What Is Multi-Channel Reporting and Analytics? Who Is It For?
If you’re spending more than $1 million on media annually across multiple channels, and you aren’t investing in multi-channel analytics, then you’ve got a problem.
Multi-channel reporting and analytics is the practice of gathering data from all the platforms and ad networks that are part of a marketing campaign, both online and offline, and using that data to measure and optimize performance.
Which channels are generating ROI? Which ones are lagging? And how do they work together to drive growth in your business? Multi-channel reporting gives you the insight you need to answer those questions.
As long as you’re using more than one data source in your marketing campaigns, you can do multi-channel analytics. The number of channels isn’t necessarily the deciding factor. Rather, multi-channel becomes more and more important as you increase your level of media spend.
What Are the Benefits of Analytics for Multi-Channel Campaigns?
Put simply: Greater insight, less wasted spend, better ROI.
If you’re using multiple channels and ad networks in your marketing, you should be able to assess each channel’s impact on your bottom line, collectively and individually, so you can increase spending on the channels that are productive and reduce it where that money is being wasted.
And let’s be honest, there’s still a lot of waste in marketing spend — an estimated 26 percent, according to this recent report.
Multi-channel marketing analytics helps you fight back by:
- Attributing sales, conversions and sales to the marketing efforts that helped produce them
- Determining the effectiveness of individual tactics, messages and channels mid-campaign so you can optimize your strategy as soon as possible
- Making better decisions for your next campaign because you’re collecting the data necessary to produce more advanced, future-focused analytics, like predictive and media mix modeling
What Are the Biggest Challenges for Multi-Channel Analytics?
There are a few reasons why some marketers struggle with reporting and analysis for multi-channel campaigns.
Disorganized, Messy Data
Each of your data sources may have its own way of handling data, like tracking metrics that others don’t or formatting dates and other fields differently. It can be difficult to “unify” all the data into a single dataset for easy reporting and analysis, even with marketing analytics software.
Large Volumes of Marketing Data
According to Gartner’s 2019 Multichannel Marketing Survey, the typical multi-channel marketing team uses seven channels in their campaigns. The amount of data makes it more challenging to bring everything together. And that data needs to be available for analysis and reporting as soon as possible, so marketers can optimize spend mid-campaign.
Many multi-campaign campaigns suffer from “data silos” because multiple people and teams are working on different pieces of a campaign. A large enterprise might have separate teams for display, search, social and email — and even farm some of the work out to an outside agency. A data silo forms because the individual players aren’t communicating or sharing their data like they should, preventing a complete, accurate analysis.
Lack of Time and Resources
Many multi-channel marketers struggle because they don’t have the necessary time, tools and expertise. According to Gartner’s survey, 46 percent of B2C marketers and 60 percent of B2B marketers say it’s difficult to select the right technologies. Even “self-service” marketing analytics software requires marketers to understand SQL in order to perform more advanced queries.
And marketers may not have the data science expertise necessary to attribute results to marketing activity. About 54 percent of B2C marketers and 60 percent of B2B said they had problems hiring the personnel to support multi-channel analytics.
What Are the Requirements for Multi-Channel Analytics?
Data and Tracking Strategy
You’ll need a data strategy, a plan to identify the bottom-line questions you’re trying to answer about your business, like how much it costs to generate a lead, and then determine what KPIs will allow you to answer those questions. Different data sources and ad networks won’t all use the same kinds of KPIs, so as part of your data strategy, you’ll need to select equivalent measures that can show how all channels are affecting awareness, engagement and conversions.
You’ll also want to employ a tracking strategy — a way to make sure that data from different sources and channels can be easily combined and tied to the same multi-channel campaign, no matter how large or complex that campaign may be, so that you can attribute sales, leads and conversions to the tactics that produced them. Using a consistent naming strategy is one way to accomplish this. It’s also possible to consolidate your tracking with a tool like ChannelMix.
Data Automation and Aggregation
Producing multi-channel analytics requires a tool that can create a single source of truth — by automatically bringing together the relevant marketing, media and sales data from all channels in one place for holistic analysis and reporting.
