Jim Barksdale, former CEO of Netscape once famously said, “If you have facts, present them and we’ll use them. But if you have opinions, we’re gonna use mine.”
Analytics: A Brief History
Analytical decision making is not a new concept despite the hype around it in recent times. In an informal sense, it has been around since decision making itself. Despite the lack of vocabulary to describe the process, humans have been using data since primitive times. We weren’t tracking a post’s engagement, but we were tracking where we last saw a predator. In a more formal business setting, it has been around since the late 19th century when Fredick Winslow Taylor introduction time-motion studies.
Now we are in an age of digital products, and we are consumed in large amounts of data . Luckily with the advent of technology, we have been able to make sense of these large sets of data, but only with the assistance of humans. Currently, we are seeing a shift to fully computerized analysis of data. We moved from manually analyzing data, to computers assisting humans analyzing and now computers fully analyzing data. Analytics 3.0 as the HBR calls it is for everyone — “It’s not just information firms and online companies that can create products and services from analyses of data. It’s every firm in every industry.”
Over at Semeon, we pride ourselves in being on the leading edge of technology and our ability to make use of data for the companies we work with. Since our inception, we have been able to help brands such as P&G, Honda, Toyota, Pepsi, Sephora and much more leverage their structured and unstructured data for actionable insights through the use of artificial intelligence.
Analytics: The Essential Approach
The recent development of analytical tools in recent years has allowed business owners to take control of their data and make more informed business decisions. Unfortunately, we can get bogged down from all the data sometimes. This 5 step approach will be a way to not get lost in the daily marketing activities and help you think more long term.
- Find the metrics that align with your goals. As marketers, we sometimes find ourselves lost in the daily grind. There is so much to be done that we lose sight of the overarching picture. A picture which may be different for every organization but is still extremely important to see. In this first step, we recommend that you take the time to figure out how your marketing strategy fits into the mission of your organization and remind your employees of that. The next step is to evaluate the pros and cons of each of any available marketing tool and method to determine which will best support the mission. These tools will be different for everyone because not every company is similar. But for the sake of an example, I will give a few analytics that a company, whose primary focus is on the web, should think about: visitor count, page views, most shared blog posts, bounce rate, conversions, growth over time, time on site, conversions, comments, shares etc… If you have limited resources, pick a few that will drive the highest ROI such as conversion rates, growth, and popular content.
- Create and implement the strategy. Now you know what needs to be tracked you can build a plan around it. What are the different routes you are going to go down to drive this growth or increase conversion rates? Is it buying a marketing list and conducting direct campaigns or is it hosting events and becoming an influencer in your neighbourhood? This plan should be highly tailored to your product, your industry, your goals and your customers. Each strategy is going to be different for every company but should always reflect the mission of the company at the core.
- Study The Results. Marketing analytics is the act of looking past mere website results, and asking yourself, “How did that marketing campaign really go?”. This is arguably the hardest part of the method but without studying results there will be no improvement. Like the late, great Peter Drucker said, “What gets measured gets improved”. You decided on what metrics to track in the first stage so look at the numbers. Have you increased the conversion rate through the use of different call to actions? Or did you increase engagement over a platform by reproducing content similar to that of your most popular posts? If this is often the problem for your company, please feel free to contact Semeon for free professional marketing advice. We specialize in analyzing data through the use of artificial intelligence and we can do so in an instant.
- Optimize It. This is where the analytical mind comes into play. Figuring out what worked and what didn’t may sound easy but there are a lot of factors at play and correlation isn’t always causation. Fortunately, the beauty of this essential approach to marketing analytics is in the law of large numbers. The next step of this method is to repeat it all over again and when you do this, you will continuously refine it. Eventually, you will get to the point where you know which metrics are most important to your companies mission, which content your customers love, and what strategy works.
- Repeat. It’s as simple as that. This process will ensure the continuous evolvement of your marketing strategy: build, measure, learn.
Analytics: The Caveats
Big data is certainly a buzzword nowadays but for a good reason: it’s having a significant impact on how businesses operate. That being said, there are numerous pitfalls that organizations fall into when organizations try to leverage it. Two of the main pitfalls are focusing on vanity metrics and metrics with un-actionable insights.
The use of vanity metrics is the number one problem we see with companies trying to leverage big data. Vanity metrics are things like registered users, downloads, and raw page views. These metrics are easily manipulated and do not always correlate to the numbers that really matter. It takes time, but it is extremely important to determine what data matters to your company. What data is going to help increase user retention? What data is going to help you better understand the needs of the customer? Focus on quality over quantity. Too many companies love the idea of having data that they forget what the purpose is for. The purpose is to create insights that allow you to make better, more informed decisions.
This leads right to our next point: actionable insights. This problem is deeply correlated with vanity metrics but requires its own mention due to its importance. Many companies we have interacted with collect data for data’s sake. Perhaps this data can be analyzed ex-post but it is much more effective to know why it is being collected, ex-ante. If you can’t summarize what the data is being used for in a few lines, it is time to reconsider whether or not it is providing any use to the company.
We hope you enjoyed the article! We realize that interpreting data can not always be easy, especially unstructured data, so if you are interested in receiving a free consultation on how to improve your company’s use of data, we are more than willing to assist and offer insight. Contact us by requesting a demo on our main page.