Is it time to review (and use) your digital marketing data?
Are you meeting today’s customer needs? In the current unsettled environment, the when, where, how and why people interact with our brands will change. Effective use of digital analytics tools and techniques helps us understand how our audience is engaging with our brand, today. Information that will help us quickly adapt our strategies, user-experience, content and marketing activity, to meet the needs of today and ultimately improve return on investment.
Using digital analytics for informed decision-making
As we lose access to traditional ways of doing business, there is a renewed urgency to focus on digital assets (websites and Apps) and digital campaigns. Ultimately, we want to attract, retain and grow the value of our customers. But rather than taking a ‘spray and pray’ approach, we want to do this with a keen eye on managing our limited time and budget.
While in the digital environment we are blessed with data to help us make informed decisions, this raises a key challenge: Which data to use and how to use it efficiently and effectively?
In this article I’ll summarise the data sources and practices I recommend as a foundation for digital marketing analytics and optimisation.
For Descriptive and Diagnostic analytics (What happened? Why did it happen?)
While descriptive and diagnostics analytics look back and report what has happened, this doesn’t mean that you need to wait a long time to use it. End of campaign or end of month reporting might suit management needs, but lets not miss the opportunity to use our data in-campaign to monitor, review and optimise as we go.
1. Google Analytics
Web analytics tools such as Google Analytics track user behaviour on your website or App. They are a great start for getting a quick central, de-duplicated view of acquisition, behaviour and conversion on your website.
2. Advertising platform & search analytics
Advertising platforms such as Facebook and Adwords along with Google Search Console, email and CRM tools offer data on interactions with their campaigns and platforms (eg email opens, ad impressions, engagement and clicks). Most also can also be set up to attribute to key conversions on your website.
While there is some very valuable data, it’s worth remembering they are ‘marking their own homework’. Inevitably there are some generous definitions of ‘conversions’ from these sources and you’ll find that if you add them all together your cumulative total is far higher than the reality (and hence ROI is being over reported).
3. Dashboards – everything in one place
As far as collating meaningful and digestible data from both web and marketing analytics, a well designed dashboard is an excellent solution. They are a huge time saver as once configured you don’t need to waste time manually extracting, integrating or manipulating data – meaning you can focus on the insights and actions. Further, dashboards enable us to easily share this ready-to-go data across multiple stakeholders, taking others on the journey with us.
Tools such as DataStudio are free, or you can use the likes of Tableau or Domo. You can centralise into one dashboard your key GA and advertising data, email platform, CRM, search console, Google Sheets data and much more.
For Diagnostic and Predictive Analytics (Why did it happen? What will happen if…?)
The previous section talks to data collection and topline reporting – what happened and some elements of why. To inform more sophisticated strategy its helpful to look for deeper insights as to why things are happening, and what we can change to make different (better) things happen.
There is much more data sitting in your sources than you would bring into a dashboard. This data can be mined for greater insights. If you dig deeper into Google Analytics or business intelligence tools you can find out much more about:
- Which segments of your audience are behaving differently, and therefore how you can prioritise and communicate with them differently? Using ‘averages’ will mask this.
- Which content, products or messages are contributing more to conversions?
- What time of day or day of week your activity is more effective? (and this can vary by channel or segment)
- Which calls to action are working better? (on your site or your marketing)
- Where people are abandoning your site or check-out funnel?
- Indicators of a future conversion
- The lifetime value of a user, versus a session-based behaviour
- User and segment profiles by geography, demography and interests
- And much more
2. Testing & Optimisation
A testing program and optimisation tools can deliver huge improvements in both your website and campaign performance. A testing program is a process, while optimisation tools such as Google Optimize can facilitate both testing and personalisation on your website. There are also a number of landing page testing tools available.
Final thought: Keep it simple, timely and valuable
There are many tools, processes and metrics available to help with data-driven decision making. Where you choose to focus your next efforts depends on how mature your current digital analytics program is.
Getting up and running with concise, useful data that gives you insights and informs decisions doesn’t need to take a long time or be budget heavy – often the greatest progress can be made in these early stages. Most of the data sources and tools listed above offer free versions, and an experienced digital marketing analyst can set you on your way quickly.
While marketing analytics and data can be over-whelming, a few principles can keep things manageable, timely and valuable. I recommend considering four questions to guide your digital analytics efforts:
- What is my decision-making objective?
- What do I need to understand to help make those decisions?
- What data do I need to give me that understanding?
- Will this deliver ROI? Analytics should enable better use of development and marketing budgets. If the costs out-weigh the benefits, then why do it?
Annie Clare Consulting helps brands take the guess-work out of decisions, through data-driven insights, strategies and optimisation.
Get started with a free Google Analytics audit and plan, to help step up your data-driven decision making and meet your customers’ needs.