How Marketing Analytics Can Make or Break Your Strategy
Remember that show Mad Men? Some of the best scenes showed the copywriters struggling to come up with a winning pitch for the new big account. Then Don Draper would swoop in with a genius idea that perfectly tapped into the 1960s zeitgeist and the day was saved.
Of course, there is no Don Draper, and even if there was someone alive today with the super-powered wisdom to understand what drives every target audience of every product, you don’t need him. You’ve got analytics.
What are marketing analytics?
Analytics is the process of using data to measure and analyze the performance of your marketing strategy and to improve its effectiveness for a better return on investment.
By using analytics, you can:
- Understand your company’s big-picture marketing trends
- Look at past campaigns and determine which worked and why
- Monitor campaigns over time
- See which campaigns are converting and the ROI they’re getting you
- Create future campaigns that are more likely to get you results
Here are some key metrics you should be tracking:
- Number of website visitors, page views, and sessions
- Traffic by channel, or how people are getting to your site
- Traffic by device, such as desktop or mobile
- Time on page and bounce rate
- Conversion and CTA click-through rates
- Email open and click-through rates
- Email bounce and unsubscribe rates
- Social media engagement
- Cart abandonment rate
- Leads-to-close ratio
This is by no means a comprehensive list, but if you see something here your company is not tracking, you’re not fully taking advantage of the data available to you.
Your marketing analytics are only as good as your tools
Looking at your most recent marketing campaign, can you definitively say what the return-on-investment was? In other words, how many sales were closed as a result of a blog post, email, or call-to-action? If you don’t know, that’s OK. There’s a tool for that.
Because digital marketing has evolved over time, it’s not uncommon for businesses to become attached to tools that lack the capabilities of other, newer platforms. For instance, Google Analytics is an amazing tool. It can tell you more than you could ever want to know about your website’s performance. However, if you want to know if you’re getting more sales-qualified leads from social media or email, Google Analytics might not be the right fit.
So what is the right tool? Using an all-in-one customer relationship management system, or CRM, and marketing automation system lets you connect channels across all your campaigns, so that when it comes time to report, you can see how each piece performed individually and in relationship to each other. In other words, all-in-one analytics tools give you the power to see how many people clicked on an email link to your website, and once on your site, how many filled out a form, did a live chat, or converted in some other way. If your marketing analytics tool offers a closed-loop marketing feature, you can even track conversion through to sale.
At Raka, we use HubSpot. It’s the most comprehensive tool we’ve found because of the ability to connect campaigns across channels, automate marketing tasks, like follow-up emails and alerts, and also provides thorough analytics we can use to get a clear picture of our ROI and where we need to improve. It is by no mean the only all-in-one tool, and which tool you use depends greatly on your company and its goals.
Even if your company uses a patch-work of tools, there’s still a lot you can get from investing time in marketing analytics. Look for integration opportunities so that the tools are talking to each other and you can get the most from the money you’re spending. That being said, it doesn’t hurt to take a look at what’s out there, especially if you’ve been using the same tools for a few years now. Your competitors are certainly looking. Don’t let outdated or poorly integrated tools hold your marketing efforts back.
Understanding your company’s marketing analytics
If you’re looking to improve your company’s marketing analytics efforts, the first step is to decide what metrics you will be tracking. We listed a few above, but you should also compile a list of metrics specific to your industry and business. Here at Raka, we track how our website traffic each month compares to the previous month, as well as how it performed year-over-year. For a company that sells patio furniture, a month-to-month comparison is not as valuable as comparing each month to the same month’s performance last year. For that business, traffic and sales always go up in the spring and taper off in the fall. If there’s a huge drop in July sales year-over-year, that’s something the marketing team should know about.
Once you’ve selected the metrics to follow (and have a tool to track them) take a baseline snapshot of what your company is doing today. Use these numbers to compare to the results of any marketing campaigns you launch moving forward. The baseline will also show you areas where you are performing well, what’s not working, and which channels might not be the best fit for your business. If you’ve only posted once to Snapchat in the past year because you can’t get legal to approve any of your ideas, it’s probably time you dropped it from your marketing strategy.
This step requires you to dig deeper into the numbers. When you put your data into context, only then can you fully understand what each of these metrics truly means. Take your conversion rate for example. If you report to your CEO the site’s overall conversion rate is 5%, what are you really saying. Dig deeper, and you may find there is one campaign getting most of the conversions. Look further and you see this is different than last month, when most campaigns performed pretty much the same. What was different about that campaign? Is that why it did better than the others? Focus on what your marketing team can do to replicate those results.
Analytics for a more customized marketing strategy
Here’s where using a tool that integrates marketing analytics, marketing automation, and a CRM system really pays off. It gives you the ability to segment contacts and leads, know where they are on the buyer’s journey, and see how they’ve engaged with your brand across all channels. Having all that data in one place gives you the power to better understand it and take action on it. Knowing how to use your marketing analytics tools lets you customize campaigns for each buyer persona, in each region you serve, for each product you sell.
Everyone knows they should be looking at website traffic, but by looking how each page is performing, what people are clicking on, and which sources are bringing the most traffic gives you a clearer picture of what’s working and what’s not. Setting up forms that require not only contact information and location, but let contacts self-select their buyer persona, you can then track which campaigns are most effective for attracting leads among your different audiences.
By adding revenue reporting you can more effectively show how the marketing content and activities contribute to the bottom line. More important, when you know which sources of traffic are driving the most value, you can focus your marketing campaigns on the ones that matter.
Analytics to predict the future?
Well not exactly, but by using a strategy called predictive analytics, which aims to use machine learning and big data to make educated proposals about what actions should be taken next based on what’s already happened. Companies are using a mix of high-tech and tried-and-true tools, such as data mining, statistics, modeling, machine learning, and artificial intelligence, to analyze the data and predict future results. Some of these tools are extremely high-tech, while others provide simple data your team can use to make their own predictive analysis.
For example, your company can use a web analytics tool, like Hotjar that shows how people use your site and when a person is likely to leave. Your team can take that data to develop marketing strategies that target users at those moments to retain customers. People have been using this kind of analysis for many years, such as prioritizing leads based on what similar customers have done in the past. But as technology becomes more advanced, so will the methods and uses for predictive analytics.
How do I get better analytics?
It’s easy to get lost in the weeds with analytics, but keeping your company’s goals front of mind will help you and your team find their way. Knowing where you want to go will help you design an analytics reporting method that works for your team. If you need more help, HubSpot has a ton of great free course, and of course, you can always ask us.