There are three essential elements for a successful marketing analytics strategy. It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about a Fortune 500 company or a small marketing agency. These three capabilities separate the successes from the failures.
Successful analytics programs are scalable. They’re sustainable. And they’re affordable.
Think of these as the “laws of thermodynamics” for insights and reporting. They apply to everyone, no matter how large or small their budget is. If you follow the rules and you develop these three core capabilities, you’ll increase your odds of success. Ignore them, and you almost guarantee that you’ll flop.
Here’s what I mean.
Scalability: Your strategy needs to go beyond the needs of today
That is, you should have the ability to adapt to increasing demands in either reporting capacity or quality of insight.
Think of it as having “room to grow,” whether that means processing and storing vastly greater amounts of data, ingesting and unifying data from new sources or — best of all — producing more sophisticated and more valuable forms of insight, such as cross-channel campaign reporting, multi-channel attribution or media mix forecasting.
There are a few ways to achieve scalability, but they all basically boil down to asking yourself: “What do we want our analytics program to look like in 5 years?” Once you have a clearer idea of your long-term goals, you can more effectively gather the resources you need to execute that vision.
In some cases, that might mean designing a data framework that can eventually support more advanced forms of cross-channel reporting, even if you’re only using it for source-level reports to begin with. Or maybe it means investing in a persistent storage solution, like a data warehouse, that can hold the years of data necessary for predictive analytics and forecasting.
Sustainability is especially important when preparing to purchase marketing analytics software. Many marketing teams buy a platform that meets their current needs without considering if it will support future growth. A year or two later, they’re back in the market again, searching for yet another piece of software, forcing their team members to learn a completely new tool.
But there’s a way to avoid being trapped by software. Let’s talk about that next.
Sustainability: Ensuring that you have the right people is critical to long-term success
Your analytics program also must be able to produce reporting and insight on a consistent basis, without overtaxing your resources or collapsing completely if one part of your “machine” breaks.
Sometimes, those interruptions occur because of technology. A data connection fails, or a key piece of software goes on the blink. But you also need to prepare for collapses on the human side. What if your reporting takes so much time that your marketing team’s only analyst spends all of their week building reports — and ultimately grows so frustrated that they quit, sending you into a months-long hiring effort?
Try not to rely too heavily on either technology or team members. Instead, use automation — especially in the form of data aggregation and plug-and-play marketing dashboards — to lighten your team’s burden and give them more capacity. And don’t trust software for everything. Make sure you have human experts who can do the things that machines simply can’t, like setting up and repairing data connections, designing a data strategy or performing advanced forms of data science.
That’s why Alight has developed a solution-first approach to analytics. We identify a specific problem that marketers face, like measuring and optimizing lead generation, and bring together all the resources necessary, human and technological, to solve that problem. That includes ChannelMix, our best-in-class marketing intelligence platform, and a suite of services and support from our team of trained experts, who assist with data strategy, tracking audits and implementation, technical support, and more. Marketers get the best of both worlds.
Affordability: Analytics is an investment, but the budget needs to align to growth
Ultimately, analytics must be cost-effective. The money and time you put into developing actionable, relevant insights can’t exceed the benefit your organization derives from that investment.
There are two ways you can reach affordability in your marketing analytics program. You can “play defense” by carefully controlling how much you spend. A lot of companies gradually increase their budget for analytics resources, scaling it up as their experience and the demand for insights and reporting grows. (This is one reason why Alight offers different “levels” of solutions, gauged to different clients’ budgets and needs.)
But you should also “play offense” and leverage your analytics to drive bottom-line business performance. This is the point of view that Alight preaches to our clients, and the most successful analytics programs practice it.
They use their data-driven insights to optimize marketing spend so they can achieve greater ROI, which generates increased sales and revenue. Some marketing organizations also apply analytics to their own in-house operations, using internal data to identify performance issues and resource needs, or to forecast their revenue for upcoming quarters so they adjust budget and staffing.
Three Is a Magic Number
Scalability. Sustainability. Affordability. These are the three elements that can help you create an analytics program that provides value in the short and long term.
If you use these three abilities as guiding principles, you’ll ultimately create a framework for producing insights that will propel your business forward.
Need Help Building a Successful Analytics Strategy?
Alight Analytics’ analytics-as-a-service gives you everything you need to produce game-changing insights and reporting, and that includes expert advice on structuring your analytics strategy and practice. Tap into our expertise — set up a time to talk!