How well did your last marketing campaign perform? Hopefully it was worthwhile.
But do you have a way of quantifying how worthwhile it was? Do you know well how it performed compared to other similar campaigns in the past? Were you able to learn anything new that you can use in future marketing efforts?
If the answer to any of these questions was “no”, then you’d probably benefit from a more data-led, analytical approach to marketing. In fact, two thirds of leading marketers say that decisions made with data are superior to those based on gut instinct (Source: Think with Google).
Some marketers would likely go so far as to say that businesses should pore over their marketing data with the same fervour that they do their finances! But what exactly does marketing analytics involve? And how exactly does data improve the marketing process? Let’s find out.
What is Marketing Analytics?
Marketing analytics refers to the tools, data, and processes that marketers use to accurately gauge an audience’s response to a marketing campaign; or indeed their response to a more long-standing marketing asset like a website or social media presence. There are numerous different data points (called “metrics”), tools, and approaches that businesses can use to keep track of their marketing performance.
Some Common Marketing Metrics
You’ve likely already heard of a few common marketing metrics, especially financial ones like Return on investment (ROI), Conversion Rate, Cost Per Acquisition (CPA), and Customer Lifetime Value (CLV).
It’s essential to understand how your audience are interacting with your website too, making tools like Google Analytics truly invaluable. Google Analytics can provide useful data points like how people reached your website (Acquisition Sources) and how long they stayed on your site (Session Duration), to name but a couple.
There are countless metrics you can track across your organisation’s entire marketing landscape – it’s just a case of establishing what metrics to follow, why they’re relevant to you, and how to measure them.
The Role of Marketing Analytics
Marketing is much more than thinking up creative campaigns with glorious graphics and killer copy. Before any campaign launches, marketers need to carry out market, competitor, and audience research to give it the best chance of success. Only then can the imaginative, creative work take place, ready for publishing.
But a marketer’s work isn’t finished after a campaign goes live. It’s then the marketer’s job to record and quantify the campaign’s success. This is where marketing analytics come in.
However, we concede that there can be such a thing as too much data. Sometimes our heads become so full of numbers that we end up stuck in analysis paralysis. This is why it’s important to identify the right metrics to follow, rather than simply trying to absorb all of the data that comes your way!
4 Reasons Why SMEs Should be Obsessed with Marketing Data
1. Sense-Checking Your Marketing Efforts
Marketing is supposed to make you money, not lose it. Yet poor, wasteful marketing activities can erode a business’s bottom line. If your marketing approach is off in any way, you may be throwing your marketing budget down the drain.
Data helps to identify high-cost, low-reward marketing activities so they can be replaced with more effective, cost-efficient practices. Without access to the right data, you’d have no way of knowing whether a particular marketing channel is bleeding you dry.
But financial cost isn’t the only thing that businesses need to keep an eye on. Your team’s time is hugely valuable and sometimes poor campaigns take more time and effort than they’re worth. Without analytics, you won’t be able to tell which marketing efforts are a waste of time and which ones are truly worth it.
2. Scale Your Marketing – Scale Your Business
Knowing exactly how well certain marketing efforts work for you can be truly valuable for businesses looking to scale. When you have quantifiable data proving that specific media/campaigns reap a predictable rate of positive returns; you can amplify that same approach to a similar, wider audience.
When scaling, it’s also important to get your pricing right. When you know definitively how much it costs to bring in a new client (that all-important Cost Per Acquisition), you can roll that cost into your pricing strategy to ensure a healthy profit.
3. Continuous Marketing Improvement
Marketing campaigns should never be set in stone. There are always ways to improve on previous campaigns through iterative testing and development, with the aim of making each version of a campaign better than the last.
But without knowing how well each campaign performs, how is iterative improvement even possible? How can you discover what aspects of a campaign cause it to sink or swim each time? How can you build on any specific marketing magic to make future iterations even better?
Without tracking your marketing efforts, you’re just throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks. But with a more data-led approach, you’ll get to learn more about your audience, the messaging they respond best to, and what marketing best elicits a predictable, positive response.
