Marketing analytics may seem like a dry topic, but there’s an old adage in marketing communications: If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. With the advent of digital marketing, online outreach, marketing automation, and digital media, this is more important now than ever. In the digital world, measuring is both easier and more difficult, but it underpins every successful campaign.
Why is it so difficult – yet so critical – to have the right analytics? Let’s take a look at four key marketing channels one-at-a-time to understand why.
Media campaigns. In the analog days of print advertising, brands could see their advertising at work, in the pages of the publications that their industry would subscribe to and read from cover-to-cover. The circulation of publications was certified by outside organizations, so calculating the reach was a matter of doing the math. What was missing was a measurement of who saw the ad and how they reacted or engaged with the brand.
In today’s world of digital advertising, campaigns are sophisticated and programmatic, meaning they don’t go to every visitor to a publication’s website, but rather only to those whose characteristics match the target audience. We take it as an article of faith that our media partners are delivering the ads as intended. The only real way to measure success is by looking at the analytics of who clicked on the ad, and what action they took once they got to that landing page. That’s why the analytics are more crucial than ever.
Email outreach. Not too long ago, direct mail was a key element in most marketing campaigns. Today, that has been largely supplanted by email marketing. Besides the significant cost savings of email versus direct mail, it’s can also be much more targeted with a good database to start from. Adding the right marketing analytics to the emails can assure that we know who has received the email, who has opened it, and who has clicked through to the landing page.
For our clients, we often will test different subject lines to see which results in the most engagement. That’s a key part of our analytics. We will also develop two compelling subject lines, and send the same email with the second subject line to any of the recipients who didn’t open it the first time. For those who never open the email, we may take them off the list after five or six emails, or keep them on the list to remain top-of-mind for when they might be in the ready-to-buy.
Social media. It’s easy to judge the effectiveness of social media by the number of followers on each platform. That would be a mistake. Followers don’t always translate into engaged audiences or influencers. It’s too easy to be fooled by “bought” followers or people who automatically follow everyone as a way to build their own profile. More important is the influence of key followers, the ones that are known as thought leaders for that market and have their own brand and a substantial following. We would rather have a limited number of these type of individuals who have an interest in and will engage with our clients’ brands, than a large number of followers unrelated to the business. Analytics tools that measure this type of impact are key.
Traditional public relations. In the pre-internet days, we could measure the impact of a pr campaign much like we did advertising: add up the number of subscribers for each publication that runs an article for a total reach. Again, that tells us little about the impact that article might have. In today’s digital age, we are more interested in strategic coverage that focuses on our clients or positions them as thought leaders – either through authored bylines or being quoted for their insight – than the mere number of hits.
Successful digital marketers are constantly evaluating where to put their resources, and how to measure the programs they are funding in terms of lead generation and sales. Advanced marketing analytics allow companies to go far beyond baseline metrics, by providing the tools to really understand how their target buyers are consuming content, what entices them to engage and interact, and what triggers a conversion. In-depth analytics -including multivariant as well as A/B testing – provide the types of information that enable more automation and personalization to map to each buyer’s journey. Getting that data in real-time from the right analytics and tools will offer the most current insights for reacting quickly and putting the best content in front of that audience, responding to what’s happening now, not what took place a week or month earlier.
Our recommendation is to invest in marketing analytics that will provide real-time, data-driven insights to meet your marketing and revenue goals.