As the co-founder of a marketing analytics firm, I have found over the many years we have been in business that the two most common questions we as marketers need to answer are the following:
- What Happened? – Did this campaign work? Did we drive sales? Did we drive Engagement?
- What Do I Do? – Where should I change my spend? What channels work best together?
While drawing clear meaning from data has always been a challenge for virtually all industries, the simple fact is that the Marketing industry is one of the worst when it comes using quality, clean, holistic performance data to make business decisions. Clearly these are simple questions on the surface but we know that if these questions were easy to answer, Marketers wouldn’t have to be such good sales people when it comes to getting budget each year.
Let’s face it, Marketers today have become data gatherers. Using the 80/20 rule, we easily spend 80% of our time tracking down data from multiple marketing systems to try and build and assemble data to make sense of it. The biggest reason this problem is only getting worse is the number of marketing systems available to manage our numerous marketing channels, such as social, paid search, email, websites, display advertising, retargeted advertising, CRM, ecommerce, etc. — not to mention traditional print, radio, TV, direct mail, and out-of-home has grown more than 500% since 2011 (yes 500%). What does this mean? It means our data ecosystem as I call it has been fractured and broken even more so than what it was four years ago – thus pushing us even further away from our ability to answer these core marketing performance questions.
So what do marketers do? First, you must change your mindset. In an early blog post, I wrote about the three personalities of marketers, which are as follows:
- The Check Writer – views marketing as a cost of doing business and is not interested in measuring marketing.
- The Gambler – decisions are based on a gut feeling or what has always been done due to limited reporting processes and lack of visibility to results.
- The Investor – views marketing budget as an investment and is committed to implementing ongoing holistic strategies to measure return-on-investment.
Basically, Marketers fall into these categorical mindsets when thinking about how to measure marketing. Clearly, we should all strive to be investors as this mindset by its nature requires that we understand our return-on-investment. To support this mindset, I would ask you to think of all the marketing channels that you are investing your dollars in such as display ads, paid search ads, websites, television advertising, radio advertising, print advertising, out-of-home advertising, email, direct mail, etc. These channels represent your investment portfolio and the channel mix is all working together to deliver an overall return on your Marketing investment.
It is with an investor mindset that I want to share what I have seen transpire in the industry over the years to help Marketers overcome this challenge. Remember, the solution options I am sharing are also dependent on two other very critical factors – People and Process. Without these two components all of the options I am sharing below will fail. Each week, we’ll be detailing the strengths and weaknesses of one of the following solutions:
- Option #1 – Microsoft Excel & PowerPoint.
- Option #2 – Online Dashboard Solutions.
- Option #3 – Do-It-Yourself Data Aggregation Tools.
- Option #4 – Full Stack Data Aggregation & Reporting Tools.
- Option #5 – Data Aggregation Platform & Data Visualization Tool Combination.
Fair warning: Some have far more weaknesses than others.