Recently, researchers asked the nation’s top marketers what they think will drive organic growth at their companies.
The No. 1 response was hiring the right talent — a solid answer, given by 35.3 percent of respondents. It was followed by:
— having the right operating model (23.1 percent)
— getting stakeholders aligned (20.8 percent)
— possessing the right technology (11 percent)
And last? Having the right data, chosen by 9.8 percent of the surveyed marketing executives.*
We had two reactions to this:
“Are you crazy?”
Nothing is going to help you uncover opportunities, spot threats and optimize your spend and creative better than marketing analytics.
It starts with getting the right data. That means tracking the correct metrics from all your sources and organizing everything in an analysis-ready format.
“This is kind of a trick question.”
People, technology, leadership, strategy, data — you really do need each of those things to drive growth in your business.
In fact, you need a holistic approach to practice marketing analytics successfully, too. Here at Alight, we talk about the 4 Ps of Marketing Analytics. These are the four essential ingredients of a mature and effective analytics operation:
Platform: You need the right technology, though the “right technology” deserves further explanation. There are more than 5,000 MarTech solutions available right now, with more entering the market every month. Many of these are “end to end” tools that are designed to let users aggregate and visualize data with a single piece of software.
What we’ve found is that marketers, because of their unique needs, tend to do better with a pair of specialized solutions: one to handle data aggregation, such as Alight’s ChannelMix platform, and another for analyzing or visualizing that perfected data, such as Tableau, Looker or Yellowfin. Specialized solutions almost always provide greater levels of capacity and customization than end-to-end tools.
People: You’ve got to have people who can use and support that technology. That includes technology experts who can maintain your data warehouse, manage your connections to data sources and more. You also will want data-literate professionals who can tell you what all those numbers mean for your bottom line.
For many brands and agencies, the first instinct will be to hire people as full-time employees. And in some cases, that may make sense. But you will probably achieve better results — at lower cost and with less frustration — if you only hire personnel that are part of your core mission.
For example, several of our agency clients spend their budgets on analysts, then outsource their data preparation and management to our team.
Process: By process, we mean a repeatable, scalable method for collecting and analyzing marketing data, a collection of best practices that your team can consistently execute. If you want to turn your marketing reporting and analytics into an unending Data Death March, then make every report an ad hoc report, and start with a blank slate each time.
Plan: You want a strategy tailored to your needs or your clients’ needs. You need to monitor the most important metrics for your business, and you need to leverage the resources — platform, people, process — that make the most sense for your situation. While there are some best practices that apply to everyone, you should find an approach that will serve you best.
We should add: Marketers do understand the importance of marketing analytics.
Right now, analytics accounts for 5.8 percent of the average marketing budget, the CMO Survey found. But the surveyed marketers expect to spend 17.3 percent on marketing analytics three years from now. That’s a nearly 200 percent increase.
Maybe your marketing team is planning to invest more in analytics. If you are, allocate your resources so they deliver the best possible result. Use the 4 Ps of Marketing Analytics as your guide.
* This is all according to the always fascinating CMO Survey. The survey is conducted twice a year by Deloitte, Duke’s Fuqua School of Business and the American Marketing Association. The latest results were released in February 2018. They include input from 362 marketing leaders, almost all of them VPs or higher.