An Insider’s Guide to Digital Marketing Analytics

digital marketing analytics
Courtesy of Avinash Kaushik

Forbes proclaimed 2014 the Year of Digital Marketing Analytics, summing up the problem this way:

If most digital marketing programs or campaigns have a weak area, it’s analytics. One recent study identified that the biggest talent and hiring gap in online marketing is in the analytics space. 37% of companies surveyed said that they desperately needed staff with serious data chops.

If you take a look at the image above, courtesy of Avinash Kaushik on Occam’s Razor, you’ll see a similar emphasis on “Big brains” and there just aren’t enough of them going around.

The state of digital marketing analytics today

Well, in 2015 we still find too few analysts trained in digital marketing analytics, especially when it comes to more advanced analytics. What passes for digital marketing analytics is also pretty dismal, amounting to little more than rudimentary vanity metrics.

If you look at interest in digital marketing analytics over time, you find the term first appeared in search in 2011, but searches exploded in 2013. Google forecasts continued steep growth in searches for digital marketing analytics based on the graph below from Google Trends.
trends in digital marketing analytics

So, what do these searches turn up?

A ton of tools, many of which aren’t really analytics tools, but automation tools with a little tracking. For instance, I love SproutSocial for helping share and curate content, but it’s not really an analytics tool. Here’s what you get:

Reports | Sprout Social 2015-01-16 09-55-43

I ask you, how does this data help manage your digital marketing? What insights does it provide?
The same goes for many “analytics” tools provided by the social networks, which are pitifully anemic. A couple of caveats here, however. Google Analytics and Facebook Ads Manager provide very useful, insightful data to help optimize your digital marketing results. I’ve provided detailed directions for setting up and interpreting data from Google Analytics and Facebook’s Ads Manager.

What you need to rock digital marketing analytics?

Surprisingly, the first step is to gain an appreciation of analytics. I find many small and mid-sized companies don’t appreciate how critical digital marketing analytics are for their success. Even some large businesses don’t really get the importance of digital marketing analytics and focus too much on late funnel assessment rather than top of funnel assessments.

Recognize that digital marketing analytics require a budget. Too many businesses try to go cheap here with the notion that money is better spent on other activities. And, in the short run that might be true. Unfortunately, what you’re not seeing in this cost strategy is the opportunity cost of sales you didn’t make because your efforts weren’t optimized. I call this a penny-wise and pound foolish strategy because you’re saving a little money up front to lose a lot of money on the back-end.

kpi and metricsKPIs and ratios

Next, you need to build KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and metrics from your mission and strategy, focusing on both top of funnel (consumer sentiment, reach, engagement) and bottom of funnel (ROI, conversion, etc) strategies. This is why you need marketers schooled in digital marketing analytics — they understand marketing KPIs.

Set realistic priorities because you can’t focus on every possible KPI at the same time. I recommend selecting a balance between the KPIs at the top, middle, and bottom of the funnel that have the greatest impact on market performance.

Setting goals for these KPIs allows you to develop more meaningful metrics like ratios of expected versus actual. Large ratios demand investigation (and maybe testing to figure out why the ratio was large) while small ratios indicate you met expectations.

Level of analysis

Also, think about level of analysis issues — you want both overviews of how well your strategy is working and insights into segments, such as different social platform performance, performance of different types of content, etc. As an analyst, think about what different users need in terms of level of analysis. For instance, the VP marketing needs an overview, but she might want to deep dive into why some KPIs had high ratios. Meanwhile, your brand managers want to understand the performance of their products and community managers the performance of individual pieces of content. These elements fit within Kaushik’s notion of dimensions that covers performance of individual keywords, campaigns, posts, referring sites, countries, types of visitor, etc.

Data visualization

Visualizing data is critical for easing interpretation. In his TED talk, David McCandless, said this about the importance of data visualization:

By visualizing information, we turn it into a landscape that you can explore with your eyes, a sort of information map. And when you’re lost in information, an information map is kind of useful.

Data visualization not only acts as a short cut for interpreting data, the human eye sees pictures a whole lot better than numbers. Thus, appropriate visualizations allow managers to identify problems quickly so they can fix the problem before it becomes a crisis.

