Improve marketing analytics: Three easy fixes
“We need to improve our analytics. Our reporting is inconsistent and our reports are weak.” I hear this all the time. So how can it be fixed?
There are three keys to improving marketing analytics: 1) Fix the inputs, 2) Agree on the right metrics, 3) Use benchmarks and context to generate insights. Here’s more on each of those critical areas.
The Quality of Inputs Matters
Analytics is a process where the quality of the output depends on the quality of the inputs. That means that marketing campaigns must be configured for accurate measurement when they are set up. This includes deciding which metrics will be tracked and ensure that all tracking codes are placed properly on each page or platform. It also means defining clear goals from the get-go so everyone involved knows what success looks like.
Too many times clients are disappointed by what they’re not seeing in the reports when they have not defined those metrics in the beginning. For example, seeing the performance of individual ads may not be possible if UTM codes aren’t used. Or, knowing how a landing page is performing may not be possible if a form submission is not being tracked.
I recommend fixing the inputs by using a Media & Analytics Brief to capture all necessary information and create consensus. This brief is a short document that lists campaign details critical to track. It should contain elements like campaign names and types, landing page URLs, UTM codes being used, and KPIs to be tracked. This simple step ensures alignment on campaign goals and tracking and that improves the inputs.
And one last point: the most frustrating situation is when agreed-on tracking is broken or not in place at all. So get the necessary tags and pixels in place, then run tests to ensure data is getting captured.
Agree on the Right Metrics
Getting consensus on which metrics constitute success should happen as campaigns are being set up. And this may sound obvious, but too many times there’s a gap between what the marketing campaign team knows and what the analytics team has been told. The campaign team might know that there’s an email campaign happening, but have they told the analytics team how the performance of that campaign should be tracked? Does the analytics team know that a form submission has to be tagged? Also, is the analytics team tracking KPIs that matter to the wider team? If not, then the reports are just a bunch of numbers lacking relevance to the business.
The way to create consensus on which metrics to be tracked is to include them in the Media & Analytics Brief.
Deeper Insights Come From Benchmarks and Context
Another complaint I hear about reporting is that the reports just say what happened; they don’t provide useful insights about what happened and what should be improved. There are two important keys to driving improvement in this area: benchmarks and context.
How can you tell if a programmatic campaign is “good” if you don’t know what constitutes a strong click-through rate for your industry? You need benchmarks to reference. That’s why I suggest that every analytics team use benchmarks for the measurement of campaign performance. These can be industry norms or benchmarks of past campaign performance from internal sources. These will tell you what’s “good” and what’s not.
The next key to better insights is context, or the ability to look at campaign performance in the light of past performance, campaign goals, and industry norms. This context comes from discussions among marketing team members about campaign goals, the creative approach, competitive pressures, and other factors that may be affecting campaign performance. I suggest that the analytics team create a first draft of the monthly analytics report and then convene a discussion with the marketing team to add necessary context. This will add depth and color to what gets reported. So talk it out and then finalize the report.