That’s the contention by Samuel Scott on TechCrunch today, that Google Analytics ruined marketing.
I check Google Analytics every day — find it one of the most valuable tool for optimization. So, how could he say the Google Analytics ruined marketing.
So, of course I read the rest of the article. And, it made a little sense, although the idea that Google Analytics ruined marketing is bizarre, to say the least.
Google Analytics ruined marketing
So, it’s not so much that Google Analytics ruined marketing (BTW, happy birthday to Google, who’s celebrating today). What ruined marketing is marketers who have no clue about marketing. In fact, Mark Ritson took a recent top 40 list of marketers only to find that only 4 had any real marketing chops at all, and only one of them had graduate level marketing. And, trust me, that’s pitiful, which I’ve talked about before on this page.
Now, Mark might have an ulterior motive since he offers a course that condenses an MBA into just a few weeks, but I don’t. After teaching marketing for nearly 20 years, I can tell you that it takes knowledge of marketing concepts to really do marketing well. Otherwise, you’re just following a fad or recommending something that worked once instead of basing your marketing strategy on proven (scientifically) concepts that last over time.
Here’s my take on what it takes to do online (or offline) marketing well.
Basically, you need to build more traffic (which may fit into Google Analytics and the domain of these so-called marketing gurus) and converting that traffic once you spend the time and money to attract it. And, that’s true marketing. Without a deep understanding of how to convert traffic, you’ll waste time and money.
Has analytics ruined marketing?
The quick answer is NO!
Even Google Analytics didn’t ruin marketing. It’s the people using it who lack the skills necessary to derive insights from Google Analytics.
And, that fits with results from a recent study by OMI outlining the biggest talent gaps in marketing. Number 1 is analytics.
And, analytics doesn’t just mean checking Google Analytics.
It means using multiple analytics platforms to answer specific questions to help optimize market performance.
Simply checking your Google Analytics dashboard every day isn’t analytics. That’s what’s ruined marketing, not Google.
USING Google Analytics doesn’t ruin marketing.
Here’s an example of an analysis I did for a client based on Google Analytics:
Notice, this visualization clearly shows which sources account for the most ROI (here displayed in terms of average order size). Analytics like this don’t come standard. You have to ask the question, but Google Analytics has the right answer for you.
Strategy versus tactics
Here I agree with TechCrunch. Google Analytics shows analytics related to tactics — which channels are most effective, which target markets perform best, etc.
Tactics are the way marketing is implemented and they might help guide strategy, but they don’t replace it.
Samuel Scott quite clearly, and accurately, shows marketing and how Google Analytics play into the marketing mix in the infographic below. And, yes, Google Analytics mainly helps with the promotion element of that mix. But, it needn’t — if you do your strategy component right.
Going beyond promotional tactics with Google Analytics
Again, if you simply check your dashboard, you’re not gonna get much from Google Analytics beyond channels. But, you can go beyond that.
For instance, let’s say you want to determine the right price for your product. You can use A/B testing to try out a couple of ads (or even use pages on your website to randomly display prices you’re considering). Which prices lead to the highest CTR (click-through rate) and closure rate.
Let’s say you want to understand how consumers view your product. Again, testing different messaging across channels helps understand what resonates (and closes) best with consumers. Tag your various messages and Google Analytics shows which messages bring in customers, which close.
Again, easy peasy.
And, that’s not the end of ways that Google Analytics helps improve your market performance. New cohort tools, recently added to the existing tools for evaluating not just demographics, but interests, make for powerful insights into buyer personas.
Take a look at this report, which I generated, to understand how age contributes to market performance.
Going beyond metrics
Of course, what we’ve talked about up until now are metrics and they’re a great starting point.
But, now we need to use our hard-earned understanding of consumers and marketing to wring out better market performance.
In the table above, we see some interesting things playing out.
First, there’s no clear winner — no single age group performs best.
- Younger visitors convert at a higher rate, but they spend less money
- Ages 45-54 have the highest average order size, which means you need to convert fewer of them to generate the same ROI, especially given marketing costs
- We could improve those insights by calculating CLV (customer lifetime value) for each age group to see how frequently they buy over what time span
Strategy requires you take metrics, shake them vigorously with internal data and date from other tools, then filter what you learn through the marketing concepts you know.
For instance, the 45-54 demographic might purchase products as gifts for children, while younger buyers likely buy for themselves. Now, you can use those insights to build a strategy focusing on gifting to the older demographic.
Or, maybe you develop a modification of the product to appeal directly to the older age group, which already has a positive attitude toward your product.
Data don’t tell you what to do, they provide options
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