For instance, P&G monitors deliveries using GPS installed in its fleet of trucks using colored digital block — each block representing the value of the customer to P&G and the color representing expected delivery (green for on time, yellow for possible delays, and red for likely delays). When a truck runs into problems (traffic, weather) that threaten delay to a major customer (like Wal-Mart), managers can quickly send replacement shipments from a local distribution center or re-direct shipments from less critical customers or shipments with sufficient lead time.

Translating digital marketing analytics into action

Unfortunately, many firms find their digital marketing analytics programs falling down at this critical step — translating insights into action. In this article, Google quotes poet, Andrew Lang who eloquently said:

He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lampposts—for support rather than illumination

Translating insights into action often means going back to manipulate your data for more nuanced insights;

  • looking for relationships among your data – for instance, you might uncover a relationship between top performing posts and specific keywords used or publication timing
  • looking at trends rather than data points – trends often help you identify meaning in your data such as cyclical trends or when a particular data point stands out from others versus simply representing normal fluctuation
  • turn data into predictive models – don’t stop with viewing data as isolated points and basing forecasts on simple linear extrapolations. Predictive models use historical data to determine the relationship among a set of factors and desired outcomes (like KPIs). Then analysts use these algorithms to predict future KPI performance. You can even play “what-if” games to determine the impact on performance of various actions. This helps determine which changes represent the greatest impact on performance.
  • don’t forget that data analysis is part art and part science. Translating insights into action involves a certain amount of playfulness with the data to discover deeper insights.

Need help?

We welcome the opportunity to show you how we can make your marketing SIZZLE with our data-driven, results-oriented marketing strategies.  Sign up for our FREE newsletter, get the 1st chapter of our book – FREE, or contact us for more information on hiring us.

Hausman and Associates, the publisher of Hausman Marketing Letter, is a full service marketing agency operating at the intersection of marketing and social media.

 

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Marketing Has No Definition and No Rules: Pt. 2

new rules of customer serviceFirst, Happy New Year to my followers and readers. I hope this year is healthy, productive, and successful. With that said, I’d like to start the new year off by expanding on the post that ended the year — marketing has no definition and no rules.

This post generated a bit of discussion on LinkedIn, including this comment (user name omitted for privacy):

There is a lot of principles and concepts in marketing, but there is a lack of methods and technical tools creating added value! the discipline requires a tremendous theoretical rebuilding, and research should focus more on pragmatic and real problems and get emancipated from the gate keepers that are encouraging for example this jeopardization of discipline! i think, the first step to get on our feet is to have a self critical look on our practices! there is a great opportunity for marketing, but the way work is done should change! even great scientific journals are driven by names and “academic brands” and we do not see a clear contribution for articles extremely reputed and cited

Now, I think the author is right about some aspects of marketing. Getting published in top journals (or any academic journal for that matter) means getting past gatekeepers who have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo and show their risk aversion by accepting papers from known “brands”.  But, reducing marketing knowledge to a few top tier marketing journals under represents the state of marketing knowledge. Many academics, like me, publish respected blogs — like Hausman Marketing Letter, where we expand marketing knowledge unfettered by gatekeepers. And, many of us maintain extensive consulting practices that ground our research in cutting-edge marketing practice.

But, I think his major premise — that marketing lacks methods and technical tools for creating value — is totally without merit. Today, I’d like to focus on value-creating tools and methods within marketing. Recognize, however, that all the concepts from my earlier post link to specific tools and methods for implementing the concept.

Marketing tools and methods

Here are just a small subset of the plethora of marketing tools and methods that create value.

Customer lifetime value

The concept of lifetime value shows that not all customers are equally valuable to a firm and, in fact, some customers should be “fired” because they cost more to maintain than to lose. Other customers represent so much value that firms should expend additional efforts to keep these customers.

Here’s a basic formula for Customer Lifetime Value (CLV):

(Average Value of a Sale) X (Number of Repeat Transactions) X (Average Retention Time in Months or Years)

Firms can segment customers into groups based on the value they bring to the firm and strategies developed to retain the most valuable customers while discouraging customers who represent little or negative value. That’s what your bank does with all those seemingly stupid rules. For instance, if you have very little deposited you may pay a fee or have limited services (such as a maximum number of checks written per month). That’s because you represent a negative CLV with your small balance. Meanwhile a larger depositor gets free stuff and more personalized services.

