the 90-day marketing analytics challenge
How to Create a Marketing Analytics Strategy in 90 Days or Less
A four-step framework for any marketing team to level up marketing performance and insight.
Any marketer — yes, any marketer — has the ability to produce valuable, actionable insights. The key is having a sound marketing analytics strategy.
That’s why we created the 90-Day Challenge. It’s a four-step process that will help you to demonstrate marketing's value and drive business growth.
The Challenge doesn’t require any special tools. You’ll need some time to work through a series of exercises, as well as pen and paper — or a marker and whiteboard, or a Word file, or maybe some crayons and a cardboard box? You do you.
You don’t need a lot of resources to get started because the most important part of the Challenge is thinking about your data in a new way. You’ll be asking yourself questions that make you reconsider what you’ve been measuring and how you’ve been using data in your organization.
And most importantly, you’ll get a clear understanding of the steps you need to take next.
In this guide, you’ll learn how to:
But first, what is marketing analytics? And why is it so important?
Before you build a marketing analytics strategy, it’s a good idea to define what marketing analytics is.
Marketing analytics is the strategy of measuring and analyzing marketing performance data in order to develop and optimize marketing plans — and ultimately drive business growth.
Put simply, marketing analytics is a strategy for business growth.
It’s all about using marketing analytics to make better decisions going forward. What a lot of marketing teams call “analytics” is actually just “reporting.” A monthly spreadsheet showing what happened with your search ads last month? That’s probably just reporting … unless you’re using that spreadsheet to quantitatively identify your most effective ads and then optimizing your spend as a result, ideally before the campaign is over.
The other nice thing about marketing analytics? Beyond, you know, helping you make more money?
Analytics can help you prove the value of your marketing budget because it connects marketing activity to business results. Too many CEOs and CFOs treat the marketing budget like property taxes or the water bill — something you’ve gotta pay, but never enthusiastically.
Marketing analytics changes the dynamic. Not only are you showing that your marketing works, you can make a compelling case for spending more money on campaigns, because your CEO and CFO can see that more resources for marketing eventually leads to a healthier bottom line. In fact, they’ll probably be eager to increase your budget.
The 90-Day Marketing Analytics Challenge
STEP 1: What do you need to know about marketing performance? Identify the questions you need to answer with marketing data.
Here’s the thing: A lot of marketers build their performance reports without thinking about why they need to know certain things.
They’ll focus on obvious metrics, like impressions or clicks, because they’re easy to understand and are (usually) large, impressive numbers.
But — unless you’re focused solely on awareness, and most marketers aren’t — those metrics aren’t particularly helpful in isolation. They don’t really tell you if marketing is helping your organization achieve its bottom-line business goals, e.g. make crazy loot.
So get out a piece of paper, and write down all the questions that you want to know about the impact of your marketing activity.
It might be useful to know your conversion rates, so you have a better idea of which marketing tactics move prospective customers closer to completing a form or making a purchase. You’d be better off talking about the cost per lead or cost per conversion, so you know if you’re spending more on marketing than what those customers are actually spending.
And it’s a good idea to take stock of how long it takes to get these answers. Not-so-fun fact: A lot of marketing teams produce monthly or (gasp) quarterly performance reports because it takes them so freaking long to build the damn things.
It can be useful to have a 10,000-foot view of performance over several months so you can assess long-term trends. But holy cow, you cannot underestimate the value of having daily reports on your campaigns, so you can adjust spend midway through. You can’t fix a crappy media mix if the campaign is already over.
The 90-Day Marketing Analytics Challenge
STEP 2: Make a list of what you'll need to measure marketing performance. Identify the data you need to answer those questions.
How confident are you that your marketing spend is really generating ROI?
That is, can you clearly (and, in a perfect world, quantitatively) prove that your marketing efforts are directly impacting the stuff your boss or clients care about most — more conversions, more leads, more sales?
First, grab a whiteboard, and list all the data sources you’d need to answer the questions you identified back in Step 1. Maybe that’s Facebook Ads, Google Ads, Google Analytics, your email service provider. Maybe you also need to get data from HubSpot, Salesforce or whatever CRM you use.
Now, what sorts of metrics do you want to gather from each of those sources?
A handy way to think about this is to map each data source to a marketing funnel.
If you’re using Facebook Ads or Google Ads, you’re probably using them to generate awareness and engagement — near the top of your funnel.
How do you know if they’re effective? Well, you’ll probably want to know how many people they’re reaching (impressions), how much you’re spending (cost) and what percentage of those folks are engaging with the ad (click-through rate). And you probably would like to know cost per click, to see if you’re paying an arm and a leg for those clicks.
In most cases, your ads are sending folks to a landing page on your site, and our good friend Google Analytics can give you all sorts of intel on what they’re doing there. Bounce rates, sessions — that’s all useful information.
But more importantly, how many people are doing what you want them to? For eCommerce, that’s going to be making a sale. For other types of businesses, it may mean filling out a form and giving you contact info, making them a lead. You want to count conversions (how many people did the thing you wanted) and conversion rate (of the people who saw your marketing message, what percentage bought something) and cost per conversion.
