Make Your Marketing Data Actionable Or Go Home

actionable-dataAnalytics that don’t result in actionable insights and are just charts, tables and maps. Data points that don’t elicit action are simply numbers. Successful marketers understand that the data they generate and the ways they convey that information need to result from logical, outcomes-based planning. This ensures that they’ll know what to measure, understand why they’re measuring it, and be able to reap performance-boosting insights.

Don’t take planning lightly

From the very beginning, you need to know what success looks like for you, your team, your company and even your customers. This often requires an in-depth discovery process in which you’ll need to obtain information from both internal and external stakeholders. This initial effort will save you much unwanted hardship in the long run.

There will be many questions, but the fundamental one that you should always keep top of mind is: Who are specific sets of analytics for? The analytics you show to the Director of Marketing should vary substantially from those you show to the C-Suite. Knowing what information key stakeholders need in order to make the decisions they’re responsible for is the crucial guiding light for setting up a successful analytics program and obtaining actionable marketing data. The marketing department heads may be interested in opens, clicks, conversion rates, etc. but the c-suite will often only care about top and bottom line revenue driven by your campaigns.

Another question to ask yourself and various stakeholders is how long should the data evaluation period be. Are you trying to optimize the campaign weekly, monthly, quarterly? The data points and reporting frequency will vary depending on when you or your stakeholders need action. Weekly optimization may need to work off clicks and click percentages whereas quarterly and annual optimization would likely work off of opportunities gained or even business-closed metrics.

Common places you’ll find actionable insights

Tactic comparisons

Comparing the performance of your various marketing tactics (i.e., channels, methods, demos, traffic sources, third-party lead-gen partners, etc.) often provides some of the most actionable information you’ll uncover. And it’s surprising the extent to which most marketers still aren’t able to do this effectively.

The key to making this type of info actionable is finding data points that you can review quickly as opposed to just the end sale — otherwise your window for optimization will likely be long gone by the time you’re able to act on the data. Take lead generation for example. Answers to custom questions can give you some very useful information; looking at the publishers who have high percentages of registrants with short purchase timeframes or an interest in speaking with your representatives can be a great view into performance at an early stage.

Similarly, closing your marketing loop along a few nurture track points can provide specific insights with regard to the relative value of media partner or marketing method. Comparing various marketing methods (e.g., email newsletter versus content syndication) based on number of leads converted to opportunities (or something to that effect) not only result in rapid campaign optimization, but can also inform future strategies and tactical investments.

Lastly, peek in at target demographic performance, not just filters. Sure you may require IT manager and above as a title, but which publishers are delivering high percentages of IT directors and CIOs? Those potentially are your real targets but are not strict filters for CPL reasons.

Content Consumption

Taking specific looks into the performance of your content is a great way to unveil insights. Comparing results based on a whitepaper, webinar, banner ad, text ad etc. that drove action is an obvious way to think about this. Auditing your content based on results is an incredibly useful exercise — it seems obvious, but many marketers don’t do this nearly enough.

Many B2B campaigns have assets created for a specific stage of the customer journey, but then these assets are never retroactively audited to see if they lined up and performed to expectations. Sometimes content created for the top of the funnel actually converts at a better clip with prospects who list a much shorter purchase timeframe. Revealing that and redirecting the content to align with the proper stage can help increase conversions, as well as help guide future content strategy.

Cross Data Fields

Looking at Individual custom questions, job titles, asset downloaded, etc. is helpful, but the real insights are gained when comparing cross sections of multiple data fields. Examining subsets of all your leads based on their answer to one question and breaking that group down against a secondary data point can often yield many eye-opening insights.

One example would be examining job titles of those who downloaded one particular whitepaper; you may find that certain pieces of your content are resonating particularly well with the C-Suite or maybe the Director level. You can then follow those subsets through the funnel to your closed-loop metrics to potentially identify which created more sales opportunities or even closed wins.

Named Account Strategy

Even if you’re not running a specific campaign targeting certain named accounts, taking a detailed look at the companies employing most of your prospects across your programs is a great way to illuminate potential. Learning that multiple employees at a single company were interested in your content can be a huge buying signal that you shouldn’t ignore. More than likely this tells you there’s a buying team in place tasked with investigating your solution as well as your competitor’s. The quicker you can act on this insight the more likely you are to close that business.

These are just a few examples of approaches you can use to ensure your data and analytics generate actionable insights that you can use to increase marketing ROI. Try utilizing some of these strategies throughout your next campaign as well as at its completion. Also, feel free to share with us some other metrics that you look to to gain business insights and drive performance. 

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