Wanna calculate your customers’ lifetime value? Here’s a great resource to help. Learn more about customer lifetime value from this resource, which includes an example using Starbuck’s

4-Factor model to assess digital marketing performance

The 4-factor model is my own concoction, building on a model designed to assess sale force effectiveness. The model looks like this:

sales = amplification X sentiment X marketing intensity X close rate

Using this model requires some work as most of these values aren’t readily available, but sums of other values. For instance, amplification is a reflection of the reach your posts get across social media sites, so you’d need to sum up the engagement you get for posts on each network across some time period, such as a month. The same is true of marketing intensity where you need to sum up your marketing efforts both online and offline by adding in coupons and other promotions, advertising costs, as well as the cost of content marketing efforts.

Using the 4-factor model not only shows how successful you are over time, it provides actionable insights to increase your market performance by highlighting where you’re efforts fall short and which factors have the greatest impact on marketing performance in your market.

SERVQUAL

Now, let me say upfront that I’m not a big fan of SERVQUAL, but it is a marketing tool that gets a lot of respect in certain corners. SERVQUAL stands for service quality and is a means for assessing how consumers feel about your service.

SERVQUAL can be used to assess performance over time, but it’s real strength is in highlighting which areas of performance need additional work.

Perceptual mapping

A perceptual map is a tool for evaluating how customers feel about your brand compared to competitors.

Building a perceptual map requires consumer data regarding the most significant factors driving customer purchase — such as price and quality. Traditional perceptual mapping could only use 2 factors, but newer computer visualizations allow multiple factors as input for 3-D maps.

Perceptual mapping identifies where your brand is weak compared to your competition. Perceptual mapping also identifies gaps where new products might be successful in generating profits.

Text analytics

Analyzing consumer utterances has a rich history within marketing that was borrowed from cultural anthropology. Ethnography, the study of cultures, applies to studying subcultures of consumption and it’s been used to draw important insights into the beliefs and values of subcultures such as the Harley Owners Group, Jeep owners, people at flea markets, Nike and Apple enthusiasts, and many others.

Harnessing these tools to understand social media posts offers great insights into not only how consumers feel about brands, but what problems they face and where existing products fall short in providing solutions to those problems.

IBM estimates that 80% of data is text data, so having the tools to analyze this data is increasingly important.

Pricing

Within the pricing element of marketing, a number of tools exist and that list is expanding every day. For instance, psychological pricing works. Professors also study how consumers respond to incentives like coupons, rebates, and free products to predict which will be most effective with a particular target market.

Closing remarks

These are just a few of the hundreds (maybe thousands) of marketing tools and methods creating value for firms using them correctly on a consistent basis. In fact, I would argue that marketing, which once looks more like it’s cousins in psychology, is looking a lot more like its more quantitative economics cousins.

A subtle shift began about 10-15 years ago and is strong now than ever before. That shift means marketers need to prove their strategies are successful. But, more importantly, marketers must be more data-driven in predicting successful strategies.

Need help?

We welcome the opportunity to show you how we can make your marketing SIZZLE with our data-driven, results-oriented marketing strategies.  Sign up for our FREE newsletter, get the 1st chapter of our book – FREE, or contact us for more information on hiring us.

Hausman and Associates, the publisher of Hausman Marketing Letter, is a full service marketing agency operating at the intersection of marketing and social media.

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Social Media Analytics Review: Beckon

One of my favorite perks of running this website, is meeting great people and learning about new things in the online/ inbound marketing space — especially new social media analytics tools. A couple of weeks ago, I got a demo of a new tool — Beckon — that has a lot to offer. It’s price tag might be a little steep for small businesses (about $10K per data source), but I think it solves many problems enterprise businesses currently struggle with — disparate data sources, different scales on metrics, and the general mish-mash of data that’s challenging to interpret.

managing big dataThis image clearly demonstrates the main selling point for Beckon — it takes a bunch of unruly data and orders it so analysts can interpret and develop data-driven strategies.

The state of social media analytics

I mean, face it. If you’re trying to create data-driven strategy for your inbound marketing, you’ve got a lot of stuff coming at you every day — Google Analytics, Facebook Insights, Pinterest Analytics, Twitter Analytics ….. Developing data-driven insights from all this data is challenging.

It’s a mess. Right now I export all that data on a weekly basis to a Cognos (IBM) dashboard so I can show each client exactly what’s going on with their social media campaign.

The problem, of course, is I have limited ability to ANALYZE the data across platforms — I’m merely displaying it in 1 place — and adding nice visualizations so clients can see the big picture better. Beckon normalizes the data, so you’re comparing apples to apples and can make informed decisions based on the how well different social channels help you reach your goals based on paid, earned, and owned impressions.

