift through the mountain of data you can accumulate? One of the first things you should do is identify senior management hot buttons. What DO they care about? Make sure your strategy is in line with their expectations. Make sure you are using analytics and the proper matrix (books have been written on this topic alone) to support your efforts. The takeaway from this point is, even though marketing efforts can take months to show results, executives want to see some sort of immediate results to make sure you are headed in the right direction. So as part of your strategy, create ways to increase revenue, trim costs and improve customer satisfaction. Those ARE measurable.

It is important to understand, reporting is not analysis. Reporting provides data, which is time consuming. Analysis provides insights, although if you are not looking at the right metrics, that can also be time consuming — and a complete waste of time. There are a couple of key points to remember about analysis. Benchmarking is your friend, as is leveraging competitive analysis (what your competitors or industry segment is doing). Experimentation and testing are foundations of analysis. This is why it is so critical to be proactive rather than reactive. Some things to consider: Do not wait for questions to be asked (refer to senior management hot buttons). Second, at least 20% of your time should be providing analysis no one asked for and only you can perform. This is why decision making can’t be ad-hoc or post-facto. Remember, marketing is a lot like life, it’s not about the destination, but making the journey. Identify core processes need to accomplish your goals, define success metrics, or what we call Key Performance Indicators. Lastly,  make sure you have executive buy-in.

All the great marketing, social media strategy and creative is nothing if you can’t measure the effectiveness of the campaigns. So why do it? You are wasting your time and your boss’ money. Two things that will surely be short lived.

Paul Beaulieu is president of Harrison Marketing. With more than 20 years of industry experience, Harrison Marketing operates as a market consulting and design firm. Harrison Marketing assists organizations in creating awareness, visibility and revenue through media planning, website development — including mobile sites and mobile loyalty programs — social media, content management, business development and consulting services. Beaulieu is also an adjunct professor at Stratford University, where he teaches culinary arts and ServSafe, sales and marketing, and accounting and finance. He may be reached at 443-690-7400 or [email protected].