That data also needs to be unified (or standardized) so that all sources are using similar metrics and dimensions. Once you have unified data, you can see the performance of an entire campaign, no matter how many channels it encompasses, so you can assess how those channels interact and build off each other. And depending on how your data is structured, you could still have the ability to drill down into specific data sources, audience segments or creative, if you desire a more granular view of performance.
You should have some form of data storage, too. We recommend using a data warehouse, so that you have a protected, persistent storehouse for years’ worth of data, at scale.
A data warehouse makes it easier for large teams to share data or connect to their choice of powerful BI and visualization tool. A data warehouse also provides you the critical mass of historical data necessary to undertake more sophisticated analytics projects like attribution or media mix modeling.
Business Intelligence, Visualization or Dashboard Software
You’ll need a BI or visualization tool that allows you to analyze your data for insights and share reports on performance. Whatever tool you choose should allow you to blend data and pace performance toward goals or against budget. Be careful — not all platforms are created equal. We recommend marketing dashboard tools like Tableau, Power BI, Looker and Yellowfin. A good dashboard is a powerful, streamlined way to communicate marketing insights and performance.
And finally, you need talented people who can develop and execute your strategy for multi-channel analytics — software alone won’t be enough. Typically, a high-performing analytics program will have individuals serving in six different roles:
- An analyst to take responsibility for reporting and visualization
- A marketing strategist who uses analytics to plan campaigns, arrange media buys and contribute to the bottom line
- A data engineer to manage the marketing data — from making connections with all data sources to building views of the data across channels
- A data scientist who uses statistical models to drive multi-channel attribution and predictive analysis to determine which marketing tactics were most effective and build forecasts to guide future campaigns
- An influencer, someone who can fight for budget and resources for analytics, and advocate for its value to the larger organization
An Example of Multi-Channel Marketing Analytics
Let’s say a university wants to increase enrollment in one of its advanced degree programs. To reach potential students, it employs a multi-channel marketing strategy consisting of search, display, social, direct mail and TV.
Each marketing activity incorporates a tracking tag or link, so when the resulting data is aggregated, the university can assess performance and engagement for the whole campaign or specific channels, platforms and messages.
The analysis also includes data from the school’s CRM, so the school has the ability to see where new students are coming from and what marketing tactics delivered them. Even better, the data is updated mid-campaign, so the school can optimize the campaign by reducing spend in less effective channels or increasing investment in successful channels.
After a few years, the school has enough performance data to build a media mix model that allows them to forecast how much marketing spend they must invest, and in which channels, in order to generate X number of student applications each semester.
2 Essential Habits for Multi-Channel Analytics Success
Invest the necessary time and resources.
You’re going to need technology that can automate, aggregate, unify, store and visualize marketing, media and sales data from all the source systems you’re using, whether that’s a single piece of marketing analytics software or a full martech stack.
You’re also going to need a team that can carry out all the essential tasks that software simply can’t, like devising a data strategy, maintaining connections to your data warehouse or building custom marketing dashboards.
And it’s going to take time to do this right. You can definitely spin up dashboards that deliver essential, relatively basic reporting, but more advanced forms of analysis, like attribution and predictive models, can take months to implement.
Treat analytics as a strategy.
If you’re investing the requisite resources in your marketing analytics practice, you should be using that intelligence to make better decisions — not just about marketing, but your larger business strategy, too.
Marketing analytics can help reveal massive opportunities, from uncovering overlooked audiences to suggesting areas for expansion and even ideas for new products and services.
Fight the temptation to take the monthly report, look at it, and then do nothing. Multi-channel analytics can be transformative for the marketers who leverage this resource to its fullest potential.
Ready to Take the Next Step?
One of the best ways to streamline your multi-channel analytics and reporting? Better campaign names. Check out our webinar on creating a consistent naming strategy!
Interested in trying out one of Alight’s next-gen analytics solutions? Sign up for a FREE 30-day trial!