This is an extremely simplified example. If you’re selling something more complex, like real estate or health insurance, a website conversion is just the start of that particular customer journey.
But we’ve done something pretty important with this exercise.
We’ve identified (A) what we’re doing to generate leads or sales and (B) what we want to see as a result of that activity. At the most basic level, you can tell if more of A leads to more of B.
At some point, you’ll need a resource for connecting specific marketing activities to outcomes. That could translate to attribution modeling or a dedicated tracking tool. But you can do a lot with Google Analytics and a disciplined naming convention for your digital campaigns.
The better you get at tying marketing activity to marketing performance, the more confident you’ll feel about your impact. And once you know what tactics and channels really work, you’ll increase your ability to optimize your overall performance.
The 90-Day Marketing Analytics Challenge
STEP 3: Assess your current capacity to produce marketing analytics. Identify where you are now and what you need to do to reach the next level.
Human beings gotta walk before they run. Nobody expects babies to back-flip out of their cribs and start sprinting. (Though, I think we can all agree, that would be remarkable if they did.)
Same principle applies here. Most marketing teams gradually improve how they use marketing analytics for reporting and insights. Heck, most of them even follow the exact same learning curve. We call this the 4 Levels of Marketing Analytics Performance.
Here’s what each level looks like …
Level 1: Increasing visibility into marketing performance.
Step one is to implement automated data aggregation and unification. Which is just a fancy way of saying “get a software tool that automatically pulls performance data from Google Analytics, Facebook, MailChimp or any other marketing platforms and media buys you’re using in your campaigns.”
Your aggregation software should then automatically pipe that data into a report. Ideally, that’s a marketing dashboard that can show results at a campaign or channel level. The key is that your reports are updating on their own.
Level 2: Align sales and marketing efforts for increased impact.
Next, you need to bring marketing and sales data together in one pipeline view, so you can see how much you’re spending on marketing, how many new leads or contacts that spend creates, and what percentage of those leads become MQLs, SQLs, Opportunities and Customers. (At least, that’s one way of organizing a pipeline. It’s possible you might have more or even fewer stages.)
Level 3: Understanding channel value in order to optimize spend.
You can quantitatively attribute marketing outcomes (like leads or sales) to the marketing activities that produced them. You’re also able to monitor your progress toward performance goals, and ad spending against your budget, so you don’t run out of money before the end of the campaign.
Level 4: Predicting the right media mix and forecasting ROI.
Also known as predictive analytics. By applying a statistical analysis to a critical mass of historical data, you can gauge where and how much you need to spend to reach your business targets.
Each level builds on the previous one. For example, once you automate reporting for all your data sources, the next step is to unify each source’s dimensions and metrics, so that it’s possible to produce cross-channel and campaign-level reporting.
Once you know where you are on the 4 Levels, and what the next level looks like, you have a roadmap for improving your ability to produce actionable insights. Alight’s Buyers Guide for Marketing Analytics, a free resource, has tons of specific, actionable advice to help you do that.
The 90-Day Marketing Analytics Challenge
STEP 4: Execute your marketing analytics strategy. Commit to the resource investment needed to reach the next level of insight.
Here’s where it starts getting real. Now that you know …
- what types of questions you want to answer about your marketing
- what data sources you’ll need to connect marketing investment and marketing performance
- where your performance is today — and what you need to do to make it better
… you have to line up the resources necessary to reach the next level in the next 90 days. Make a plan and take action.
There are three elements you’ll need to level up your marketing analytics: budget, time and resources (people and software). Surprisingly, of those three, budget may be easiest to acquire.
Look at your media budget. You may be able to repurpose some of your spend to invest in technology or staff, or hiring an outside partner like Alight, even if it’s in a limited capacity to start.
That can help you to produce more valuable insight and reporting, which in turn makes your campaign spending more efficient — you could obtain results that are as good or better for less money. And your team will also have much more time to study the data and develop useful insights.
What if you simply can’t get additional resources? Do what you can, where you are, with what you have.
If you have no choice but to build reports manually with a rusty old copy of Excel, you can still refine what you’re measuring by the work you did in Steps 1 and 2.
Can’t get the budget for a fancy enterprise-class analytics platform? You might be able to qualify for a free trial. Or buy a budget model that lets you automate your reporting, which gives you more time to study the data for insights and recommendations.
Do that long enough, and you’ll build a case for a greater investment in analytics.
Get started today. NOW if you can.
And there you have it: a clear, adaptive guide to creating a marketing analytics strategy for rapid reporting, valuable insight and business growth.
You may not actually need an entire 90 days to complete this challenge. Some people have knocked it out in an afternoon!
One reason why the challenge works, though, is because there’s a deadline attached. It’s so, so easy to keep procrastinating because you’ve got something else more important to do.
Right now, for marketers, nothing is more important than squeezing every last drop of ROI out of your already stressed budget. Marketing analytics lets you do that.
But only if you get started. Today, ideally, or as soon as humanly possible. Let us know if we can help!
Ready to get started?
Our team is here to guide you through your 90-day challenge. To get started, request a meeting via the form below!