If your marketing organization hasn’t mastered data analytics, you’re not alone. Very few have.
It’s not for lack of desire — marketers everywhere are eager to start making data-driven decisions that let them reach customers and drive business impact with ever more efficiency and effectiveness. They sense (correctly) that there’s deep, transformational insight hidden in those streams of data, but they're stuck in the silos of individual channels — email analytics, in-store analytics, web analytics and so on.
But here’s the good news: All that single-channel data is exactly the raw material you need. And, what’s more, marketers have already shown that they can use data well — they excel at harnessing the data flying out of their channels and execution tools to optimize performance within those channels.
What’s missing is the ability to see what’s working across it all — omnichannel analytics.
This is the key step to mastering marketing analytics and unlocking game-changing insight. But how to get there? How can you move from the siloed, tactical insight of single-channel analytics to the big-picture, strategic insight of omnichannel analytics?
It’s a play in three acts:
- You need to gather up all the data our tools, channels and systems are churning out and put it into strategic frameworks for measuring omnichannel performance.
- You need to be intentional up front about selecting the key performance indicators (KPIs) you want to track and measure.
- You have to create a culture within the marketing org that embraces measurement and reporting.
Doing all this is a commitment, for sure, but it's well worth it. All of marketing is heading in this direction, and the possibilities in this emerging paradigm are still yours to guide and create.
Here’s a simplified, quick-hitter look at how to do it:
1. Map Marketing Data To Strategic Frameworks
Start by laying out the strategic frameworks to track and measure marketing performance against. What’s a strategic framework? It’s a goal-based (as opposed to channel-based) structure for organizing and categorizing different metrics, one that brings to light cross-channel relationships and tells the story of marketing performance in terms of business impact. Examples include the customer journey, brand comparison, business objectives, regional comparison and campaign performance comparison.
If you’re not sure where to begin, start with the customer journey. Marketing leaders these days are becoming customer experience officers, with responsibilities that go beyond traditional top-of-the-funnel awareness and lead gen to include customer engagement, retention and satisfaction.
Taking the customer journey as a sample framework, you'd map your marketing data to each of the key stages in the journey — potential reach, video views and website visitors all count as awareness, click-through rates count as engagement, and so on. But don’t stop there. Track conversion rates, retention rates and satisfaction scores. (Even if you're not directly responsible for these areas, extending the framework beyond the initial conversion shows that marketing is thinking strategically about the entire customer experience.)
Already, via this simple exercise of mapping out how marketing impacts each aspect of the customer experience, you've risen above the silos of single-channel metrics and established an omnichannel point of view. Now you can:
- See what’s working — and what’s not — across it all
- Report marketing activities in terms of business impact
- Communicate results through a lens that’s familiar to other departments in the organization
- Rally the marketing team by making clear how their work supports a larger vision (When executing in siloed channels, it’s easy to get bogged down in the weeds)
2. Choose KPIs Up Front
Clarify in advance what counts as success, so you can track that from the start. (No more sifting through piles of random, standalone metrics long after a campaign is over trying to figure out how to report on its performance.)
Start by writing down the objectives for a particular campaign or effort. Then ask, what are the one or two numbers that best indicate how you're moving the needle on that objective? Put those right below each objective. These are your KPIs. For example, you may decide that cost per acquisition is the KPI for campaign success. You might choose NPS as the KPI for whether you have happy customers.
Under each KPI, nest the tactical metrics that comprise and impact it. These supporting metrics serve as early warning signals to help you optimize your various marketing efforts in-flight (vs. traditional hindsight reporting).
Once you've settled on your KPIs, document and share them so that everyone in the marketing org is on the same page. Pro tip: Get your CEO and CFO aligned on your KPIs — that way you can be confident you’re supporting the overall business objectives.
3. Build A Data-Driven Culture
Building a data-driven culture is arguably the most important element. But usually you have to make good progress on your strategic frameworks and KPIs before the culture starts to change. Only after people start to see the value of omnichannel insight does the ship begin to turn. Executive visibility is huge as well — you’d be amazed how fast the culture changes when the boss is looking at a marketing scorecard and there’s info missing because that one group hasn’t been providing their data.
If progress is slow, remember: The primary goal is to use data to be more agile and intentional than you are now. Any progress is reason for celebration, even if it’s something as modest as the team going from an annual optimization cycle to a quarterly cycle.
Great Brands Are Doing It. And You Can, Too
Now of course, the journey to omnichannel analytics and data-driven marketing is more involved than what's presented here. And to really put these practices in place, you’ll likely need new tools that automate and support the process. But this is the basic outline, and many of the world’s best brands are pursuing exactly this.
If you’ve made it this far but you’re feeling like there’s no way your team can pull it off, it may simply be that you’re missing a few key people. If you don’t have these core capabilities in-house, go get them as fast as possible.
Just don’t assume you’re starting at ground zero and require a complete overhaul. You’ve already got the raw material — all those streams of single-channel data — and very likely a good track record of putting it to use. It’s taking an omnichannel point of view that makes the difference.
Title image by Björn Simon