4. Healthy Experimentation
In a related vein, much of marketing boils down to informed experimentation. When you’ve established a baseline of what marketing works well for you, you can craft and test meaningful hypotheses to see if those results can be repeated or improved upon – not unlike the scientific method.
This may involve sending the same message to a slightly different audience; sending a slightly different message to the same audience; making graphical and UX changes; testing out different ways of presenting your offer; the sky’s the limit! You can even look at A/B testing your campaigns (i.e., publishing two slightly different campaigns to see which performs best) to get a better grasp on your audience’s preferences.
When you have a tangible idea of “what a successful campaign looks like” in terms of cost, execution, and returns, you have the freedom to play around with these variables in order to amplify your results.
As you get more into tracking and experimentation, you may discover unique audience trends and preferences that you wouldn’t have stumbled across otherwise.
How Marketing Data Leads to Success: Two Fictional Examples
Let’s illustrate how data can make a difference with two fictitious examples.
Bringing Offline Behaviour Online
St Hildegard’s Preparatory School regularly distributes leaflets and publishes magazine ads locally. These ads encourage parents to attend upcoming open days or to book a visit. They always get a healthy flow of new pupils starting every school year but they don’t know how their print efforts play into this success.
One year, they pulled back on their magazine efforts and fewer new students enrolled for that September. They had no way of knowing whether the reduced magazine presence was to blame – was it causation or merely correlation?
So in preparation for the next school year, they’ll redesign their magazine and print ads to include QR codes that include special UTM tracking links. This will let them record how many parents visited their website as a result of each particular print advertising campaign. Google Analytics will also be able to tell them how many of those visitors went on to request a school visit or book an open day ticket through the site.
They’re now able to quantify the effect their marketing is having on their bottom line and make iterative improvements to their campaign year on year. They’ll also be able to tell which publications and ads are most effective.
From Data Comes Direction
Singh & Sloan are a small accountancy firm who are chiefly interested in growing their brand awareness online. They chiefly use Facebook Ads and Google Display Ads to funnel people towards their email newsletter sign up page. They’ve noticed that their email sign-ups have plateaued recently and understandably want to remedy it. They know that analytics is the key to solving the problem but aren’t sure where to start.
We’d advise that they look at the click through rates (CTR) for their ads on both platforms from just before the plateau started. If one of the two ad platforms is suddenly underperforming, there may be an underlying reason why (like an algorithm change) and their ad can be adjusted to suit.
However, if clicks have declined across the board, then that hints at other issues. Maybe their audience are tired of being served the same ad. Maybe their targeting has fallen slightly off-target. Maybe their whole PPC approach just needs a bit of a refresh.
These are all valuable threads to investigate – but without looking at their click through data they’d have still been in the dark.
What Metrics Should I Track In My Business?
A great question! But unfortunately one that doesn’t have a straightforward answer. You should focus on the metrics that most closely correlate with the specific SMART goals you set out to achieve.
If you’re completely new to a data-led marketing approach, then initially nailing down the specific metrics you need might be a tricky prospect. After all, you can’t record and analyse data points if you don’t even know they’re there to be measured!
Start to dip your toes into the world of marketing data by keeping an eye on the website, social media, and email marketing data you have at your disposal. Many of the basic tools like Google Analytics and social media analytics are available for free. Familiarise yourself with the things that are currently being measured, and keep an eye out for how specific marketing endeavours influence those metrics.
Sometimes measuring marketing success is as simple as keeping an eye on your return on investment. But sometimes your success will be tied to something a bit more obscure – you just need the right metrics, the right tools, and the right advice to point you in the right direction.
Unsure where to start on your marketing analytics journey? Unaware of the data points you need to measure and why? Fret no longer – our analytics consultants can help you harness the raw power of marketing data!
Wherever you are in your analytical journey, we’ll identify your specific marketing goals and give you actionable methods and advice to track your route to success. Discover how data can transform your marketing – book your free consultation today!