Beckon makes order out of this chaos and generates reports that look more like this:

social media analytics

Armed with these reports, I can now determine which channel helped reach goals for awareness, engagement, and conversion. By creating ratios, I now gain better insights for each channel and each campaign within each channel. I can also see which posts met my goals most effectively and do more effective testing for strategic alternatives to help optimize future campaigns.

Key ratios might be:

  • paid/ earned impressions
  • engagement/ impression
  • open/ click rate in email marketing

Where does the data come from?

Beckon uses data you already get. For instance, if you get your Google Analytics emails to you — and you should — just CC Beckon on the report.

Beckon also derives data from internal sources, like your order system, email client, etc.

One of the nicest features of Beckon is that it can handle such a wide variety of data types: png, PDF, CSV, powerpoint …

I’ll definitely add this to my list of Social Media Analytics Tools.

Need help?

Whether you need a complete analytics strategy, some help with brand marketing, or some consulting to optimize your existing social media marketing, we can fill your digital marketing funnel. We can help you do your own social media marketing better or do it for you with our community managers, strategists, and account executives. You can request a FREE introductory meeting or sign up for my email newsletter to learn more about social media marketing.

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Back to Marketing Basics: Marketing Strategy in the Digital Age

marketing strategy in the digital ageSo, just what IS marketing strategy in the digital age? According to Forbes, marketing strategy involves uncovering consumer needs and communicating the benefits of brands (hopefully linking benefits to needs, one must assume). Greg Satell, who wrote the piece, goes on to lament the “good ol’ days” (pre-internet) when you just put together a cool TV ad — radio spot or print — and watched fly off the shelf. Sorry Greg, I’m oversimplifying for dramatic effect, but many folks still think that way — create ad, share on media channel, go to bank to deposit profits.

Marketing strategy in the digital age

Marketing strategy in the digital age, again according to Greg, now reflects the explosion of media channels — everything from social networks, to websites, to review sites, to apps, to … You get the idea? He used this cool graphic to depict the goals of your marketing strategy in the digital age or any age, for that matter. Resting on the pillars of sales, awareness, and advocacy, it certainly beats a narrow-minded focus on sales, but is that all there is to marketing strategy?

And, I think lots of other folks struggle to understand marketing strategy and how to create winning marketing strategies in the digital age. That’s why my Slideshare entitled Marketing Strategy was viewed over 35 THOUSAND times (and downloaded hundreds of times) and put me in the top 2% of all content viewed on the platform — not to toot my own horn, but I’m really proud of this.

Marketing strategy in ANY age

Marketing strategy in the digital age — or any age — involves long-term planning that allocates scares organizational resources (time, money, talent, relationships) in a way that optimizes achievement of organizational goals. PERIOD. No where in this definition does it talk about communication. That’s because marketing is SO much more than “selling and telling“.

1. Marketing strategy means analysis

You need to figure out where you ARE and where you’re GOING, before you can figure out how to get there — duh! So, your first step is analyzing your current situation — called an environmental scan. An environmental scan looks at everything surrounding where you are: technology, customers, competitors, economy, and laws. Only by thoroughly understanding where you are, can you start planning.

2. Goals and objectives

Next, you need to create goals and objective — which should be SMART goals.

3. Formulate strategy

Now, you’re ready to plan strategy. Various tools help with some of the heavy lifting necessary. For instance:

4. Create tactics

Too many businesses start with tactics and forget all the strategic planning necessary to make a marketing strategy work. I’ve had potential clients tell me: “I want a viral marketing campaign”, but that’s a tactic (plus, even the best can’t guarantee a campaign will go viral and beware if someone does). In fact, some campaigns go viral with little lift in product sales.

5. Monitor

Part of your strategy involves creating KPIs (key performance indicators). Monitoring performance based on KPIs tells you how well you’re doing just like the gauges in your car tell you about your car’s performance.

6. Adjust

Modify both tactics and strategy based on your KPIs. Work toward optimizing your performance.

More resources

If you need more help, I’ve listed some additional resources at the end of my slideshare presentation. Of course, you should subscribe to my email newsletter where I share cutting-edge information on marketing strategy in the digital age. Or, if you need more help, set up an appointment for a FREE consultation to see how Hausman & Associates can improve your market performance.

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